I had a surprising customer service experience when I flew into SFO on Wednesday and went to pick up my Hertz rental car.
I only recently started using Hertz so I haven't had a #1 Club card long enough to become a Gold member. This meant I had to wait in line for one of the clerks to get free at the reservations counter. I am always astonished, by the way, at the length of time it can take some people to complete such a simple transaction. How complex can it be to collect a rental car?
Well, there were only two people in the line ahead of me so it didn't take much more than five minutes to get served. The clerk went through the usual routine, offering me insurance I didn't need and prepaid fuel which I never take. I declined it all in my laconic British way and finally headed off to pick up my car.
Down in the garage, as I made my way to the bay number where my car would be parked, I noticed there were electronic LED displays set into the concrete lintel above each parking bay, many of which displayed the customer's name. Since I already had the bay number written on my rental voucher I wasn't expecting to see my name up there — that level of personalization was surely only for Gold club members.
When I got to my bay I had a shock. There was a name on display up there, and it wasn't mine. For a moment I thought perhaps there'd been a mix-up. But then I figured out what must have happened. Probably the clerk had never been told that the name he entered against the booking would show up on that LED display in the garage. And my name isn't the easiest to type in. Displayed above my car was his succinct description of the anonymous Brit he'd just served: "English John".
I really hope, for Hertz' sake, his descriptions of other customers aren't more graphic than that.
UPDATE: Hertz responds. It seems there's a perfectly innocent explanation.