This Has to Be the Worst Rental Car Story I’ve Ever Heard

A surviving victim of the shooting massacre in Orlando had rented a car from Enterprise and drove it to the Pulse night club.

Pulse was a crime scene, the FBI kept the scene intact including some vehicles on the scene. The man had his clothes removed and was taken to the hospital naked. So he didn’t have the key to the rental car on him.

Enterprise wanted to charge him for extra days, towing, and key replacement.

[T]he rental car that he drove to Pulse was now costing him money because the company was charging him not only for the days he was in the hospital, but also for towing the car and replacing the keys.

“The key was in his pocket, which was cut off of him. My son was taken out of the club naked with no clothes on. She told him he had to pay for the tow and the key, so I told him don’t worry about it, I’d call her back. What was her response? That he’d still have to pay something for the key,” Weire said.

A local television station interceded and Enterprise backed down.

That’s far more tone deaf, of course, than Hertz failing to honor my car reservation that same day and telling me that they “cannot guarantee any reservation.”

Unquestionably the normal procedure is that someone renting a car pays the days the vehicle is checked out, and pays for key replacement if they do not return the key. Under the terms of the contract that’s what is supposed to happen, though I wonder whether the force majeur event changes this (I won’t offer any conclusions of Florida law).

But this was an incident ingrained in the public consciousness, and the renter was a victim. That’s not the fault of Enterprise, and they shouldn’t be disadvantaged by it any more than this victim should. However in situations like this we all give a little.

After all it was “the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman and the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in U.S. history, as well the largest mass killing of LGBT people in the Western world since the Holocaust and the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since the September 11 attacks in 2001.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. You really have to wonder what companies are thinking sometimes. A little compassion and goodwill would go a long way here; instead they’ll (rightfully) get scorned.

  2. Charge disputes with these car rental companies always seems to come with some pretty revolting customer service. I once had a long rental overseas with Hertz. I returned it with no problems and a week later had a large random hertz charge on my CC with no email explanation. They investigated and explained the charge was for the insurance and collision coverage that I had apparently signed up for upon return of the car. I asked how many of their customers sign up for and pay the insurance after they finished the rental. But I got a response that it’s not their problem and I signed the form. Many weeks later I finally got a copy of this form where my name was spelled wrong in the Print Your Name column. I then asked how many customers at Hertz sign up for insurance after returning the car and don’t know how to spell their own name. I got my money back but no apology. They acted like this kind of fraud happens all the time and I’m lucky to be getting my refund.

  3. I’m a huge fan of Gary Leff and this blog. That being said, the complaint about Hertz failing to honor your reservation was ridiculous. You deliberately made duplicative reservations with Hertz and Avis, with no financial exposure to you, having absolutely no intention of honoring one of them. Then you complain when one of the companies can’t come up with a car? It’s absolutely illogical. Cheers and best regards.

  4. you write “Enterprise wanted to chart him for extra days, towing, and key replacement.”

    Do you mean charge? If not, what does charting somebody entail?

  5. Enterprise is the worst. Every time I’ve ever tried to bring the car back to them… In different cities… They always try to charge me for some damage to the car. Credit card dispute and/or the photos I took of the car before I drove away take care of it

    No other agency has ever attempted this scam on me.

  6. Not always a bad experience. First time I rented with National, having Executive status through a card, I misunderstood the policy on the “Executive Aisle” and drove off in a car that cost extra. A LOT extra. After emailing them, National knocked more than half the cost off the rental without me asking.

    Just saying – it’s not always bad.

  7. Not terribly surprising. This is the result of employees not being empowered. Front line employees don’t have the authority to waive anything and have to go by the book, regardless of circumstance.

  8. If Enterprise doesn’t do something major to make up for this neither I nor my company will ever rent from them again. This is a rediculous failure at multiple levels.

  9. Great article, and Typical of Enterprise – I hope the bad press will wake them up. I personally stopped renting from them because it felt like their policy was to make money finding minor door dings and the like to charge for at time of return. This type of normal wear and tear are always overlooked by the other majors.

  10. Experienced travelers that you all are, I’m sure you are aware that Alamo and National are owned by Enterprise (Enterprise Holdings).

  11. Just another reason not to rent from Enterprise. They’re the worst, in so many ways. Hertz and National I’ve had reasonable experiences with, but Enterprise is always on the make and constantly making up gambits to trick you into extra charges. The latest I’ve encountered is “would you like standard or full coverage on your vehicle today?”. Either choice is an upcharge, and you have to answer “none of the above”.

    But sometimes they’re the cheapest and company policy means I have to take one of their cars. I always dread and regret it.

  12. Obviously homophobic heterosexist bigots at that Enterprise.

    Even though Enterprise owns National, I would never again rent from enterprise – last time in 2004 in Madison. The National car at DC Union Station are okay, at Des Moines airport the opposite. I rent from Hertz in Iowa & Mexico even with less status than National

  13. Empathy is a learned trait. People play it up in front of the camera because it’s great marketing (corporate brand or personal brand) but when the lights are out and you look closely, the biggest talkers usually end up being ass÷%÷#s. The biggest crooks are in the Congress.

  14. Based on the title alone, I knew that when I clicked through the rental car company was going to be Enterprise. I wonder what type of franchise / employment policies / management tactics cause this type of behavior to be more common at Enterprise than its competitors.

  15. Situations like this call for common sense, which is pretty much an unheard-of trait in most companies (and many people) nowadays.

  16. In these circumstances, consider utilizing the Victim of Violent Crime programs existing in most states. They often cover these types of events occurring with crime victims. Crimes must be reported which certainly this one was.

  17. “deadliest incident of virulence against LGBT people in US history”

    This was the SINGLE most deadliest incident. Historically this group has the highest death rate compared to any other group solely because of who they are. LGBT have been shot hung ,beaten, tied to fences to die in the Wyoming night. Suicide rates are higher for teen gay men and lesbian women because their family do not accept them

    In many states LBGT can be refused hotel and rental cars because they are gay. TSA also like to abuse their authority when dealing with us too

  18. Well these comments are about what one would expect from the internet.

    I worked for Enterprise from 2007-2008, frankly there’s no love lost, it was not a good place to be employed. I can see why this happened though, Enterprise wants a certain kind of employee. They want people they can essentially brainwash to always side with the company and to make as much money for it as possible. Using unscrupulous methods to do so are usually met with promotions and individuality is not looked upon as a positive trait. I imagine that all the employees heard was “missing key”, “car towed” and they followed the script in their head. Doesn’t excuse the behavior but that’s why I think it happened. I don’t think they’re a terrible company and I still rent from them, but it’s like going to Hooter’s for wings…you just have to set your expectations ahead of time.

  19. Lowest common denominator employees at these places aren’t empowered to waive rules or forgive charges. It’s understandable, given short training curves and high turnover. Otherwise, there would be expectations that any and every story would get special handling.

    Expecting wholesale policy decisions at that level and at that point on the timeline is unrealistic. This needed a corporate policy decision. Looks like one was made. But I doubt that it included a blanket “just do what you think is best next time, let us know afterward, that would be great.”

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