On my flight to Houston from Chicago on October 22, the pilot announces that thunderstorms are forcing us to temporarily land in Austin. We finally arrive in Houston at eleven p.m. Five hours late.
I had a car reserved with Hertz, so dashed to the counter only to discover a long line. Lots of other flights were delayed.
I have specific needs for a rental car: hand controls on the left (easily available), a spinner knob at 2:00 (to facilitate safe steering with one hand), and it MUST BE a two door car. I can't load my wheelchair into and out of a sedan.
This has been a huge problem lately. A Chevy Monte Carlo was always the perfect solution, but they don't make them anymore. National Car Rentals now refuses to put hand controls on two door cars. Hertz is the only other company with the type of control I need. (That's another story.)
Hertz Houston had a Mustang for me. Two doors. Cool. I had told them it had to have power seats, but this Mustang had a manual seat with a strong spring that pushes backward. If you can't use your legs, it's nearly impossible to slide the seat forward.
I was due to speak at Chevron at 11 the next morning, and I had a half hour drive to the hotel. So I took the car. It was already after midnight.
Leaving the airport, about a mile out of the parking lot, the hand control failed. No acceleration. I was stranded on the side of the road. By the time a taxi picked me up and I got checked in to my hotel, it was 3 a.m.
The talk went fine. Pour a vanilla latte into me, and I'm off!
Hertz let me down again in Jacksonville. They got the power seat right, but the hand control was installed so low it was inoperable. (You push it DOWN to accelerate.) Here's how it looked when I got in:
The point: people with disabilities are customers with specific, meetable needs. They spend a lot of money, and will be spending more and more as they continue to emerge into all levels of society.
National has lost my business for good. I use Hertz only because I'm stuck with them.
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