How knowing the right person can save you $600

Sometimes, it all comes down to who you know.

That’s what Helen Glazer discovered after she rented a car from Budget in New Zealand. “There was a scrape on the front bumper when we returned the car,” she says. “They charged us for it, but then did not provide all the documents we needed to process it as a claim with our insurance company.”

By the way, that’s the new M.O. for car rental companies: Where they’re allowed to, they simply charge you an arbitrary amount for damages.

(Documentation? Who needs that? They have your money!)

Glazer’s story — and its resolution — is a reminder that complaints with laserlike precision, aimed at the person who can help, are the most effective.

What followed was a lengthy and fruitless back-and-forth with Budget, including numerous calls and emails.

“Part of the problem is that Budget New Zealand and Budget U.S. might as well be separate companies,” says Glazer, “So calling Budget U.S. does no good, since they don’t have access to all the records.”

Budget New Zealand sent Glazer to Budget U.S., which responded as if they hadn’t read the email to even see what documents she was asking for.

“You can imagine my frustration,” she says.

But then Glazer remembered our company contact list. She found the executives at Budget.

She got through to Gregory Stevenson in the president’s office.

Problem solved? Not exactly.

“The first time he contacted Budget New Zealand, they did to him what they’d done to me — emailed the same documents they’d sent me three times that I’d already told them were inadequate,” she says. “But after I explained that to him, he finally got them to create a detailed invoice that I could use.”

Glazer says she couldn’t have done it without that one name.

“I am very grateful to Elliott.org, because now I can go about getting my credit card company to process the claim and get about $600 back — and an end to three months of wrangling with Budget,” she says.

Ah, I love a happy ending.

But what’s our takeaway?

It’s not who you are — it’s who you know. People think brandishing the “consumer advocate” signature on an email means people will help. Not true! Sending a brief, polite email to the right person can be more effective than wearing a cape. Trust me. I wear a cape.

Companies are more dysfunctional than you think. That little game of ping-pong between Budget New Zealand and Budget U.S.? Par for the course, my friends. Other companies do it. Chances are, if they’re doing it to you, they’re also doing it to themselves. Sigh. Bureaucracy!

Don’t give them your credit card again. It appears that Glazer’s mistake — if you can call it that — was allowing Budget to swipe her credit card again and signing a receipt. When that happens, no credit card dispute will undo it. You swiped, you signed. Let them charge you for the car, but not the alleged damages. You can pay later, when they send you a bill — and evidence that the car was actually repaired.

I love the executive contact database our research team has compiled. It’s an effective weapon that can be wielded for good. And it’s yours to use.

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