Unf*cking Car Rental
by Doc Searls
Monday, August 24, 2009 at 09:19 PM EDT
The oldest case for VRM is one that has not improved since: car rental. Few business categories do a worse job of meeting specific customer demand with matching supply. Or a worse job of doing even the very limited range of services to which they limit themselves.
For example, Enterprise. I had a car booked for this evening in Santa Barbara that I would drive for the next week and return to the same airport. Price: $205. Nice deal. But, thanks to the common difficulty of getting from Airport A to Airport B, Iâ€™m arriving at 11:45 this evening, after Enterprise is closed. So I called the company from the airport in Denver, where Iâ€™m sitting now.
The robot asked if Iâ€™d like to answer a one-question survey if I stayed on line after the call. I pressed 1 for yes. The reservations agent explained that I couldnâ€™t change the reservation for pick-up tomorrow morning, but would need a new reservation. This one would be $245. No explanation worth repeating. You can guess.
So the survey robot asked me to say whether I was satisfied with the agentâ€™s service (not the companyâ€™s, meaning the agent gets penalized, I would guess). On a scale of 1 to 5 (where 5 is most satisfied), I gave punched in 2. The robot expressed electronic unhappiness that I was not completely satisfied, and told me to leave a detailed message. When the promt for that came, I started to talk and the robot instantly interrupted with a â€œThank you,â€ and hung up the line.
So I want to take this opportunity to appeal to anybody in a responsible position anywhere in the car rental business to contact me and work together with us at ProjectVRM on a customer-based solution to this kind of automated lameness. It canâ€™t be done from the inside alone. Thatâ€™s been tried and proven inadequate for way too long.
Letâ€™s build Then Intention Economy â€” based on real, existing, money-in-hand intentions of real customers â€” rather than the broken attention-seeking and customer-screwing system we have now.
This article originally appeared on ProjectVRM Blog.