Rental Karma


I arrived in Minneapolis last night and drove to our hotel about 15 miles away from too far from anything.

I was so exhausted I forgot my room number on the second trip with my video gear and other luggage. Then I remembered: 420. Something to do with Marijuana laws. Though I don’t smoke it myself, I remember something about April 20th being important to cannabis activists. And the number is also the name of one of my favorite beers in Atlanta – Sweetwater 420.

This morning, waking from making a healthy deposit at the sleep bank after a week of steady withdrawals, I went out to grab some coffee. When I opened the car door, I saw a little white cell phone on the seat. I must have been sitting on it last night and didn’t notice.

The previous renter of this fine Ford Taurus must have left it behind, I thought. I’ll call my phone with it, find their number and let T-Mobile know their customer left the phone in the car. I’d leave the phone at the hotel front desk for pickup and feel good about doing something nice.

The service was blocked. I couldn’t get the number.

So I called the CAR RENTAL customer service. The call went something like this:

CRAIG: Hi, I rented a car last night and this morning discovered a phone on the seat.
CAR RENTAL:  Yes, and how can I help you?
CRAIG: I figure the person who lost the phone will want it back. I tried to call my own phone from it, but the number’s been blocked. Can you help me get the phone to its owner?
CAR RENTAL: What’s the car number?
I checked my contract.
CRAIG: [says number]
CAR RENTAL: You’re set to return the car Sunday at 7 pm. Would you like to extend it?
CRAIG: No, I’m calling because I found a phone in the car.
CAR RENTAL: You have a car phone? This is a Ford Taurus, right? I don’t see that equipment in our computer.
CRAIG: How can I explain this? Okay, so I got in the car this morning and I found someone else’s phone. Probably the previous renter. I’m sure they’ll want it back. This is lost and found, right?
CAR RENTAL: Who’s phone is it?
CRAIG: How would I know? That’s why I’m calling you.
CAR RENTAL: We don’t offer phones.
CRAIG: Look. All I want is to see if the previous renter called to say the phone is missing.
CAR RENTAL: Okay. Can you send to us at the dispatch office?
CRAIG: By mail? Can’t I just give it to someone when I return the car?
CAR RENTAL: Oh, okay, give it to the manager.

Etc. etc.

I drove to the nearest plaza and got my coffee. There was a T-Mobile office right next door.

Within a minute, a happy customer service guy heard my story, took the phone and promised to check the SIM card and find its owner.

“Thanks for doing this,” he said. “Most people wouldn’t.”

Maybe not. But after adding a few hours to the sleep bank, I figure a little deposit to the karma cache may also pay off down the road.


5 thoughts on “Rental Karma

  1. Willard Duff

    The car rental places will perhaps soon find that robots can do a better job than the people they can hire for the wage they want to pay. The Robot may even handle the unusual situation presented to it in a much better fashion. But you will be persistant and accomplish your goal in spite of such obsticles because of who you are, That is the origin of “Karma”.

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