This isn’t the sort of post I generally do, although maybe it should be?
This week we’ve had a rather nasty shock after hiring a car in France – Toulouse to be precise. We agreed to pay the rather high price of 101.99 Euro (about $155 Aussie dollars) for 1 days car hire, and no it wasn’t a sports car or even a four wheel drive. It was a Renault scenic. It was a nice car and it got us through the French country side and safely where we needed to be.
The next day we went to return the car, which was due back at 1.30pm. You may or may not be aware that the French take lunch between 12 and 2pm everyday, they generally close everything and go home to have a large lunch with their family! This is how we found the Hertz agent when we went to drop the car off – missing – at lunch. Neither was there a place to put the keys for those needing after hour drop offs.
We had no choice but to come back later. As we had friends picking us up when we dropped the car off, we didn’t return until 2.48pm – some 48 minutes after they had opened for the afternoon. This is where things started to get yuk!
The lady at the Hertz desk couldn’t speak English, but we muddled on and soon realised that she wanted to charge us for an extra days car hire – Simon had a rather long discussion using a translator, drawings and broken english/french to explain that we tried to drop it back but they were not open..
We weren’t getting anywhere fast so we left saying, we did not agree to pay for this extra day and that we would be talking with the manager – upon ringing the manager all we got was a recorded message!
To add insult to injury, when we looked at the paper work AND our bank statement – we’d been charged 320 euro (although the contract says 273.59). They charge you for a full tank of petrol and then refund you later when you return the car – apparently.
So we had a threat of an extra days charge and more money taken from our credit card than was in the contract. This 70k road trip was looking like costing us at least 320 euro ($489)…
I decided – enough!
As you may know we work with businesses to help them use the digital world to grow – the obvious thing for us to do was use social media to try and get some action (plus I knew we’d be able to converse in English)..
I started simply – a post on Twitter @ing hertz. The tweet went like this: “Thanks to @Hertz in #France theres a big dent in our holiday budget! Poor customer service and completely ripped off! #hertz”
Within minutes I had what I assume was the international Hertz marketing team swing into action – they asked me to DM (direct message) them, which I did, explaining the above.. After a little conversation they have agreed to reduce our hiring cost to just 92.99 euro and refund the remaining 227.01 to our card.
This is good customer service and as long as the money does turn up in our credit card I will be happy!
What can we learn from this? Car hire is very expensive in France, but more importantly, if you feel you’ve received poor customer service from a large multinational company, you now have the power to have your voice heard. For the first time in history you can actually have a voice, thanks to social media. So don’t settle for unreasonable charges and poor customer services, use social media to reach those that were once unreachable.
Why are big companies paying attention to what people say on social media? Because its important and a little bad customer service can become a massive snow ball rolling out of control. Hertz nipped my bad and unreasonable customer service snow ball in the bud! And when the money turns up in my account I may even post something nice about their customer service and voluntarily improve their online branding by giving a good customer feedback, which is gold online!
If you’re a business owner, take note to respond to people who are talking to you online – positive and negative – it can only help your business..
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