This weeks Compensation Clinic stops by at the Budget Rent a Car station Los Angeles Airport where one of our readers from Australia had a very bad experience.
The customers arrived from Australia and after the entry formalities went to the Budget station by their shuttle bus from the terminal.
Here is the email that the reader sent to Budget:
… Firstly upon arrival early in the morning, the check-in took over 30 mins, 15 minutes waiting in line (it was taking an exorbitant amount of time to serve the customers at the counter – not sure why) and it wasn’t even busy. Then it took another 15 minutes to process my reservation – there was lots of typing, printing of papers and folding papers. I don’t see what takes so long to process a pre-existing reservation with all of my details in it. The attitude of the service agent was one of complete disinterest and no real care about customers.
Additionally she insisted that it was necessary I provide 2 phone numbers – I don’t have a home number just a cell. I have never by any other rental agency or even by budget been forced to provide 2 phone numbers!!
What is even worse and inexcusable, was that once we got in the car and drove away, the entire car smelled of marijuana. This was explained when we found the previous renter’s medical marijuana permit in the console.(see attached photo) Clearly the vehicle had not been cleaned properly as otherwise they would have found the medical marijuana permit (and not left it in the vehicle, which is also a breach of the previous renter’s privacy), and fumigated the vehicle to rid it of the smell. So here we were with 3 kids in the car and a constant smell of marijuana we could not get rid off.
We had already driven away, and after a 14.5 hour flight, and over 30 minutes just to check in, we just couldn’t turn back to complain (god only knows how long that would have taken). This should never have happened if the vehicle had been cleaned properly – we SHOULD NOT have been provided the vehicle, especially with kids in the car. …
I’m not sure why it took so long to detect the smell, maybe it came through once the A/C was switched on? I guess if you have family with you the priority is really to finally get on the road instead of starting to invest another half hour or longer into arguments with disinterested staff. Any traveler with a bit of time and traveling by himself would have probably exchanged the car and I’d certainly have cut the line at the rental office.
Here is the Marijuana ‘Healing’ License the reader found in the car.
Budget Customer Service, respectively their parent company AVIS replied to the customer:
… At Avis, we pride ourselves on excellent service and mechanically sound, well-maintained vehicles. Your experience was not typical, and we are extremely disappointed that the interior of your car was not up to our standards. We sincerely apologize for your inconvenience.
I show that you had this vehicle for five days and had the opportunity to do a vehicle exchange at any time if you did not feel comfortable driving the vehicle. As you had possession of the vehicle, we are unable to provide a full refund however, I have applied a credit of $30.00 to your Visa credit card which should appear on a forthcoming statement. Be assured a copy of your report has been forward to the appropriate members of management.
At Avis, we endeavor to deliver a safe, dependable, hassle-free rental. We appreciate your feedback as it helps us to achieve and maintain our usual high service levels.
We know you have many options when it comes your car rental and we thank you for choosing Avis. …
I think to provide 30$ credit to the customer for this matter is a rather pathetic response from Budget. Apart from the fact that if you rent from the Budget brand it’s somewhat improper to reply in the name of Avis even if they are the parent company. This case clearly shows a lack in quality assurance on the part of Budget.
After arriving from a 14 hour flight and dealing with immigration at LAX most people would be a bit testy, especially when traveling with children and having to wait for the shuttle bus. I have rented from Budget LAX a few times before (even though the last time was roughly 4 years ago) and it is always a mess inside that rental office whenever I walk by there while staying at the Four Points Hotels next door.
The key when renting with Budget (or any car rental agency for that matter) is to use their Fastbreak/ frequent renter program to circumvent these lines. That isn’t possible though if you reserve your car through a broker or tour operator as part of a package (not sure how the car in this case has been reserved).