Everyone makes mistakes. The true defining factor is how the mistake is handled.

I ordered two sets of two speaker stands from Amazon sometime last week. This week, I received just one of those sets (two stands, not four). I emailed their customer service address and the response was amazing. Without questioning me, they are sending out the second set Next Day Air at no cost. I’m impressed; Amazon, you will retain me as a customer and I will attempt to bring you more business.

On the other hand (I should have used OTOH, since I never get to), let me describe the horrors of Dollar Rent-a-Car. The name alone should have scared me back into the hills, but NO, I had to try to get a cool car. So, like you know, I went back to Detroit last weekend for the auto show. Because of Microsoft, I get discounts with Avis and normally use them for car rental services. I usually get a Grand Am or an Alero or something equally bland for about $170 for a three-day-weekend. I thought that I should try to get a cooler car for the auto show weekend and remembered that some company rented out Chrysler 300s. Normally, I hate Chrysler (and all parent, sibling and child companies) because the father of She-That-Will-Not-Be-Named worked for them. I decided that was simplistic and found out that Dollar rented them out. The 300 fell into their Premium classification and a weekend rental was calculated to be about $165.96. That was about what I would pay normally, but I knew the final value would be greater due to airport fees and so on.

Fast forward to 6:30 AM (EST, so my brain thought it was 3:30 AM) and I’m trying to pick up my car. There is only one person ahead of me in line, but little did I know how long that one person would take. From what I overheard, a group of three guys were severely delayed and thus they wanted to rent a car instead. They must have tried five different credit cards before they found one that went through. All in all, it took about 20 minutes and I know they ended up paying around $575 for three days. Ouch. So, finally it is my turn. I told her my name and she said “Okay, Mr. Bibik, it looks like we have you down for a Pacifica today.” I corrected her and said I requested a 300. She informed me they did not have anymore 300s and that the Pacifica was also in the Premium class. I hate big vehicles and I’m especially not going to pay extra to roll in a minivan! I knew I couldn’t do anything about it, so I asked for a vehicle in the next lower classification. She said I could upgrade to a 300 Touring, but from my investigations on the web, that would have been at least $200 extra. She had a Dodge Stratus available, but since I requested a Premium rate, she couldn’t give me the Stratus rate but only a 10% discount. I wanted to fight it, but what can some simple counter lackey do? Nothing. So I agreed and she started typing for what seemed for five minutes. I swear to god she was posting on Blogger about the previous guys. Anyway, over the clickity-clack, she quips “You know about our underage driver rate, right?” Once again, I wanted to fight, but what could I do? I said “yes” and KNEW that my quoted $165.96 was going to be terribly off. She then asked if I wanted full coverage or basic. I said basic, not realizing that “no coverage” would have also been an option. When she finally printed out an agreement for me to look over and sign, the final value was about $360! In addition, the dot-matrix-printed agreement was so confusing. Just picture it, a 11″x13″ page filled with 8 point Courier font and she circled SEVEN areas that I needed to initial. All I cared about was getting the hell out of there. I looked for the insurance area and saw DECLINED x3, so I figured at least I wasn’t going to get reamed by that.

I pull out of the parking lot and the windows are a mess. It looks like some kids attempted to cover the entire rear window with fingerprints. The windshield isn’t much better. The outside is dirty, so I go to use the washer fluid… oh, silly me, I expected there to be washer fluid! Luckily, I was able to get home safe where I promptly spent 20 minutes cleaning the windows and putting in washer fluid. Anyway, the car was a dog, I spent $30 on gas (but I drove over 600 miles so it got pretty good mileage), and turns out that they automatically charged me for LDW since I was “underage”. 24.5 is less than 25, I agree, but I can drive better than 90%+ of the population. Sigh, the final figure was $366.