Thursday, May 22, 2008

My Review of Mobility Click & Drive

Here's the Mobility car that I rented for three hours today.

This is the entry-card that you tap on the front windshield and magically gain entry to the car.
The keys, as the car still needs keys to start, are in the glove compartment.

This is a terrible photo of the on-board computer under the rear view mirror that you may or may not need to use.
It was sort of cool calling customer support using it though. Very helpful.

Today, I ventured into the unknown and drove for the first time in Switzerland! Yeah, I am not dead.... As we don't have a car yet and since I've heard good things about, I decided to give them a try.

Mobility is a 'car sharing' service, just like Zipcar in the US and the UK. Basically, you can get a membership to rent one of their many cars/trucks/vans around Zürich by the hour. Membership costs about 70 - 290 CHF depending on the length of membership and whether or not you have a Migros Cumulus card or Halbtax card and get a discount. You still have to pay a per hour rental fee and per kilometer fee on top of the membership but it's pretty reasonable.

But since I thought I'd only need Mobility once or twice, considering we'd like to buy a car soon, I went for the Click and Drive route instead. I would call this the 'pay as you go plan.' You don't get a membership, so you pay a bit more per hour and there is a three hour minimum, but the kilometers are unlimited. I paid 50 CHF for a combi car for three hours... plus I was guilted into getting the 20 CHF extra liability coverage so that if I got into an accident my deductible is capped at 300 CHF. Not a cheap ride after all, but I was going to pick up some second hand goods that would cost 10 times that bought new so it was worth it for me. And getting the membership takes up to a week, and I need to pick the stuff up NOW!

So here's my review:

1. I had ALL SORTS OF TROUBLE picking up the car and returning it.

The website makes it sound as though you can easily walk into any of the 50 SBB (train) stations in Switzerland and present your reservation and license and drive away. Not true.

Whether they were having a bad day or what not, it was a pain. I got there at 12:40 pm for a 1 pm reservation. The guy at the station couldn't pull up my reservation and initially just said, "Sorry, can't find it, and I don't know where the car is anyway, so... sorry!" Unfaded, I kindly asked if he wouldn't mind calling Mobility to figure it out as I didn't know either and I'd paid in advance! After 30 minutes of back and forth on the phone, figuring out that there was a system error with my reservation, re-doing the contract manually, faxing it in, and having the guy give me directions to the car which was in fact a bus and a tram ride away, I had the entry-card and was on my way. Let's just say the 20 so people behind me at the station were not pleased either. At least they accepted my foreign license without question. I thought I might have an issue with that.

I finally got to the car at 1:45 pm, so this is 45 minutes into my reservation. So I called Mobility to tell them what happened and ask for an extension of my reservation, and they didn't have a clue why I needed an extension and I couldn't waste my time telling them what happened at the station so I said forget it and tried to speed up my agenda. In the end, I got back in time so all is well... especially because there is a late fee if you don't get back on time! But I am still not happy that 45 minutes of my ride was wasted.

2. Incorrect information.
I have a feeling that Mobility's website and brochures aren't up to snuff. Because for starters, my reservation said that I had rented a 'Renault - Grey - manual.' And since I don't drive manual (yet) I called, panicked, as I reserved an automatic. The customer service rep at first said that she could cancel the reservation for 30 CHF... and I thought that was crazy. Couldn't she just change the reservation? Nope... so a few minutes later she reads back the reservation and indeed in the computer I had reserved an automatic. I tried to tell her three times that the reservation I had printed says 'manual' but in the end she promised that I had a 'Honda - automatic' and all was ok. This ended up being a problem when the whole episode above occurred as well, resulting in a third call to Mobility to confirm the car so that the new reservation made on the spot was correct. Get your systems together Mobility!

Also, when I finished my reservation the brochure reminded me to 'end your reservation using the on-board computer.' Uh, what? I found it after awhile - there's this computer on the rear view mirror and I thought, 'This is cool' and I pushed 'End Reservation' (rather something in German - didn't see how to change this to English) and it asked for a pin code. Alas, I don't have a pin code... another two calls to Mobility later (one using the on-board computer and another to my cell because the guy couldn't hear me - go figure), and they confirm that Click and Drive users don't have a pin code. Again, go figure. How tough is it to make a new brochure for Click and Drive?

