Have you ever had one of those days where you wake up and think there’s SOMETHING you should be doing, but you can’t put your finger on it? Feed the pets, maybe. Pay that bill you keep forgetting to pay. Throw out the plants you’ve slowly tortured to death. Water the kids. Write a new blog post because it’s been a few months.
*Narrator: After almost 3 long years, one would think Phil would have learned that nothing is easy in South Africa. Phil is a ninnyhammer.
them to send me a picture of the damage.
of the damaged windshield.
and send it back to them as soon as I got to my office.
when, on a whim, I decided to check the EXIF data on the picture they sent me.
So, like I have had to do so many times in South Africa, I called and asked to speak to a manager.
Me: Hi, is this the branch manager?
Car Rental Guy: Yes. How can I help?
M: Hahaha. You say that like you have any intention of helping me whatsoever.
M: Nevermind. I’m calling because I suspect I just caught one of
your employees trying to rip me off.
CRG: I’m sorry to hear that.
M: Hahaha. You say that like 1) you’re surprised you have a thief working for you and 2) you’re actually sorry.
M: Anyway, here’s what happened…*relates the story
CRG: Let me investigate and I’ll call you back
*To his credit, he did something I’ve not experienced once when dealing with customer service in South Africa- he actually called back.
CRG: OK, I looked into it, and it was the correct picture. The time and day wasn’t programmed properly in the camera, and that’s why the date is different in the data. That definitely is a picture of the damage.
M: Wow. That’s interesting. Did you know that the picture was
taken with a Samsung phone?
M: Phones are connected to sky magic and always show the correct
date and time.
CRG: Let me investigate and call you back.
*I’ll be a meerkat’s uncle. He actually called me back again.
CRG: I don’t know why, but that phone was displaying the wrong date and time. We’ve fixed it now so it won’t happen again.
M: Can you do me a favour? Please open the picture you guys sent
me. Then zoom in. What do you see?
CRG: A chip in the windscreen.
M: No, past that.
CRG: I see the seats.
M: Can you describe the seats to me?
CRG: They’re grey.
M: And what are they made out of?
M: The car you guys rented me had black leather seats. Did you
happen to replace the seats after I dropped it off?
CRG: Let me call you back.
This time, I didn’t get a phone call back. I did, however, get an email stating that since they didn’t follow procedure, they would waive the cost of the windscreen damage. How noble of them.
Part of me felt a little guilty for confounding the car rental company’s plan to increase profits. Times are tough here, and every little bit of extra revenue counts.
And let’s be fair here- this is hardly the most egregious way South Africans have come up with to part the unsuspecting from their money. I usually don’t have the time or patience to argue when I suspect something is a little fishy.
So I guess this is a warning- if you rent a car in South Africa, take pictures. Lots of them. Or, you know, just be ready to donate a little extra.
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