Actually – No – it is not.
Making people print out a PDF and mail it back to you to register is no longer acceptable. It has not been acceptable for years.
Avis does a bit better, as does Hertz. However although it appears online sign-up to their programs is possible, they each have intimidatingly long forms to fill out.
Avis presents you with a long form in step two of four after selecting your country
and Hertz also presents you with a long form – but as the first of an amazing six steps.
Both sites have a USA feel, and I worried about my privacy given the rabid nature of customer information sharing in that country. So I checked a bit more and that worry was confirmed – here is how you opt-out of receiving email for Hertz:
To request to be removed from our e-mail list, please submit your request in writing and mail to: The Hertz Corporation, P.O. Box 25991, Oklahoma City, OK 73126, U.S.A. Please include your name, your #1 Club number and address.
And I thought printing out a PDF was bad. This is really sinister, and a terrible sign that a multi-national just simply does not understand the local market.
Then there is the disingenuous answer to this question:
Q: Has my personal data been shared with any other companies?
A: Unless you have previously provided consent, your personal data has not been shared with any companies other than Hertz, its affiliates and licensees for marketing purposes.
Of course consent is most likely given automatically during sign-up. I didn’t bother to go through the sign-up process to find out.
Instead let’s check Avis to see how they do it, as we can read their T&Cs in the first sign-up step. They say:
21. Avis shall hold information from the hirer … and the provision of related customer services, including direct marketing and assessing customer satisfaction with products and services of Avis. Avis may use the information for any of these purposes. The hirer is entitled to request access to and correction of these details at any time by contacting Avis.
There seems to be no opt-out from that at all. I’m not even sure that this is legal, as I understand, under New Zealand law. But then if you sign the contract, you sign up to receive the spam.
In the end I signed up to nobody’s program – the big three agencies had a chance to get my loyalty, and they all failed.
How to do it right?
A better approach could be to as me to “Register” or “Join” their program, requiring just an email address and password. Once registered then give me a better experience, (e.g. MyRentalco page) and ask me to “complete my profile to get your card” or similar. Once I am joined, I will feel more obliged and safe enough to add the extra information required so that I can get access to all my rental car transactions, and see my points rise.
Fix the Privacy
Let me opt-in and opt-out easily from the various marketing offers. Deliver your messages to people that want them, and they won’t be delivered straight to the spam folder. It’s also compliant with the law around here. This stuff is so basic – why am I even bothering?
Give it to me
I rent cars every two to four weeks. I use the same name, address, credit card and drivers license. Ask me whether you’d like to store my details for next time, track how much I spend and mail me my new platinum card for special frequent drivers.
It’s great to have one system, but it appears that the locals have little say in how it is presented here. Make a mix of economies of scale and genuine local engagement. As an example I have not seen @AvisNZ, @HertzNZ or @BudgetNZ (or any variations thereof) on Twitter. All of those IDs are available from Twitter, but for a measure of how pointless this all is check out @Avis. I don’t expect they read blog posts either.
Meanwhile my loyalty for now appears to be with Budget. The reason is simple – when you complete booking an Air New Zealand flight they make it easy to book a car with Avis or Budget by pre-populating a form and showing the options. While Budget and Avis have the same owner, their systems are different and Budget’s prices are always cheaper. So there you have it – Air New Zealand is doing Budget’s job for them.
Perhaps Air New Zealand should just start a rental car company?