September 22, 2006: Final Day in North Brunswick

This is it, packing day. We move first thing in the morning. Boy are we excited. We might be more excited if we knew that the Internet access would be turned on and if Dominica didn’t have to start work so early this morning but we are still pretty excited. Dominica had to be at work at half past seven this morning. She was actually up early enough that she had decided to go to Dunkin Donuts on her way into the office to get bagels for everyone.

Today was, as you can imagine, quite a busy day. Thankfully it is Friday and a lot of people who normally put really high demands on my time don’t work nearly as long on Fridays so my load is lighter.

One last large centipede today. Found him in the kitchen at noon. It was like an old Western showdown. In the end, it is Dominica, Oreo and I that are retreating but I had to show that it was not that we didn’t put up a fight. We might have lost the war but we won one last battle.

We got a very good report on Oreo yesterday from Doggie Paradise. They said that he tried to play with an aging dog, sixteen years old, who never ever plays and at first Oreo was too tough and actually knocked the older dog over. But then Oreo realized that the dog was old and Oreo played very gently and carefully with the older dog all day. They said that the older dog never, ever played and that they were really proud of Oreo for being so gentle and taking the time to include the old timer in a whole day of fun. Oreo is so sweet. He really seems to pick out the dogs that need someone to play with and keeps them company. He is the best dog ever.

Tonight was an all out packing night. I called the Penske local truck pick up which was actually a Thrifty Car Rental that had a deal with Penske to let them lease the trucks too. They said that i could add an extra day to the lease and come pick up the truck tonight since it was ready to go and just waiting for me in the morning. We had decided that if at all possible that would be the thing to do since we really needed the extra time to get it loaded and ready since the rental place didn’t open until nine tomorrow morning which meant that we would be unlikely to have the truck to the apartment until ten and really we should be leaving the apartment but a quarter after ten to give ourselves our full window to unload the truck in Newark. Fifteen minutes seems a bit short for loading the whole truck. Especially when you realize Dominica can’t really lift anything because of her back so I am pretty much loading the truck alone.

It was half past three when I called and got the truck scheduled for tonight. The guy working said that they were open until six but that he wanted to get the last truck out no later than a quarter to six because he had a busy weekend and had to take care of some things. I said that that was fine and that I could be there a bit before then. He said just to let him know if I wasn’t going to make it by five thirty. I said that that would be no problem. He did let me know that the dolly that we had ordered had not arrived so we would have a little less moving help than we had planned on.

I left North Brunswick at four thirty to head over to get the truck in East Brunswick which isn’t too far away but traffic was awful. It took half an hour to get over to the shop. It was five when I walked in to Thrift – with half an hour before I even needed to let the guy know that I would be late – and the manager of Thrifty said that the guy had left some time before. Okay, so this is a problem. I left Thrifty and called Dominica from the parking lot and she said to go in and to make sure that they either gave me a way to call the guy or to have them call the guy but one way or another we were not giving up an hour of driving after having made an appointment to pick up the truck just to have lost that time and not have had the truck early which would set us even farther behind.

So I went back in to Thrifty and they said that they couldn’t give out the guy’s cell phone number, which seemed reasonable, but they also said that they were completely unwilling to call him and that since he had left for the day there was nothing that they could (actually “would”) do and the fact that they were still open, the fact that the truck rental portion was still open for another hour yet and the fact that I had called ahead and moved the rental time up a day didn’t matter and they didn’t even act as if it bothered them at all that they were providing the worst customer service that they possibly could unless they outright laughed at me. At this point I realized that the guy didn’t leave early on accident but that this was actually a malicious act of someone leaving early knowing full-well that a customer was going to be there and screwed and the whole Thrifty shop was in on it. I let them know that we would be calling Penske national customer service in case they were actually so inane that they hadn’t all ready figured that out.

