Do not rent a car from ‘Budget Car Rental’

On Friday, April 30th, 2010 I’ve arrived at ‘Budget Car Rental’ agency in Herzliya, Israel to pick up a car for the weekend. The car was pre-ordered the day before.

At 08:00 sharp the door was opened, I presented the voucher and after a few vigorous mouse clicks I was escorted by a lot attendant (hereinafter ‘Beavis’) to the parking lot to examine the car and to document any defects in the paint etc’.

Beavis and I circled the car and wrote down everything, so I won’t be charged for damage upon returning the car. Than, Beavis sat at the driver’s seat and turned the ignition switch.

No ignition.

Beavis, instead of offering his sincere apologies, turned to another lot attendant (hereinafter ‘Butt-head’) and bluntly accused him for not preparing the car for delivery according to the procedures. Butt-head, as blunt as Beavis along with some vibrant hands gestures, denied it all. He claimed that when he finished preparing the car, it was good to go. Beavis, therefore, blamed Butt-head that he left the lights on, thus the battery went flat. It hasn’t occurred to them that they should settle the dispute later, when there are no customers in range, thus saving me the time and the experience seeing two idiots arguing.

Beavis went. I assumed he’s after a key to another car. But no. He came back with a ‘booster’. A device to jump-start cars with a flat battery. I told Bevies that I’m not going to take a car with a flat battery. Bevies tried to convince me that after 20 minutes drive the battery will be as good as new. I was not convinced. I demanded to have a car that is good to begin with.

Beavis went to the office again while I waited in the lot. When he came back he had another set of keys, also matching a car that would not start. Of course, this was realised only after we finished the ritual of writing down all the mechanical defects etc’

Yet again, set of verbal blows was exchanged between Beavis and Butt-head, yet again Beavis accused Butt-head for his in dysfunction in preparing the vehicle, yet again But-head denied it all, etc’, etc’, etc’…

Beavis went again to bring another set of keys. You know the rest: the car wouldn’t start and again some foul language quarrelling between Beavis and Butt-head.

Beavis went for the 4th set of keys. Now I insisted that he will try to start before we fill all the forms. Surprise! Totally out of the blue the engine ignited!

Now we were ready to examine the car. I’ve noticed that the antenna is missing. It was broken and the stem is caught inside the socket.

I pleaded Beavis that will give me a car with which I can listen to the radio. But Beavis insisted that the radio may be used without the antenna and even demonstrated. I explained Beavis that the radio signal in the city is strong enough to get it without an antenna, but as soon as we leave the city there’s no chance I can get any proper radio like that. Beavis said he could try find another antenna in the spare antennas box (WTF???) but it will take some time. I’d be better off if I take the car as it is. I asked for a fully functioning car but Bevis firmly refused.

Because I had to pick someone up, and because I was already 20 some minutes in the parking lot of ‘Budget Car Rental’ in Herzliya because of their inabilities, I did not insist in explaining Beavis that even if he find an antenna on this “antennas box” of his, he would still need to salvage the stem from the socket. I doubt it if an idiot such Beavis would even understand the problem. Had I had any time to spare, I would have gone to a different rental company and rent a car from them. But I was running late as it was already. Therefore I took the car as it was, without the antenna, knowing that I will find the way to spit out this story about a gloriously lousy service. Beavis did not neglect comforting me that in the new models of ‘Mazda 3’ the antennas are built-in, so such a problem can’t happen. Well, next time I rent a car, not at Budget’s, of course, I’ll make sure I’m getting the new model…

I took the car, I picked my guest up and we travelled all along the weekend, without any radio reception whatsoever. When I came to surrender to car, the receptionist gave the me usual “was everything OK?”. I replied that everything was NOT OK. She didn’t ask what does it mean. I guess that she was told to ask that question, but was never told what to do with the reply.

When I got the printed mileage details, I noticed that they so meticulously wrote all the four cars: the three that wouldn’t start and that one I used eventually (not that I can say that it was satisfying). It turned out, that the third car, which I didn’t take, was charged with 2 km in the 8 minutes it took between Beavis took it’s keys from the office and returning the keys back. 2 km in 8 minutes for a car that won’t even start is very good, you must admit!


So why do I write this almost two months after the events? It took me a while to realise what I want to do with this.

Should I write to Budget-Israel? What are they going to do with it? Send me an apology letter? Send me a coupon to get something for free next time I rent a car with them? I’m not interested in their gifts.

Should I write Budget world-wide HQ? Maybe they’ll slap on the wrist of the local franchisee in Israel. Maybe they’ll write me how hard they try that these things won’t happen and sorry they are for my bad experience. I’m not interested. And according to how things are running in Budget (it’s not my first time I rent a car with them), the world-wide HQ do not really care about what the local franchisee (Domicar) is doing.

What I’m interested in is that the impairment will be fixed. That they will explain me what measures are they going to take in order to make sure that such events won’t happen again. What are they going to do in order to introduce better service standards. How are they going to make sure that the employees they hire are of the kind that it’s obvious to them that they should not argue in front of the customer, even if not specifically told so during the training.

Unfortunately I know that I’m not going to achieve that with a letter.

So there’s the blog. I know that even here, most chances are that nothing will be fixed as a direct result of this post. But maybe, as part of a wither culture of customer testimonials on blogs, and if companies would understand that Google can find anything, and if Google would position this post high enough when searching for ‘Budget’ or ‘car rental’ – so maybe companies would understand that they need to make sure that things are ticking along and that they should give a proper response to the raised issues.

So if someone from Budget is reading this post, please explain how could this have happened, how 3 out of 4 cars are not starting, how the 4th car is without antenna, how you hire under-qualified worthless persons like Beavis and Butt-head, and how are you going to make sure this is not happening again? I’m not interested in presents, not in compensations nor in indemnity. I just want to know how come all my money could get is this lousy service.

I will publish any response provided by Budget or Domicar.

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