Blog Archive

Friday, October 1, 2021

Car Hire: Serving Steak Tartare to Vegetarians, Vaccine Effectiveness over 99.9%

Car Hire: New versus Old

I had two car rental experiences last month. They were about as different as it can get. I have written in the past about my car hire experiences as the levels of service can be atrocious, and alongside the poor practices, bordering on illegal on occasions, it can make for interesting reading. The poor practices I refer to include:

  • Charging extortionate amounts for minor / insignificant damage to the car
  • Bullying customers into taking expensive insurance options
  • Selling SatNav as an extra for as much as £10 per day when the vehicle already has it
  • Providing a lower spec car than the one the customer has paid for ("free downgrades")
  • Selling the customer a whole series of optional extras, most of which are over-priced and unnecessary (Goldstar are particularly good at this in my experience)
  • Providing a check-in service that is designed entirely around the company's convenience and doesn't give two hoots for it's customers (creating very long queues and wait times to collect a car)
And these are just some of the regular day to day issues that I see all the time. I have not mentioned the problem times like when I arrived at midnight to pick up my pre-paid car only to be told they had run out of cars!

New Style Rental - Redefining Customer Service

But, on a more positive note, I did have a generally good experience last month with Virtuo, a Paris based startup currently operating in major cities in France, UK and Spain. I booked the car on their app, scanned my driving licence and the other documents they wanted and I was all setup. I was also invited to add additional drivers for no extra charge. Just before my pickup time, I received a text message with instructions on where the car was parked. Using the phone app, I was able to unlock the car, check for damage and drive away. Simples! (Well it would have been if the car park barrier had not got stuck shut and then I had difficulty starting the car again).

The entire rental is controlled from the app via a small digibox that Virtuo have installed on the windscreen. On the two or three occasions I was unable to unlock the car, I called customer service and they did it remotely. I had to shut down and re-open the app a few times but otherwise the rental was good and felt like a proper 21st century experience. To return the car, they sent me a text advising which airport car park I should leave it in. I then just had to pop the car park ticket behind the sun visor, tell the app which floor and car park space I left it in, lock the car using the app and leave. It really is pretty simple once you get the hang of it. You even use the app to take photos of, and report, any damage. The app knows how much fuel you have used and how far you have driven so can charge you for any extras (e.g. if you don't refuel). It's genius in action and a great use of digitisation. The software is still buggy but I am sure they will improve it.

Old Style Rental

I booked an electric Renault Zoe with Avis as I wasn't going any great distances and wanted to try out a fully electric car and pollute less. In addition to the booking and prepayment using Expedia, Avis emailed me a digital check-in which I had to go online to complete, entering my driving licence number and various other details. I assumed that filling all this out would reduce the time spent at the check-in desk. How wrong I was!

They don't get any better...

My rental was due to start at 4pm which is exactly when I turned up at Avis. They took my passport, my driving licence and my credit card and started tapping away furiously on the computer. It took about 5 minutes for them to photocopy my passport as the machine jammed. They then returned all of my documents and held up a key, advising me I would be driving an Open Corsa Diesel Manual. I explained that this is not what I booked, nor what I wanted but was told it was 'the same category' as the one I booked. I checked my booking contract with Expedia which stated that car I had paid for was Renault Zoe or similar, electric and automatic.

This is like ordering a vegetarian dish in a restaurant and being served a plate of charcuterie or a steak tartare. Then when you complain the waiter tells you that both dishes are the same price.

Dish Pre-Paid

Dish Served

I refused to give in so then had to wait a further 45 minutes whilst they went to find the Zoe that I booked. The whole pick up experience took just under an hour. It also involved me losing my temper and getting very frustrated.

Contrast that with the very sedate and simple process of picking up the Virtuo car. No human contact, no on-site offices, low overheads, no nasty surprises, not much to go wrong. Good telephone based customer service. Very 21st century. 

Companies like Virtuo are re-defining the meaning of Customer Service. It used to be more about the quality of your people; if your processes failed, it was a great opportunity for your well trained staff to work their magic and turn the customer into a loyal one. In the future it's more about the simplification of your processes through digitalisation and the user experience. Human contact is inherent in the design of good processes and systems. But a great experience will increasingly be void of all human contact. That's a great shame in any ways but unfortunately I won't miss the human interactions I have had with Avis over that last 25 years.

Vaccine Effectiveness over 99.9%

A report by the Office of National Statistics published on 13th September 2021, shows the vaccine effectiveness against death in the UK population to be close to 100%. Here is a quote:

"In England, between 2 January and 2 July 2021, there were 51,281 deaths involving coronavirus (COVID-19); 640 occurred in people who were fully vaccinated, which includes people who had been infected before they were vaccinated"

Should say almost 100%

When people with serious underlying issues and people who have only just received their second dose or were already infected when vaccinated are removed, the number of deaths in fully vaccinated people drops to just 59. That's a vaccine success rate of over 99.9%. It is quite remarkable that a vaccine developed in just a matter of months can be so effective and have saved so many lives.

Quote for the month

 "Better to light a candle than curse the darkness"



  1. A very delightful article that you have shared here. Your blog is a valuable and engaging article for us, and also I will share it with my companions who need this info, Car Hire Dalaman Thankful to you for sharing an article like this.

  2. I read the above article and I got some knowledge from your article. halkidiki taxi, It's actually great and useful data for us. Thanks for share it.

  3. Your article contained some good information. I was amazed by how well you were able to express this issue; it was informative for us. Thank you for sharing that.shuttle service to the airport

  4. This blog post came at the perfect time for me as I'm currently revamping my balcony. The idea of utilizing vertical space with wall planter is brilliant. The post shared some fantastic design ideas and suggestions for creating a stunning display. I can't wait to bring my balcony to life with a variety of colorful plants!"