My old Budget letter

Here’s the letter I wrote in June 2007 to Budget Rent-a-Car.  I rented a Budget truck to move some stuff from my house in NJ to Virginia.  I should have used U-Haul, but it was actually significantly more expensive.

The story is inside the letter – it was quite an adventure.  After this letter, I got back the late fee ($80), the money I paid for gas while driving around ($60), 3 free car rentals, and (I think) half of my original rental fee (~$70).  Not a bad deal in the end!

Read ahead for the letter.  Hopefully you can learn from my letters and write your own complaints!

If I had to write this letter again, I would change it because it rambles a little bit too much.


Letter:

Avis Budget Group, Inc.
Investor Relations
6 Sylvan Way
Parsippany, NJ 07054

To whom it may concern,

I recently moved from New Jersey to Arlington, Virginia.  I had the opportunity to choose between your company’s rental trucks and your competitor U-Haul.  I opted to go with your company because of the price and my father’s frequent car rentals from your firm.  However, this was one of the most disappointing experiences I’ve had with a company in a very long time.  If I’m ever to do business with your firm again, I would expect much change in your practices.

I rented the truck from Denville Hardware and Paint, a hardware store close to my house in New Jersey.  It was fine when I picked it up – the truck was a great size, the rear view mirror was cracked (but this was noted in the pre-rental notes).  I co-opted my family and friends, we packed the truck, and I was off to Arlington, Virginia.  High gas prices notwithstanding, the trip down was excellent.  The 10-foot truck was comfortable, and packed everything I needed it to.

The truck drop-off time was Saturday morning, 26 May, at 8:30am.  This seemed doable – the Budget drop-off point was a scant 10-minute drive from my new apartment, and there was public transportation nearby.  But now we come to a problem.  I followed the Google Maps directions to 240 Brookley Avenue and drove by a number of sights one only can see in the District of Columbia – Anacostia Naval Station, Bolling Air Force Base, even the Naval Research Laboratory (one of my professors works there).

I followed the directions but couldn’t understand when it said to take a left and thought to myself, “that was Anacostia Naval Station, and I wouldn’t be able to get in there, I’m not military”.  I kept driving and was dumped back onto the highway.  Imagine being dumped onto a confusing, Northern Virginia/DC highway without a map – it’s much like being up the proverbial creek without a paddle.  I trudged my way back after quite a long time driving and being lost, and found my way to the first military installation I could find.  It’s quite an experience: driving up to a military base with a large truck [then] having the officer on duty rest his hand on his service revolver.  Thankfully, when I explained my predicament, he directed me back to Bolling AFB, since that’s where the Budget drop-off was, and “maybe they’ll let [me] in if [I] explain the situation to them”.

Quite a procedure.

I drove to Bolling AFB and explained my situation to the guard at the front gate, and he said to drive to the Visitor’s center and ask there.  I explained my situation, calls were made, and the decision came back as no – I would not be allowed onto the base to return my truck.  This struck me – I was to return a vehicle but was not legally allowed to enter the area surrounding the drop-off area.  The feeling of being so close (and yet so far away) was painful.

Thankfully, the guards let me use their telephone to call Budget, and I was put through to another Budget dealer, located at 2605 Reed Street in the District.  He gave me directions, and I drove there.  The men at the back-alley trailer that had a scratched sign saying “BUDGET” were sympathetic to my situation, at least.  They couldn’t authorize refunding the late charge that I was now responsible for nor could they allow me to avoid the gas charge – I had to spend another $60.00 on gas to fill it up again.  The only reason I trusted dropping my truck there was because I got an official-looking printout that informed me of my late charge.

Needless to say, I was livid – tired, hungry, and now about $140.00 poorer.  I’ve not had a chance to write this letter because my job has been very demanding.  But the weekend is here, and now I can explain my situation.

I pray there is something you can do about this situation.  I’ve received a free car rental from your company, as an incentive for renting the truck, and I intend on using this.  But I would like my deposit back, for starters.  It would cover the ridiculous late charge and my extra gas fees.  I would also like you to remove the 240 Brookley Avenue drop-off from your list of locations – both guards noted that many others had come this way and were all summarily turned away.

Had I chosen U-Haul, this would have not happened – there are U-Haul locations closer to my location that are not on Department of Defense property.

The worst part?

It would have been less expensive.

I look forward to your response.
End Letter


The absolute worst part, actually, was that two weeks before I’d moved, there was a Budget truck drop-off point across the street from my new apartment.

Gah.

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