No Free Lunch

Imagine if you will, a rental car company sending out an email message to all members of their loyalty program offering a free rental day (well, except those pesky taxes and fees)! We love those offers whether those offers require us to meet requirements (such as Avis' recent app bonus), are part of promotions like National's One-Two-Free, or are free days periodically offered to best customers as incentives or engagement bonuses. AutoSlash has found "free" days for customers on exceptionally rare occasions -- we remember precisely one, during a low-demand winter weekend at Dulles Airport. Those "free paid rentals" are unicorns that can never be expected; we use free days earned from the rental car companies when earned and we're conscientious enough to ensure no free day goes unused (whether in our personal accounts or your accounts)! Yet we know that rental car IT frequently has spectacular failures, and Thrifty Car Rental's IT systems shattered the dreams of many members of their Blue Chip loyalty program in 2013.

Thrifty intended to send an email offering a free day to members of their Blue Chip Loyalty program who had accrued 16 or more paid rental days. Thrifty sent the message to individuals who had signed up for the Blue Chip Loyalty program (including members of the AutoSlash team). We don't need to draw a Venn Diagram to explain that the "signed up for the program" group was far larger than the "more than 16 rental days" group.

How did Thrifty -- already owned by Hertz Global Holdings -- respond? They could have been a hero to many, prompting new customers to try out Blue Chip instead of competitor offerings (read, National Emerald Club) and showing how the Blue Chip service was (slightly) faster than standing in lines at many discount rental car firms! Instead, they channeled the PR version of the Shane Stant tactic, kneecapping customers and refusing to honor the promotion. We all know TANSTAAFL but Thrifty introduced TIAFRDBTANSTAAFRDFY (There Is A Free Rental Day But There is No Such Thing As A Free Rental Day For You). It may (or may not) be a coincidence but we can't recall any personal rentals from Thrifty since 2013 after we were left with Broken Promises.   


2013, when the promise was all that we had.

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