The Perils of Pauline – Tails From the Tour Trail

It is seven-thirty on Thursday evening, the first night of Left Coast Crime. I’ve just come back from the conference’s opening cocktail party, so I’ve had a single glass of cabernet, but I’m expecting that my faithful SERs (the Sharp-Eyed Readers) will have a ball finding copy-editing bloopers in the following.

I usually write the blog on Tuesday or Wednesday, but I’m on tour, and I’m also in some peculiar division of tech hell. On my way here, I had Siri delivering driving directions in my ear. Unfortunately, she ran out of gas somewhere in Oro Valley which is near where El Conquistador is—close but no cigar. When the phone died and Siri stopped talking to me, my Apple Watch knew enough to click at me in advance of my needing to make a turn. The clicks came through find and dandy, but with no hint about which direction I should take. I would have apologized to my fellow drivers, but I was too busy driving. I’m pretty sure I made an illegal right turn from the wrong lane. Then, once I got to the hotel, after charging my phone, when I turned it back on and went to make a call, the phone App had suddenly vanished from my phone. My grandson, Colt, says he can walk me through getting it back, but that will have to happen AFTER I write the blog. Because my problems that turned up after I got here were nothing to compared to the ones that happened on the way.

I arranged my car rental through Hertz. I’ve long been a Platinum member there, and they’ve been my car rental firm of choice for many years. When I arrived in Phoenix, a wonderful media escort, Nancy Steube, picked me up from my incoming flight and squired me around town for all the Phoenix-centric events. Those ended yesterday evening, and I had made arrangements to pick up a rental for the remainder of the the trip. Because my hotel I was in Scottsdale, and because getting around SkyHarbor isn’t exactly a walk in the park, I asked the Platinum Desk if there was any place in Scottsdale where I could pick it up. “Oh, yes,” the telephone attendant told me. “You can pick it up at 11:30 am from the Hertz desk at the Hyatt Regency in Scottsdale.”

All righty then. Good to go. Right? Nope, wrong.

Yesterday, when I began getting a little squirrelly about exactly where at the Hyatt we’d find the Hertz desk, we tried calling. Voice mail, voice mail, voice mail, and more voice mail. With no returned call. By then I also realized that, with a 1 PM event scheduled in Casa Grande, maybe an 11:30 pick-up was cutting it too close, so I needed to move that up to 10:30. By the time Nancy and I were returning from an event in Mesa, we still hadn’t had a call back from the Hertz Desk at the Hyatt. But then, when I checked my mail, lo and behold, there was an email from a guy named Matthew at the Hertz Outlet on Scottsdale Boulevard. (When I had looked on the Internet for another Phoenix area location, no Scottsdale location showed up in the search.) Matthew assured me that he had my reservation, but when I told him I needed to move my pick-up time to 10:30, he assured me that was impossible because he didn’t have any cars. My car was due to be returned this morning and wouldn’t be ready for me to pickup until 11:30, if, that is, it was actually returned on time.

So while Nancy kept driving, I called the Hertz Platinum desk again and asked if I could pick up a vehicle from SkyHarbor at ten-thirty a.m. today. A few moments later, she assured me that I could have one of the “manager specials”—a Range Rover–and quoted me a price. To my way of thinking a “manager special” would have been something closer to a Kia than a Range Rover, but I said fine. We completed the transaction and she assured me she’d send me a confirming email. When the confirmation failed to appear two hours later, I called back and spoke to someone named J.P. (No relation to Beaumont, by the way.)

He found the reservation and assured me that there must have been a delay in sending it. The delay was that the first agent never sent it in the first place. It arrived a few minutes later while I was still on the phone with J.P., because now that I for sure had a vehicle at SkyHarbor, I wanted to be sure the other reservation was properly canceled.

