To Whom It May Concern,

Although all outward appearances would seem to indicate that this is in fact concerning no one, I shall nonetheless proceed.

I am very happy that you have a back-up system for allowing your valued customers to enroll in the Hertz Gold loyalty program.  You’ll e-mail me a PDF?  Okay, if you want to do the retro thing that’s cool, I’ll take it back to ’95 with you.  I just think you might want to take a tiny peek into your larger issues.

After an unfortunately lengthy experience on your website, on the phone with your customer service reps (that’s right: reps, plural,) and on the phone with my credit card company, I’m guessing that, oh, about 95% of people who attempt to complete your online application ultimately fail in that pursuit. I’ve got a pretty in-depth knowledge of how this shit works that I have developed, um, accepting credit cards on this newfangled thing they call the InterWebz.

Here’s a hint just for starters: it helps if you don’t require people to enter the spaces in their billing address exactly as they appear on their credit card statement in order to submit any data at all.  You know what’s awesome?  Filling out a 6-page form only to be told that billing address validation has failed, and basically fuck you, call us and get the fucking PDF.  More awesome?  Attempting to make the validation work by calling the credit card company, customer service, the credit card company, customer service, filling out the form twice because, oh, once the whole thing just timed out, and then after an hour of fucking around with it finally coming to the realization that no, there is just no way to make validation succeed because apparently no one bothered to actually test this shit under real world conditions.

By the way, for your reference here are likely possibilities for what’s wrong:

  1. You have or whatever third party gateway you’re using to validate billing addresses set to some insanely strict level of validation that requires a match on spaces and such things as Ms./Mr./Mrs. and +4 zips that you don’t actually even let the applicant change.  You can blame this on the third party gateway all you want, but I’ve used such a service and they let you change that kind of thing.
  2. Your developers (or whatever third party company you outsourced development to) fucked up and are checking only for the word “DECLINED” in the return code, which assumes that “NOT DECLINED” matches “DECLINED.”  This is Capital One’s best guess on this mess.

Right now I’m sure you’re thinking, “eh, there’s always someone who can’t enter things right, it’s clearly user error, and what does it matter if one person wastes a little time.”  Get some feedback from your CSRs, because they did not skip a BEAT with this as an issue.  I’m guessing you’re keeping a large number of them employed just sending out your ridiculous PDF application all day.  Not to mention whoever you’re employing to then take that PDF application and enter it back into whatever disaster of a back-end system you have over there.

I mean, I’m just assuming that you actually care about cost efficiencies — primarily because you did spend countless hundreds of thousands of dollars building your online application in the first place.  The way it currently works though, you might be better just trashing the whole thing and throwing a link up there that says “DOWNLOAD PDF.”  I bet you can get that done in India for $5.  Hell, I’ll do it for you for free.  At least that way you would save the CSRs the 30 minutes they’re spending asking people if they remembered to dot their i’s and then when that doesn’t work e-mailing the application anyway.

Even if you have no time for these “minor” budgetary concerns, I would suggest you consider what this debacle of a system implies about the kind of service the customer will receive going forward.  Frankly I was interested in joining the Gold Club only in order to save time and reduce headaches.  Guess what: I no longer think that Hertz is going to deliver a time-saving, headache-free experience, loyalty program or no loyalty program.  I’m taking my business elsewhere, and I highly doubt I’m alone.

Just a thought.

Best wishes,