Thrifty Car Rental Franchise Caught Posting Fake Reviews

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.

Update: March 2020 – Have had another very brief look and it appears only around half of the fake testimonials identified have since actually been removed. I haven’t bothered to look to see if there are any new fake testimonials. Have also been fielding the occasional E-mail from those purporting to be past employees of Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd, describing Working Conditions, etc, however have chosen not to elaborate on those here in this particular blog post.

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.
– S
ource: Google Maps
[Checked 29th March 2020 – Fake review has now been removed]

Thrifty Franchise owner Lawrence (Vic.) Pty Ltd for Dandenong, posting a 5 star review of his own business. This has since been removed.

…Being the owner, of course he would think that, he owns the franchise he’s reviewing.

Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd’s Chief Financial Officer, was also discovered to have placed multiple 5 star ratings of a number of Thrifty Car and Truck rental locations…

Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd’s Chief Financial Officer placing 5 star ratings for various Thrifty locations. (Weipa Thrifty is owned by a different Franchise)

Some more ratings placed by the same person. He has placed 5 star ratings on at least 8 (possibly 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.

Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd’s Chief Financial Officer placing several 5 star ratings for Thrifty Car Rental locations owned and operated by Lawrence Vic Pty. ltd.

 

Also briefly came across this… Known employees (confirmed upon glancing at their profiles) including the owner of Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd are seen posting fake ratings and reviews for Thrifty Vehicle Sales location that they operate in Dandenong.
[Checked 29th March 2020 – Fake reviews originally identified on Thrifty Car Sales page have now been removed, however, they may be some other fake testimonials not yet identified]

Known personnel of Lawerence Vic Pty Ltd posting fake customer testimonials about the Thrifty Vehicle Sales location they themselves operate. UPDATE: 29March2020 – These appear to have been removed. Though have not vetted the other testimonials on that page to see if they are geninue.

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 potential 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 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)

Reviews for Thrifty Weipa posting by personnel in the employ of Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd T/A Thrifty Car and Truck Rental Victoria)

 

An older review from 3 years ago posted by another employee of Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd…

Another Google self review from a Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd staffer for Thrifty Car and Truck Rental Campbellfield.

 

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)
[Checked 29th March 2020 – Fake review below has now been removed]

Glowing review of Footscray Thrifty Car and Truck Rental posted by a staff member of Thrifty Footscray

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…”

Same employee mentioning he worked for a car rental firm. No surprises which one.

I feel it would now be 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. To be honest, wouldn’t be surprised to learn that staff were quite possibly encouraged by licensee management to post the odd false review.

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 (“…totally focused on achieving targets and budgets”) 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.

The written legal documentation provided by Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd I strongly feel was also deficient in properly describing and disclosing their full fee structure. Upon contacting Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd Headquarters in Dandenong expecting these queries would be easy to clear up, was instead met with a very defensive attitude from one of the Junior Accountants there (Who I hear has now since left the organization anyway) 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 Car Rental 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.

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 I feel have completely failed to demonstrate this.

BTW: If you have to rent through the Thrifty brand (for what ever reason) in Victoria, Australia. Suggest using Spencer St or Melbourne Airport as those two locations are operated by Thrifty AU Corporate head office instead of an independent franchisee who may have their own, possibly very different way of doing things.

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