Bill Ralston blogged some PR advice for NZ Rental Car Specialists:
Mr Edwin Chan of New Zealand Rental Car Specialists needs a Public Relations Specialist. Quickly.
If someone is late returning a rental car, loses the keys and you have to tow it half the length of the country at the cost of a couple of grand I’m sure you are entitled, as a commercial business, to bill the hopeless clients extra.
Of course, if two of the clients’ kids (and the keys) lie dead and buried under a garage-sized chunk of the Fox Glacier, you might consider waiving the fee. Not Mr Chan. He continues to pursue the grieving Australian Miranda family for the cash.
Okay, he’s entitled to his money. It wasn’t his fault the foolish boys ignored the warnings and neatly positioned themselves under a plummeting iceberg. It wasn’t his fault Mr and Mrs Miranda had given one of the boys the car keys. They probably wouldn’t have been in the mood to drive the car back to Wellington anyway. People are funny like that when two of their kids are killed.
Mr Chan, you have the law on your side but here is some free PR advice.
When the cops call you and ask you to show compassion, you should really think about it. The police are not known for their liberal handwringing on most issues and maybe the constable that rang had a point. At the very least the call should have rung an alarm bell that you were courting publicity that might be bad for business.
They seemed to have taken this advice, and the family will not be charged. Mainly though it seems due to a benefactor.
As a business owner myself, I know sometimes you just get landed with costs that are no fault of your own, but you have to cover them as it damages you more not to.
I also don’t know why the car company said the car had to be towed back. Just pay a student $50 and give them a rental car free for two days on the coniditon they and a mate drive over there and bring the other car back with the spare set of keys.