And then this morning came. My name wasn’t on the reader board telling me to go directly out to get my car. We stood in the Gold line for a long time before we finally realized that there was a tiny sign at the end of the counter for Platinum members. A clerk showed up, she took us out to the car aisles, and led us directly to a bright red … wait for it … Tesla! In Hertz land, the term “manager special” is code for all electric vehicles. Who knew? As I explained to the clerk and later to her supervisor, I am a seventy-eight year-old woman. I do NOT drive cars masquerading as computers. Like my friend Twinkle Winkleman, I am a V-8 kind of girl. I need vehicles with actual gasoline engines, ignitions, accelerators, and brake pedals. When I threatened to cancel the reservation entirely and have Nancy drive me to Casa Grande, they somehow managed to get their act together and locate a Ford SUV which, as it turns out, is entirely satisfactory. Except for the front console. It has a place where I supposedly can “pair” my phone to the vehicle.

Are you kidding? At this point I can’t even make my phone app show up long enough for me to make a call. How the hell am I supposed to pair it? Surprisingly, though, after all that, I managed to make it to Casa Grande in time for my 1:00 PM appearance.

I’m sure that, as soon as I pay the bill for this rental, Hertz is going to email me a survey asking how they did. I’ll probably tell them, but they’ll be lucky that I got a lot of car-rental angst out of my system by writing this blog! Even so, my answers on that survey won’t be pretty. It seems reasonable to assume that the people running the Platinum desk would be smart enough not to direct me to a rental office closed three years ago!

So that’s your window on my world for this week. Next Friday, after I’ve had a moment or two to catch my breath, I’ll talk about the great things that have happened on the book tour as opposed to whining about the Perils of Pauline.

But just in case any of you were under the impression that going on a book tour is all glamorous smooth-sailing, now you know better.

53 thoughts on “The Perils of Pauline – Tails From the Tour Trail

  1. JA… made my day. So sorry for your very difficult day but I needed something to laugh about. Sorry it was at your expense. My son passed away unexpectedly this past week. He is the third of my 5 children to leave this earthly life for a heavenly home. My 84 years of life has been quite the journey. Your books and blogs keep me on track! Thank you!!

    • OMG! My blood pressure was rising with each word of the terrible time Hertz put you through. How did you deep from flippng your top right then and there at the desk and to each agent on the phone?! So glad you made it to your apointment, but sad you had to put up with such incompetence.

    • Donna,
      My heart is breaking for you. I’m thankful you still have the ability to laugh even when terrible things happen to you. I have been in your shoes.

    • The good news here is that you weren’t stopped on the road and issued an arrest warrant for stealing the car. That seems to be happening to a large number of people who are renting Hertz cars. Perhaps it is time for a change of car companies?

  2. Oh, how I can relate to your experience. However, my experience was being given vehicles that kept breaking down. And being stranded for hours. After the second vehicle, I was furious. After the third vehicle, I was beyond furious. When I completed my survey it wasn’t pretty or polite.

  3. I think you meant “computer masquerading as a car.” Be that as it may, there is a reason Hertz should not rent a Tesla to a novice, any age. Teslas have incredible acceleration, which takes a while to adjust to. I am so tired of this hi-tech world, and would be happy to return to land lines, snail mail, and live customer service reps, not telephone chains. Press “8” if you would like more of this diatribe.

  4. I love your blog. It just shows how things are progressing in this world for us more seasoned adults, and the things that we have to deal with. Thanks so much for your writing the blog, and taking the time to enlighten us about your weekly schedules.
    I have actually been in the audience in one of your book signings, you are a wonderful writer and person and I enjoy your books immensely. Thank you so much.
    LaVerne Fenner

    Met you in Apple Valley Minnesota several years ago.

  5. I’m surprised you aren’t looking for another car rental agency.

    Looking forward to seeing you at Third Place Books on March 26–at least you won’t have to rent a car to get there.

  6. I have forwarded this blog to 7 new people. they all have frustration that so adequately expressed. glad you had successful, trip. Thank GOD for you being here to enlighten us. Chuck from Tacoma. AND to keep blessing us with your Waring Blender mind.

  7. You made me smile and feel really good about my life. Have an extra glass of wine tonight after you get to youe room. It will make “all right in your world”. You can rest easy tonight and tackle tomorrow refreshed. Have a great tour!

