Avis, please try harder

This July, I rented a car from Avis in San Diego. It was a pretty poor experience. So, I wrote them a complaint letter.

Besides writing the letter itself, I thought I’d have fun. In the spirit of Yours is a Very Bad Hotel, I proudly present “How NOT to rent a car”:

Here’s the letter itself:

September 3, 2007

From: Paul Schreiber
XXXX XX Street
San Francisco CA 94107

To: Avis
6 Sylvan Way
Pasippany NJ 07054

3180 North Harbour Drive
San Diego CA 92101

Re: Car 7331332, Rental 245850592, Reservation 04465164-US-4B

Dear Whom it may concern,

On 22 July 2007, I rented a car from the Avis San Diego airport location. I was extremely disappointed with my experience. Below are the details (along with some photographic evidence).

A long wait
I entered the Avis location and noticed a short line — only two or three people ahead of me. Your staffers behind the counter noticed this, too. One of them promptly left the counter and entered the back room. Over the course of the next five minutes, as I waited, many Avis employees appeared and disappeared. None ventured towards the counter.

Confusion over reservations
Finally, it was my turn. Roberto (Agent 13414) took my driver’s license and credit card. He told me they had two reservations for me — a mid-size car and a small car. He asked which I car wanted. I had only made one reservation — for an economy car. He gave me the paperwork, and I was on my way.

A car unfit for rental
The car I received was in very poor condition and was not fit for rental.

Here’s the car — a Chevrolet Cobalt LT in space E23. It looks fine from the outside.
[see slides]

Here is the note I spotted when I entered the car:
[see slides]

It seems Luis C. was handed a car in terrible condition and did nothing about it. As you’ll see, he could not have fixed all of the problems himself. But he could have fixed some of them. And he should have let his manager know the car was unfit for rental and should have be pulled off the lot.

Unfit? Really. Yes. How unfit? Check out the photos below. The car was dirty. Dirty. Like Christina Aguilera. It was in need of a thorough cleaning/detailing.

Some of the problems could have been easily fixed, like the dirty mirrors:
[see slides]

Others, not so much.

  • The driver’s side controls had lost some paint
  • And became easily dislodged
  • The passenger-side controls had chipped paint
  • The ceiling
  • The ceiling close up
  • The armrest

[see slides]

Paul Schreiber

Join the Conversation


  1. Paul,

    I had a similar experience a week ago, at the Avis at SFO.

    The first car I was assigned was double-booked — two women with paperwork that mirrored mine were sitting in the car when I found it. They drive off. I went back to the desk.

    I was excited to be assigned a Sebring convertible at no extra cost — until I discovered that the car had a dead battery.

    Finally, on the third try, I got a car.

    Four days later, after I returned home to Cleveland, I went online to print out a receipt. According to Avis.com, I never returned the car. A frantic call to Customer Service revealed that the people who could fix the problem would return on Tuesday after the Labor Day weekend. The operator suggested I call the Avis desk at SFO.

    Several attempts later, after letting the line ring forever, someone finally answered and promptly fixed the problem.

    I’m so looking forward to my next Avis rental.

  2. Not a bad letter, but it would be better if you at least hinted at what you expected them to do about it. And what you’re going to do about it. (ie: not rent from the again, give them one more chance, or whatever)

  3. “Bob Bobber”

    I know. As a rule, with complaint letters, ask for specifics and give firm deadlines.

    It’s just I can’t think of anything to ask for. If they gave me my $27 back, that would be nice, but I don’t care all that much.

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