Avis: Instead of Trying Harder, Try Smarter

One year from the 50th anniversary of the We Try Harder corporate motto, Avis may want to try smarter. My first experience as an Avis Preferred customer (it ain’t that big a deal – anyone can be one by asking and having a credit card) leaves me to wonder whether there will be a second. For peace of mind, I reserved an SUV for a one-day trip to Minneapolis earlier in the week. My flight arrived in a snowstorm, giving me more reason to believe that I was wise to pay $15 or so extra dollars for the “safer in bad weather” vehicle. That’s when things got dumb. Despite confirmation of a Ford Escape or similar, the guy at the Preferred desk offered me only a Dodge Nitro. “Is it four-wheel drive?” I asked. “No, it’s all-wheel drive,” he responded. “But I reserved one,” I said. “They’re all gone – everyone wanted one in the snow,” he said. Upon entering the Nitro, the first knob I saw was one that allowed me to shift from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive. Dumb. Twenty-four hours later, it got dumber. As I always do, I returned the vehicle with a full tank and was prepared to pay $80 and be done with it all. A different guy at the Preferred desk handed me a bill for $161. I received a correct bill after pointing out that he charged me for an empty tank. The only thing empty were Avis’ promises in one grand failure at the Moments of Trust.