Car Rental throwing away money.

2022-06-07

Maybe someone in the car rental industry can help clarify things here but...

At some point in traveling I'd rent a car from Hertz. I'd get to the airport, ride the Hertz shuttle to the Hertz location. There, they'd announce something to the effect of

If you're a gold member look up your car on the dash board and then go straight to your car.

The rest of us had to go into the Hertz office and stand in line at the counter for 10-30 minutes depending on how crowded the counter is.

I ended up joining the gold club which is free.

Since then I've even been in locations where they say

Just pick any car you want in this section

This all got me wondering though, what is the benefit to Hertz of making people go to the counter? As far as I can tell they are just bleeding money. They could have nearly everyone just walk to their car, saving them on having to have 3 to 20 people at the counters and all the counter equipment.

Signing up for a gold membership, if I recall, is just about setting your preferences and verifying your data. There's every incentive for them to do this for all customers before they get to the car rental area. Even if those customer don't sign up for the "gold club" it would still save Hertz a bunch of work.

Note that even after you pick up the car, you drive to the exit and there are gates with employees who check your license and hand you your rental agreement. It usually takes 30 to 60 seconds. Which begs the question, why does it take so damn long at the counter? There, it feels like it's around 10 minutes per customer and the agent at the counter is typing constantly. What are they typing? This is true, even if you have a reservation which means you've already registered all the data they need!

It's seriously ridiculous. Even the airlines at least have automated agents where you type in your name, scan your id, it prints your boarding pass. You drop off your luggage. Done!

Hertz has to be throwing away 100s of millions of dollars a year by not doing both things above. (1) just letting you walk straight to your car (2) automating as much as possible.

But who knows. Maybe a Hertz employee can explain why it's possible to do it, as evidenced by the Gold Club, and why they don't just do it for everyone and save so much time and money.

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