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Thursday, Apr. 04, 2002 - 12:05 a.m.

Those Evil Bastards!

I just spent an hour on the phone with the folks at Hertz, from whom I was going to rent a car later this month. I have to go to a wedding in Virginia, for which I will need to rent a car anyway, so I decided to drive down, instead of flying. The cost of renting a car in NYC is expensive, so I decided that I would go to Philadelphia, visit some friends, and rent a car there. Rental prices were half that of New York. So I make my reservation online. Great. I was going to rent a Mustang for $33.99/day. I get my confirmation email, and everything looks right, except at the bottom it says, "QUEENS,BKLN,BRONX RESIDENTS-RATE MAY NOT APPLY" and a phone number to call. I never got a Gerogia Driver's License, so I still have my good ol' New York DL that says that I live in Brooklyn. Anyway, I call the number listed, and a representative gives me my new quote, based on the zip code on my DL. It is exactly TWICE the rate that I had been quoted originally. When I asked the rep why they were charging me so much, she put me on hold, and returned with "It has something to do with taxes." She was nice enough to give me the number of a different customer service department, who would have more information. Upon calling that number, I was told that it was actually related to insurance liablility costs, which would make sense if I were driving the car in New York, but I'm not.

At this point, I am outraged by the fact that they're trying to charge me more money based on my ZIP code, and I ask for a number or address that I can complain to. I call the third number, which is actually a number for resolving billing issues AFTER you have rented a car. The woman that I spoke to was very nice, but could not really give me any help. She did give me the address of her superiors so that I could write them a nasty letter, and told me that the policy didn't make sense*.

I feel that I need to note that this policy did not apply to all New York City residents. Residents of Manhattan and Staten Island were not included. There is certainly an ethnic & economic demographic that's being favored here.

I just made a reservation with an Enterprise rental location in Philadelphia. It turned out to be cheaper anyway.

*This is a big no-no in the world of customer service. During my brief stint in this seedy underworld, it was indicated several times that while you were always supposed to be sympathetic to the customer, you were never , never, to verbally disagree with any company actions or policies. To do so would result in getting reprimanded and possibly fired. In fact, if I hadn't quit, this is how I would have gone down.


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