Four Social Media Tips to “Get What You Need” on Summer Vacation

Tweeting Budget Rent A Car to and from Siesta Key Beach paid off!

MarketingMel’s tweeting Budget Rent A Car to and from Siesta Key Beach paid off!

Seeing the Rolling Stones prancing on stage this summer reminded me of a favorite song from my youth. “You can’t always get what you want,” croons Mick Jagger who still looks good despite the years on his craggy face. The next line, “But if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need” was indeed true as I used twitter to resolve an issue with Budget Rent A Car.

How, you might ask, did I get from the Stones, to twitter, to a rental car?

Well, it all starts out with a girls’ mini-vacation in Florida.

My BFF since age 5, Kim, and her friend Laurie, invited me for a few days of sun and fun in Sarasota. Their timing was perfect since I had just wrapped up campaign management for the grueling Lisa Rice for Criminal Court Judge campaign. (Lisa, who worked very hard, took a decisive primary victory and now moves on unopposed in the August general election.)

When we arrived at Tampa airport the SUV that we scheduled was not available. Instead we were offered a “Mom van.” (No thanks, we were three moms on vacation!)  The agent “upsold” us a Lincoln Navigator at about twice the original price. None of us was happy so I took to the twitter “airwaves.” The great thing about twitter is it affords each of us an opportunity to have our voice heard. We are no longer just a number.

In a series of tweets, I gently nudged @Budget about the upsell and asked why our first car wasn’t available. It took them a couple of days to get me the response I needed but I will give Budget full credit for what they did right. Here was their response, four tips we can all learn from:

1-    They took the conversation offline ­­– Instead of letting this play out in front of everyone on twitter Budget asked me to send an email direct to their social media help desk.

2-    They apologized – Yes, in private direct messages they apologized!

3-    They made it right – At first they promised a rebate of one-half of the upsell but…

4-    They delighted the customer –In the end, Budget gave us the “upsell” vehicle at the original vehicle’s price. Thank you Budget and now I am writing a column and blogging about you in a positive way. I know my two friends are also thrilled and “singing” Budget’s praises. Wonder what the value of that word of mouth is?  As you head out on summer vacation remember, knowing how to use twitter effectively can help you “get what you need.”  Do you have some vacation/communications best practices you would like to share?


  • Sue Painter says:

    I’ve done the same with AT&T. I agree, take to social media. Companies will fix what they otherwise give the cold shoulder to. It’s a great way to point out bad customer service.

    • maryellen says:

      Yes it can fix things and also provides a great opportunity to give a hat tip to those enterprises who deserve it.

  • What great customer service and how nice of you to blog about it!

    And I agree, social media is a great way to communicate and get results with big companies!

  • Mitch Tublin says:

    Good ending to your story. Nice of you to go the extra step
    and now write about the entire incident. The real shame
    is the lost art of real customer service at the moment, live
    and in person.

  • Glad they did the right thing in the end. I would have been very perturbed. On a side note, I think it’s awesome that you have a BFF from when you were 5 years old. How cool is that!?!

  • Jessica says:

    I just took your advice because my mom was having a problem with the website of an airline and she called 4 times over 3 days and the customer service people would talk her through but not book the flight because they would have to charge her $100 ($25 per ticket). She spent a total of 14 hours on the website my dad was begging her to pay the 100 bucks but she was determined to do it online on principle. So I tweeted about it and they got back to me instantly telling me to have her call back tell them the problem and they’d waive the fee. Thanks Mel! You rock. They will now have a great vacation to Maine this summer.

    • maryellen says:

      Jessica I am delighted that this actually helped your parents! Outstanding news. In today’s day and time airlines can’t afford the negative “instant” publicity.

  • Great story! I too use social media, when necessary, to communicate with companies. I’ve used it for positive feedback too. When they do something that goes above and beyond I want to not only let them know but share that message.

  • maryellen says:

    Mira, I completely agree that social media works well for communicating both positive and negative messages. I personally enjoy leaving great reviews on Yelp!

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