Update: June 2019 – Thrifty Australian Head Office have also since been notified and have advised they have since started working with their Licensee, Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd, to gradually remove the offending reviews posted by franchise staff.
Topping off personally my most disappointing consumer experience to date either side of the Tasman that I can recall… upon looking to place a review regarding my last hire experience with Thrifty Car Rental out of Mickelham Road, (Melbourne), discovered that certain Management and Staff of franchise operation Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd, had posted several of their own reviews whilst failing to disclose their commercial and/or employment connection to the business…
Lawrence (Vic.) Pty Ltd. T/A Thrifty Vic Car and Truck rental – Glenn Lawrence…
“Personally I think that these guys are the best rental company in Victoria. They always have great service a delivery on time with a smile. I would recommend them to anybody.“
– Source: Google Maps
…(if he is the same Glenn Lawrence who is connected to the Licensee) Of Course he would say that, he owns the franchise he’s reviewing.
Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd’s Chief Financial Officer, Peter Sowinski, was also discovered to have placed multiple 5 star ratings of a number of Thrifty Car and Truck rental locations…
Some more ratings placed by Mr. Sowinski. He has placed 5 star ratings on at least 8 (may be more) locations owned by Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd along with 5 star ratings for a handful of other Thrifty Locations owned by other business units.
Also briefly came across this… Again, a “Glenn Lawrence” (if he is the same Glenn Lawrence) rates his own business again on Facebook. Melissa Panozzo (Melissa Johnson) and Ali Shaw are also apparently under the employ of Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd if you glance at both their Facebook profiles.
Furthermore, if you glance at the rest of the profiles from where the ratings and reviews have come from, quite a few of them I feel appeared (at least to me) to be from direct friends to one of the Staff in question (Profiles liking and commenting on posts from the staffer’s profile and vice versa or more apparent, the staffer appearing on the friends widget of those profiles).
While friends of staff are well within their right to place a review if they are genuine customers, a conflict of interest is present and this should really be disclosed within any review they post as per the ACCC Guidelines in respect to asking friends to leave a review.
More Lawrence Thrifty staff posting positive reviews, this time for for Thrifty Weipa. (While this may be a different business unit to Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd, they are still part of the Australian Thrifty Car Rental network and any such review should disclose this)
An older review from 3 years ago posted by another employee of Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd…
Here’s a more recent glowing review for Thrifty Car and Truck Rental for Footscray…
(the statement “…team that works together to achieve their goals” caught my eye as it’s not normally something posted by a genuine customer)
From then I looked at the reviewer’s other review for Coles Express, a service station very close by Thrifty Car and Truck Rental Footscray where he mentions “…as part of my job for a rental car company…”
I feel it would be now reasonable to question how many of the other reviews have possibly been fabricated? …Or otherwise posted by those connected to the business in someway without disclosure? The last fake testimonial above was only caught by virtue that the staff member in question had posted in another review mentioning he worked for a rental car company.
Furthermore, it opens up questions surrounding what other conduct this Franchise may be engaging in that may be less than upfront. To be honest, given the irregularities experienced, I feel there may be an “internal culture” problem within the organization.
Rightly or wrongly, personally, I can’t help picturing an internal sales motivation scene where staff may be encouraged to bend the rules a bit to increase sales. Their employment ads suggest a rather Sales driven culture I feel and this has been emphasized in Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd’s ads far more than for Front line roles advertised by other Vehicle Rental agencies (operating under the Thrifty banner or otherwise) I feel.
It probably also goes some way to explaining why I was met with a sales script reciting RSO agent (never experienced at any other Thrifty Location nor any other Car rental place for that matter) and why a breakdown add on I never asked for was in my view snuck on along with why a copy of the agreement was never provided (probably to hide the aforementioned) upon initiation of my hire with them.
Their written legal documentation I strongly feel was also deficient in properly describing and disclosing their full fee structure. Upon contacting Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd Head Quarters in Dandenong expecting these queries would be easy to clear up, was instead met with a very defensive attitude from an individual named Luke (Who I hear has now since left the organization) and receiving of all of the seemingly scripted push backs… The whole experience, personally, reminded me of several interactions in the past from pushy room Boiler room salesmen, and was very far removed from the usual smooth interaction I’ve had with Thrifty in the past.
While I acknowledge that Lawrence Vic Pty ltd isn’t alone in such antics (Far from it), Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd is the first business (that isn’t an outright cold calling boiler room “wire” scam operation) who I have both personally had any sort of interaction with and seen engaging in the posting of falsified testimonials.
- ACCC Guidelines in relation to Managing online reviews
- ABC The Checkout – Online Reviews
- Companies behaving badly: Writing reviews for your own business
I believe the actions of Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd demonstrates a clear lack of integrity and trust. It was also an experience far removed from the usually smooth and uneventful hires through other “Thrifty” branded business units. Kingmill Pty Ltd (T/A Thrifty Australia Head Office) were notified of my concerns and have since advised me they have referred the matters to their internal compliance personnel for “investigation and ongoing monitoring”.
I have also since dropped a note to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) to let them know of the conduct.
Have since continued to rent through other ‘Thrifty’ branded business units in Australia without issue. Needless to say, it is very unlikely I will bother to do business with Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd again given there is so many other vehicle hire options including from within the Thrifty Network itself. I consider trust extremely important in any transaction I undertake and Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd through their conduct have failed to demonstrate this.