Elite Status

How Loyal Are You?

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I was reflecting on another aspect of loyalty programs this week when I was renting a car from Avis. Consumer loyalty (and not just at booking). Have you ever had a chance to capitalize on an error at one of your favorite chains and decided not to because you like them so much?

I was flying out for Thanksgiving late Tuesday night and realized while I was waiting for my flight that I’d forgotten to book my one way rental from Orlando. Ugh. I was having trouble with the airport wifi so I called them up and in less than 2 minutes I was assured I’d have a car waiting for me at midnight when I landed. Yay!

I finally found my way to the Avis area in the garage and was delighted. With only 3 hours notice, they’d upgraded my reservation from an intermediate car to a pretty sleek looking black Infiniti. I’m happy to say this is par for the course, Avis treats their elites quite well. And I in turn, will only rent from Avis, even when other companies are much cheaper.

When it came time to return the car the next day, I was feeling quite lazy and didn’t want to fight for a space at the pump to get gas. One of the perks of my Avis status is that the fuel service charge is often priced at market rate, so if I don’t return the car full, I’ll only be charged for what it would cost to have filled up at the gas station.

I checked the rate, and sure enough, I’d only be charged $3.30/gal which was even cheaper than the local gas stations. Ooops, that’s kind of an unfair advantage. But then I realized that the downside to Infiniti’s are that they require Premium unleaded. And because the Avis system is probably not set up to account for that, I was being charged the market rate for regular unleaded. I’d already felt a little bad about Avis eating the difference in fuel cost between Orlando and Gainesville, but I really didn’t feel comfortable about them eating $.40+ a gallon.

They’d already been nice enough to upgrade my $44 a day rental to a luxury car, so they were making little enough off the rental as it was, without me decreasing the margin any more. I love Avis and I want my elite benefits to go on forever, and thus I find myself treating the cars as nicely as if they were my own and avoiding loopholes even if they’d save me a few bucks.

However, I find myself with cognitive dissonance with this realization, because although I also like United and Hyatts and other companies, no amount of loyalty is going to keep me from taking advantage of a mistake fare if they’re honoring it 😀


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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel

1 Comment

  1. Bob Bonsall

    November 27, 2012 at 9:34 am

    I don’t know if this exactly counts as being loyal or just not being a jerk, but recently just before Hurricane Sandy came through, I ordered some battery powered lights from Amazon. I payed extra for expedited shipping in order to get them before the storm hit, but unfortunately I didn’t go for fast enough shipping. Rather than arriving before the storm as scheduled they arrived well after.

    I suppose if I made a stink about it I could get the extra money back from the shipping, but as I see it it was an unavoidable delay, and I took my chances. What’s more, I have always gotten amazing customer support from Amazon, and I would hate to abuse it over something that even I think is questionable at best. If it were another company, particularly one I had never done business with (or worse, had bad experiences with in the past), I would so be demanding my money back. So I totally get the cognitive dissonance.

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