Blacklisted by Enterprise after false rental car theft accusation

When Tricia Creta drove her rental car away from Enterprise’s lot last year, she wasn’t expecting to be told to bring it back. After all, she’d signed her contract and paid for the car just as she’d done on several previous occasions. But Creta’s experience reached a shocking new low in car rental customer service.

Car rental companies are notorious for pulling “sign here” scams in which they slip charges for unasked-for extras into contracts and sending customers phony repair bills, sometimes months after they return their cars. So our advocates thought they’d seen it all – until they heard from Creta.

Creta was relocating from the West Coast to the East Coast, and had rented a Chevy Suburban from Enterprise’s San Diego airport location for her move. She initially intended to rent the car for local use until her goods were packed and shipped. Then she had intended to rent another car for the cross-country drive from San Diego to MacArthur Airport on New York’s Long Island.

When she finished packing her goods and brought the car back to the San Diego location, the agent there assured her that she could drive the car to Long Island without having to make any change to her contract. So Creta started out on her cross-country journey.

She made it as far as Kansas when she received a call from the San Diego Enterprise facility informing her that she needed to bring the car back. According to the Enterprise agent, she had been charged the wrong rental rate for an out-of-state trip, and this was something that Enterprise could not fix over the phone.

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Creta was about to start a new job, and didn’t have time to return to San Diego. She responded that she wasn’t turning around because this was Enterprise’s problem to fix. Enterprise’s agent put her on hold.

At that point a Kansas state trooper pulled Creta over. He saw the rental contract on the seat of Creta’s car and assumed that the car was stolen. The trooper ran a check on the license plates to confirm that Creta had not stolen the car and only then released her to continue her journey. Luckily for Creta, she was not ticketed or arrested for grand theft auto.

The San Diego Enterprise manager then picked up the call. He told Creta that if she did not bring the car back, he would put her on Enterprise’s blacklist – meaning that she would not be allowed to rent from Enterprise ever again. Creta called Enterprise’s corporate office to complain about the treatment she’d been given, and the corporate office agent agreed to give her a discount of more than half the rental car fee for that car.

But nobody at Enterprise removed Creta from the blacklist.

Recently, Creta needed to have repairs done to her own car, an Audi. Unfortunately, all the Audi dealerships in her area use Enterprise as their rental agency for temporary rental cars for customers whose cars are being repaired. And because Creta had been blacklisted, she couldn’t get a temporary rental car. Luckily for Creta, another Enterprise customer noticed that she was stranded and offered her a ride home.

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Creta might have used our executive contacts for Enterprise to complain about being blacklisted, but given her previous experience, she preferred to ask our advocates for help getting off Enterprise’s blacklist.

Although Enterprise’s website indicates that additional charges will apply when a car is returned late, there is no mention of a blacklist.

Once the San Diego airport manager confirmed to Creta that there were no changes required to her rental contract to drive the car out of state, she never should have been put on its blacklist. And when Enterprise’s corporate office agreed to discount her charges for that trip, it should have removed her from the blacklist immediately. That it didn’t do so is a huge customer service failure.

Our advocates contacted Enterprise on Creta’s behalf, and it has removed her from the blacklist. Its agent also extended an apology to Creta for her experiences.

Although Creta is grateful that Enterprise has finally corrected its treatment of her, it shouldn’t have taken our involvement to make that happen. We hope that Enterprise will take this further and review its procedures for out-of-state car rentals – and that it will never again treat a customer this badly.

Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Elliott.org. Read more of Jennifer's articles here.

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