Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mint Carsharing Not So Mint-y :(


I would say stay away from Mint ( I've been a Zipcar ( member since 2006, and decided to give Mint a try since they were promoting the whole "cars for as little as $2.00 an hour". Of course I knew that this was only going to be for the dinkyest (sp) of cars since I'm not in love with smartcars but I thought it would be great to have an occasional alternative to Zipcar. Anyway, I joined earlier in April and just had my first and last experience with renting a car from them. So I booked a car yesterday (Apr 27th) and everything was good.

I picked up the car today (Apr 28th) and "surprise surprise" the gas indicator is LAYING on E. Already I'm a bit pissed because with Zipcar, you have to leave at least a quarter of a tank or you could face fines. Mind you, I rented this car to make a much needed appointment that was scheduled for a few hours later - already I got the vibe that things were going downhill from here.

So, I realize that I need my membership number to get gas (if you're familiar with Zipcar, this is something they do as well). But the membership number isn't on the card. Well, Mint claims that they have an "OnStar" like system where you push this little button in the console and someone will "promptly" call you back. So, realizing that their version of the "copilot" doesn't tell me where I can find the member number, I push the button...and wait...and wait...and wait. Then I call the 800 number on the card...and get voicemail. (oh gets better)

I try again and finally get a live body who informs me that my membership number is the last four digits of my SSN. Okay, I understand that since it's a highly sensitive number, that wouldn't be printed on the card...but NOWHERE on the website does it say that either. So, there I am on my iPhone, struggling to search for some clue and I would have been S.O.L. until someone called me back.

So, now I'm driving around looking for a gas station in Manhattan, (mind you, possibly 20 minutes have gone by since I initially pushed that "Mint/OnStar-esque" service button) and someone calls me. Let's just call him "Joe". So, Joe is calling me back, on his cell phone while he's on the street...who has customer service calling you from the street? There was road noise in the background, and he was completely distracted. By this point, I already knew that I wasn't going to be relying on Mint for much of anything in the future. I thank him for the follow up and finish up the call.

Fast forward 20 min later, and I'm finally at a gas station (apparently 3pm in Manhattan is gas time because everywhere I went it was hard to find a space to pull up). So, I've got my gas...and now the car won't start...

Slightly frustrated because I'm now 40 minutes behind schedule and must now reschedule the appointment, I foolishly push the "Mint/OnStar-esque" button, assuming that surely someone will pick up now. Thankfully, I had something similar happen with Zipcar so I remembered what to do. So, now I'm back on the road and probably 20 minutes passed from when I left the gas station and I was finally well underway on the West Side Highway and guess who calls but "Joe". Joe then unceremoniously hangs up on me half way through our conversation when I complained about the poor customer service.

He then proceeds to call me on my cell (while I'm driving?!) and leaves a message. I had to make a pitstop at my home, so I check my messages and now Mint is telling me that by pushing the little Mint button in the console, I have somehow ended my reservation.

So, I call Mint and get a live body who transfers me to Joe. Once on the phone with Joe, he basically says I need to return the car so that I won't receive charges, and completely glosses over the poor customer service that I received. In fact, his response to me was "we have 6 people here manning the customer service phones so they were probably busy which is why they couldn't get to you." When I complained about the car being literally on empty, he said "oh well I don't know what you want me to do about that, it's something that we can't control" and then when I complained and compared it to Zipcar proceeded to tell me that Mint has 30,000+ members (and I highly doubt that can all be in NYC with them barely having 30 cars in Manhattan) who all said that they left Zipcar because they received poor customer service from them (Zipcar). He then proceeds to chastise me for not picking up my cell phone and not having a bluetooth piece (which by the way Mint claimed came standard with the Honda Accord that I had reserved but I don't remember seeing it anywhere so whatev I guess) so that I could complete the call.

It irked me that I couldn't reach someone when I needed them the most (while I was on the road) and when I continued to try to clarify that point, "Joe" then said "we don't need members like you". Oh, and did I forget to mention that you can't extend a reservation because you won't be able to find a reservation even when you log in?! I was forced to extend the reservation because of the time I lost in the city struggling with this car that didn't have gas and locked up at the gas station and was forced to create an entirely new reservation for the additional hours that I needed.

Wow...that's all I can say...I've worked around people and in customer service positions all my life and I can't imagine ever saying that - especially when my complaint was founded. What if I had been in an accident and needed to contact them or the car had been stolen? It's not comforting to know that Mint calls you back when it's convenient because they only have 6 people manning the phones. And, rather than owning up to their incompetence/poor planning, they get people on the phone who yell at you for not saying "oh well these things happen". Maybe if it had just been one lone issue, (like just the gas and nothing more) I wouldn't be so pissed...but it was one thing after another.

My verdict - you get what you pay for. I see now why they offer rates as low as $2.00 per hour - because their customer service is seriously lacking. Maybe other people have had great experiences, and if so congrats to them. However, I'm no newbie to the car sharing game. I've never put a call in to Zipcar and gotten voicemail nor have I gotten a car with less than a quarter tank of gas. And I've never had a customer service rep YELL at me no matter how flustered I might be on the phone.

As I promised "Joe" I'm writing about my horrible experience in the hopes that people know about this company that's masquerading as something professional when it's clearly not. I'm not saying that Zipcar is 100% perfect because sure, there have been times where I was like "why?" However, Zipcar is an established brand with established protocols. This was my first and last attempt with Mint and I will be canceling my membership with them.

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