Overall, it was a productive rental. The staff was knowledgeable and friendly. The total of the rental for 24 hours, including the accessory and chemical, was $36.70, which I feel is reasonable.
I would have liked to have had more questions asked of me by both the person who answered the phone and the counter person. It felt like I was doing all the asking. As I mentioned, if I was a novice, I might not have known even what to ask, and I would have left without cleaning chemicals and the stair tool (which were necessary to finish my task and meant additional dollars to the rental business).
Dave Davel , publisher of Rental Product News, decided to bypass a phone reservation and just walked into his local independent rental business. Here’s how his rental experience went:
I entered the store, and two people from the rental business were talking to a man who seemed to be intent on renting an auger but didn’t understand that it was a two-person operation. Neither staff member acknowledged me when I came in.
I selected the carpet cleaner from a group of other small rental items that were grouped in the center of the showroom. They were mixed in with shop vacuums, generators, pumps and tile saws. The machine was dirty and wet.
I had to search out the counter person and ask for instructions. He said he didn’t have any, but that it was “child’s play” to operate it. He went through a quick overview of machine operation but insisted everything I needed was already on the machine.
When I asked about cleaning chemicals, the employee said I had to use the chemicals on display, because those were the only ones that worked in the equipment. What was interesting about that was the chemicals were made by a different company than the carpet cleaner, therefore I didn’t see a correlation between having to use those chemicals versus others in this particular machine.
The commercial carpet cleaner itself was in terrible shape. It didn’t seem to have been cleaned since the last rental — if ever. The filters were covered with hair, and there was an inch of dirty water in the collection tank.
Despite its appearance, it operated well. It did a bang-up job on the carpet and was easy to operate.
When I returned the machine, I parked it in virtually the same place I had picked it up four hours earlier. After I left the building I sat in my car for about 15 minutes to see if anyone came over to check or clean the machine. No one did.
One interesting observation about this experience: this rental operator also has a sizeable party business. There’s a tremendous amount of women coming and going for party supplies but there’s no signage promoting the carpet cleaners or any other product that might be of interest specifically to a female customer. (Not that I’m implying women are the only people that should clean carpets.)
Two separate hardware chains were visited by our staff in two separate cities. Here Jenny Lescohier , editor of Rental Product News, tells of her rental experience at the local hardware store:
I reserved my carpet cleaner over the phone. The person I spoke to was cheerful and polite, but rather short — as though he was in a hurry — and didn’t volunteer much information. I said I wanted to reserve a carpet cleaning machine for a certain day and he basically just asked for my last name and said, “Okay, you’re all set.” I had to ask about the length and cost of the rental.
Upon entering the business, I could not immediately determine where the rental department was. After wandering toward the back, I found a neon sign that marked the rental department. The sign, which was nearly invisible from the front of the store, signified virtually nothing, since it was nowhere near any sort of rental desk. In any case, I found a desk toward the back of the store and stood there for a few minutes. Eventually, an employee saw me and asked if I needed any help. I said I had a carpet cleaner on reserve and he pointed me to them, at which time I noticed that one of the eight or so machines had a tag with my last name on it. The employee was presentable and polite, although his manner did not exude knowledge of the equipment.