It finally had to happen after four previous trips to Australia. We've repeatedly spread the word about "G'Day," "How ya goin'," and "No worries," so we finally had to encounter a truly rude Australian, just to round out our experience. She was not only rude, but she possessed that certain type of attitude that can be found in a number of nationalities of positively savoring her own rudeness, and the resulting discomfort to the poor slob who happens to be the customer.
We found her at the Thrifty Car Rental in Melbourne City Centre.
We entered the office on Elizabeth Street to pick up our car after a 30-minute walk from the Hilton South Wharf on a lovely day. The agent started the paperwork, giving us the usual heavy sell on the extra insurance, which we bought, it being Australia, one of the few "different" countries where our credit cards don't cover the extra insurance - ripoff city but "when in Rome..."
Having read the posted sign warning customers that they weren’t allowed to use the toilets, Brian asked where the nearest ones were, and the clerk replied “Victoria Station,” about a five-minute walk across one of the busiest intersections in Melbourne. Brian mentioned he was an “old guy” and needed to use the facilities before leaving Melbourne so we’d then like to leave our bags for a few minutes. The clerk immediately replied that that we couldn’t do that, due to “security.” We then asked about leaving the bags in the car, which the clerk had pointed out was now sitting at the curb with its four-way flashers on. She replied that the car was parked illegally and that we would be responsible for any tickets or towing.
Brian first asked if there was a hidden camera (with memories of the old Candid Camera show) and then summarized for the clerk: “We can’t use the toilets here, we can’t leave our luggage here, and you’ve parked the car for us illegally,” to which she smirkingly replied “Yes.”
Kathy stayed with the luggage while Brian walked down to Victoria Station. On return, we noticed that the car could have easily been pulled in to a small parking area adjacent to the office.
We noticed scratches on the car, and Brian re-entered the office to confirm with the dragon that scratches didn't matter, since we'd invested our life savings in the super-dooper insurance. One last jab: The dragon replied that damages wouldn't be covered if we inflicted them deliberately.
Yes, if we treated customers like that when renting them a car, I wouldn't be surprised if the vehicle came back with the upholstery slashed and the gas tank all sugared up, but that's just not our style.
This clerk obviously doesn’t like a) North Americans, b) males (or is it females, since she was cutting to Kathy as well?), c) her job, or d) life.
Choose any or all of the above and never rent from Thrifty in Melbourne.
No worries... It's a special event to find Basil Fawlty's love-child in a Melbourne car-hire office.