Like many of us, I travel a lot for work. It is certainly nothing I particularly enjoy, but it’s just part of the life I’ve chosen running a company. On a recent trip, I was returning my Thrifty Rental car to SFO and noticed that the price on the receipt was approximately $25 higher than I recall the estimate to be.
I had rented the car for 3 days at $19/day – plus all the crazy taxes – so call it $90 all in. However, the receipt was for ~$115. When I asked the gentleman at check-in, he told me I had to go inside to the counter with any issues. [SIDE NOTE: Yes, I rent cheap cars when I travel and there are very few real reasons why you shouldn’t always do that – more on that topic later]
As I entered the counter area, the line was 7-10 deep and I had the moment of truth with myself that we all do – “oh man, do I really want to wait in line for the chance of getting $25 back?” It certainly would have been easier to just keep walking and park at the first bar I found while waiting for my flight. However, it really was not my decision to make….I had to do the right thing, period. So, I waited (43min), and yes, the charge was incorrect and I got my $25 refunded. Although this should not have been a big deal, as I walked away I literally smiled and was very proud of myself. Not for the action itself, but because it reminded me how much I love my company and appreciate the opportunity that investors have given me to try and build something special….with their money.
Over the next hour or two, I began to reflect on our company culture and ask myself if I believed everyone else would do what I had just done? Of course, I thought, they know this is not their money and we certainly have instilled the start-up/frugal mentality within our culture. Their CEO, after all (that’s me), often stays in hotels with bars on the windows, eats at burger stands and drives economy cars. So, clearly they understand that is what is expected from them…..right? Now I am not the type the tear through expense reports looking for inappropriate spending or behavior. I trust my people and trust that they do the right thing for the company and our shareholders. Hopefully I am not naive in this as that would really break my heart to learn otherwise.