Don’t Play Pricing Tricks With Customers

| By Mike Michalowicz (Google+)


I arrived at the car rental desk after a long flight. I just wanted to get to my hotel room as soon as possible, so I could crash. Anything that would make the process of getting to the hotel faster was good.

Car refueling fine print at a rental agency

While signing, initialing, and thumb stamping the one hundred different spots on the rental form, the agent asks me if I want to have them refuel the vehicle upon my return. Before I can respond, he rolls through his script:

“You probably want us to refuel it. We are twenty cents less per gallon. Just sign (your life away) here.”

Really? Cheaper? A rental car company out to save me money? Sounds convenient. I would jump on it, if he (and every other car rental agency wasn’t trying to play a pricing trick).A sales guy making a slimy deal

What the agent conveniently left off during his shpeel, was the fact that the agency required to fill either a half tank or full tank worth of fuel, regardless of how much the car needed. Even if I just needed a gallon, they would charge me for seven. In other words, they want me to play tank-refueling-roulette with my money. And made no mention of that part.

Obviously, I opted out. Even exhausted the manipulation was obvious. As a rental car customer, I am further jaded about their industry. It is a shame that this is standard practice for every auto rental agency I have ever used.

I hope one of these day one of the agencies catches on, and stops the manipulation of customers – it would be a strategic advantage. Honesty and authenticity would be a strategic advantage. How ironic.



Posted in Behavioral Influence, Break to Fix Strategies, Marketing Strategies,

7 Responses to “Don’t Play Pricing Tricks With Customers”

  1. Dylan Wilson (@craftworkgames) says:

    I’ve always wondered if politicians would get more votes if they used honesty instead of over promising all the time.

    • That is a VERY good question. It feels very risky in the moment, since you want to get people most excited about you. BUT… it is, of course, the integral thing to do. Compromising integrity for a win, really is a loss.

  2. Wait? They are required to fill it to half? As in, that car I rented last week shouldn’t have been given to me with the friggin’ fuel light blaring at me until I could find the closest gas station? Yes! This happened to me. I was told “just bring it back empty and you’ll be fine.” Hmm….

  3. Gregg H. says:

    How shady and unsavory!

    • Yes… it felt creepy. This is the industry standard, by the way. And I think that is sad, because it becomes an excuse. “everyone else is doing it, so we do it” I look forward to seeing the first company that decides to change the industry rules.

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