Thanks for the continued feedback and thoughts coming in. I’ve seen a few comments on the blog from some customers who have not yet had a reply to their customer service query.

First off, my apologies for this. It’s been a busy summer for us, and our customers in the UK did a few more rentals with us than anticipated, and with more rentals comes more customer service queries! Unfortunately, this has meant that we have been caught short on the number of staff required to deal with these queries. I whole heartedly agree that this is not acceptable but we are working on bringing in extra staff to help us get through the back log.

If you have not heard from us then it is probably a case of us not getting round to you yet (not looking to make excuses, it’s just provide a bit of background). I promise we’re not ignoring you!! If you do have concerns about the status of your query then please email me at comments@avis.co.uk and I’ll look into this for you. Meanwhile thanks again for your patience if you have been effected.

We have also had a few customers post personal complaints on the blog. Whilst we are more than happy for you to tell us what you thought about our service with us, good or bad, if you have a particularly issue that needs resolving then I would highly recommend contacting us via the Contact Avis section on the website. Despite our recent issues it really is the best place to get an efficient response to your query as we have a dedicated team for dealing with this.

Again, keep the feedback and questions coming in.

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Bournemouth beachToday I’d like to introduce Ben Donald from our Bournemouth location who has written Part 2 of our “Tales from the South Coast”. I sense a little rivalry in the tea making department. I’d better not comment on who I think makes the best!…

I’ve worked at Avis in Bournemouth for 5 years now and the city is a great place to be.

You’ll probably have heard that some of the best and cleanest beaches in the south are in and around Bournemouth & Poole, and Corfe Castle is slightly further to the west. And did you know that surfing is an ever growing sport here? Famous for it’s nightlife and stag and hen parties, other parties come here too. Namely the political ones! The Labour Party Conference is underway at the Bournemouth International Centre.

We may not have a Premiership Football team here, but our beloved Cherries, Bournemouth AFC has a great following nonetheless. In fact last week I was very excited when Pedro Mendez of Portsmouth FC rented a car from us, we were really hoping he was going to tell us he was moving to the Cherries, but sadly not :((

So about Avis in Bournemouth, first off let me say I and the team (Brian & Steve) make better coffee than the guys in Portsmouth :o) We’re located close to Bournemouth Railway station and about 7 miles from Bournemouth Airport. It is very easy to get to us if you travel by train, and although we don’t operate on the airport (something we’re always reviewing) we can sometimes accomodate airport arrivals. You can ring me direct at the rental station if you want to discuss a special arrangement.

Ben Donald – Station Manager, Bournemouth

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Our rental agreementCan you initial here, here and here and sign your life away at the bottom here please? How I hate those unnecessarily complicated forms with boxes everywhere, generally filled with a fat ‘X’ which means that you’ve agreed to something but you are not quite sure what.

Proudly, and based on lots of customer feedback, last year we launched our new rental agreement (the old one had a few too many boxes!). If you are not sure what one is, the rental agreement is basically the contract you sign with us to agree the price and terms of car hire.

It was redesigned to make it easy for you to understand the cost of your car hire (i.e. how the price is broken down), so you can feel safe in the knowledge that you know exactly what you are signing for.

Some of the improvements include:

  • Removing all of the baffling jargon
  • Prices are clearly displayed and charges are broken down (including any extra cover)
  • ‘Vehicle Condition’ and ‘Fuel Gauge’ information included
  • You only have to sign your signature once
  • It’s available in 8 languages

Also, before you sign, your rental agent will go through each charge that makes up the total price so that you are comfortable with what is included. As long as you don’t extend your rental and you are able to bring the car home to us without damage and with a full tank of fuel (unless you take Fuel Up Front) then this will be the final price you pay.

The new agreement form is now in use at 350 of our European locations and over half of our UK locations, including our airport offices at Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Birmingham and our key off-airport locations.

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This is just a quick post to say that on Tuesday, GMTV ran a segment about how many parents are still not aware of the new child seat regulations that came into force in September last year. A survey from Churchill Car Insurance found, for example, that 23% of parents do not provide a child seat/booster seat/booster cushion at all for 3-12 year olds, which is now a requirement.

