Hertz car sharing

“Connect by Hertz” Car Sharing Deal Leaves Me Spinning My Wheels on Facebook

Hertz has climbed on the car wagon and is competing with companies like Zipcar that enable renters to book a car for a few hours, in effect sharing a car for a day. I think competition is great and I signed up for the service a while back.

I was happy to receive an email from Hertz today with a sweet offer: “Every week we’ll offer a special deal on one of the cars in our NYC area fleet. Find us on Facebook to find out this week’s special.” A lot of companies are using Facebook for special offers, coupons and promotions so I am impressed, at first, with Hertz’s ingenuity.

I’m more excited when I read: “All vehicles selected for this promotion will be available for rent at a $5 an hour rate!”

Holy Moly —  $5 an hour! New York has among the highest rental car rates in the country – that’s because most of us, in Manhattan at least, don’t own cars so we rent a lot. This $5 promotion is for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.  Wow, save me a car.

Round and Round I Go

Not so fast. First, I click on the Facebook icon. Seems easy enough. I land on the rather boring Hertz Facebook page. No sign of the $5 offer. Then I click on http://www.facebook.com/ConnectbyHertz, which sends me back to – the same landing page I was already on. OK. So then I find another link and click on http://www.connectbyhertz.com. I’m instructed to hit “See the cars.”

Now I’m whizzed to a snazzy website where I click on New York and reach another page that tells me to “Book a car now.” First thing I read: “Rates start as low as $8.50 an hour.” Where is the $5 offer? How do I find it? So I click on Book Now under a nifty looking Toyota Prius. Next page.

“We’ll make this easy. Just tell us when you need the car and we’ll show you what’s available. Then, choose the car that’s right for whatever you’ve got planned.” I start from left to right across the navigation bar with Select Location and, boom, I’m taken back to a page to pick my country. Dumb me, I should have looked at the next tab to log in, which I do. Wasn’t this supposed to be easy?

Getting Close

Next I choose a date and time for the rental, click on See Availability. Nada. Zilch. I click and click. Then I look further down the page and see Look for Vehicles Near. OK, let’s try that. Input my zip code and a red star appears to indicate the nearest location where a car is available. Click on the star. Click on See Availability. Nope.

By now I refuse to give up. I start the entire process again. I can see 100 vehicles are available at a location close to my home – so near, yet so far. Click on the star. Click on See Availability again. Nope.

I scoot over to Zipcar for their availability, but I would need to fork over $85 to join. That’s why Hertz is so appealing – no application or yearly fees. I’ve used Connect to Hertz in the past before they got so fancy and forced me to go to Facebook to book a car. Why?

Social media is a great tool to reach customers with information and special offers. But companies shouldn’t force customers to take yet one more step in the buying process when it makes no sense. And where is that $5 an hour car?

Leave a Reply

Comments

  1. Jeannette this sounds like a case of the vendor losing focus of the customer. Social media helps to market better online but shouldn’t be depended on as the only way. I’m surprised you didn’t see a ONLINE HELP NOW button. Or a big easy to read telephone number to call them. I love that feature. Online Zappos has that and I sometimes find myself with a question that requires their help and they make it so easy.

    Of course my guess is even if they had these features, you might have gotten something like, “I’m sorry, I don’t see what you are seeing online.”

    I’m so sorry they couldn’t “Help put you in the driver’s seat!” (Trying to find the humor in it.) Will you be taking a cab then?

  2. Jeannette:

    Yet another example of technology gone wild. The left hand did not know what the right hand was doing. I have often thought, “Do you they test this first?”

    I worked in Manhattan for years and I understand your plight. Did you contact Hertz on Twitter to see if you could get some action? If not, you could send them a link to your post.

    The one time I used Social Media to contact someone I got satisfaction but not without follow-up. Hertz is trying but not succeeding. What is Avis’ tag line? “We try harder.” Maybe Hertz could try that approach.

    Rob

  3. Hi Jeannette, my name is Gulsah. I manage social media for Hertz and Connect by Hertz and other brands as well. We looked at your blog post and checked all our Facebook pages to see where the issue was. Here is what we had in the membership email: “Every week we’ll offer a special deal on one of the cars in our NYC area fleet. Find us on Facebook to find out this week’s special. All vehicles selected for this promotion will be available for rent at a $5 an hour rate! So make sure to check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/connectbyhertz.” … and the link takes you to our Connect by Hertz Facebook page. On that page (at that time you may have looked at, 2nd post on the FB WALL) that actually promoted “Car of the Week” promotion – every week we’ll offer a special deal on one of the cars in our NYC/NJ fleet. This week’s car is the Toyota Camry ELH1956 at Clinton Street and 9th Street in Hoboken. You can reserve this car for only $5 an hour now through Friday 11/19 at 5pm! This car is already in the system. You might have selected a different location and a different car in the system. Perhaps, that is why the rate was different than $5. We have just started this promotion and our fans, followers love it.

