I rented 43 cars from AVIS last year. That’s $6,557.59 of business. I was loyal. I have never forgotten to turn in my keys. Until last Thursday. I took off with the keys! I called Medford from Portland, Oregon (on my way to Seattle) and the agent told me to drop them off in Seattle. And here’s where the problem began.

Seattle assured me that this happens all the time, in fact, I was the third one that day! They simply overnight the keys to Medford. I called on Saturday to confirm. I needed a receipt for the rental to bill my client.

Have you ever tried to call AVIS on the week-end? You’d think that an airport rental car agency would pretty much be around-the-clock. Nope. Not if you need – are you ready for this – CUSTOMER SERVICE! They only work from 9 to 5 Monday thru Friday. They’re available 24/7 if you need to rent a car. If you have a problem, you gotta wait until Monday. So I did.

The Medford office also doesn’t pick up their phone on the week-ends but rather gives you a nice little message saying they are busy helping another customer.

This morning I called Medford – no answer. I called again, and again….and finally called the Customer Service line and explained that Medford won’t pick up their phone. They suggested I call Seattle. Seattle picked up the phone but said that THEY can’t close the contract – only Medford can. At the end of the call he admitted that he COULD do it, but he’d get in BIG trouble.

I now called the main toll free AVIS number just for fun. My own version of Russian Roulette. This guy came up with a whole new reason why he couldn’t close the contract. We have to wait for the keys. What? How will we KNOW when Medford gets the keys?? I need to call Medford.

Then I had this great idea – I’ll call the Medford Hertz. They are literally feet away from the employees at AVIS that don’t answer their phone. Here’s a gigantic moment of truth. All the marketing, planning, budgeting, positioning, pricing does not matter – will Hertz pick up their phone?

A nice young lady did just that. Wow. I was giddy. I explained that I really needed to talk to a person right next door, at their competitor, AVIS, and could she lean over the rail and simply ask them to please PICK UP THEIR PHONE!! She suggested I leave my number and that they should call me.

She delivered my message and AVIS Medford DID call me right back.

When I explained to her how frustrating it is that THEY DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE, she clued me in. You see, I was pressing option “4” (customer service), they rarely answer that BUT, they almost always answer option “2” the LOST AND FOUND option. Good to know for the future.

But then she dropped this new bombshell on me. IF Seattle doesn’t get the keys to Medford I could face “rekeying” charges. “How much is that?” I asked. “Well, let’s see” she pondered, “You rented a Chevy Malibu, we’ll have to go to the dealer and have them reprogram and re-key…..I have no idea.”

I thanked her for her help.

I just became a Hertz #1 Gold Club member. Took me about 3 minutes to sign up online and print my temporary Gold Card.

Hertz, if you are reading this – your Medford employee, Carol, made you tons of money today.

Thanks for answering the phone.