Worst customer service email ever?

Readers -

I think a side benefit of writing a service and support blog is having a platform to hold really poor service up for ridicule…right?  We’ll get right back to serious topics next week, but in the meantime, let me share the worst customer service email I’ve ever gotten.  (At some personal risk, as you’ll see below.)

Quick background:  I had a poor experience at EZ Rent-a-Car at LAX this week.  I received a survey link, which I dutifully filled out.  The survey also had an email address for customer service; I contacted them.  (Remember:  a complaint is a gift, right?)  Here’s the only response I’ve received, which I’m reproducing here verbatim, except for removing the survey links.  My comments are in italics.


This is the best part of the email–they got my name right, although it was in all caps.  It’s all downhill from here.

Thank you again for choosing E-Z Rent-A-Car, The Best Value in Car Rental, for your car rental needs.

In fact, I think this is the first time they’ve thanked me, so they’re not really thanking me again.  And if they looked at my survey, they may find that describing themselves as the “Best Value in Car Rental” may be inappropriate from my perspective.

br />We sincerely appreciate that you have taken the time previously to complete our online survey. If you wish, you may complete the survey again by clicking on the link below.

Nothing says “a focus on quality” quite like random bits of HTML tags in an email.  And why do they want me to take the survey again?  Is this their way of telling me they deleted my first response? Am I supposed to take it until I provide answers they like?  Or does someone have a response rate goal they’re not meeting, and duplicate surveys will help their numbers?


All caps again.  Stop yelling.

If the above link does not work, copy and paste the following line into your browser’s address bar:



Customer Care Department

E-Z Rent-A-Car

The information in this email is confidential and may be legally privileged. It is intended solely for the addressee. Access to this email by anyone else is unauthorized. If you are not the intended recipient, any disclosure, copying, distribution or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it, is prohibited and may be unlawful.

OK.  You send me a form letter telling me I can (re)take a survey, and now you’re threatening me with legal action if I tell people about it?  Um, as I am in this blog?  I can’t wait for the cease and desist…I’ll be sure to post that, too.  Remember, I didn’t ask for this email, so don’t start telling me what I can and can’t do with it.

The contents of this email do not necessarily represent the views or policies of E-Z Rent-A-Car or employees.

They close with my favorite line.  It’s an official customer service email, including legal threat, that doesn’t reflect their views or policies, either as individuals or as a company.

I am completely bumfuzzled as to what these people were thinking.  Am I right: is this the worst customer service email ever, or do you have an even worse one?  Please share in the comments.

Back to KM next week,


8 Responses

  1. Dave,

    This one is a real winner. They have no clue that their attempt to please customers are actually making them angrier. This is the sort of thing that makes you actively hurt them.

    SO what was the experience that caused this pain?


  2. Paul Schottland

    David, this is priceless! Thank you for displaying the output of the functions called legal-corporate-customer-service-fail_top. Truly excellent, and I love that they try to pin you down with threats if you misuse the unsolicited mail THEY are sending you. And I think you’re right; nothing says zero end to end testing of the business and automation processes like glaring partial HTML tags….except if perhaps it had said ver batim “Dear, We really appreciate your business.”

  3. I should say that E-Z Rent-a-car’s director of branding was paying attention, contacted me, has been extremely professional and pleasant, and is working on the letter (its content, the disclaimer, and they typo.) He will also be looking into the underlying service issue. So, good start to a good recovery, E-Z.

    @Tom, the underlying issue was that they didn’t use a regular rental car shuttle, so I waited for a long time for a shuttle that didn’t exist. When I eventually called and was redirected by their phone message to a different shuttle location and name, I had to wait a long time for that, too. I think you *must* have a shuttle with your name on it if you’re an airport rental car company–or you need to be *extremely* clear in the booking process.

  4. David Kay

    Hey, I have to give full marks to E-Z’s service recovery. They really went above and beyond in addressing my concerns, working on their email, and speaking to the original issue. Nice work, Charlie and the E-Z team. I’m actually feeling a little sheepish for having written such a snotty post.

    • Tom Kenney

      Hey David,
      Nice seeing you at “third Tuesday”.
      We too ask customer’s to take our survey (after every technical call) and we are very happy to report that we receive very few negative replies. When we do receive a negative survey the mgmt staff contacts the customer either the same day or the next business day. 99.9% of the time the customer will almost apologize for sending a “bad” survey, explaining that they must have had a bad day, or “..it wasn’t really that bad…” .. the mere fact that we just reply to their survey (especially so quickly) takes them by surprise so much that they forget why they were upset.
      I am guessing that service is so bad out there that all a company has to do is pay attention when a customer does complain and have a human respond.

  5. I don’t think you’re being snotty – it’s easy to react to public criticism and do something about it but the underlying issue is that there is a poor process in place for building those communications. While *this* email may be getting some love, it’s hard to believe it’s the only one within the organization that suffers from the lack of personality and concern for the customer. Still, bonus points for them following up!

    Copy is everything (something I definitely struggle with not being much of a writer).

  6. Deb Lindley

    David – great blog article! I navigated here via your Yelp post.
    Quick FYI update: As of June 2011, LAX EZ Rent A Car is still using the LAX EZ Park shuttle that stops at the HOTEL Shuttle location instead of the Rental Car OR Parking shuttle stops… and, the reservation confirmation and phone instructions still do not explicitly state that the customer should NOT stand under the signs for Rental Car Shuttles or Parking Shuttles, but should hail the EZ Park shuttle at the Hotel and Courtesy Shuttle sign.

    The drivers and location staff were all very courteous, but the company’s communication stinks re: its counterintuitive logistics. They wasted my precious time. I don’t care what the shuttle’s name is, or which stop it uses, as long as they clearly explain the process.

    Comments on Yelp re: this issue, date back over a year. Its usually easier (cheaper) to pacify individual customers with lipservice. However, in this case, the solution is pretty simple: revise the telephone instructions and include the information in the reservation confirmation. With such a low cost:benefit for fixing the problem, I don’t understand why they haven’t done it. I can only assume that the extra few nickles they save with lipservice, indicates the value they place on customer service.