If you are not aware of these new rules then The Think! Road Safety website gives you all the information you need. You can also check out Eibhlin’s blog post “The new rules about child seats” for further information.

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portsmouth1.gifI’d thought I’d use my new position within our Operations team to share with you the thoughts and advice from the very people who serve our customers every day. Today’s post comes from Mark Bowers who runs Avis in Portsmouth, having just moved down from our office in Coventry…

Upon recovering from an eventful move from the Midlands, I’m pleased to finally take the reins at our branch in Portsmouth. It was sad to say goodbye to the team at Coventry, but the lure of England’s glorious south coast was too great to resist.
One thing that has struck me during my time at Avis is the great team spirit throughout the company and this makes relocating so much easier knowing that you will be walking into another great team.

So, Portsmouth, where do I start? My weekends have included a breathtaking trip to the Spinnaker Tower, which a friendly Portsmouth FC fan tells me is a cheap place to watch the game (whether you can actually see the ground I’m not so sure). This was followed by a bank balance busting trip with the missus to Gunwharf where shopping for the weary fellow in tow is made easy with the selection of shops and magnificent sea views.

From there, you can go to the historic dockyard with HMS Victory and the Mary Rose. One cannot help but feel impressed with the tales that this place whispers through its old pores. The city also has no less than 12 museums to boast of, plus don’t forget to catch a game at Fratton Park to see Pompey FC, my new friend reminds me. So plenty to keep you occupied!

Talking of football, one thing I would say about the people in this city is the devotion of the football fans, renowned all over the country for their loyalty. Just two weeks ago, we answered a call of distress from a father and son who were stranded at the roadside on their way to cheer on their lads. With only minutes to spare, we managed to get them back on the road to London, only to watch their boys lose 3-1 against Arsenal. As the dad said when he returned the car, “it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about being there for the lads”.

The other thing that has surprised me about Portsmouth is its incredible amount of green places; a short drive from our branch in Hilsea and you are in stunning marshland packed full of wildlife. Our branch is also conveniently located a stones throw from Hilsea train station which has links to London and the entire south coast. So if you are ever passing, drop in for a coffee and a chat. We make great coffee and if you’re lucky, there may even be a hob nob to dunk in your cup.

Mark Bowers – Station Manager, Portsmouth

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It’s the second week into my new role as Head of Customer Support and I am very much enjoying reading the comments we are getting back on the blog. Great to get the feedback!

My aim is to build on the great work established by Eibhlin and her team, use my operational experience to answer queries and continue to identify how we can improve service to our customers. So, I’m keen to get as much feedback as possible on both our Avis service offering and product range.

One of the many areas we get questions about is damage, which is a big focus area across the business and especially at rental station level. We’ve spent a lot of time over this year reviewing our policy and introducing a new 14 point damage check (to make sure that any damage is properly recorded for our customers). We’ve also put our UK front line staff through new damage training to ensure we deliver a consistent policy to our customers. For example, did you know that we do not charge for small scratches, dents and stone chips on the main bodywork? Also, we don’t charge for scuffs on the main wheel and wheel trim and washable stains and marks in the interior. Many customers worry that they have to check every tiny scratch and dent, but this is simply not the case. We accept that this is part of the general wear and tear of the car.

We know that there is always room for improvement and we want to keep on doing just that. So please keep the feedback coming in.

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We Try Harder adI have just finished reading “Up The Organisation”, written by Robert Townsend, one of the former Presidents of Avis Inc. You may not be familiar with this name but for Avis he is the man that many people would say is responsible for the company we know today. When he took the reins in 1962 Avis had entered its 13th year in the red with a market share of just 10-11%. One year into his tenure and Avis was back in the black. By 1966 market share had grown to 35%.

Key to Townsend’s success was a bold, daring advertising campaign coupled with a strong focus on good old fashioned service. The ad campaign introduced We Try Harder to the world, a philosophy that became very quickly engrained into the Avis culture.

