Friday, April 6, 2012

Still Life With Robin: Driven to Praise

by Peggy Robin

I've done more than my fair share of columns on consumer complaints, so I'm glad of the chance to show I can praise as well as I can dish out disdain. In the story below, the company went so far beyond what was expected that the teller of the tale (I'll call her Clara) wanted to spread the good word...and I was so impressed by what she had to say that I decided to help her out.  I will turn the narration over to her.

I had an important interview in an out-of-the way location, a far-flung suburb about 45 minutes  away by car...but I don't own one myself. Getting there by public transportation would take a subway and two buses, and if I figured the transfers correctly, maybe about two hours, or two and a half, if the timing of the connections misfired.
ZipCar, the car sharing service, seemed the perfect solution. I used it a few times before and it had worked well, so I booked my car online and gave myself a lot of extra time to make the drive.
When I came to pick up the car, it wasn't in the designated spot; the previous booked driver apparently was late with the return. Okay, I had given myself a generous window of extra time. But when the car was more than ten minutes late, then fifteen minutes late, I was starting to panic.

By the time I called ZipCar's customer service number I was anxious and expecting the worst.I figured the interview was blown, and and it would be difficult, perhaps impossible, to fix the situation. (I had already had to reschedule the interview once, and was sure that a second strike would be fatal.) So I wasn't prepared when the ZipCar representative calmly, even cheerfully, told me what I could do. Call a cab right now, she advised, and get to your interview on time. Save your receipts and send them to us. We will give you a credit for the full amount of the cabfare there and back.

That's just what I did. A taxi got me to the interview right on the dot; the ride was so far that the cabdriver volunteered to wait outside until the interview was done, without charging me for the down-time, so that he could bring me back to where I started. The fare came to $72 each way with the tip, or $144 roundtrip -- and it was lucky the driver took credit cards, because I didn't have that amount of cash on me.

True to the company rep's word, ZipCar issued me a credit, no argument needed. I learned, incidentally, that the person who turned in the car late would be charged a maximum penalty of $50 -- so ZipCar lost $94 on the deal. On the other hand, they now have one very loyal customer, who will continue to use ZipCar in confidence that if a booked ZipCar is not there, one way or another they will make good their pledge to get me to my destination. If only the airlines were so customer-friendly!

So I'm happy to spread the word about my ZipCar experience. Zippidee-yay!


Still Life With Robin is published on All Life Is Local and the Cleveland Park Listserv on Fridays.

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