Auto Focus

Are Renters Exhibiting a Creeping Sense of Entitlement?

Some say this attitude is more prevalent in the millennial generation. Trend or not, your focus should be on dealing with it effectively.

July 22, 2014

SHARING TOOLS        | Print Subscribe

It was for an unpaid parking ticket for $60, one that the rental company had already paid. The company had notified the renter via email that her credit card had been charged, though certainly the renter knew it was her responsibility. And it was written in the contract. “Okay, I don't understand how you guys can just take from my account without asking. That's illegal!” the renter responded.

And then there’s the recovery company who found the wayward renter posing with the rental car in photos on Facebook. “It appears they [renters] are trying to live up to a predetermined image they have set for themselves,” says Kevin Carter of Collateral Consultants.

ADVERTISEMENT


“Kids these days.” It’s a common refrain, but these days, the phrase could describe a generation that some have labeled as carrying a sense of entitlement not seen in recent generations. It is the generation, they say, that was nurtured on a quest for self-esteem without real accomplishment or effort; the generation lacking personal responsibility, the ones whose helicopter parents indulged their wants and needs. It’s the generation with a shelf full of participation trophies.

This label is attached to Gen Y, also called the millennials, who are now old enough to have some purchasing power. And they rent cars.

Carter has come to understand that they desire to attain their parents’ status, but they want it now.

“This leads to this ‘clinging to their reality phase’ we often encounter,” he says, which becomes a problem when recovering the car. “We observe it in the reluctance to surrender the rental unit, which is usually followed up with a myriad of excuses of why they cannot surrender or return the rental; all of which is an interruption to the lifestyle they have laid out for themselves.”

Excuses. Jenn Romanowski, CFO of Ride Share Systems, the New Jersey Dollar licensee who dealt with the parking ticket issue — a millennial herself — has seen enough of them:

“I didn’t drive the car for two days; do I have to pay for them?”
“I rent from you all the time; what's the best you can do for me?”
“I just don't have the money right now.”
Or this famous one, “I’m in the hospital.”

“Renters feel like it's ‘Let's make a deal,’” she says. “They expect the rental agent to be friends with them, and to understand their life stories because we're there to help them.”

Is this attitude becoming more prevalent? If you believe it is, then you will see it happening everywhere. But debating its pervasiveness is immaterial. The issue is how to deal with it.

For Romanowski, it’s about sticking to the rules but knowing when to bend a little — and applying it to all types of renters.

“We have to be firm but friendly,” she says. “If a renter has an emergency, we ask for a hospital record or proof and state we will be flexible on the recovery or outstanding rental charges.”

Romanowski's company is more flexible on late fees if the next renter isn’t inconvenienced. She’ll waive the handling fee for tickets for regular customers who call and acknowledge they’re outside of company policy — with a notice that this one free time won’t be offered again.

“Beyond that, we try to hold true to the posted price because the words ‘the last time I rented, you gave me a free upgrade’; they expect it,” she says.

Another former operator puts it more bluntly: “My opinion, it's time the customer is told no when he demands what he is not entitled to,” she says. “A polite but firm no. A no with a smile, but still a no.”

Nonetheless, no generation is defined by one trait. The millennials are also defined as highly educated, self-confident, ambitious, tolerant, technologically savvy, incessant multi-taskers and social media driven. They volunteer. They’re the most ethnically diverse generation in America.

Sure, you could throw up your hands about “kids these days.”

Or you could stick to your guns and also see these defining characteristics as opportunities. As this, the largest consumer generation in history comes into its own; a little understanding of their complete makeup will help attract more of them to your business.

And just remember that, after all, the label “millennial” is still just a label — across the rental counter you’re dealing with a real person.

Comments

  1. 1. Bovb Barbush [ July 23, 2014 @ 12:58PM ]

    Agreed. Renters do feel entitled to more than they are entitled to. For instance, certain levels of customers receive free upgrades but forget that these upgrades are subject to vehicle availability. From the other end meaning the Rental Sales Agents, most will give away profits so that they do not have to deal with disgruntled customers. This is a big problem in the car rental industry in my opinion.

  2. 2. Bob Barbush [ July 23, 2014 @ 12:58PM ]

    Agreed. Renters do feel entitled to more than they are entitled to. For instance, certain levels of customers receive free upgrades but forget that these upgrades are subject to vehicle availability. From the other end meaning the Rental Sales Agents, most will give away profits so that they do not have to deal with disgruntled customers. This is a big problem in the car rental industry in my opinion.

  3. 3. Sophia Maisy [ August 09, 2014 @ 05:12AM ]

    I found this post to be very educational. Thank you for broadening my knowledge of this subject. No doubt its a great piece of writing as well. Thanks visit here : www.fabulous-day.com/

  4. 4. Lisa Cisler [ August 25, 2014 @ 10:47AM ]

    This was a great item to read!
    Last week I had a customer who threatened all sorts of things because he had to pay for two car seats and felt that car rental companies should provide them free of charge because by law he is required to have his young children in seats.
    He then argued that the price of carseats was absurd $7.99 a day. We kindly explained to him that this is an optional service and he could have brought his own carseats on the plane. He then informed us he knows someone in the FBI and someone who works in credit cards. We received his chargeback today that he is trying to chargeback the car seats.

Comment On This Story

Name:  
Email: (Email will not be displayed.)  
Comment: (Maximum 2000 characters)  
Leave this field empty:
* Please note that every comment is moderated.

Author Bio

Chris Brown

Executive Editor

Chris Brown is the executive editor of Business Fleet Magazine and Auto Rental News. Through these publications, online newsletters, trade events and associations, Chris covers all aspects of the fleet world, including fleet management, manufacturer fleet activities, the fleet leasing industry, vehicle remarketing, rental industry news, car rental taxation and legislation.

Sponsored by

Newsletter

We offer e-newsletters that deliver targeted news and information for the entire fleet industry.



GotQuestions?

LUBRICANTS

The expert, Mark Betner from Citgo will answer your questions
Ask a question

Sponsored by

Magazine