The Enterprise-Rent-A-Car ( ERAC ) Nightmare
My mom was in a terrible car accident some time ago. She was hit by a drunk driver, and although she was OK, the car ended up in the shop for a month and a half. Why the insurance company didn't total it, I'll never know.
So, when Mom asked me to recommend a rental car company to her, I recommended Enterprise-Rent-A-Car (ERAC).
I should have known better.
Mom asked me to find out about rates, so I called the local branch near to us, explained the situation, and asked the manager how cheap we could get. He told me he could get me a car for about $10 a day! I considered this to be a great kindness on his part, and thanked him greatly for it. I even went there with a witness the next day, and he reconfirmed the offer. Mom also called, spoke to the manager, and was told the same thing that we were told. So, naturally, Mom chose to give her business to ERAC.
Mom had the car for a month and a half. When she finally returned it, she was hit with a bill for $1,100!!! In a panic, she called me to sort it all out. I was sure there had been some mistake.
The manager had Mom sign a contract full of numbers and small print. What Mom thought she was signing for was a car for $9.99 plus taxes, which would come out to roughly $15. Since her insurance company covered rentals up to $30 a day, she thought there would be no problem.
However, Mom had actually signed for a car for $36.99 a day! The additional charges were unnecessary insurance charges on top of that. And, apparently it's the additional charges that Mom believed to be the charges for the car itself.
Now, since the insurance company only covers up to $30 a day, Mom is responsible for a minimum of $7 a day, plus unnecessary insurance, for 30 days. But it gets even better! Mom's insurance company won't cover the rental after 30 days, so Mom is stuck with additional charges of $36.99 a day plus the unnecessary insurance! Although Mom had known they probably wouldn't extend the coverage, she never expected that she was paying more than $15 a day.
And this is how we reached the total bill of $1,100.
So, Mom asked me to step in.
I went back to the branch last Friday, and asked the manager to cut her some slack. Mom and Dad are not young any more, and they can't afford to drop that kind of money around. Mom was a victim already - why would they make her a victim twice? Besides, everyone knows that ERAC is flexible with their pricing. But the branch manager wouldn't budge. He even told me that I should know better than to believe that a car could be rented for only $9.99! I was insulted that he would imply that we were lying or being manipulative, and I told him so. But we were unable to continue our conversation: He was so swamped with customers that he begged to call me back.
He didn't call me back that Friday.
He didn't call me on Monday.
He didn't call me on Tuesday.
So, on Tuesday afternoon I went with a friend to that ERAC branch to get some answers. We were told that the manager was currently in interviews, so we asked for the name of his boss instead. We were given the name and told where his office was, so we drove to see him. He wasn't there. Where was he? Behind closed doors with the branch manager, interviewing employees.
So, we drove back to the original ERAC branch and insisted on meeting with The Boss. A girl went back to deliver our message and came out to tell us that he wasn't available at the moment but would be out in 30-45 minutes. As I own my own company, I couldn't sit around cooling my heels forever. So, I left my number and asked for him to call me.
He never did.
I also left a message for The Boss's Boss. He did call me. And, he gave me the usual run-around. He also made the same insulting insinuation: *I* should know better than to hold them to their word! After all, who would believe they could get a rental car for only $9.99 a day?!
Well, WE would believe that, obviously, since were were told that.
But The Boss's Boss continued to insist that they were going to hold Mom to the contract which she mistakenly signed. I pleaded for him to at least drop the rates to $30 (which I know they can do) so that most of the charges would go away or be lessened. He finally resignedly said he would call Mom in the next day or so and try to work something out with her. I had a witness to this phone call, incidentally: I had him on speaker phone the entire time.
An hour later, I got a call from the branch manager. I was honest, and told him whom I had spoken with. I emphasized it was nothing personal, but perhaps some good would come out of it, since The Boss's Boss had told me he was going to call Mom and try to work something out with her.
"Um, when did you speak to The Boss's Boss?" asked the Branch Manager.
"About half an hour ago," I replied.
"That's odd," said the Branch Manager, "he just wrote a note in here to proceed with the charges."
Was The Boss's Boss lying to me to merely placate me then? Apparently. Since he was intending to blatantly lie, he certainly should have brought the Branch Manager into the deception. Obviously his goal was to make the nuisance go away, and promise anything to get me off the phone.
This is a simple game of bait and switch, and I am greatly disappointed. It is now obvious that the customer comes dead last, and the branches will do anything to make a profit off a helpless customer who goes forward on what they are verbally promised.
Because there are so many witnesses to the Branch Manager’s promise of $10 a day, I am amazed that anyone persists in insisting that my mom pays the full amount that he has chosen to charge her.
I stumbled across a website called Failing Enterprise. There you can read of similar scams and atrocities which ERAC perpetrates on their unsuspecting customers. Their employees don't fare any better. And to make matters even worse, ERAC just purchased Alamo and National. So, our ability to find quality customer service in a rental car environment is lessening.