So we were going back to Suffolk (UK) for the weekend to spend the weekend with my parents, train tickets were stupidly expensive so I thought I would hire a car for the weekend. Decided to go with Hertz and this is a quick summary of my experience
Once we finally found the location, we entered and saw LOTS of people waiting already sitting on sofas around the place, there was no obvious queues, so I wasn’t sure what the right thing to do would be. Walking around, I saw there are actually a ticketing machine at the OTHER entrance.
Tip 1. Clearly sign post all entrances about the ticketing machine, I wasn’t the only one who walked in confused
This was by far, the most annoying thing, although I had pre-booked our car, I still had to wait over an hour, needless to say neither all the other customers and I were happy about waiting, but at least there was a water machine and clean bathrooms for us to use.
Tip 2. Show estimated waiting time and next ticket number. There was a display but it only show you what number it was on when it called someone out.
Tip 3. I can so imagine this to be an automated process like going to the cinema with pre-booked tickets in the near future. Get there first maybe?
I know it’s the staff’s job to upsell and make it frictionless, but one thing that wasn’t frictionless was when I was presented with the bill. I paid £55 online already, I was pretty much expecting to sign a piece of paper and walk away. To find out I was upsold to instead of just being asked to confirm my package wasn’t a nice surprise.
Tip 4. Upsell clearly, there’s no hiding from the bills. Be very clear
Tip 5. The receipt was a mess, with ‘estimated’ this and ‘expected cost’ that. I was nervously checking my bank account for the next few days to see how much it actually cost
Getting the car
Finally I got the car, I was told I just need to walk outside and the car will be waiting for me in 5–10 minutes. LIES I was outside for another 30 minutes, I didn’t know if I was suppose to do hand the document to someone, or if a mistake was made in the procedure. It turns out there were just understaffed and I had to wait.
Tip 6. Waiting is fine, but let me know I haven’t missed anything and am at least in the right place.
(Not everyone would find this a problem) Its lovely to get a free upgrade for free, but not its not what you asked for. I ordered a “mini” car because:
- Its a cheaper hire
- Cheaper fuel
- I haven’t drove a car for a while and were not particularly confident with a big car
I know it was nice gesture for the upgrade, but the truth was, it made me pretty nervous. I also understand this could be a supply thing, but I am writing from a customer’s perspective
Tip 7. Ask if customer would like the free upgrade
Leaving the Hertz carpark
I thought leaving Hertz would be as simple as driving out of any old carpark. Nope, I had to present a number of documents to the gentlemen at the gate, why wasn’t I told I need all this ready? Why did you make me search frantically after such a long wait?
Tip 8. Include clear simple instructions in the envelope on what I need to do at the gate, just a few drawings would do nicely.
Again, what am I suppose to do? I got to that gate, am I suppose to climb out to reach the buzzer (my bad driving meant I couldn’t reach). It turns out it was all automated all I had to do was wait. The massive gate with ramp and barbed wired was intimating.
Tip 9. Simple sign… Please wait here for gate to open
Car Return, now what?
So I got to the “car return” area, now what am I suppose to do? There was a sign saying “park here” but that’s around a corner, not next to the bays… am I in the right place? Turns out I was, but now what?
Tip 10. A big sign over head saying “park in these bays to return car”
Tip 11. I’m parked, now what? No signs again. A member of staff then came over did a quick check and gave me a receipt. It was that simple, why didn’t you show/sell that? Now that was smooth.
Car hiring, especially from Heathrow where I imagine would include a lot of travellers would probably include a lot of tired and possibly foreign travellers. They are probably not in the best of moods to be confused, so please just pay a little more attention and sign post what we are actually suppose to do. Don’t let us feel lost or like an idiot.
My experience with Hertz wasn’t awful, it just didn’t feel as nice as it could have. I’m gonna try another place next time, just to compare the experience.
Disclaimer, this was only the second time I hired a car, the first was in Tasmina.
Also published on Medium.