What’s Your Customer Service Responsibility to Foolish Dead People?

Gravestone I ran across an interesting article by David Sims over at Customer Think. It seems that there's a buzz down under about a young man who was killed and buried in an avalanche. The boy was driving a rental van he wasn't authorized to drive, in a restricted area where he wasn't supposed to go, after the renters refused to take out the renters insurance on the vehicle. The keys to his rental car were buried with him in the remote location, and now the car rental company is charging the boy's parents for the cost to go get the car. If they'd paid for the renters insurance it would have been covered.

The situation has caused a maelstrom. Many people, including New Zealand's Prime Minister, have vocalized their opposition to the rental company for being heartless. Others support the rental company, who maintain that, while they empathize with the family, it should not bind them to eat the costs. The rental company doesn't feel they should have to pay for the tragedy of a customer who broke the rules and refused to pay for the insurance which would have covered the costs.

What about you? Where do you stand on the issue? Do you take the financial loss and avoid the PR nightmare, or do you stand on principleand weather the storm?

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and Gary Simmons

  3 comments for “What’s Your Customer Service Responsibility to Foolish Dead People?

  1. January 20, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Ewww. I hate PR nightmares. However, I would find myself siding with the company. Rules are there for a reason. He wasn’t authorized to drive the car, and he wasn’t supposed to be in that location. The people who rented the car now have a problem that they created when he got the car.
    I know that’s cold, but that’s just how I feel about it.

  2. January 21, 2009 at 8:59 am

    I agree with you, Ann. What I didn’t mention is that the rental company did not charge the family for the extra days rental, either. It’s a tough call, but I think I’d have to side with the rental company, as well.

  3. January 21, 2009 at 9:33 am

    After reading the entire story, I still side with the rental company. Those kids went over a barrier that was marked as dangerous. I don’t know how he got the van in the first place, but the owner of the rental company said he was told not to drive it. It seems all the rental company wants is the cost of returning the van and making a new key. They’ve been more than fair.
    I sympathize with the family on their loss, but it could have been avoided if they’d have followed the instructions.

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