Driving a rental car can be stressful at times – you’re in a car you’re not super familiar with, oftentimes in an area you don’t know well. Throw in driving at night and you’ve got another stressor.
Now imagine you have to drive for three hours in the middle of the night to return your rental car to an unexpected location before an 8am deadline. And you’re doing this because otherwise you’ll face a fine of $1,000. Now add being pregnant, and you have the situation a Tennessee woman named Sara recently found herself facing.
Why? Because Avis screwed up.
Business Insider reports that Sara and her husband had just returned from a cruise. They then proceeded to drive their rental car from Florida back to Tennessee. It was a 12-hour drive and they arrived at the Avis drop-off location in their home town of Knoxville at 11:30pm.
However when they got to the Knoxville drop-off location, they were told that Avis had listed their drop-off city as Nashville. Both Sara (who didn’t want her last name published due to concerns about her employment) and her husband didn’t notice Avis’s error on the paperwork when they rented the car.
With that, the Knoxville office said they had until 8:00 the next morning to get the car to Nashville; a 3-hour drive. And the Knoxville employees would not budge – if they didn’t get the car there in time, they’d face a fine of $1,000.
The Knoxville office would not budge, so Sara’s husband drove the rental car, while she drove their family car – so they’d have a way to drive back home.
Oh, and whole situation was even more dire because Sara was in the first trimester of her first pregnancy.
She told Business Insider, “I was just so early in my pregnancy and I’m a first-time mom. I was just terrified that my husband was going to fall asleep behind the wheel, or I was going to fall asleep behind the wheel, that something would happen to one of us or that it would put too much stress on the pregnancy.
“And also we just bought our car so I didn’t want anything to happen to it, and it just seemed ridiculous that they couldn’t do anything.”
Happily, they did manage to get the car to Nashville on time. But when Sara tried to contact anyone of importance at Avis, just so she could say, “Really? REALLY?,” she kept getting the run around. From Insider:
She said she has since been forced to deal with difficult communication channels, with one email from customer care, while her Instagram comments were deleted, she said, alongside complaints from several other customers when the company turned off its comments on the site.
“I wish my story could have been resolved, but I feel like they just have a lot of work to do,” Sara said.
Oh, and here’s the real kicker. When she did manage to get an Avis customer service representative on the phone, they allegedly told her that she and her husband should “learn to read” and they should have noticed the error when signing the contract.
So Sara got nowhere. But (surprise, surprise!) when Business Insider contacted Avis, the car rental company suddenly had second thoughts about how it had handled the entire matter.
With that, Avis offered Sara a full refund for their rental, as well as a credit for future service. An Avis spokesperson also issued an apology:
We are very sorry about this situation and have apologized directly to [the couple] for the poor customer experience. Unfortunately, due to miscommunication their drop-off location was recorded as Nashville, Tenn., which they only discovered at the Knoxville location after a long drive. We wish a better solution was offered to them right there and then, instead of having them drive an additional three hours to return the car the following morning.
Avis said the matter has been resolved “amicably.” Of course, whether Sara and her husband will be interested in dealing with them again is another question.
Feature Image: Foursquare
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Although I’ve heard of it, I still think it’s strange that they just bought a car but rented a car to drive from TN to FL. People buy cars to use it.
Maybe she was nervous about driving it that far? I dunno…
Did Avis cause this, or did the woman make the mistake when she reserved/ rented the car? One side presented so who knows? What does driving 3 hrs in the first trimester of pregnancy have to do with anything?
I wasn’t there, so I don’t know the answer to your first question. But it was the middle of the night, and they had to drive 3 hours to Nashville and then 3 hours backm after already driving 12 hours; she said she was concerned she or her husband would fall asleep at the wheel. And TBH, first-time mom might be nervous just in general; I’m not going to fault her for that.