It’s important to remember that “gray” sales practices, while possibly making you greater short-term profits, will hurt your brand if they are seen as manipulative or dishonest by your customers. Case in point, my recent experience with Hertz rental cars.
After a 5 hour flight, and tired children, all we wanted to do is start our vacation, not feel like we’re being taken advantage of. However, the Hertz representative seemed to have other plans:
When mid-size means “compact”: After failing to sell us on an upgrade from our mid-size to an SUV, the Hertz rep informed us that our mid-size car was going to be a Toyota Corolla. Huh? With 104 cu.ft. the Toyota Corolla would easily be classified by the EPA as a compact car, but apparently Hertz had their own categorization when it comes to vehicle size. Their “compact” cars are what most of us would consider “sub-compact”. When a company creates their own categorization, it is either to help clarify or to confuse their customers. I’ll let you guess why Hertz doesn’t follow the EPA or the car manufacturers classifications.
- Bring it in empty: The idea of not having to worry about filling up the gas before bringing it back is tempting, and could be sold as a convenience package. Instead Hertz tries to convince you that buying a full tank of gas from them is a financially wise move. “You know our gas is $0.10 cheaper then what you’ll pay out there.” It’s simple math. lets say the average price per gallon is $3.50 (and Hertz charges $3.40), the vehicle has a 10 gallon tank and you happen to use 9 gallons.
- Fill it yourself: $3.50 x 9 = $31.50
- Bring it in empty: $3.40 x 10 = $34.00
- Premium insurance: Depending on your auto insurance or credit card, your rental may already be covered under your policy. Most people don’t know, and Hertz has absolutely no interest helping you find out. Instead they are willing to sell you premium insurance that can cost more than the rental itself. The insurance option and rates are not available in advance or online. They wait until you are at the counter and not in a position do do research or change your plans.
What could Hertz have done differently?
Instead of feeling like we were being taken advantage of, we could have left feeling like Hertz was looking out for our best interest and still sold us on all of these additions. Here is how:
- Use commonly used terms to describe vehicle types. Use terms that will clarify, not confuse your customers.
- Properly position options. Don’t try to convince customers that they’ll save money, when the real value is convenience.
- All additional options should be available in advanced so that customers have the ability to do the proper research and make informed decisions.
What sales practices have you seen that made you feel like you were being taken advantage of?