Bait and Switch

Dear Dollar Rent a Car,

This letter is to inform you that I will never, ever, ever attempt to rent a car from your company again. If I am trapped in a dangerous country, surrounded by fever-induced madmen bent on my humiliation, torture, and death, and my only hope of escape is a compact car from your company offered gratis, with a full tank of gas, I will not accept your offer.

Because you might tell me at the last minute that you have nothing available except a luxury car, and I only need to pay half the difference.

When I flew into Norfolk International Airport this morning, I was feeling chipper and my view of the world was serene. I had the swagger of someone who had the foresight to reserve a vehicle before arriving at the terminal. Therefore, I knew that I would be able to access a car from your company and move on to my business meeting with ease.

How wrong I was!

After waiting in line for ten minutes or so, I was finally able to speak with your counter agent. She helpfully took my information, including my address and credit card number, all the while absorbing valuable time during which I could have been, I don't know, getting closer to my client's meeting? Of course, working the counter contract is a part of the process, so I had no objection overall. However, I did have an objection to your agent's next statement.

"You can have the compact car you reserved, but you'll have to wait an hour," she said. "If you like, I can get you in a luxury car for 50% of the difference."

I was aghast. No modern company would engage in such baldly fraudulent practice as the old 'bait and switch', surely!

"So you're saying," I confirmed with the agent, "that the car that I reserved to be available right now is not available for an entire hour, but you do have some other car available that I could pay more for?"

She nodded. I explained to her that it was not my habit to consort with people who do not hold up their end of the consumer bargaining experience. I chose and reserved that car in good faith, expecting that my reservation would mean something, that I would not be left in the cold. My choices were to either pay money for something I didn't want or to be an hour late for a meeting with a valued customer.

I chose to pay more money elsewhere. I do not lightly put my company's money into the hands of dishonest brokers. And I shall not make the mistake of trying your service again.

And when society finally does collapse in an angry heap, I'm heading out of here in a Jeep from Enterprise.

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