Petes Weekly: How Taking Pictures Saves Money

How Taking Pictures Saves Money.

Those of us who grew up with Bakelite rotary phones still think an iPhone is the same thing, just more portable.
This came to me earlier this week as I rented a car at Cape Town International. My phone has a camera, as I suspect yours does. I took a picture of my new rental parked in its bay. Then I took pictures of all four sides, and the top. Then I looked for any scratches and got some close ups. It occurred to me that car really needed some airbrushing, as I now also need, especially on close ups.

I ignored the locals muttering about cartons in Afrikaans, even though I did feel quite silly. And I finished with another picture of the car still parked, showing the cars and bay numbers surrounding it.
I did this all of this because this same company, just the day before, had refunded the R3000 they had billed to my credit card for scratches on the car I had rented three weeks previously for 22 hours in Johannesburg. I had expected to pay just R300.

In that case I had arrived from Oslo, via Frankfurt, a little vexed because my suitcase been delayed in a German basement. I knew I should take pictures, but the young man behind the counter had told me that the scratches on the left hand side of the car were already noted in their system.

Clearly the fellow that checked the car back in the next day was not working from the same system. Two weeks later the firm billed me for, you guessed it, scratches on the left hand side of the car. By golly, scratches turn out to be very expensive to repair.

A few detailed emails later and the issue was resolved. And that was the reason I was using this same firm again. Not a fly-by-night firm, mind you, one of the international greats. The same firm I have been using for more than 25 years. And this had been the first time I had ever had a problem.

I thought about this as I drove 100 very careful km over the next 48 hours. When you normally drive on the other side of the road, as one is encouraged to do in Norway, one tends to focus a little more than the hordes of wannabe formula one drivers who frequent the highways and byways of this fairest Cape.
You can imagine my surprise, as I dropped the car off this morning, when I was asked about the scratches below the driver’s door of the VW his colleagues had loaned me on Sunday.

I gave him a copy of the contract. The check out clerk had listed the wear and tear of the vehicle on it. She told me she had. I know you know what happened next. Yep, no mention of these scratches.
Ian Fleming, in Goldfinger, says that ” Once is happenstance. Twice is is coincidence. And the third time is a conspiracy.” I chose coincidence, and instead of jumping up and down, I trumped his scratches with my pictures, still fresh on my phone.

Soon we had the supervisor enter the discussion. And, and this is the key point of this email, the only reason he accepted my pictures as valid proof of my innocence was because my close-up of the scratches was preceded and followed by pictures of the car in the parking bay on Sunday.

My advice in future: Who cares if you look a tad strange as you take snaps of the car from every which-way. Especially if you have to use the flash at night. You are guilty until you can prove your innocence. Those pictures do just that.
Am I going to wait for the third time? I don’t know.   After 25 years of great service this firm has changed a process. And it hurts clients. When next you hire a car take lots of pictures of the car and its friends. It is going to save you time and money.

All the best
Peter Carruthers

Foe more information please contact Peter at this email address

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