In Which I Learn Enterprise Rent-a-Car is Unethical

I rented a car from Enterprise. DC issued a speeding ticket to that vehicle, claiming it was going 43 mph in a 30 mph zone. Fine: $110.
Because it is a rental, the citation went to Enterprise, which did not bother to investigate or contest the citation. They then gave me notice of the citation and a deadline to contest it internally (through third-party provider, Highway Toll Administration, LLC), else they would charge my credit card per some buried prior authorization language.
Their notice gave me no useful information about the ticket–not even an obvious citation number–so I contested. On June 13, they provided me the ticket information. I looked it up online and saw that my vehicle, which has a 108″ wheel base, traversed the calibration lines in 0.2 seconds as noted on the 2 photographs. Basic math says this is 30.68 mph, within the margin of error for whether a ticket is to be issued.

I notified Enterprise of this on June 15. On June 18, without a response, they charged my credit card. I have, of course, initiated a dispute.

Today, I notified Enterprise I was disputing the charges. “Jerry” from customer service wrote:

The D.C. Treasure does not allow for Enterprise to provide driver information for citations which are issued. As such, Enterprise is required to pay for tickets which are issued by this agency to avoid further action towards our vehicles. I can understand how this could be frustrating. However, I am unable to issue a refund of these charges, as Enterprise was required to make payment on your behalf.

To me, this indicates that no matter what proof I had, Enterprise as a matter of course pays no attention to legitimate disputes. [My initial correspondence noted this article, highlighting the notorious inaccuracies of the DC speed cameras: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/03/cop-exposes-dc-speed-came_n_2401773.html ] They simply pay the citation and pass along the charges. Such is a highly unethical practice. As I have never had a speeding ticket when renting another car, my hope is that it is not industry practice.

15 Responses to In Which I Learn Enterprise Rent-a-Car is Unethical

  1. dan says:

    This is nothing new. You will find that the fine print on your Enterprise (or competitor ) contract holds you responsible for both traffic and parking tickets issued to the vehicle while it is in your hands. I have rental contracts with them dating back 15 years that say the same thing. For various geographical reasons I rarely rent from anyone else so I dont have documentation dating back as far but the one copy I found from Discout in 2009 said the same thing. The ability to contest internally is newer, although it does not appear to be very effective.

  2. Gary says:

    There has been a great deal of information about the unethical practices of Enterprise. For example, the Dallas Morning News did an expose about clients that rented a car, returned the car undamaged, and later received bills from Enterprise charging them thousands of dollars for damages that did not occur, ordinary wear and tear excepted. Enterprise is really getting a horrible reputation in the rental car business.

    • dan says:

      This actually happened to me, but only at a particular location that had a good relationship with a collision place. My mistake for not returning the car to the original site, who had a business relationship to protect.

  3. Justin says:

    it is standard and unfortunately you agreed to everything when you signed the agreement fine print kills

  4. Jay Wolman says:

    Implicit in the contract is the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Enterprise has since attempted to argue that I am liable for all fines incurred. I did not incur the fine–it was erroneously generated. By their logic, if the DC Treasurer fined the vehicle $50 Trillions, Enterprise would pay it and I would be liable. That is absurd. If it is absurd for $50 Trillions, it is absurd for $110.
    Moreover, their contract appears to have explicitly provided for the opportunity to contest the validity of my liability. By their own statements, they would never uphold a challenge due to the fact that they had already gone ahead and paid the fine. Such is a breach of contract. It may also violate one or more state’s consumer protection acts.
    Finally, I explicitly revoked authorization to charge my credit card. Their charge was thus invalid and inappropriate. If they want to come after me for the $110, I will be happy to see them in small claims court.

  5. Lizard says:

    I suspect that Enterprise does not contest tickets because they do not wish to become known as “troublemakers”, which would mean the cops would go out of their way to target people renting from Enterprise. If Enterprise had to pay your ticket, then, they might contest vigorously, and might even have enough money to affect the system — but they don’t, so they won’t. They also gamble, probably correctly, that the overwhelming majority of their customers won’t bother suing over relatively small amounts.

    • Jay Wolman says:

      I don’t think it is because they don’t want to be troublemakers. It is because it is of no cost to them since they just pass along the charges. Cheaper to pass along all than fight them.

  6. enterprisecares says:

    We’ve noticed your Blog post and would like the chance to speak with you regarding this. Please email care@enterprise.com the exact rental location, your contact information, your rental agreement number and any further details regarding your experience with us.
    When emailing, please list Reference Number REDACTED in the subject line. We look forward to hearing from you.
    Respectfully,
    Carol
    Social Media
    Enterprise Rent-A-Car

  7. Hey Jay. I disagree in what I hope is a “hey let’s chat” way and not dickface way. I agree that the policy comes off as douchey, but I gotta’ say–I see their point.

    At your end–you don’t see much cost compared to the injustice. I think that’s the essence of the beef, and please correct me in whatever way I might be wrong.

    There’s a lot that isn’t so readily seen though. The cost savings are likely significant. In your specific individual case–there wouldn’t have been a lot of cost. But they can’t build a national business infrastructure around the clearly excellent Jay Wolmans of the world. There aren’t that many people like you.

    The infrastructure required to track and so on would probably be significant. The people required to handle transferring cases would need training and computers and databases and phones and health care and so on. Say Enterprise passes the claim to someone and the person is a no show. What then? All of this takes time and money, and customer service, which is both. A blanket policy requires less management costs, less customer service costs, and less legal worries (how do you word the contract? What to do when someone calls you in breach?).

    Cost savings generally mean more competitive rates, especially in an industry where there’s so much competition–broadly, local travel for transients, especially in DC.

    I don’t get the unethical piece–help me out here cuz I’m missing something. They didn’t make the fucked up cameras. Is the theory that privileging money over justice is unethical?

    Anyhow, I see why it pissed you off. Totally. I get that and it is crummy. But I see it from their side too.

    • Jay Wolman says:

      Mario, I understand that it is more efficient for Enterprise. However, Enterprise can absorb the costs of improperly paid citations by spreading the cost to all consumers. UPS accrues thousands of parking tickets daily and just pays them, adding the costs into overhead when determining rates.
      The unethical aspect is that if it were my car, I would have a chance to challenge an improper ticket–I was never on notice that I would be denied that opportunity by renting. This is especially as all contracts have an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
      As I noted above, if DC fined Enterprise $50 trillions because the car had MD plates (an unlawful and outrageous fine), they would pass that along to me and expect me to indemnify them. That is unjust. I had no notice and no legitimate opportunity to contest the question. In fact, Enterprise allegedly provides an opportunity to contest a fine, but the outcome is predetermined. It is wrong.

      • Ancel De Lambert says:

        It’s a dick move as it leads you to believe that you have a recourse within the system to fix the mistake, you do not. Aggressively contesting is the only recourse because they are jerking you around.
        Kinda had a similar problem with my college’s parking. Fecking dicks.

  8. cosson says:

    Just have a look on what Enterprise Rent-A-Car is doing in France. Ethic ? What’s that ?

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