The Long Road Paved With Good Intentions

, , , , | Right | February 18, 2020

(I’m an administrator at a car contract hire company. We rent cars to people for three years, at the end of which they can buy it off us or return it and get a new car. Everything is done through the vehicle brand’s dealership network. One afternoon, I get a call from the receptionist on the ground floor to say I have a visitor. Surprised, I go down to our — non-public — reception area in our office block.)

Me: “Hello, you asked to see someone at [Brand] Contract Hire?”

Customer: “Yes, I’m bringing the car back now.”

Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

Customer: “My contract runs out next month and I’ve decided to buy a [Different Brand], so I’ve brought the car back.”

Me: “To here? To our office?”

Customer: “Yes, I thought I’d save you some time.”

Me: “We’re just an office. We don’t have any way of dealing with cars. You’re supposed to take it back to the dealership you rented it from.”

Customer: “That sounded like a lot of trouble for you, so I brought it directly.”

Me: “Umm, okay, but how are you getting home?”

Customer: “…”

Me: “I’ll see what I can do here. I might be able to get your dealership to collect the car from here, and the driver is bound to be happy to give you a lift to the dealership, if not directly to your door.”

Customer: “Oh, that sounds great! Sorry, I hadn’t thought about how to get home.”

Me: “That’s all right. I’ll see what I can do, if you don’t mind waiting. I’ll get you a tea or a coffee and then go talk to them. You’re with [Dealership local to my office], yeah?”

Customer: “No, I’m from [City some 80 miles away].”

Me: “I’ll work it out. Where are you staying?”

Customer: “What do you mean?”

Me: *the awful truth finally dawning on me* “You’ve driven all the way from [City] this morning, haven’t you?”

Customer: “Yes, to return the car.”

Me: “With no way of getting home afterwards.”

Customer: “Yes, because I thought… Oh.”

Me: “I’m not sure what I can do to help here, but I’ll speak to—”

Customer: “No. No! It’s fine. I mean, no, please don’t speak to anybody about this. I’m just going to drive home now.”

Me: “Let me get you a tea or a coffee first, and then I’ll see you off home.”

Customer: “Yeah, I think I need a coffee, and then I need to ring my wife and tell her she was right.”

Me: “I’ll make it a strong one. Take a seat.”

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