3. Not worth the cost if you're going to use it frequently.
Click and Drive is a good option if all you need is a one time rental car. In hindsight, for 70 CHF, I should have just got a membership. I will probably need a car again sometime soon and I'll end up paying for the cost of the membership anyway. The Click and Drive model is probably best for out of town visitors or when your car is in the shop.

Then again, looking at rental car places - it was a good deal for a three hour rental. I didn't need the car all day and the cheapest rental I could find was 111 CHF per day with SIXT (smaller car though). Let me know if you can find a better deal for next time.

4. Nice ride. Easy to drive once you get going.
The only thing good about the event was that the car was nice - a Honda Hybrid of sorts. I think it was a Civic (?). When you stopped for more than a few seconds, the engine would shut down to conserve energy. I liked that.

There was also plenty of room for all the knick knacks I bought. Thank goodness... (using front, back and boot).

And unlike Zipcar, I knew exactly where the gas card was (right behind the on-board computer) which made me feel better in the case I had to retank... not that I could read the car diagnostics to see if it needed refilling. Very hard to read on that model car for some reason.

How I would improve
  • Better communication - Tell me exactly where the car is. Give me an address and a map so that I know it's not near the station. Tell me it's 20 minutes away so that I can plan accordingly and pick the key card up earlier. Also I would have liked an email confirmation for my reservation... never got that. And going the Click and Drive route you can't check reservations online either. You have to print your reservation or you have got nothing. Also, make sure the reservation is 100% correct. If I am getting a Honda, make sure it says Honda. If you can't give me the exact model, fine, but if I requested an automatic, make sure the reservation says automatic. If I had not called to confirm, I might still be looking for that Renault... and trying to figure out how to drive stick just to save myself the 30 CHF cancellation fee - because I hate cancellation fees.
  • Better customer service - I have to admit, customer service is friendly and I've never waited more than 2-5 minutes for someone to pick up. They also speak excellent English. But perhaps take better notes when someone does call. The rep should have known that my reservation went bad and that I was already 20 minutes into my reservation when they were re-doing it manually (via fax) and they could have given me an extra 30 minutes gratis because from our conversation it was clear that the car was available later. That would have been the right thing. When I asked for the extension they wanted to charge me for that extra time and that is not ok.
  • Upsell - If someone books a Click and Drive, why not call them before and after they travel and ask if they'd like a membership instead. Since the fees are comparable.... why not push for the membership? We'll see if they contact me afterwards, but the lady on the phone when I checked the automatic vs. manual fiasco didn't even bother. In hindsight, I would have preferred that she upsold me then and collected all the paperwork later - because that's what takes up to a week to process. If they don't get the paperwork in a week, they charge me the Click and Drive rates. It's that easy. Instead, it's their and my loss. Now, I don't think I want a membership... or another go with Click and Drive.
Have you tried What do you think?

Ps. Mobility, I am an experienced marketer and am unemployed at the moment. Perhaps you need some marketing help? ;)


juanitatortilla said...

Hmm. The Hubs and I once looked up Mobility. The web site does sound attractive, though -- nice work, marketeers.

Great review.

How about cab rides? The few-dollar rates fly by the seconds, don't they?

Jul said...

Sounds like quite a hassle!

We used Mobility a couple times using my husband's work membership (many companies have these in Zurich, it seems), and it was quite efficient.

Jessica said...

Yeah, I think it's a different story if you get a membership vs the Click and Drive.

With the membership you get the card in the mail, book your car online and just walk straight to the car and get in with the card. Easy as.

With the click and drive the location of the car and getting the car were just a hassle...

Oh well, live and learn.

Elwell said...

Used the service for the 1st time this weekend to pick up a van (transporter).

Absolute doddle. Picked up click n go card at my nearest station on way into work day before. sunday AM drove to van. parked next to it and went off. Stuck in traffic (dammned motor show) and pressed the intercom button ro extend the booking for an hour with no extra charges.


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