June 24th, 2008

storyteller doll

Draft Complaint Letter

Dear (whoever the right higher up at Budget Car Rental is),

I believe that businesses would like to satisfy their customers. I have been satisfied with car rentals from Budget in the past, but my experience in Denver, Colorado this weekend is an exception.

I reserved an economy car to be picked up at the Denver International Airport at 10:30 a.m.. My flight was slightly early and I stopped at the Budget desk inside the airport. The clerk at the Budget desk inside the airport told me that she took no information but would check that my reservation was in the system, which it was. I then took the bus to the rental car lot.

The line to pick up cars was the longest I have ever seen in my life. Only 4 clerks were working and it was over an hour before I reached the head of the line. The clerk who took my details asked me if I still wanted a small car and I said that I did, due to gas prices and the difficulty of finding parking spaces for larger vehicles. He then walked off for approximately 10 minutes. When he returned, he told me they were giving me a Toyota Highlander. This is not, in fact, a small car. When I objected, he told me I could wait to speak to his manager, but that would be another half hour. Given the length of time to get to the rental car lot and the time I had waited in line, I reluctantly accepted the car. I then waited another 15 minutes for a porter to actually bring the car, during which time I saw several small cars in the lot. The total length of time from when I arrived at Budget's desk at the airport until I had the vehicle was nearly 2 hours. The clerk insisted this is not unusual for Denver. I have rented cars approximately 200 times at the Denver airport and the longest I have ever waited in the past is 30 minutes.

There is nothing I can do about the length of the wait (other than inform you so you can revisit your staffing at that location). Nor can I do anything about the inconvenience of parking a large vehicle. But I can and do object to having to pay for the additional cost of fuel because of a clerk's deception and/or incompetence.

The EPA estimates a Toyota Highlander gets 18 mpg in city driving and 24 mpg in highway driving and that a Hyundai Accent (the car identified as on my reservation) gets 24 mpg in city driving and 33 mpg in highway driving. Therefore, the car I was given uses approximately 35% more gasoline than the car I reserved.

I paid $33.70 to refill the car before returning it. Had I been given the car I reserved (and which was, in fact, available despite the clerk's claims) it would have cost me approximately $24.96. I would, therefore, like you to refund the $8.74 for expenses I would not have incurred had I been given what I asked for.

In addition, your on-line reservation system includes a guarantee that the total price will be as quoted in the reservation. The quoted taxes were $5.39, but I was actually charged $12.06 in taxes. This is a difference of $6.67, which I would also like refunded.

I have attached copies of the original reservation, my transaction record from returning the car, and my receipt from the gas purchase. Please refund the total unexpected expenses of $15.41 within the next 30 days.

Now, all I have to do is figure out who to actually send this to.
storyteller doll

The Other Un-fun Part of the Trip

I am the sort of person who gets to airports early. That was particularly true in this case since, given the problems picking up the car, I had low expectations for returning it. (Which were partly played out. The guy checking in cars ignored me and went to the person behind me. When I went over and pointed out that I had been waiting, he didn't even apologize.)

When I checked in, I saw that the flight was delayed. It was supposed to leave at 6:46 p.m., but the monitor was showing 7:00 p.m.. By the time I got to Terminal B, it was showing 7:20, which then became 7:50. In fact, we left slightly after 8. Usually, you expect to make up some time on route, but we actually arrived a full 90 minutes after departure.

None of this is United's fault, but it explains why I was a total zombie all day yesterday.
storyteller doll

But There Was Fun ...

Once I actually had the rental car, I drove up to Louisville, checked into the hotel, and dropped by a store to pick up a bottle of wine. I had hoped they would have "7 Deadly Zins" (which is actually good zinfandel, but I admit that I have been known to buy wine by punning names alone and have given somebody a bottle of "Marilyn Merlot"). But, alas, no, and I settled on "Sin Zin" instead. I had no problem finding my way to the party. My attempts to parallel park the Highlander could have provided great amusement, however, had anyone been looking.

