The Associated Press‘s David Koenig covers last week’s marketing debacle where Thrifty Car Rental sent al of their frequent rental members an email saying they qualified for a free rental day .. by accident.
I haven’t rented from Thrifty for years (a decade ago they were exceptionally generous with mileage-earning in their partnership with America West). I got two copies of the email, which tells me I probably have two accounts in their database and also that those accounts must still exist.
Apparently it was just the wrong data pull.
hrifty Car Rental says it’s sorry, but many customers who were offered a free one-day rental won’t be getting that after all.
The company says the offer was intended for a select group of top customers but was sent accidentally to many other people.
… “Unfortunately, this was a human error and as soon as we became aware of the mass email distribution, we took steps to correct the situation.” including the follow-up email on Saturday, she said.
Strangely, while I received the original email twice to the same email address, I never received the followup “oops” note. Perhaps another incorrect data pull.
Unsurprisingly they’re not honoring the mistake, although I rather expected them to send out a coupon good towards a future rental as a simultaneous apology and way to earn future business.
The piece concludes with my advice and context on mistake deals — that they are less common for airline tickets than they used to be, that hotel mistakes happen a bit more frequently, and that it’s best to book a deal in case a travel provider wants to honor it but not to be disappointed if and when they don’t.
Such airfare deals are less common now because the company that airlines use to publish fares has made it easier for the carriers to spot unusual prices before they’re made public, said Gary Leff, a travel blogger and co-founder of Milepoint, an online forum for frequent fliers, who avidly swap tips on mistake fares. Hotels might be more fruitful hunting ground.
Leff said that a few years ago he jumped on a nightly rate of 66 cents for a beachfront villa at a Le Meridien resort in Thailand. The hotel company had loaded the price in Ugandan shillings instead of U.S. dollars. He said the hotel gave him the room for $33, “and that included tax and a free breakfast.”
Leff’s advice: If you see a deal that sounds too good to be true, go ahead and book it but don’t be too disappointed if the company rescinds the offer.