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Dollar-signs

I wonder if people know what comes out of their mouths or if mouths have their own strategies. Then I think maybe I listen or hear too much.

I found myself in the position of having to rent a car in the Pittsburg, PA airport. Unfortunately there were no cars to rent except at the Hertz counter. I said to the woman, “No one has cars to rent — I suppose you’re out too?” She smiled and replied, “Oh no, we have plenty of cars to rent.”

“I’m so relieved !” I said. “How much for a midsize?”

“They’re all the same price. It’s $300 a day.”

“What? That’s triple everyone else’s price, isn’t it?”

“Sure it is,” she replied. “But we’re the only one with cars!”

Yes, she really did say that!

Now I know you don’t think this really happened to me and even I wasn’t sure it was happening. So I said to the woman, “What makes you think that I’ll want to rent a car from you after the ‘car drought’ is over?”

To this she had no reply, just the blank stare which said, do you want it or not? And then: “Like I said, we’re the only one with cars today.”

It reminds me of what happened in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina when bottled water was being sold for $10 a bottle. This will make you memorable, and not in a good way.
A few thoughts:

  • Customers aren’t stupid, for the most part. We know when we’re being taken advantage of.
  • Customers remember when they have a bad experience with your company.
  • A happy customer will tell a few people, an unhappy customer will tell the world—just like I’m doing now.
  • Short-term thinking is just that: short term. Win the battle and lose the war.

Most likely people think that Hertz is simply the most expensive rental agency, which explains why they had cars left that day. Since there were only a few cars left, they could have confused everyone by sending the cars out at prices cheaper than their competitors! Customers would be in heaven, tell everyone and vow to at least give Hertz a try the next time. Hertz’s competitors would have been confused when they learned that Hertz was suddenly cheaper than them.

At least this customer would have gone away happy, rather than vowing to take the nearest bus.

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