    We have good relationship with blogger community and we generally try to help everyone who’d like to contact us if they have any kind of issue with our offers, fleet, services, website. We could have easily helped you locate the $5 rate. We are active on Facebook and Twitter and accommodate more than 20,000 fans/followers on a daily basis. We have different cars at different locations and when you come to the http://www.ConnectbyHertz.com site we ask members to select their location first, and then select the available cars. We don’t ask members to come to Facebook to book a car and that is not what we asked in our membership email. We post promotional news, updates on our Facebook pages. On Hertz fan page we also posted a similar promotion two weeks ago but you can imagine how quickly a Facebook Wall can move with updates. Therefore we have a dedicated fan page for Connect by Hertz members and the offer can be easily located. We hope you try again and enjoy your free membership. Again $5 deal is not available via all locations. We communicate to our fans these deals clearly and point out car models for them to pick within the system right from our fan page. We hope that this clarifies your concerns.
    Thank you
    Gulsah At Hertz
    Please follow up on Twitter @Hertz or @ConnectbyHertz
    or become a fan http://www.facebook.com/Hertz & http://www.facebook.com/ConnectbyHertz

  4. Dear Gulsah —

    First, I am impressed that you, representing Hertz, took the time to respond to my blog. That’s good customer service. Thank you.

    I’m afraid I find your explanation a little confusing. To quote you, “We don’t ask members to come to Facebook to book a car and that is not what we asked in our membership email.” Sorry, but that’s exactly what your email said. I copied and pasted it into my blog, “Every week we’ll offer a special deal on one of the cars in our NYC area fleet. Find us on Facebook to find out this week’s special.”

    What was also stated in the email, although I didn’t include it in my post, was this sentence, ” So make sure to check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/connectbyhertz.” I’m pretty sure that’s telling me to go to your Facebook page and then on to Connect by Hertz. I don’t mean to be cranky, but there wasn’t even a hyperlink to your Facebook page in your email. I had to copy and paste the URL into my browser.

    A $5 an hour car in Hoboken, NJ, isn’t much help to me (even if I could have found it). Look, I think the Connect by Hertz program is terrific because it provides the option of renting a car for only a few hours, and I’ve done that. But I implore Hertz to make the experience of finding and booking a car more customer-friendly.

    If Hertz would like my help in writing these promotional emails, you know where to find me!

  5. It’s wonderful how Hertz is moving toward solving your problem Jeannette. And from this conversation it seems you have suggestions for them on how to make their communication clearer and the entire customer online experience more satisfying.

    One guess I have is that the email department isn’t communicating fully with the social media department. Since you are the customer and know what the email said and what it didn’t Gulash may not have that same email.

    Who knows.

    But the good thing is, there is further communication through their watching conversations like this on blogs.

  6. Wow, that is very cool that they wrote back! Nice!

    I never heard of an hourly rental. It’s smart on both sides.

    I’m sorry that it didn’t work out immediately, but it sounds like there might be a solution. Plus you’ve been heard and there’s a chance that they’ll make it easier on you and other customers now.

  7. I was pleased to get another response, by email, from Gulsah at Hertz in which he said: “Thank you for writing back to us. We want everyone to love our services and new way of renting cars so we want to make sure we fix any glitch, issue. Emails like yours always help us improve our work, process and help gain loyal members. Power of social media! : )”

    Thanks, Gulsah!

  8. Jeannette, They say everything you do is a relationship builder or a relationship destroyer. Well, that experience was certainly a destroyer. What a shame. Social Networking is a commitment. No one said it would be easy. You would expect that a company as large as Hertz should be to do this right.

    I am impressed that someone from Hertz actually contacted you on this blog. So, someone is paying attention and that’s a step in the right direction.

  9. Hi Jeannette,

    From the email they sent you did they actually make good on the offer? To me this is the power of social media. Whilst it is good to respond, the follow through to the customer’s satisfaction is the what counts. Building loyalty is often done one customer at a time who then spreads the message.
    Also, were there any conditions or * that said read here for the conditions? For example, it only applies to certain cars or locations etc. Thanks for sharing this experience.

  10. Unfortunately it looks like you were the guinea pig, but the great things is they know you and have addressed the issue, or will. So in a sense you’re helping out many people. And I think Rob is right, the technology is not perfect yet, but it’s still good once the bugs are taken care of.

  11. Gotta say Jeannette, I’m pretty disappointed in Hertz. It looks like their promotion was simply to get people to their FB page and hope they would stay. Generally, consumers disconnect from companies who behave this way.