Anyway, the party included good conversation and good food - which is about what a party needs. agedwiz and I tried to figure out how long it had been since we'd seen each other and came up with the astonishing 14 years. There were a few other old soc.singles folks there and other LJ'ers and I will inevitably screw up remembering and forget to name somebody so it is best if I not try to list who all was there.

I do have to mention the scotch. I'm not a scotch drinker and I even gave away the bottle that had been part of the ex-boyfriend collection. But there was this bottle of some 30 year old single malt scotch that was said to sell for $60 a shot. I tasted just a sip and have to admit that it was decidedly drinkable. It didn't convert me from rum as my hard liquor of choice, but it was noteworthy. My boss is big on scotch and I should really find out the name of this one to make him jealous.

I used Sunday to satisfy one of my obsessions and did a volksmarch in downtown Denver, thus checking off another state capital. The 11 kilometer route was pleasant and included most of what downtown Denver is famous for, e.g. the 16th Street Mall, LoDo, the Capitol, etc.. One of the more interesting things was seeing Golda Meir's house. It's on the CU-Denver Auraria campus, where a number of historic houses have been moved to 9th Street Park. (Many of them are used for campus administration, by the way.) I also enjoyed Centennial Gardens and a stretch along the Platte River trail. One of my major travel rules involves going to local festivals, so I made the last kilometer or two take a lot longer by detouring through what turned out to be the Pride festival. It was extremely crowded, but there was decent music and attractive (though, obviously, unavailable for me) eye candy.

All in all, the trip was worth the travel hassles. Which is about all I can ask for.
storyteller doll

Odds and Ends

1) My calendar was clearing up. Key word there is "was." I signed up for classes at Stitches East. And I have almost decided what tickets to order for the Capital Fringe Festival, though I need to double check things to make sure there are no conflicts.

2) As I have mentioned before, I sometimes write down notes that I can't interpret a month or two later. Sadly, I know exactly why I wrote, "I am deeply disappointed in the Maldives." I do not, however, know why I wrote "Yankee go home" on the same page of my planner.

3) Somebody needs to stage a production of Robert Lindsay Nasif's, "Elliot Ness in Cleveland" where I can see it. (Nasif wrote "The Flight of the Lawnchair Man," which was the highlight of "3hree.")

4) My company email is very inconsistent when I do their remote access. Today, it took so long to open that I completely forgot who it was I was going to send an email to.

5) I am not sure if referring to wind as "sailboat fuel" is clever or irritating.

6) I am tempted to download some patterns for amigurumi, but I fear I would find making them addictive.

7) I am not surprised that Duke Ellington won out over Frederick Douglass and Benjamin Banneker to be depicted on the D.C. quarter. But I am a bit disappointed.

8) My colleague, George, recently described the inclusion of a particular person at a meeting as "like inviting Hitler to your bar mitzvah and thinking that it's OK because Stalin will also be there."

9) I am worried about Morgan Tsvangirai. I think he made the right decision and I hope the Dutch embassy can protect him.

10) I am also worried about a couple I know who live in Iowa City and have not answered my email asking if they are okay.

11) A career advice columnist in the Washington Post suggested one should email resumes in Word format and not PDF because "not everybody has PDF." Uh, not everybody has Word and a lot of people won't open Word documents from unknown senders due to the risk of viruses. I'd suggest plain text in the message body is safest.

12) Like everyone else, I will note the death of George Carlin. An interesting bit of trivia is that "7 Dirty Words" was the first routine broadcast on XM satellite radio.

13) Nobody else I've read has yet noted the death of Tasha Tudor, who illustrated a number of children's books.

14) There was a fascinating story in the International Herald Tribune today about the "sworn virgins" of Albania. By taking an oath of virginity, these women became legally treated as men. It was usually done to allow them to be heads of household. The practice is dying out now that gender roles are not as strict.
storyteller doll

Very Sad News

Cody's Books has closed. First the Telegraph Avenue store (where I spent way too much of my grad school stipends) closed. Now it is all gone.

I know that it's tough for independent bookstores, but they are so much more satisfying than on-line shopping. I never went into Cody's without seeing something that I didn't know existed. As detrimental as that serendipity could be to my budget, I don't like to see it lost.