Sorry, wrong address: Enterprise turns down Expedia customer at the counter

loganReaders of this site are probably familiar with car rental companies’ no-rent lists. But did you know that there are other instances in which a company might refuse you a car — even if you have a completely legitimate reservation?

David Larson stumbled upon one of those reasons when he tried to rent a car from Enterprise in Boston recently. He explains:

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I recently made a reservation with Enterprise Rent A Car at Boston Logan Airport. I made the reservation through Expedia. I live in Boston proper and this location is open late nights when I wanted to rent the car.

Upon getting to the airport counter the agent and then the manager told me I wasn’t allowed to rent a car from the airport location because of Enterprise policy. They wanted proof of having flown into the airport, something that wasn’t mentioned on the Expedia site. Even after repeatedly mentioning the valid reservation from Expedia (with whom I would assume they have some marketing agreements), the manager wouldn’t rent me a car.

I had to wander around the airport parking lots at 10 p.m. and finally got a car at almost three times the cost at Alamo (which Enterprise owns, ironically).

Is this policy discriminatory and/or illegal? Could I contact the State Attorney General?

I checked Enterprise’s site to see if I could find any information about its don’t-rent-to-locals policy. I couldn’t.

Is this policy discriminatory? Absolutely.

Illegal? I don’t know. I’m not a lawyer, but I think the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office might be able to answer that question.

I contacted Enterprise on Larson’s behalf. A few days later, I received the following update:

I received a phone message from Bill Fobiano at Enterprise at Logan Airport. He said he would be sending me a refund for the difference in costs of the car from Alamo, about $70 via a check to me in the mail within about a week.

He said it is standard policy to shuttle people to Alamo in cases like mine, where someone who doesn’t have an airline ticket shows up to rent. I think this is a crock.

The gentleman at Alamo that night was well aware that this policy had sent many individuals to their location and that almost all were very angry on arrival. The Enterprise agent at the time, never mentioned a courtesy shuttle or a discount as Mr. Fobiano had indicated on the phone today.

I also happen to know this policy exists at other Enterprise airport locations throughout the country. I think it has to do with the fact that only relatively recently has Enterprise broken into the “on airport” market. I suspect a non-compete clause with Alamo and National at the time of their acquisition. That doesn’t make it legal though from a public standpoint.

I think this policy is illegal, the notion of me contacting the State Attorney General frightens the management and they generally could have cared less if it weren’t for someone in the media (you).

I still intend to write a formal letter to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts State Attorney General. This would have far reaching consequences for Enterprise if the ruling were upheld in my favor.

I agree that Enterprise’s policy is troublesome. At the very least, it should be clear about its apparent rule of not renting to people with a local address at an airport location.

(Photo: David Larson/Flickr Creative Commons)

One thought on “Sorry, wrong address: Enterprise turns down Expedia customer at the counter

  1. A) It’s usually the airports that prevent both local renters and Enterprise shuttling you back and forth between locations besides airport terminals.
    B) Why would you be mad at Enterprise when the third party you booked it through apparently didn’t bother to inform you of the rules and conditions?
    C) I know for a fact that the third party reservation sites will lie to you because I had a reservation at Avis for the “airport” location to where I was flying and when I arrived it was pointed out to me that the location was actually 10miles away from the airport!  I was informed that the third parties tell people any location with available cars is listed as an airport location when the actual airport location is sold out.
    D) You think rental companies are bad? Those third parties pretend to sell you the car insurance as if they are the rental car company in addition to pretending your reservation is at the airport.  But really all you’re buying is an additional insurance policy with a deductable and everything and it’s through them and not through the rental car place.  

    If it comes down to a battle between who ismore trustworthy, I’m going with the rental car company.  I’ll never use a third party system again. 

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