… But that’s what it says in the computer

“Sir, your reservation is correct. That’s what it says in the computer,” the young lady said for the fifth time, pointing at her screen.

I was at the Hertz rental desk at New York’s JFK Airport on Tuesday, picking up a car for my regular trip to BZ Media’s Long Island offices. The return flight is on Saturday, Oct. 17, and that’s what I made the car reservation for. However, the rental ticket in the car listed the return date as Thursday, Dec. 3 — that’s an eight-week rental. Oops.

Fortunately, I noticed the error before leaving the lot, and went inside the Hertz office to correct the return date. Easier said than done.

I tried explaining again. “I don’t know why it says that in your computer, but it’s wrong. I’m returning the car this Saturday, Oct. 17. That’s what I want to do. Not December. And that’s what it says on my reservation confirmation.”

I again handed her the reservation confirmation — I obsessively travel with a full set of confirmation printouts from the airline, car rental service and hotel. The Hertz confirmation listed the correct return date of October 17.

She looked again at the printout, and compared it to her screen. “It’s the same reservation number. The computer says you’re returning the car on December 3. You’re all set.” She handed the paper back.

“No, no. That’s not what I want…” I started again, and then caught myself. “May I speak to the manager?”

The manager came over. I handed her the confirmation sheet and the rental ticket. “Your computer is wrong,” I said. “I’m returning the car on October 17, and that’s what my reservation confirmation says.”

She looked at the documents. The young clerk looked at her. The manager said, “Change it to an October 17 return.” The clerk seemed totally confused.

The manager sighed, reached over to the computer keyboard herself, typed for a minute. The printer spit out a new rental ticket — with the correct return date, and a significantly lower rental rate than I’d originally reserved. “Here you go, sir. I’m sorry for the inconvenience.”

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick
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