The time I STOLE a car…
My team loves it when I tell this story…
It’s about the time I STOLE a car this year…
I had no idea this is what my trip to Tampa would turn into!
Earlier this year, my wife and I were taking a trip to Tampa. While we were boarding the flight, Jen (my wife) asked me what company I ended up renting a car through. After checking my phone, I suddenly realized I never reserved a car… Oops!
No problem, right? I just got on my phone while we sat on the tarmac and started looking up rental car sites. I tried Hertz, I tried Dollar, I then hopped on to Expedia.
NO cars were available.
So now I’m thinking to myself, well, I guess we could Uber (like we do on so many other occasions), but I thought about all the driving we planned to do on this trip so I decided that probably wasn’t the best solution.
Then I remembered I’ve always wanted to try this online car share called Turo. I figured now would be a perfect time to check it out.
I navigated their site and ALAS! A white Land Rover Discovery pops up immediately. So I go ahead and set up an account, put my credit card in, and reserved the vehicle.
Simple, easy, problem solved. I leaned over to Jen in the seat next to me to let her know we were all set.
We arrived in Tampa, and I checked my phone looking for any further detail on where we needed to go to pick up this vehicle.
I didn’t see anything from Turo, so I ended up messaging the owner, and he gave me the location where the Turo cars are picked up.
We arrived at the location given and there were about five cars in the lot. Jen points over to the white Land Rover Discovery and we walk towards it. The vehicle was unlocked and the keys were in the armrest compartment. I have to say…I was a bit shocked that someone would leave their car unlocked with the keys inside, but again, since I had never used this app before, I just assumed this was how it was done. Jen and I drove away and headed to the hotel.
The next day we attended our meetings, ran some errands, and visited some family. That day and even the next day, I kept messaging the owner of the car asking for the drop off procedure so we were prepared timing wise when we headed off to the airport the following day.
I told Jen I thought we should just return the vehicle to the same location that we picked it up if we didn’t hear anything back as I didn’t know what else to do. We tried messaging Turo for the drop off procedure, but no response there either.
The day we depart arrived, and I sent the owner one last message over the Turo app letting him know we are just going to return his vehicle in the same location we picked it up and that we’d leave the keys where we found them.
As we’re pulling into the Tampa airport, a guy in a giant Suburban pulls up next to us, opens his window and yells, “You stole my car!”
Perplexed and a bit startled, I responded with, “No, I rented this car on Turo”.
He yelled back, “No! You stole my car!” He then asked, “Where do you think you’re going?!”
I could tell Jen was getting a bit nervous (and if I’m being completely honest, I was too).
“I’m returning it where we got it.”
He waves me forward and says, “Follow me!”
So we follow his Suburban as he pulls in front of us. (To give you a bit of context, this is a BIG guy. I’m 6’ 1, and I would guess he was about 6’ 6 from the look of it).
We stop in the same parking lot we originally picked up the vehicle. He gets out of his car and starts walking toward us. I could tell by his energy and by his body language he was beyond anxious. His body just exuded adrenaline (it looked like his whole body was shaking).
His voice was shaking a bit too when he started to speak…
“You stole my car!”
I responded with, “Sir, I did not steal your car… Give me a second, I will show you on this app… I rented this car on Turo.”
As I’m pulling up the app, he says, “No, you didn’t rent my car. You rented another one”.
I show him the app, and explain that this was the only white Land Rover Discovery that was in the lot…
He said, “There’s another guy who has the same car who rents on Turo. Mine is missing a roof rail” as he points to the top of the vehicle. “Didn’t you notice that?!”
I look at Jen in a bit of disbelief he would ask us if we noticed a missing roof rail, and I said, “No sir, we did not. It was late and dark when we picked up the car, no one was here and it was the only white Land Rover Discovery in the lot.”
“The person I rented my car to showed up the other morning to pick it up and it wasn’t here!” he said.
“Man, I’m so sorry, I had no idea I didn’t have the right car. Can I pay you a few hundred dollars for your inconvenience? I’ve already paid Turo, maybe I can get that transferred over to you as well I’m sure.” I said.
He said, “No no, no, it’s fine. Now that I’ve got the car…” I interrupted him and said, “Seriously! I’m happy to pay you for your inconvenience!”
Jen is now on the Turo app typing a message to them describing the situation.
We apologize again, get his contact information, and head to the terminal to catch our flight.
We arrive home in Atlanta and I am surprised to see there is no response from Turo.
We text the man whose car we “stole” to give him an update and let him know we’ve reached out to Turo about the situation with no response yet.
We message throughout the week (still no response from Turo after multiple messages). The man tells us towards the end of the week that his wife wants to file a police report on what happened. He asks if I can pay him a few hundred dollars to appease her.
I immediately agree and ask him if I can Zelle him the money–that way he would get it quickly. I get his info and send the money.
Nicest guy… Just someone put in a terrible situation–Reacting to the information he was given.
I honestly don’t know if I would have reacted any differently if it were me in his situation.
Here’s the lesson in it.
In fact, there are a few lessons I pulled from this ordeal…
All too often we think our communication is clear when it’s really not.
We assume someone understands what we want. We assume we are clear in our direction and intentions.
We also “assume” a lot as human beings.
For example… That was my first time using Turo.
Sure, I should have checked the license plate, not just the car type, but it would have been nice to receive a “Next steps” or “How to pick up your vehicle” email from Turo so I knew the exact process (helpful hints, what to expect, etc.)
The lack of communication from the person I rented the car from didn’t help either…
Can you think about the last time a miscommunication or lack of communication created major disruption in your life? In your business? Within your team?
If only you (or they) would have given an additional piece of information or more clarity… The entire circumstance could have been avoided?
Another thing I was able to remind myself about in this situation is the act of putting myself in someone else’s shoes.
Communication is key but we always have to remember that people react differently in certain situations. Their emotions can be different based upon the experience that they’re having (or have had in the past).
I think about this guy getting the notification from the other renter that his car was not there. The sheer panic he must have felt.
Always think: If you were in “their shoes”, how would you understand or react to the information that was given to you?
After this Turo experience, I thought really hard too about expectations. How people possess certain expectations in their mind in every situation (life, business, in relationships, etc.).
When they ARE met, or expectations exceed those set in their mind, the positive results that occur.
On the other side of the coin, what is felt by someone when expectations fall short.
A few days after sending this guy money, I sent another message to Turo explaining what I did to rectify the situation since I heard nothing back from them.
I noticed on my profile that I had a negative review.
And no, it wasn’t from the guy whose car I had, it was from the other guy who I was supposed to rent a car from!!
I tried looking him up on Turo to send a message, but couldn’t find him on the app anymore. I messaged Turo asking them to take down the negative review and asked them to reference all my other messages to them, and Turo wasn’t willing to remove it.
In fact, they never did respond to any of the messages we sent during this whole ordeal.
Needless to say, I deleted the Turo app. I’ll never use them again for the multitude of reasons you just read.
In theory, it’s a great service idea…
In reality, without the customer service, or detailed processes in place to really make it a killer and seamless experience, I don’t see how in this day and age, this particular company will survive.
Anyway, I hope this entertained you a little bit and also gave you some food for thought when it comes to your communication, and the expectations of your clients (and prospects) possess–are you meeting and exceeding them?
Also, if you are going to rent a car on Turo, make sure you have the right car!!
To your success,