The Other Side Of Service

Paul’s recent post about the great service from Starbucks sent me reeling since I’ve never experienced anything of the kind in Bangkok, so I thought I’d share an experience a colleague of mine had with Avis (car rental people) over the Songkran period.

About a month before Songkran he telephoned Avis and booked a Toyota Vios for the price of 1,480 baht per day. In Thailand, companies are quite deceptive about the real cost of things until it is too late for you to back out, so he asked “Is that the net price?” and the person told him “yes”. This was an important point because he was sharing the cost with three other friends.

When the day came to pick the car up he got:

Surprise #1
An extra charge for added insurance – 214 baht per day
The sales tactic used – scare them into paying by saying that if anything goes wrong, he would have to pay the first 5,000 baht for any damage.
It should probably be noted that, had he been told of this on the telephone when making the arrangements, he would have agreed then.

Surprise #2
A security deposit of 20,000 baht is required and this can only be put on a credit card (they do not accept cash).
Too bad if his credit card limit didn’t cover that. Luckily it did though.

When he objected to these first two surprises the staff told him that everything was detailed on their website. His answer – “I ordered over the telephone, not the internet!”

Surprise #3
The car was a Honda City – not a Toyota Vios.
The best part of this is that they didn’t tell him and let him find out when he arrived at the car.

Surprise #4
Staff weren’t available to return the car.
When picking the car up he had advised the staff that he had to return the car early on Sunday, yet no alarm bells were raised by them. Of course, on Sunday the place was empty, forcing my colleague to call the head office to find out what was going on. They gave him the branch managers mobile number (!) and he was told they would be leaving the car there because they couldn’t wait.

Apparently, the first three surprises were accompanied by a lot of angry shouting on my colleagues part (which I cannot imagine at all) and the staff were avoiding talking to him or making eye contact.

This, I tell you, is normal service in Thailand!

2 Comments so far

  1. Baba (unregistered) on April 19th, 2005 @ 4:51 pm

    Ah.. that’s typical of car rental places. They never tell you about the insurance till you’re standing there ready to pick up the keys and you never get the car you want. At least that’s always been my experience :)

  2. Bonifide (unregistered) on April 20th, 2005 @ 3:15 pm

    same experience with Baba, most car rental places say you’ll get a car “like” a Toyota Vios.

    but yeah, that sounds more like the typical Thailand service.

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