Friday, February 27, 2009

The Worst Business Decisions Ever Made

3 Adults. 4 Kids under the age of 7. And a brand new minivan for a whole week!

Those are the critical elements of one of the worst business decisions I have ever seen a company make. We arrived in Dulles airport early Tuesday morning excited for a week-long vacation visiting family, museums, historical sites, and beaches along the east coast. It was an ambitious trip with almost 1,500 miles of driving.

The clerk at the rental car company (we will keep them anonymous) handed me the keys to a brand new minivan, we loaded the car seats, luggage, and humans into the van, and we began our adventure.

With just 5 miles on the odometer, we could smell and sense the newness and freshness of this beautifully manufactured piece of machinery. All we needed was a week to change that! As we drove and drove and drove for the next 7 days, we ate several meals in it while we were driving and it became our only place of permanence since we slept in a different place every night. We moved in.

We were tired after our week of vacationing as we packed our suitcases to prepare for the flight home. So much of our “stuff” had been moved into the van that we left an entire suitcase empty so we could fill it up when we returned the van. For each item I handed my wife out of the van, she chose whether it should go into the suitcase or a large trash bag.

In an effort to spare you all of the gory details of what I found in that van, I think I can sufficiently summarize it by explaining that the car rental location did not have a trash can large enough for our bag of trash when we were done. With almost 1,500 miles on its odometer and a year’s, or I mean a week’s, worth of wear and tear, the van was returned.

As we rode the shuttle bus to the airport terminal, my mind reflected on the beating that van took during the week. Considering that and the significantly discounted rental rate we paid, I concluded that giving us a brand new van was one of the worst business decisions I have ever seen a company make.