Monday, September 17, 2012

LIFE: Discounting the Enterprise experience

[Do NOT click on ANY LINK found in the comment section of this blog. No matter how innocuous the link MIGHT appear to be, it is MOST LIKELY SPAM or a link to MALWARE. I am disheartened by the need to do this, which accounts for the sparsity of posts this year.]

While it took TWO phone calls, the latter one quoting the complaint file number to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, to get Enterprise Car Rentals to finally get rid of my personal information, it took exactly ONE call to make me a happy car renter again.

Turns out Enterprise is NOT the only car rental outfit that will pick you up, despite the omni-present ad slogan that implies just the opposite. My brother Wayne laughed a little when i told him I was a bit worried about cutting my nose off to spite my face telling Enterprise to 'lose my number.' And I was the supposed smarter older brother, Wayne MUST have gotten a little satisfaction letting me know Discount picked up AND was a helluva lot cheaper than the company with the heartless customer support I had just left.

How about more than 30 percent less expensive. Yep. And it seemed everybody I dealt with was a friendly, attractive lady who made this grumpy old guy feel a bit special. So special, I sent off a letter of commendation to their boss. What follows is the text of that letter (which does include the ODD improvement idea. I'm nothing if not a nit-picker after all):


  On Thursday last week, I had my first experience renting a car from Discount Rentals. Having been an extremely dissatisfied Enterprise customer, I was more than a tad nervous in going through the whole car rental process again. My friends, aware of the Enterprise fiasco the last time I depended on their services, encouraged me to just get them to drive me around. But that seemed self-serving and I thought it necessary to at least try an Enterprise competitor to see if the whole shabby rental experience was industry-wide, or just a product of Enterprise's poor customer support.

  I am happy to report that the Discount employees have made me a monthly Discount customer for the foreseeable future. I see no reason to impose upon friends when I can get the proverbial service with a smile and a rate more than 30 percent cheaper than that of Enterprise. Indeed, that price is good enough that I can afford to do two days out and about a month, if needed. And unfortunately, I have an increasing need to see various doctors, so that might become necessary. However, I no longer am getting stressed over that possibility.

  The whole experience started the day before when I called and talked to Janice at your office. Please excuse the spelling if I have mis-spelled either her name, or that of Katrina's. Janice was a wealth of information, giving me advice on whether to book on-line, via telephone or in person, discussing the pro's and con's of doing so. She instantly made me feel like she was looking out for my best interests. By the time she was finished, i knew the costs and parameters of my best extras choices for my circumstances. (I go out about once a month, striving to do all my payment collection, banking, food-shopping and sundry store visits. Otherwise, I have everything delivered via phone or internet ordering). 

  On Thursday morning, I phoned the recommended 45 minutes in advance of my scheduled rental time and was picked up a half-hour later by Katrina. She was a confident, controlled driver and never caused me to flinch. That's rare. Traffic in Brampton is almost as bad as the insurance companies over-estimate it is. At the office, I was treated like a long-lost friend. I was on my way in a decently short period of time (I AM hoping subsequent visits will be a little quicker as you should have my information on file). The car, a Honda Civic, exceeded my expectations, which were for a box on wheels. The car performed well during the day and the air conditioning on a hot day was quick and comfortable. Thank you.

  I returned the car late Thursday afternoon, as I had said I would. My only quibble with the day was getting the gas to fill it up. I thought there was a gas station south on Kennedy as I attempted to make all right hand turns into your parking lot. But I was wrong. I ended up just opposite the old hospital getting a 'fill-up' from an attendant for $2.36, which I apologized for misusing his time. I would have preferred a self-serve for obvious reasons. I drove something around 80KM for the day and it's too bad that there isn't a pre-paid gas plan that works for short day use. 

  A couple of pleasant surprises upon returning the car. First, I was able to pay cash. I prefer to keep my credit card as empty as possible (and yes, a 6x hold is a little strong). That's a bonus worth advertising, at least on the website. The only potential issue was exact change. Not a problem for me. The second was another assured drive by Katrina, getting me home through the worst of Brampton rush-hour traffic. Again, kudos.

  My total cost for the day, gas in, was just about $57. Compare that for a day's rental from Enterprise that was $69 last September and had risen to almost $79 as of last month, getting more expensive in drips and drabs.  That $57 was less than half what CAAA wanted to charge me for a month's insurance on my 12-year old car (needing two grand in repairs) back in November. I gave up my car on Remembrance Day and have been renting since. I watched the price for that decision go up seemingly month by month at Enterprise. But having found Discount, I'm back to thinking I've made the right decision and am saving money again. 

  I do have some suggestions that I might bring to your attention. The contracts provide very, very, very small spaces for signatures. Leaving aside my own sense of the grandiose calligraphy I call a signature, the spaces are too small for all but the most petite of hands. I also found myself a LITTLE baffled by the Civic control panel. Possibly a black and white sheet with a labeled diagram of the control panel would have been welcome. One for each make? I normally refuse to touch rental car controls. I drive, park and return car as minimally changed as possible. I had a decent grasp on raising and/or lowering the temperature in the car. But the trip meter? Never looked hard, but it wasn't obvious WHERE to look. 

  In conclusion, I initially chose Enterprise due to proximity to my home and their famous slogan. I didn't KNOW other companies also picked you up. It would be worth advertising that little fact. "We pick you up with a smile and save you 30 per cent while doing so!"

  Please pass along my hearty thanks for a job well done to all the people involved in making my day a good one. 


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