No boîte auto for you
So I just got off the phone with a rental car customer service rep. I should preface this by saying that I rent cars through this company for at least 2 weeks per month for work - so I've got a lot of fidelité points built up. I was thinking about rescheduling our trip to Reims for February, when Miss Leyla will be here, and thought I'd use my points to rent a car (to spare her from C's driving).
But everytime I would connect to their website, it said I didn't have enough points. People, after two years of regular rentals with them, I have about a gazillion points, so I'm thinking - how is this possible? I finally decided to suck it up and call their "customer service" line, at the low, low price of 32 cents per minute.
So I start explaining my story, saying that I want to use my points to reserve an automatic car for a few days in February. She cuts me off and says "Oh la la, that is SOOOO not possible. You can't use your points to rent an automatic car".
Me: What? Why not? You guys are certainly happy to rent them to me and to take several hundred euros a month from The Company, and I don't get any benefit from that?
CS: Sure you do Madame, you can rent any of our manual cars.
Me: Do you think I'm just renting automatic cars for fun?*
CS: Who on Earth doesn't know how to drive a manual car?
Me (thinking: "Um, practically my entire country, but whatever): That's really none of your onions, is it?
We go back and forth for several more minutes, with me insisting that surely there must be some way for me to use my points for an automatic car. She finally admits there is, but that it would require me to call her back each time. (Oh joy!)
Me: So every time I want to use my points, I'm going to have to pay 32 cents per minute to do so.
CS: Well, yes, but it's normal, we're a business, we have to make money.
Me: I'd like to remind you you make plenty of money off of your rentals....
CS: But every company IN THE WORLD charges, how could we not?
Me: I'm sorry to break it to you, but it's not actually payant in a lot of other countries.
CS: I don't believe you - companies could not survive without doing that.
Me: It's true - customer service numbers are free in the US. And in Canada too. (And then I throw in a whole bunch of other random countries, without really knowing if they have free numbers, but I figured she'd never know that).
CS: Hurrumph. Well whatever, in France, c'est comme ça.
Me: Okay, well anyways - can we get on with my rental?
CS: But I told you it wasn't possible to use your points with an automatic car.
Me: Sigh. (Do we really have to go through this all over again??) Okay then, well let's use the extremely convoluted, roundabout way you suggested earlier.
*tappity tap tap tap*
CS: Oh la la. We have another problem - you are wanting to rent during les vacances scolaires. This means it is going to TRIPLE the points needed. There is no point in proceeding.
Me: Well, can we just try it and see?
*tappity tap tap tap*
CS: Oh la la, there is a third problem. The reservations for February are not open yet.
Me: What do you mean they're not open yet? I just reserved a car this morning for work.
CS: Yes, but we're talking about the fidelité reservations. Those only open up a few weeks beforehand. Try calling back 10 days before you want to leave.
Me: Ten days before I want to leave? You want me to plan my vacation only 10 days before I go? Book the hotel and everything at the last minute, etc? Your fidelity program kind of sucks.
CS: Well it's not me that makes the rules - it's been like that forever. (The standard French excuse - even though something is dumb, we can't change it because it's always been that way).
Me: So basically what you're saying is that I have no chance of ever using any of the points that I've accumulated in the past two years?
CS: Sure you can....for a manual car.
Me: (Mental argghh!!!!) Really then, there's no point in me renewing my card and staying chez vous? I might as well go with another company who will let me do that.
CS: Whatever. (Can't you practically hear the shoulder shrug??)
So 30 minutes later, I was out almost ten euros and I still did not have a reservation. The funniest bit of all was at the end, when I said "Thank you for your help (grrr)" and she replied "No problem" and then we're both like "Bonne journée, au revoir". It always cracks me up that people can spend all this time arguing with each other, but you still almost never see someone storm out without saying good day and goodbye. It might be an angry goodbye, but they will still say it.
The French - polite, even in the face of rudeness.
*And yes, I realize I could just suck it up and finally learn to drive a manual car, but 1)I'm gone so much for work that I don't really want to spend the little free time I have learning to drive a stick shift in Paris, 2) it would cost a fortune and 3) at this point, I plain just don't feel like it.