Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Making a fool of myself at National Car Rental

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As you may have heard, IBM now has an agreement with National Car Rental and Enterprise.  All IBM employees automatically get the 'Emerald' status which means that we can 'bypass the counter' and go straight to our car.

So I figured this would be the same deal as with Hertz.  All IBM employees also get status with Hertz and the way it works is you take the Hertz shuttle, look up your name in the Hertz #1 Club Gold board and from there you know in which 'stall' your car is located.  Easy.  Fast.  Simple.

Rewind to last week.  I made a reservation to go to SFO (San Francisco, CA) and help a customer integrate Lotus Connections with Microsoft products.  I decided to rent a car with National because (1) it was cheaper and (2) we can earn frequent flyer miles when we rent from National (we can't with Hertz #1 Club Gold).

Fast forward to today.  I arrive into SFO.  I've had experiences renting from Hertz @ SFO before, but this was my first time ever renting from National.  I find a sign that says "Emerald members proceed to Level 4 to pick up your car".  It took me about 5 minutes, but I then figured out I was already at Level 4 (that's where the AirTrain drops you).  So I head out to where all the cars are and a guy asks "National or Alamo?"

I say "National" and he says, continue on to your right and pick your car.  So I go on and I see a bunch of cars.  All of them have tags hanging from the rearview mirror (just like Hertz cars).  I walk up to a couple of cars to read the tags, but can't find my name anywhere.  Since I had to go to the restroom, I decided to go back to the guy.  When he saw me walking towards him he made a face that said "Oh geez!!! Another newbie who doesn't know how this works.  Dummy!!".  I continued walking towards him and then he starts walking towards me.

Guy:  "Anything wrong sir?"
Me:  "How do I know which car is mine?"
Guy:  "Just pick any car you like"
Me:  "Really?"
Guy:  "Yeah, just pick any of the cars and off you go.  Keys are on the door"
Me:  "Huh!"  (Thinking:  WTF!!  This can't be that easy!!

So anyway.. it does work like that.. I walked up to the nicest looking SUV.. got into the car and off I went.  As I left the parking lot, they asked for my driver's license and off I went.  I may be a National kind of guy from now on.  Sorry Hertz!

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