We’re lucky the campaign even saw the light of day because it could have easily fallen at the first hurdle. It challenged normal advertising conventions – saying we’re “No.2, We Try Harder” was very “un-American” at the time. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it failed pre-campaign testing as people thought the ads meant that Avis was second best. But being a man who was never afraid to make the tough decisions, Townsend ran it anyway. It was an inspired decision. Customers admired its refreshing honesty and it was a runaway success.

The campaign heralded exciting times at Avis with enough stories to write a book on. Along the way Townsend empowered his staff to make sure the ads remained “honest”, convinced 30 Ford executives to pay 50% towards the cost of the campaign when the ads did not even include a picture of a Ford car and, rather boldly, made his leadership team personally responsible for dealing with the press (his rules for this are excellent and a topic for a future blog post). But perhaps the most striking examples of Townsend’s character is when he agreed to include his direct telephone line on one of the ads (see picture above). How many senior managers do you know who would do that today?!

Despite all of this Townsend was no “one man band”. He strongly maintained that the people who made the real difference were those on the “front line”. And what I believe made him so successful was his strong leadership and values and how he managed to transfer this to his staff through the creation of the We Try Harder culture.

The We Try Harder campaign was not only about “going the extra mile”. It reflected honesty, integrity and pioneering the way forward for our customers. Having worked for Avis for a few years and, by being involved in this blog, I believe that these values remain integral to the Avis we know today. Sadly Robert Townsend died in 1998. But for me his legacy of We Try Harder lives on.

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Audi A5 CoupeIt’s been a real privilege to have Audis on our fleet this year. The amount of comments and questions we received when we wrote about introducing the A4 and A6 to the Select Series confirms its popularity.

So it is with great pleasure that I announce the introduction of the Audi A5 Coupe to our Avis Prestige range. I’m sure you’ll agree from the picture, it is a great looking beast (and even better in the “flesh”). Under the bonnet is a 3.0 litre V6 turbodiesel engine and the interior is, well, typically Audi. As ‘What Car?’ put it: “Audi is a byword for interior trim quality”. And the bottom line from the same respected car reviewer: “The A5’s engines are terrific, and the car has the comfort, quality and class to maintain Audi’s reputation”.

So what do you think of the Audi A5? Have you had a chance to try it? And to continue our debate from our last post about Avis Prestige, what other cars would you like to see added to the fleet?

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This is somewhat of a narcissistic post, telling you all about me :o) But I thought it would be good to share the plans for the next 15 months or so.

I’m moving out of my job and into an operational role as Head of Region South East. I would also like to introduce my colleague Peter Greenough, who is moving into my role as Head of Customer Support and out of the Operations arena. Developmental exposure for both of us, which we think should bring additional value across the business.

I’ll be able to look at the delivery of our rental service with a view to enhancing the customer experience and Peter will be able to bring his wealth of Operations knowledge to Customer Support and really help to focus and drive service improvement based on customer feedback… we’re both really looking forward to it.

I’ll continue to post, and tell you all about my experiences in the field, which hopefully won’t be too traumatic! I have nightmares about ending up with no cars in Heathrow, or finding a line of pink mini coopers out front… but it should be fine :o) and we’ll get some posts up from some of our location managers too!

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Please note:

The details of all blog posts are correct at the time of publication. Information and offers are subject to change without prior notice. Please check www.avis.co.uk for the most up-to-date information.

All comments will be moderated so there may be a delay in your comment going live. We will filter out anything that is confidential, inappropriate, abusive, defamatory, profane, or anything considered as spam or an advertising link. We promise not to cut something just because it's not favourable to Avis.

We ask that if your feedback is regarding a past rental, you include your reservation details (which will be removed from the live post). If your comment is a customer service issue, you can email customer.service@avis.co.uk .
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At Avis, we really do try harder. We pioneered blogging in the car rental world and we aim to make our blog much more than just an information source. You can use our blog to ask questions or tell us what’s important to you when you hire a car. We try harder because we care what you think, so we really do value your feedback.

New to car rentals? Our blog gives you tips and advice on getting the most out of your Avis car hire experience. You can find information about booking and hiring your car, safety tips, and eco driving. We also provide driving advice and the latest news about our fleet.

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But that’s just a taster – find out more about the Avis blog.