  12. Hi Jeannette,

    What a great example of why to make sure your social media marketing is effective, easy-to-understand, and user-friendly. People want their online experiences to be as simple as possible. If a site says a certain link will lead you to specific information, it needs to do exactly that. If not, as you clearly prove, it leads to customer/potential customer frustration and can result in a lost customer.

    Impressive that Hertz did read your blog and replied. Impressive first because your blog is obviously being promoted effectively in that the Hertz found you. And second it indicates that Hertz is concerned about customer service and their reputation and is at least trying to make improvements.

  13. We see that there are some concerns from your readers about our Facebook promotions and our call to extend invitation to become a fan on Facebook. Our fans love it as there are 600 Millions Facebook users regularly seek deals on Facebook. Our goal is to engage our customers, offer them what they want right where it is convenient to them. We believe this helps them save a lot. We have just introduced (three weeks ago) our $5 hourly deals on certain days of the week, on selected cars. There are already hundreds of members taking advantage of this offer. Every week we have a post on our Wall and it is widely communicated to fans. Instead of getting emails, we are giving them what they want on their Facebook walls so they can also share with their friends as well. Our intention is not to mislead any of our fans, customers to falsely bringing them to our Facebook page. We actually have several posts on the page states which car is available for that low rate, and exactly where the $5 rate car is located. Facebook users are used to locating these deals as this is a second nature to them. However, new users may have trouble locating the deal as WALL posts move fast. We are always looking for new ways to improve the user experience. We are open to your suggestions, tell us what would work for you and we’d be glad to try it out and implement it for you. This is why we have a Facebook page. We’d love it if you can share your thoughts on our FB fan page http://www.facebook.com/ConnectbyHerz. Our goal is to create that two-way conversation with our fans via social media.

    We are working to improve our website functionality as the Connect by Hertz Car Sharing membership is getting very popular among our fans. In addition to our @ConnectbyHertz account, we are now tweeting right from @Connect_NYC for NYC/NJ followers and already giving $80 driving credit, waiving their fees to make the driving experience no hassle to them by partnering with HopStop and also 77% savings right from NYDailyNews.com. So we hope that you’d give it a try yourself and learn more about the convenience and benefits of car sharing program. It helps the environment and your wallet at the same time. We are proud to report that in Hoboken, 40+ residents opted out of their parking spots and got rid of their own cars to use the Connect car sharing program as they believe; this is the most efficient and green transportation. To celebrate their decision on helping the environment, we first launched our $5 hourly rates in Hoboken and extended to NYC. We hope to extend this out to many other locations.
    Thank you for your feedback all. We truly appreciate your thoughts.
    Gulsah At Hertz
    @GB_Hertz

  14. Gulash — thanks, again, for your response to my readers. I feel this deserves another blog post because you describe some real consumer benefits through Facebook and other third party participants. I appreciate your continuing customer outreach.

    So stay tuned.

  15. After reviewing all comments, I was impressed with the response from Hertz. I agree like in any business, user friendly websites are what we, as consumers look forward to for the convenience; however, some web-pages will link you every where except for where you need to go. Connect by Hertz, in my opinion was awesome. After a short review of the Hertz website, It was easy for me to make a reservation and pickup for the amount of time I reserved. I was especially satisfied with the many rental options made available for customers. Keep up the good work!

    MZ

  16. Hey Jeannette,

    After reading your post I was shocked by Hertz’s inability to integrate properly with social media platforms. However with so many company these days are engaging the social media platform it’s natural that not all will execute well. After reading Gulsah’s response, as well as yours, I believe that Hertz actually adopted Connect on Facebook quite well. The problem that companies face is making sure they don’t lose some of their target audience when moving to platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The Facebook page is intuitive for generation y’s but for us boomers it can seem daunting to keep up with the ever refreshing news feed and constant wall-posts, likes, messages, invites, a social networking bombardment. What happened here is what I’m sure is happening everywhere. A classic case of “lost in translation.” The email you received, as has been clarified earlier, directed you to the FB fan page in order to find the deals; not to directly sign up for the cars there. I talked to my son about this–which after a few seconds bored him–as he replied “ok…so you go to the fan page and wait for them to post a deal or something…” It’s almost intuitive that they know how companies operate on social media platforms but for us laggards it seems like a hair pulling process. Isn’t social media supposed to make life better? Anyway, all I can suggest for you is to stick to the phones and our old ways of doing things!

    Best,
    Steve M.

    • Steve – first, speak for yourself! I don’t actually consider myself a social media laggard. My point is why make someone take an extra step pf going to a third-party site (Facebook) to “search” for deals when you could be directed to the company’s own site where the deals are. That is where a lot of my problems began when I was unable to locate the deals. Bottom line is the deal they offered in the email was unavailable where I live.