Rental firms urged to consider disabled customers' needs
Rental industry guru, and disabled motorist, Professor Peter Cooke, is warning rental companies to take note of the current case in France where Easyjet is facing potential sanctions as a result of barring unaccompanied disabled passengers from flights. He believes this case highlights the reputational risk where companies fail to comply with Disability Discrimination regulations.
He said: 'I probably make a dozen international flights a year on my own and am acutely aware of the problem – and the risks. But the Easyjet case in France shows how easy it is for a group of individuals to bring an issue to the media’s attention. The power of the internet is considerable in spreading a bad news message. There is some evidence that this may be an orchestrated campaign by activists, but the fact is they are raising a valid issue and have already received widespread negative media coverage. This may simply be because Easyjet doesn’t appear to have the right processes in place for dealing with disabled customers which could impact the perception of its brand.
'My research of the UK vehicle rental market suggests that some rental providers do not appear to be geared up to deal with disabled customers and this could present a serious risk to their customer service and brand reputation. It could only take one or two disgruntled customers to serve complaints and post their feelings online for a big name brand to come under fire, not least of which because of all the common interest groups I have come across, the disabled group has to be one of the communicative and best organised.
'In a lot of cases I think it’s likely that the rental providers have the right systems in place for access to disabled vehicles. But the message isn’t getting through to the frontline staff who are dealing with customers at branches and in call centres. It would be a shame for otherwise customer-friendly brands to face damaging complaints, simply because staff training and communication hadn’t been effectively addressed.
'Disabled people together have a big spend and in the current economic climate it is not only bad practice but economically perverse to ignore such a group of customers.'