Avis navigates a lost GPS back home

David Collins left his pricey GPS in his Avis car rental while rushing to drop it off at the Eugene, Ore., airport.

He realized this after he landed with his spouse in Los Angeles on his way home to Newbury Park, Calif.

Most of us would think it is gone forever, and as a robotic flight attendant might say to exiting passengers, buh-bye.

Not to worry. This Avis office knew how to navigate their way to a happy customer.

We’ve all had a Collins moment whether we admit it or not. He did and has my respect as well as appreciation for not depriving us of a good story. Few situations reveal a company’s goodwill as when a customer clearly makes the mistake and is asking for a big favor. And to that end, the Good News Guy recognized Orbitz for a previous favorite save-the-day story.

Apparently, losing big-ticket items is more common than you’d think, where losing an actual laptop reigns supreme according to the hotel consumer portal Oyster.com. Yikes. Check out the eighth most-lost item while traveling? Other than that, let’s not be too hard on ourselves as it has little to do with intelligence.

“My wife and I returned our rental after a beautiful celebration of her special birthday,” Collins says. “In my hurry to return the car and unload our bags, I simply forgot my GPS. For her birthday, I was taking her on her first trip since recovering from a stroke.”

Good for both of them. I can see how pulling off such a wonderful experience could distract him from keeping on top of their possessions.

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Both Avis and Hertz charge $10.00 extra per day to use their GPS, and that can equal the cost of an actual GPS purchase in just a couple of vacations, so it was a good move for Collins to use his own. To better put that in perspective, I just rented an “off-peak” Hertz economy car for under $20 per day in Florida, which would render the cost of a potential add-on GPS more than half of the rental.

Fees. Sigh. Let’s save that topic for the Bad News Guy.

While most modern smartphones now include an effective GPS already, they may still lack some of the more robust features a seasoned auto traveler is looking for. And some people want a simple phone for making — gasp — just phone calls.

“I called the Eugene airport Avis desk and was told that the car cleaner found two GPS’s left in the car on Friday but was locked away until Monday,” Collins went on. “Although my GPS was the same as Avis’s, they identified mine because the Avis one has their ID bar code. A couple of days later they informed me they shipped my GPS via FedEx truck at my doorstep.”

Just like that, and at their expense.

“The Eugene Airport Avis is a small team, and everyone from the people who checked the cars in and found my GPS to the manager were all helpful and professional,” added Collins.

While a single GPS unit may not be a big deal in our relative world of valuable possessions, the consistent pattern of conscientious behavior and unadulterated niceness from more than one Avis rep is.

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And at a time when car rental agencies seem to be ramping up the hard sell of add-on fees and unnecessary insurance along with questionable after-the-fact damage repair charges, this particular office would have none of that.

From the employee who actually cleaned the vehicle, and conscientiously at that, to those who reached out to Collins on their own time and delivered it on their own dime, everyone went the extra mile even though they could have easily ignored it.

Stuff happens. Be polite and own the mistake. Despite all the negativity and complaining around us, there are people out there eagerly waiting to be nice and appreciate your business. Let them. And anything they do outside of what is contracted needs recognition to pay it forward with a thank-you letter as Collins did — instead of only complaining.


Andrew Der

Der is an environmental consultant and travel journalist specializing in water science, nature, eco-travel, and cultural destinations

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