  8. You made me smile and feel really good about my life. Have an extra glass of wine tonight after you get to your room. It will make “all right in your world”. You can rest easy tonight and tackle tomorrow refreshed. Have a great tour!

  9. I was getting confused just reading this, so I can imagine how you must have felt experiencing all this. But you still delivered for your readers in person and on the blog! Bravo!

    I’ll go into my day determined to deliver a better experience to my clientele than you got at Hertz this week.

  10. What a tale?! It reminded me of a story related at a customer care course I attended years ago. The presenter was a well-known, successful business woman whose job involved lots of travelling around the US. Almost invariably this involved a car rental, and she described her rental agency of choice as the “red company”.

    Arriving at a provincial airport fairly late in the evening and with a pre-booked rental, she navigated her way to the “red” desk only to find it had closed up for the day. No note for her, no pick-up pack, no customer phone. As it happened, the adjacent “green company” desk was staffed, and the young man there noticed the lady’s predicament. In short order he arranged for her to be driven to her hotel and undertook to get in touch with the red company to ensure her rental would be delivered to her hotel the next morning.

    And that was the clincher: he had made no attempt to capture red company business. Guess who she chose to do business with from that day forward?

    • I am sure glad you made it on time to Casa Grande. My wife and I enjoyed your talk and of course getting to meet you. Thanks for keeping us entertained on our road trips between AZ and MN.

  11. I am not a grammar correction type of gal, but I did find one error. Lets blame it on auto correct. Your blogs are very entertaining, today I could feel the frustration in your words. I too do not take to the electronic world very well. My latest acquisition is a Cadillac SUV gas guzzler, fully loaded with all types of gizmos. The car has more electronics in it than t I get confused as to what button unlocks the door or opens the rear lift. One thing though, it was easy pairing my phone to the car, but I have yet to pair my stupid garage door opener. So I do it the old fashioned way, keep an opener in the car. I also have yet to use the GPS that’s conveniently located on the dashboard. The screen itself has more point and touch apps than on my phone and I am always touching something I shouldn’t.
    I enjoy your books from the first one you wrote, which was given to me by a dear friend who knew what I liked to read. I do have your latest, but have yet to open it to read, taking care of grandkids while mom and dad are in Hawaii for a couple of weeks. These youngsters wears me out (I am also 77). Keep those blogs coming, they also make me laugh at times. One day I will attend one of the conferences or book signings to meet you in person.

  12. OMG I Laughed so hard I thought I was going pass out. That is a story to tell time and time again as all of us more mature peeps can so relate. My dogs were getting concerned when my laughter became louder and crazier with every breath intake. Thanks for a smashing start to my Friday.

  13. I am sure glad you made it on time to Casa Grande. My wife and I enjoyed your talk and of course getting to meet you. Thanks for keeping us entertained on our road trips between AZ and MN.

  14. Send this blog to Hertz as a survey. I’m sure they will be pleased by all the good advertising you are giving them.

  15. Congratulations on navigating all of that and for making me especially thankful today for my quiet Friday morning.

  16. You made my week! I so feel your pain with travel plans going array. Should have called me I would have taken you wherever.

  17. After all you went through to get a rental car, I don’t see how you weren’t a nervous wreck, I would have been. I’m close to your age and cannot even do some of the basics on phone, computer, etc.
    I am now dealing with my landline company because of a phone issue and have made about 5 calls to get it repaired and got 5 different people who have yet to help. Either by transferring me and then getting cut off or just to say repairman is coming and they aren’t. I’m so frustrated and doing this all in my own home. Safe travels home.

  18. Great blog. I’m with you, give me a gas powered car any day. I just got a “new to me” Subaru that came with a back up camera. That’s hard to get used to because my old Lincoln Towncar had the sensors that I relied on when backing up, that plus my rearview mirrors. Re: Hertz. We rented a car from them years ago but then 911 happened. They contacted us wanting to know if we wanted to cancel our reservation since nobody could fly. We declined, as our trip was a month away. To make a long story short, when we arrived in Manchester for our vehicle, they had upgraded us to a much bigger car than planned, with no increase in rate. We rarely rent cars so that was a nice surprise. Good company.

