The employee asked me if I knew how to run the equipment. I said I had done it before but could use a refresher. He went through the operation. I then asked him what to do if I’m done cleaning but the water tank still has a significant amount of water left in it (draining this tank is a problem I’ve had before with these machines.) He looked puzzled. I pointed to a hose and coupler and said, “The last time I used one of these, I think this hose had something to do with it.” He looked at me quizzically and suggested I simply turn the machine over and let the water drain out. I wondered, “Where am I going to do that? In my kitchen?”
He said, “You could take it outside, but don’t do it on your lawn because it could kill it.” Then I looked at him quizzically, so he said, “The detergent probably has bleach in it or something.” This did not build my confidence in his knowledge of the equipment or its operation.
Anyway, he did ask me if I wanted the upholstery cleaning kit and chemical. I said yes to both. I chose a detergent, with really no guidance from him (I asked him about the “Oxy Boosters” in the chemical I chose and he could not explain how they worked). He asked me if I needed help loading the machine into my car, to which I enthusiastically replied, “Yes!”
The machine was in good shape, but it seemed to be more cumbersome than other machines I’ve used. The hand position was awkward. In any case, the machine worked okay, but it didn’t seem to suck up a lot of the leftover water.
When returning the machine, I walked into the store, but there were no employees in the immediate area. After standing at the rental desk for a while, eventually a person in a uniform asked if I needed help. I said I was returning a carpet cleaner and the person just said okay and took it off my hands. No questions asked. I started to walk away when I realized I still hadn’t paid.
As I turned around, the woman said, “Oh, I guess you need your receipt.” She gave me my receipt and told me to go to the front of the store to pay. Frankly, I was surprised at the total — $29.95 for the (24-hour) rental, $13 for the chemical and $3 for the upholstery kit. The total came to $45.95 for a job that took about two hours.
Overall, I was a bit disappointed in the
lack of accountability at this store. As I mentioned, when I called to reserve the machine, they only asked for my last name. It seems it would be a good idea to also ask for my phone number and then explain the cost and terms of the rental.
When I initially picked the machine up, few questions were asked, and the same happened when I returned the machine. Oddly, when I was picking up the machine, the employee asked for my address. Why? Probably to put me on some direct mail list. But what would they have done if I just absconded with their equipment? They didn’t have my phone number, a deposit or anything. They had my address, but that’s no help in the event that I kept the machine for an extra day without telling them, and they had another person lined up to rent it.
Nancy Terrill, national advertising salesperson for Rental Product News, also went to a hardware store chain for her rental experience. Here, in her words, is her experience:
To reserve my carpet cleaner, I called around 5 p.m., and the person on the phone said to just come in because they had a number of units available.
When I got to the store, the staff was very friendly at the front counter. They pointed me to the rental customer service in the back
of the store.
There were two men standing at the service counter talking to the rental employee. I stood there for just a minute looking at the display of cleaners before he realized I was there and he apologized for not seeing me.
For the most part, I asked all the questions. How much was the rental? Is that for a four-hour or 24-hour rental? I had to go with the 24-hour option as I was picking it up after dinner and they closed at 8 p.m.
He asked which machine I wanted — the wide track for $24.99 or the smaller unit for $21.99, which was the 24-hour rate. He suggested I use the wide track as it was more effective.
I was given minimal instructions. The employee briefly went over the machine and said to follow the instructions on it.
No operator’s manual was offered. There were small pamphlets sitting in the rack as part of the display, and when I asked about it, he said I could take one home if I wanted to.
As a matter of fact, this employee didn’t ask me any questions about my needs. The machine had a sticker that said, “Don’t forget the foam reducer,” and when I asked him about that, he said that I probably didn’t need it.