How many times have I carefully tendered my coupon to some unsmiling Giant behind the counter in a strange city, all the while thinking: “I know it isn’t going to work. It never does."
“It won’t work,” confirms the Giant. “But I reserved a “Drive Happy” rental,” I timidly answer. “My Personalized Rewards coupon says I get one day free.”
“It won’t work because you ordered a two-door and you were specifically told to order a midsize. You didn’t read the fine print.” “Well, that’s easy. Just cancel the two-door and sell me a midsize. Then will I get my Personalized Reward? I promise to Drive Happy ever after even with that terrible smokers’ smell.”
“It won’t work!”
I’m wearing down. “Now why not?” “It won’t work because I don’t have any midsizes.” I laugh with unexpected relief. I see light at the end of the tunnel. A solution has come to mind.
“Then I’ll take the two door and pay for a midsize! If that isn’t a win-win answer, I don’t know what is. You rent a midsize, I only get a two-door but I can still Drive Happy with my Personalized Reward.”
“It won’t work.”
By now, with the sinking of my spirits, a companion spirit of restlessness was growing in the line. I was beginning to feel that the large yellow and blue sign behind the Giant’s head – a fort famous in Texas' fight for independence – was a prediction of my future.
Surrounded here in Seattle by harried commuters and irate vacationers, jousting with a Giant, with my resolve crumbling, I grimly faced Goliath:
“Why?” “It won’t work because I can’t accept reservations.” Well I had gotten this far. “Give me the 1-800-whatever number and I’ll give up my place in line and reserve a midsize."
“It won’t work!”
A broken man. One last try: “Why?” “It won’t work because you have to reserve 24 hours in advance.” Back on the offensive: “Where does it say that?” “The company says that!”
So I skulked across the airport lobby once again with a useless coupon dangling from my fingers. Churlishly, I blamed the U.S. Mail for subsidizing its unsolicited delivery to me.
Yes, I know there’s probably an Ombudsman somewhere to take complaints, but here’s how the conversation would probably go:
“Bzzzzzzz … click: Welcome to Ombudsman Central. Press or say 1 and stay on the line 24 hours. Shout loudly if you are at a pay station."
“Your crank call is very important to us. For your safety and convenience and certainly not because the company wants to find out about nuts like you, this call may be monitored.
“Please stay on the line and our lone server eventually will be with you. We are very busy right now because a large group of customers waiting in Seattle have complaints about a misanthrope there gumming up the works by attempting to misuse the Drive Happy Personalized Rewards coupon.”