Thanks for Renting–oh, wait! Just Kidding!

“Cool! National has really gotten it right!” I thought. I had just turned in my rental car an hour ago. After checking in, I had quickly opened up my laptop to check email before I boarded my plane. I was impressed to see at the top of my inbox a message from National Car Rental’s Emerald Club entitled, “Emerald Club thanks you”:

Thank you for renting with National. We hope you have enjoyed your rental experience and will think of us the next time you travel.

If you no longer wish to receive thank you emails like this, click here.

Again, thank you for renting with National.

Please note: do not reply directly to this email. If you have a question or comment, please consult the Contacts section of

The first line was great–but it all went downhill from there! I thought I was being truly thanked for renting. But then I read that they gave me the option of refusing email like this, just like SPAM. They then ruined it completely by saying, “Don’t bother replying. We don’t REALLY want to hear from you. In fact, we’re going to make it so hard for you to give any feedback that you won’t even bother telling us what you think.”

Nice job, folks. You ruined a potentially great touch. One of two things happened here: either a customer service person had a great idea of sending out a “thank you” but was constrained by IT in the follow-through, or some marketing executive had a great idea for customer retention but neglected to examine the downstream consequences of failing to integrate effectively throughout the organization to ensure that the customer experience was integrated and seamless.

What you should have done is this:

Dear Mr. Bingham,
Thank you very much for your rental in Columbus, OH. We hope you have enjoyed your rental experience. In fact, do you have a moment to tell us about it? Click here to tell us about your experience. If it was a good one, we’d love to share your experience with other business travelers like yourself. If it wasn’t good, we’d love the opportunity to make it right so you’ll come back to National next time.

Are you planning on traveling again in the near future? If so, here’s a coupon good for a free car class upgrade on your next visit!

Again, thank you for driving with National Emerald Club. If for any reason you want to speak directly with someone about your experience, please feel free to call us at 800-555-1212.

What do you think? Which letter would you prefer to receive? Which one would entice you to return? Me? I think I’ll try Hertz next time and see if they can do a better job of expressing their appreciation for my business.

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