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Disappointed Customers: Renting a Tank Can Cost You (Obj. 4)

Michael Lin, a consultant from San Mateo, California, was surprised when he

picked up his rental car from Budget in Seattle over Easter weekend. He had

reserved a full-size car, but the rental agent told him he could upgrade to a Ford

Excursion for an additional $25 a day. “She told me it was easy to drive,” Mr. Lin

reported. “But when I saw it, I realized it was huge—like a tank. You could fit a

full-size bed inside.”

On his trip Mr. Lin managed to scratch the paint and damage the rear-door step.

He didn’t worry, though, because he thought the damage would be covered since

he had charged the rental on his American Express card. He knew that the

company offered backup car rental insurance coverage. To his dismay, he

discovered that its car rental coverage excluded large SUVs. “I just assumed

they’d cover it,” he confessed. He wrote to Budget to complain about not being

warned that certain credit cards may not cover damage to large SUVs or luxury


Budget agents always encourage renters to sign up for Budget’s own “risk

product.” But they don’t feel that it is their responsibility to study the policies of

customers’ insurance carriers and explain what may or may not be covered.

Moreover, they try to move customers into their rental cars as quickly as possible

and avoid lengthy discussions of insurance coverage. Customers who do not

purchase insurance are at risk. Mr. Lin does not make any claim against Budget,

but he is upset about being “pitched” to upgrade to the larger SUV, which he

didn’t really want.

Your Task. As a member of the communication staff at Budget, respond to Mr.

Lin’s complaint. Budget obviously is not going to pay for the SUV repairs, but it

does want to salvage his goodwill and future business. Offer him a coupon for two days’ free rental of any full-size sedan.

Write to:

Mr. Michael Lin

801 Saratoga Dr., Apt. B

San Mateo, CA 94401

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