Sunday, May 31, 2009

math is important

At the conference I attended recently, I had to fly into a big city and then rent a car to drive to a smaller city (strictly speaking I could have made an attempt to navigate a maze of public transportation options on the weekend when very few things are running...so I went with the car). I set this up online and had my reservation number and such, as usual, and went to find the rental cars at the airport.

I was told that the rental company I had reserved with had no cars left, so they would have me rent from a more expensive company and reimburse my credit card the difference. While this seemed sketchy to me at the time, I didn't have much of an option, so I said fine and got my car and was off.

Fast forward to my return to the airport, just in time to check in and not get yelled at by the people at the counter for being late for an international flight, and I'm returning the rental car. Except that I'm not sure whose return garage I should be entering: the company I theoretically rented from or the one who owns the car? I chose wrong, and caused all kinds of problems. People at various desks told me different things, everyone was confused, and eventually some guy just took the car and drove it back to the other company's area. And they gave me a receipt, so I went back to the ORIGINAL desk to see if that reimbursement they had promised me had actually been applied.

And I'm told that, yes, I had been reimbursed this ginormous sum of money that far surpassed the total expense of the car even at the more expensive rental place. And I said that it sounded like that number was too high, and perhaps they could double check? So the woman, obviously in a hurry to do something else, had me come behind the desk to show me that, SEE, right here is the rate...which was the total bill provided by the other company. And since their rate was only $20/day, I was being reimbursed the difference...between their rate (days x $20) and this crazy thing that they apparently thought was the other company's rate, but which was actually my total bill multiplied by the number of days I had rented the car.

Call me vindictive, but the whole thing had been such a ridiculous and frustrating exercise that I just thanked them and left. I don't really feel bad for taking money from people who won't let me explain why they shouldn't be giving me money. We'll see if they notice.