I had about an 80 mile drive each way from the airport in Houston to where I had to be on Thursday and Friday of last week. I also wanted to explore the area a bit so I expected to go through the better part of a tank of gas. A rental car was booked for me with Dollar Rent A Car.
When I got to the rental car check in at Hobby Airport I went through all the routine questions. I was asked if I wanted their prepaid gas option, which would mean I wouldn’t have to fill up on the way back. I said “no” because that option is usually expensive. The clerk insisted. He said they charge $3.39/gallon while prices on the street were $3.50 - $3.75. OK, that made it worthwhile. I took it.
As I headed down the street to the freeway the first gas station I came to was charging $3.25/gallon. The first one I saw from the freeway charged $3.17/gallon. The clerk had lied to my face to get me to take the option. I was furious. I shared what happened with one of the guys I was meeting. He laughed and said that rental car companies do that to make a few more dollars. Really? This sort of lying to customers is condoned? Is that what customer service in Houston is like nowadays?
On Friday when I checked in I asked to talk to a manager and I explained what had happened. The manager was good. He took off the charge immediately and even though I volunteered to take the car to get the tank filled he said I didn’t have to. He saved me the cost of gas for my trouble and called what happened “unacceptable.”
I hope that manager was honest with me. I hope this sort of thing isn’t routinely tolerated or encouraged. My question is this: how many times has the clerk done this before someone complained? Has he been getting away with it? Do they really get away with this?