    Keep up the good work and I can hardly wait for your next J.P book. On a recent trip, one of the other passengers had you down as one of their favorite authors also. BTW, it isn’t necessary to reply to this. Take time to relax between venues.
    Nancy W.

  19. A (paraphrased) line in a story once stated that, no matter how miserable your life or your yesterday or your night has been, you must still get up in the morning to make breakfast for your family. Your loyalty to your readers and fans despite the (literal) roadblocks and hurdles is so appreciated! You’re giving the Ever Ready Bunny a run for his money.
    Your presentation at Wednesday’s P.E.O. luncheon was, as always, entertaining and delightful following the solemn duty of The Storyteller.
    The charming, professional, and gracious AZ native Nancy Stuebe is a media escort extraordinaire.
    Thank you again for all you do ( so often above and beyond), Annie of Goodyear AZ and Spokane WA

  20. Hi Judy,

    You’re a much higher tech woman than I. After reading this, I’m afraid to rent a car, and may never find a provider for the new iPhone I foolishly bough last fall. I’m coming over to that side of the pond for my birthday and a lifelong friend and I will come to your event north of Seattle. We miss you in Port Angeles. Happy St. Paddy’s Day.

    Lacy Hennessey

  21. Its important to get the word out on these corporate foul ups! The broader the audience the better!


  22. What a day you had. I would have turned around, gone home and had a few drinks .but you made it through. One tough lady.
    As one of the commentators said ,send your blog to Hertz when they inquire about their customer service….

  23. As well as I love reading your books, and I do, I love reading your antics about your events or incidents, whichever fits, just as much. I have also had a fair share of horror stories from rental cars. Glad I’m retired.
    Thank you for putting a smile on my face.

  24. My Hertz experiences are consistently left and right hand don’t know what the other is doing. After more than one serious problem by their poor service, I’ve decided to follow the “twice burned” and use other car rentals

  25. Just started CRITICAL DAMAGE. Thank goodness for another GREAT read. Love the blog. I live vicariously through your experiences. They never disappoint!

  26. Oh my gosh what a day you had. And you still did what you had to do. I applaud your stamina and your ability to handle it all in stride and give us all another delightful Friday read. You are a treasure.

  27. Your story about trying to get a decent link to get you somewhere coupled with your adventures in getting a rental brought me back to my exciting times trying to use MapQuest and getting lost in El Paso…Apparently, Mapquest thought that there was a street where was now a super highway. There were lots of other horrors that Mapquest was responsible for. Getting a rental car during my 26 plus years as an auditor brought me up against cars that couldn’t be located, or where the space I was supposed to go, empty, or where there was no place to return a car in the driving snow in Minneapolis…Well, your stories made me feel better…I thought all important people got treated better…apparently not.

      • What makes me think you are important? well, to begin with there are the millions of readers across the country. But to put my comment in perspective, I used to live in the DC/Virginia area (for 33 years) where there were senators and lawmakers and beltway bandits who would not let anyone get away with the treatment you got. They would be incensed at Hertz, at Google and Apple for what you had to go through…and if any of them were thwarted for any reason, they would blister the airwaves with condemnations, and demand egregious refunds. So, yes, you are very important to millions of us…and we love to hear your stories!

  28. Thank you so much for bringing back the Walker Family Series……I love them!! I have learned so much from reading your books and visiting the reservation south of Tucson.

    What a blessing it is to the lost girls that you will be releasing this book come September….thank you so much !!

  29. So sorry this happened, Judy…we all have days and experiences like this but this one was awful…

  30. My daughter, my best friend and I went to the Apache Junction library to see you. It was standing room only and that is what we did. Worth it to hear you speak and get our books signed. Thank you for a wonderful time

  31. I am currently reading Collateral Damage. It is hard to put down which means I love it. Work gets in the way of reading. Anyway, I have lived my whole life in the Twin Cities area and it does feel like you know St. Paul, MN.

  32. I just finished Collateral Damage and it was exceptional. I read through the night and didn’t put the book down until I was finished. Fabulous!

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