Monday, October 19, 2015

How to get Thrifty to pay me the money they owe me (update Nov 9, Jan 10, Feb 10, Aug 20, Oct 17, Nov 8)

I've been trying for almost three months now to recover $706.39 USD I'm owed by Thrifty Car Rentals. So far all my attempts to communicate have been ignored. A few people have seen me mention this on social media and asked me what it's all about; I thought it'd be helpful to write it up here. I'm also now in a position of seeking advice on how to escalate the situation. Is there a consumer advocacy group to which I can report them? Does one sue for this kind of amount of money?

On July 29, 2015, I flew to San Francisco and attempted to collect my pre-paid weekend car rental. (I booked and payed for the rental via 26,250 United Mileage Plus miles—roughly the cost of a round-trip economy-class ticket.)

After two hours in line (!) I was told that there were no cars available; I was given a form to fill out and asked to rent from another company. I was assured at the time that the cost would be reimbursed within three weeks. So I rented from National, paying $706.39 for a four-day compact rental—the same as I'd already payed Thrifty for. I promptly submitted Thrifty's Offsell Certificate form and my National receipts via post and waited. The allotted weeks passed; nothing happened. I waited three more weeks; nothing happened.

On September 30, I submitted another message via their customer service links on their website, reminding them of their obligations. This too was ignored.

If for some reason you care to see what I sent Thrifty, here is my copy of the documents in question.

Back in July, I'd been most upset about the lack of professionalism at the rental counter, and making me wait two hours just to be told to go to another counter. But the fact that they won't return my letters or emails about the $706.39 I am owed is, I think it's fair to say, even worse. If anyone has any suggestions for how to go about recovering this money, I'd be grateful to hear them.


Update (Nov 9): Shortly after this blog post, Thrifty's twitter account DM'd me and put me in touch with a customer service representative via email. One Kevin Stovall wrote to me on Oct 21. This email did not acknowledge that I should have received payment months ago or explain why I hadn't; instead, it simply told me to expect a check for $554.49. I don't know where that number came from, and told him so. He seemed to think it represented the difference between the promised rate and what I ended up paying. I replied:

Yes. But the 'difference' in this instance is the full value, as I already paid Thrifty for the rental via miles. I was expecting to pay $0 additional for the rental, and I paid $706.39 instead. So the difference is $706.39. I don't know where you're getting another number. That $554.49 would make sense if our agreement had been that I would pay Thrifty $151.90 on top of my miles. But that was never the agreement.
This is something I confirmed with the agent at the desk; it is also common sense. Because Thrifty was unable to provide the car I'd reserved and already paid for, I paid $706.39 more than I'd planned to, out of pocket. 
I note that my mileage payment has not been reimbursed. If you wish to reimburse me $554.49 and also refund me the 26,250 United Mileage Plus miles that I spent, I would consider that acceptable.
This exchange all occurred on Oct 21. He never replied to the quoted email; I note also that I still haven't received any payment whatsoever.

Update (Jan 10): I received a cheque for some of the money owed, with no explanation for why I didn't get all of it. Thrift has reimbursed me $554.49, but still owes me $151.90 (or a miles reimbursement). They have ignored all of my emails since the last update. I'm writing some more now. Also I'd like to clarify that the numbers quoted above are all in US Dollars. Thrifty owed me about $1,000 CAD for months, and didn't give me a dime until I started calling them out publicly.


Update (Feb 10): All my emails still go unanswered. Thrifty's twitter team noticed me after my last update, and asked for my information again. Nothing happened. They owe me $151.90 USD or 26,250 United miles. Over six months now.


Update (Aug 20): Well, the one-year anniversary of my being owed money has come and gone. The good news is, Thrifty has now admitted that I am correct, and that they still owe me $151.90! A customer service representative emailed me thus: "After further investigating your concern we have concluded that you were correct. Please accept my sincere apologies for miscalculating your refund. I have started the check process and will submit it to our accounting department. You check will be in the amount of $151.90, please allow 10-14 business to receive your check." The bad news is, I received this email on Feb 22, and now, six months later, I still have no check.


Update (Oct 17): I am still waiting. Total radio silence. Emails are being ignored. They admitted in February that yes, they owe me $151.90 USD, and that I should expect a check soon. But it hasn't come, and they're ignoring all my follow-up emails. Time for another round of social media complaining, I think. If anyone has any other ideas for what might work, I'd be interested to hear.


Update (Nov 8): Social media noticed me again and asked for some details, which I provided. Then no further information or communication. And then I got a check in the mail!
So I guess this is finally over.