Published: September 25th 2007June 21st 2007
“What do you mean the rate isn’t available?” I fumed.
The balding Spanish man standing behind the desk had just informed us that the reservation I placed on Hertz.com a month earlier couldn’t be processed. “I have a confirmed reservation for 2,464 Euro from June 21 to October 10!” I assured him.
“Do you have a print of the reservation?” he inquired through unpracticed English.
“No, but I can show you on Hertz.com. Do you have Internet access?”
The accelerating pace of my counterattack must have confused him. “Internet?”
“Yes, if you have an Internet connection I can login to my Hertz account and show you the confirmed reservation,” I reiterated, while clearly annunciating each word.
“No Internet. You call and make a new reservation with an available rate,” the man countered with a grin.
Ready to burst at the seams, I instead pulled the laptop from my bag, hoping the Seville train station had WiFi. The man stood in bewilderment at my tactic, but humored my efforts while new customers began to queue behind me. 6 Euro and a few mumbled expletives later, I spun the laptop around and presented my evidence. Unimpressed, the Hertz representative keyed a few things into his computer before repeating his earlier proposition. “You will need to make a new reservation. That rate isn’t available.”
Smart enough to recognize the impediment
behind the desk lacked the ability and intelligence to remedy the situation himself, I opted to speak directly with Hertz Reservations in Ireland. A lengthy discourse in Spanish ensued between the local representative and a telephone representative before I was handed the receiver. I greeted the innocent phone representative with a curt “Hello.”
“Is this Mr. Sawyer?” the masculine voice asked.
“Yes, this is Mr. Sawyer. I am standing at the Hertz counter in the Seville train station and have a confirmed reservation from Hertz.com. The man here says that he cannot give me the car because the rate is no longer available. I am a #1 Club Gold member; I should be able to just walk in and pick up the keys,” I spat.
“I am aware of the situation. Unfortunately, the computers here in Spain won’t allow us to rent you the car under the rate code from Hertz.com. You will have to speak with someone at the European reservations desk in Ireland. Let me transfer you,” the man rambled off, clearly wanting to ditch the situation like a hot potato.
By this point, Gina noted the color in my face had intensified from slight pink to impassioned crimson. I tried to keep my cool when the unlucky woman in Ireland plucked me from the phone queue. After a quick, but thorough explanation of the situation, she simply responded with a thick Irish drawl, “Tisn’t right.” Tell me something I don’t already know.
Incessant clicking followed, before the woman confidently announced that there was nothing wrong with my reservation and asked to speak with the local rep. As Gina and I stood impatiently stewing, the man repeated the same protest to his colleague 2000 kilometers away.
“Get her extension number,” Gina griped.
“Why?” I defiantly retorted.
A few minutes passed before the man handed the phone back to me with an indifferent shrug. I listened as the rep in Ireland informed me to hold while she consulted her manager about a solution for the situation.
The notorious elevator music lasted all of 5 microseconds, followed closely by the painful silence of defeat and a busy signal - I had been disconnected. I didn’t even want to tell Gina.
“You have to be kidding me,” I pouted.
Both the representative and Gina guessed what had happened and neither dared to utter a word. An hour had passed since we crossed the threshold and the situation only seemed to be getting worse.
Yet another hour passed, repeating the exercise with varied success. Once the rate code issue was resolved, the Seville rep informed me that Gina and I would have to return to the train station every month to renew our contract because their computer systems couldn’t handle a longer rental.
“You expect me to drive back here from all over Europe to renew a contract that is booked for 4 months?” I frustratingly questioned.
Thankfully, with each new roadblock between us and the car, the Hertz Reservations Center in Ireland took our side. Little did they know, however, that when they handed over the keys for a brand new Opel with 11 kilometers on the odometer, that we intended to see what unlimited kilometers