Dominica actually called Penske, I tried but she got through first and had our customer record pulled so they couldn’t help me, so I just talked to the guy and he gave me the probably scenarios and then I went on to Walmart to do some moving shopping while Dominica sorted out the issue. I no sooner got to the Walmart parking lot than she called and turned me around to go back. Penske customer service didn’t understand how this could occurred because the manager was scheduled to have been at the Thrifty location at the time when I was there. (I should mention that Thrifty is not a division of Penske but is just a franchisee of the Penske truck rental service.) Dominica explained that I had spoken to the Thrifty manager and that it was he who had treated me so badly. The guy leaving early was obviously at fault for leaving but anyone can make a mistake and leave. But knowing that a customer was getting screwed and not being willing to even discuss it was completely unreasonable and actually downright mean. To make matters worse it isn’t like that guy couldn’t have done the rental himself since he was the manager. He just didn’t feel like it and was being lazy.

Once Penske learned that the manager was there and didn’t fix the situation post haste they were outraged and called the manager directly and had a little chat with the Thrifty location (I am sure a short discussion as to the meaning of “customer service” or “rental contract” or “oral agreement” or perhaps “franchise revocation” ensued.) Moments after that the manager had contacted the guy who had left early and had him heading right back there (funny how suddenly he WAS able to get a hold of him after he had left.)

I drove back and the truck rental guy but me taken care of quite quickly. He was very friendly and apologized for having left early. He said that the manager had sent him home early and he had forgotten that I was coming because he was able to leave so early. I can only assume that this is true since the guy was so nice and the manager wouldn’t speak to me or even look directly at me (I think he was pissed that he had gotten caught with his pants down and decided to sulk rather than apologize and try to salvage the situation as much as possible – probably figuring that he has all ready done such a bad job that he is just riding the thing out until they fire him.) Penske told us that the East Brunswick Thrifty location was a regular spot for complaints of this nature. I bet once they start letting customers know that they are probably preparing to make an example of them. Or, to some degree, they were just by saying it.

“So how did it all turn out in the end?” you ask. Well, I will most definitely rent from Penske again. I have before and everything was fine. But anyone can have a good day. I truly believe that you never know how good a company is until you see how they deal with a crisis and today could have been a real embarassement for Penske but instead they did exactly what they should have and fixed the sitation as much as it could be fixed. We were totally satisfied with the situation when they were done. Penske earned my trust today and that isn’t easy. (Dell could have fixed their battery situation similarly by recalling their defective and dangerous batteries as soon as they knew about the situation instead of waiting until an explosion happened on live television before being forced to admit that they knew this was a danger and that putting children’s lives in danger wasn’t an important enough reason to have done an expensive recall.)

Now conversly, Thrifty Car Rental came out on the bad side of this situation. I wasn’t even renting from Thrifty directly and never have in the past but now I have a really clear picture of what Thrifty considers to be customer service. They couldn’t care less about what people think of them and that is a dangerous situation since there is nothing short of a lawsuit protecting you against any number of inconvenient or potentially hazardous situations. Now I have not yet contact Thrifty’s national customer service to let them know about the actions of this particular location but apparently they are aware of the situation from Penske and have failed to take any action to protect their company’s image which results in them condoning this manager’s behaviour. So, as you can imagine, I will not be doing business with Thrifty. And what did they have to do? All they had to do was call the guy who left early and have him come back. No harm, no foul. Or the lazy, worthless manager could have just done a rental himself. Maybe he isn’t qualified to do so but he should have apologized for being incompetent and at least honesty would have been there to protect him. Either way he could easily have done something under his own volition to make things right. Accidents happen, mistakes are made. Whatever. But being a jerk and just plain mean to customers who are in the right doesn’t cut it and Penske agreed. Go Penske. Woot!

The truck was quite nice too. I am very pleased with the vehicle. Often truck rentals (from other, nameless truck rental entities) are very spartan and in rough condition and not pleasent at all to drive but Penske had a very well maintained, clean truck and the whole experience from the Penske side was great.

I got the truck out to the North Brunswick parking lot and Dominica showed up just minutes behind me. She drove me right out to East Brunswick and we picked up the Mazda and we got back as quickly as we could to get packing. We got just about everything staged tonight and loaded the big items like the futon into the truck so that we wouldn’t have to worry about them in the morning. We didn’t load anything valuable but just bulky furniture items or bins or inexpensive stuff like food.

We were tired when we went to bed at ten but were very happy that we had the truck and a lot of the packing done before we turned in. That relieved a lot of the stress that we were going to be under. Tomorrow is going to be a very exciting day.

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