Friday, May 27, 2016

My Weird Bad Experience With Enterprise Car Rental

So I just wrapped up a busy two weeks of travel, mostly business, but some vacation. Travel seems to bring out lots of terrible customer service experiences. There are probably a number of reasons for this. When you're at home, you have routines and you probably frequent known businesses that deliver a predictable level of service. When you travel, you're probably dealing with new places, new businesses and your dealing with reviews, reputations and brands that you hope can ensure that you have quality experiences.

In many ways, this is where brands are supposed to thrive. If you're at home in the bay area, you can count on Philz, Peets, or Blue Bottle for quality coffee, but when you're in a town that you don't know, if there is a Starbucks, at least you can count on getting coffee that doesn't suck. Brands are brands because the commit to ensure a level of service and quality -- or that's the theory.

My Crazy, You-Don't-Want-This-to-Happen-to-You Enterprise Car Rental Experience
I've rented from Enterprise Car Rental many times over the years, probably back as far as the early 1990s. While my business travel has had me renting from many companies, I often found myself gravitating back to Enterprise for the lower prices, car offerings, and sometimes they even used to pick you up. One of the things that I was always disappointed with them for was that, for many years, I don't think they had a loyalty program. Several years ago, I finally found their loyalty program and signed up. With many of these things, I never wind up actually using the points, but often the business treats you a bit better because you're signed up.

So anyway, last week was Miami, with a long drive up Florida to visit Jacksonville with my wife. My wife's corporate rate with Avis is really good, so we were surprised when I got a car rental rate that was WAY lower from Enterprise. Enterprise was offering an $7.95 per day rental for a pick-up in Miami and drop off in Jacksonville. My three day rental with unlimited mileage was under $25. Whenever I told anyone how much I was quoted, they were also shocked. It was one of those rates that made me happy -- thrilled -- to be renting from Enterprise.

So we picked up the car on Thursday. It was the usual process of attempting to upsell me on insurance and Florida tolls, but other than that, nothing different from any other car rental that I've ever done. Then the quick inspection, and we were off in a nice new Toyota RAV4. Leaving the Miami metro area, I was halfway kicking myself about not spending the extra $4 for the automated toll coverage so I could escape a little bit of the traffic on I-95, but other than that, it was a pretty uneventful drive.

Fast forward to Saturday morning where we dropped off the car with way more gas than we needed to (only needed half a tank, but the RAV4 gas tank is actually kind of small). Through the usual drop off line at the airport, then the attendant asks if I'd like a copy of the receipt. I said yes, at which point she told me I needed to go the attendant in the Enterprise office there -- something we didn't really want to do since we were anxious to get through security and be ready for our flight. Thinking that it wouldn't be a problem -- I've had car rental receipts emailed to me on many occasions -- I asked if she could email the receipt and she said yet.

Two days later, Monday, May 23 at 6pm I finally received my receipt. The receipt claimed that I had had the car until nearly 2:00pm that Monday, putting me in a five day rental at $55. It goes without saying that my wife and I, having dropped the car at the airport, had been in New Orleans since Saturday, so the idea that I was being charged for two days that I didn't use the car was, in a word, bullshit.

Now, if you aren't really too worried about it, you might think that $55 was a reasonable amount to pay to drive a rental car from Miami to Jacksonville. You might be willing to let the $30 delta slide. But the problem that I have is that we did nothing different that we haven't done 100 times, with Enterprise and other rental car companies. It was standard operating procedure. And so the idea that for some unexplained reason, Enterprise would change the rules this time and surprise me with an unwarranted charge -- I really needed to get an explanation.

Enterprise Customer Service SUCKS
So I called Enterprise Customer Service using the toll free contact number published on their web site. After receiving my confirmation number, the customer service rep told me that there was nothing he could do and that I would have to call the Miami office where I rented the vehicle once they were open (on East Coast Time). He didn't seem to have any ability to log a case, couldn't provide me with a case number, and didn't seem to be willing to do anything other than essentially say, "man, that's a bummer. I'm sorry your frustrated. I can't do anything."

At this point, my frustration had amplified, so I got on Twitter and began telling my story, curious to see if Enterprise Car Rental monitored Twitter. About a half an hour after I started posting comments on Twitter to @enterprise and @enterprisecares, I finally received response with a request to send their customer service my confirmation number. After some back and forth with Enterprise customer service through Twitter direct messages, I was informed that "I sent your comments and concerns, and your contact information, to the Miami regional office for review and response. A manager will contact you as soon as possible," and a reference number was assigned.

Three days later, and I still haven't heard anything from Enterprise Car Rental. As soon as possible doesn't seem to mean what you might think it means. At this point, I'm left feeling like Enterprise Car Rental is trying to rip me off -- and the ironic part is that it's for about $30. Keep in mind that I'm a points-holding member of their loyalty program who, before having this billing dispute, would have likely been a huge recommender for Enterprise Car Rental. Now, I question whether they're going pull some crazy shit when you turn your car in. And I most certainly would get a receipt before I leave!

As I mentioned on Twitter, "this is the critical interrelationship between customer service and marketing." Right now, I'm questioning my entire relationship with Enterprise Car Rental. That affects not just one location in one state, but other locations and other potential business. In one customer service moment, Enterprise could have looked at this and said, "hah, some crazy clerical error, clearly not worth the $30 to even argue it." But instead, they send me into some shitstorm of a bureaucratic devil's triangle, where the issue just seems to get lost. @enterprisecares. Except they forgot to close the <satire> tag.

How do you think things like this promotional email from Enterprise will work with me going forward?
Save 20%.
We miss you. Come back and save 20% at participating locations. You can earn valuable points toward free rental days.  
As a business, how much do you think Enterprise's marketing group is spending on ExactTarget for email marketing? And then, to watch that spend get kneecapped by their customer service? It's got to be frustrating. After all, could any number of "We miss you" emails overcome one bad customer service experience? From the marketing end of the business, all we can say is unbelievable. For about $30. It really sounds like a joke doesn't it.

This, my friends, seriously deserves a #FAIL tag.


Cody Thornton said...

I can sympathise with you, despite not ever renting with enterprise I have had dealings with a car repair company who broke my tire pressure sensor and refused to accept blame. I committed myself to getting justice and set about complaining on twitter and to my surprise the company responded and sorted the problem, give twitter a rant!

Cody Thornton @ Mobilevalley Ltd

Joey said...

This is a nice blog. I had the same experience with a different unnamed rental car company attempting to up sell me on various issues relating to Florida driving. Also had a similar issue with getting a receipt several days late and finding an unexpected charge. Just wanted to empathize and let you know I feel your pain.

Joey @ Amerika Link