How to offend loyal customers, lose credibility and cause irreversible brand damage

(A satirical) franchisee manual of a fictitious car rental network called “Dandy Shifty Car and Truck Rentals” regarding their formula for success on bamboozling, ripping off, and angering customers.

While this is intended to be satire. May also be useful as a general guide with which to watch out for when dealing with any rental car business as a customer, particularly at a location that may be franchised out to an independent licensee to one of the big brands such as Avis, Budget, Thrifty, Dollar, Hertz, Europcar, Enterprise.

Pre-requisites:

  • Operate from a jurisdiction with very lax enforcement of Consumer Protection Laws and regulations (e.g Australia) knowing that authorities have next to no resources for market surveillance and are very unlikely to come after your business on their own accord.
  • Take your customers as fools, especially international customers assuming they have not got the means to come back at you once they leave the country to go back home to their country of origin.

Steps to take:

  • Advertise your cars at absurdly low daily base rates (which if rented out alone at the advertised rate would be a net financial loss) in order to entice customers, and get them through your door ready to hit them with a barrage of up selling.
  • At the time of pick up, get your employees to use fear of significant financial loss by rattling off an up selling script of eye watering expensive (financial) protection options should things go awry on their lovely journey. This is a low margin business and viability of your business depends on selling add ons and other ancillary revenues. Threaten to reprimand your employees if they don’t up sell at least one add on per hire at the counter.
  • If the customer declines all the add ons, silently sneak on roadside service as this tends to be lowest priced add on. The subsequent agreement walk through gives the customer a sense that your business is upfront and honest as well as softening them up enough offering a chance for your employees to sneak on extra add ons by drawing the customer’s attention away from the add on they never asked for, through your employee deliberately skipping over it with their pen pointing, particularly if a large block of text is involved.
  • Conveniently forget to hand a copy of the signed agreement to the customer in order to hide the above. Once the customer drive off the lot, it is far less likely they’ll bother coming back to ask for the agreement, and subsequently won’t discover the extra add on(s) until long after the hire has concluded and after they’ve returned home.
  • If the customer has an accident, bonus points. Get one of your buddies in a panel repair shop to provide a hugely inflated quote and then stick on your own additional blanket administration fee on top of other administration fees. Chances are the customer will just hand the invoice directly to their insurer to deal with it without scrutinizing it themselves.
  • If they inquire politely about the unexpected charge(s) on top, start acting high and mighty, belittle them and be deliberately obtuse by saying “It’s in the agreement that YOU signed and agreed to” without actually pointing out where.
  • When they come back and say “these don’t appear to be properly detailed nor documented any where.”, simply respond by thanking them for providing their feedback on disclosure and skirt around actually answering their question.
  • When the customer advises they will now open a case with the small claims tribunal in your jurisdiction (to be held via teleconference mediation). Then offer a refund via a friendly worded email stating “as a gesture of good will” but what ever you say, AVOID apologising or admitting fault or wrongdoing. Admitting fault here could open up your business to a wave of like claims against your business from similarly affected customers.
  • Your star rating on Google and FB reviews flagging? Get your own employees to post multiple 5 star positive reviews for the rental car locations your business owns in order to try and flood out and counter the negative genuine reviews from actual customers that document irregularities they may have experienced with you.
  • When challenged by a customer whom recognises many of the staff names against the 5 star reviews, try and justify your failure to disclose your conflict of interest by saying “but the staff are customers too!” (but further fail to disclose they get their vehicle hires free as a perk)
  • The customer may try to school you on your own country’s consumer laws. Employ delay and placating tactics by fobbing them off saying you’ve referred the matter to your “compliance department” (which may or may not even exist) who are investigating and looking into the matter and lace the E-mail with as much corporate buzzword laden bullshit as possible about how you take corporate responsibility and ethics seriously.
  • If and when the customer advises they have now referred the matter (including screen-shots of all your fake reviews) to Consumer Regulators in your jurisdiction to obtain their comment on the matter… Drop all the previously provided (flimsy) excuses and delete as many fake reviews in haste as quickly as you can (irrevocably confirming your misdeeds) and completely decimating what little credibility your business had left in the customer’s eyes.

Success Criteria:

Sufficiently Paint your own business as a Mickey Mouse operation run by total clowns at the helm. 🤡🤡🤡

Based around an actual hiring experience together with other experiences and anecdotes from both car hire customers along with actual (former and current) car hire company industry staff.

 

How to offend loyal customers, lose credibility and cause irreversible brand damage

This picture can not be explained

Update: 1st August 2020 – The Agent rang thanking me and mentioned it was given to someone in Ngāruawāhia intended to be distributed by local children for a local letterbox drop (possibly as part of a fundraiser I believe). Still strange where it ended up though.

Box of about 1,500 Real Estate flyers left under a tree in a ditch at the Waterworks Dam on Hakarimata Trail. I really don’t understand why anyone would go to the trouble of hiking in a box load of glossy flyers, then leave it under a tree all alone. Very weird and odd…

Box of Real Estate flyers dumped on Hakarimata Trail

Initially though it was gear or supplies for track maintenance and/or weed control, but seemed really weird to keep it in a cardboard box, so peered through the opening.

Took the box out of the reserve and dropped it off to Lugtons (Hamilton based Real Estate agency). While I was initially hesitant to touch it, It didn’t appear to be used to transport/hide drugs or any other nefarious activity, and I did not think the colourful flyers made for healthy fertilizer hence the reason to remove it.

In hindsight… Could be as innocuous as someone wanting extra weight to hill train with but simply aborted the idea halfway with the intention of picking the box back up upon coming back down (but never did or otherwise forgot).

This picture can not be explained