Saturday, June 26, 2010
The Road To...
Oh My Goodness, did I have the day from hell…
After getting all my ducks in a row and making my way to the airport, getting through the open threats on the number of bags you can carry, and listening to the crazy woman complain about her lost toiletries, I finally made it through all the thunder storms, the insanely large airport, to the bench under the budget sign. After watching numerous shuttles pass by every minute from the competitors, I finally made it to the rental agency, to be greeted by an hour long line and a bag of chili Fretos, which would be my only meal for the day.
After making it through the gauntlet of people waiting for the four assistants behind the desk I encountered some new issues and events.
To make my trip more valuable and not to miss out on the major events that were to take place on Sunday, we amended my reservation to include Saturday. We just added an extra day to the bill and I was told that since it was reserved through Expedia, that I would need to put the small fee on my own card and be reimbursed when I return home. Sounds simple enough… Not if you are talking to the guy I got.
He takes my credit card and lisence and looks at the screen. He informs me that since the two reservations are being paid separately, I will need to return the next day to re-check out my car. I explained that we had arranged the purchase ahead of time and had been told I would be signing two separate rental agreements at the same time and that I would just return the car on Wednesday on my way out of town.
A simple arrangement turned into a straight out screaming match, with me trying to keep my cool at each turn in the conversation. After giving in to the ridiculous terms of having the car for a matter of hours and needing to return again, only to stand in line just to get the same keys handed back to me, the evil man inquired if I would like to get the additional insurance. I asked if the additional insurance had been purchased for the other dates that had been arranged and he said that they had not, so I said I didn't want it.
From there he went on and on, insisting that I needed the insurance. I explained that I was perfectly covered by my school's insurance from being on a business trip and my own. He insisted again… So basically I said "no" quite clearly around 5 times, and each time he shook his head and said that I really needed it.
Finally I gave up and asked how much it was… In an inaudible tone he mumbled a number that could have been anything, so I asked again… He printed out my bill and I looked at the charges, and said, oh sixteen dollars, that isn't too bad. He immediately corrected me, fifty three dollars…
So I finally made it out accomplishing nothing and in a complete haze as to my whereabouts in this state that I have never seen before.
I watched as the helpful woman at the next kiosk cheerfully handed her patrons maps and helped them with their journeys. I asked my guy for a map and he wandered around as if the request was out of the ordinary and through off his concentration.
I know the line is long and that people are waiting, but it doesn't do me any good to be in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere with no clue where the freeway is.
So I head out to the car and give the latest report to Mandi, the one who made the reservations… She calms me down and explains that I need to call the 1-800 number and get the ball rolling, lucky for them it was past their usual hours of operation and there was no one to hear my story.
So I head back in and Bullwinkle seems surprised to see me back in line. Mandi told me that there should be two forms and that it was all set up so I made my way, since I had nothing better to do.
As I reached the front of the line I hoped that I wouldn't be paired with Grumpy Bear a second time.
Thankfully I was matched up with the smiling map girl from earlier. I mentioned my problem and she said that it would be no problem to fix. Of course she was a trainee and needed to ask for help in setting the final changes… That is when Grumpy Bear came back on the scene, yelling at me and telling me that I needed to come back and that there was no way around it. I explained again that I was going to be at the convention center all day and that there was not a convenient time to drive an hour out of my way after a long day of classes and networking…
From there I saw Grumpy storm off to his manager and yell quite clearly (for the first time in our dealings, as all other attempts at speech had resulted in garbled consonants that couldn't even clarify billing questions) that he didn't know of any conferences that went past nine o'clock at night…
I was really upset after that one, implying that day or night I should find the time to drive back to the boondocks to put an X on a line and drive away again.
And for the record, though he may find it unfathomable that a conference will go late into the evening, I do not and have even gone as far as to sign up for classes that go till that time. While there I made a complaint that the man had also badgered me into the insurance that costs double what the car rental was for and brought my bill into the triple digits on a school trip. I asked for the guy's name and the frightened trainee did her best to recall, but you could tell that she wasn't about to ask him.
Good plan, offer the insurance, and then get the driver so upset that they storm off to the parking lot and out into the darkness, not even knowing where the lights are.
I had a thrilling time with it all…
Thankfully after barely making it the 45 minutes on the freeway to my hotel, the wonderful woman behind the counter explained that there is actually a light rail train outside my door that goes straight to the conference center, avoiding the freeway, (which she mentioned she wouldn't go onto if her life depended on it) and avoiding the issue of parking fees. She even said that there is a shuttle from here that goes straight to the airport for a whopping six dollars as well…
So now my final mission is going to be getting to the rental agency, getting rid of the car, finding a bus, and making my way back to the hotel. I am guessing that the switch may be a lot of work for me, but perhaps the best plan.