Thursday, September 20

Enterprise Car Rental Gone Wrong

My apologies, dear followers, for putting this here. I hate to use my platforms to write about things like this, but we’ve just been through the most ridiculous car rental experience of my life and by putting this online, I hope that it will help others when deciding who to rent their cars from.

The short tl;dr version of our little odyssey:

For a photo tour I rented a car from Enterprise rent-a-car in Ireland. The car (and several follow-ups) had issues and we needed to swap vehicles four times until we finally got one that was safe and not faulty. In the process we lost valuable time that was planned and needed for our photo tour and which annoyed our paying clients. In total it was a bit of a disaster, but Enterprise finally delivered a working vehicle and is trying to make up for it by offering to refund part of our pre-payment.

If you came here through an internet search, a quick word about me: I do photo tours in different parts of the world. I have rented cars in many places and from many car rental companies like Hertz, Sixt, Alamo, Avis, Europcar and of course Enterprise. And from smaller local ones too. I don’t consider myself a fussy car rental customer at all. I don’t mind a few dings here and there. All I want is a car that works, that is clean, safe and that fits my needs.

The long version of our experience, in chronological order:

July 2018: Depending on the kind of photo tour I either hire transportation or if we need to be nimble and fexible, we self-drive. In this specific case we chose the latter option. So I booked well in advance to make sure to have the right vehicle for our August 2018 Ireland photo tour. I knew we would need a 7-seater at Donegal airport, so I looked at the options, found Enterprise rent-a-car and booked online a month in advance. I also pre-paid right away, almost 890 EUR for 10 days.

2018-08-24: While I was waiting at Dublin airport in the morning, Enterprise called me to ask if it was okay if they gave me an automatic instead of a shift car. I didn’t mind and thought it was really nice of them to ask.

I arrived at Donegal Airport in the afternoon, they gave me a Ford Galaxy. As is often the case with rental cars, it had a few dings and scratches, which I didn’t mind. We noted everything in the contract so there was a record and I wouldn’t be held responsible later on. Standard practice, very professional.

I drove towards Dunfanaghy, which is our photo tour base camp. It’s about a 45 minute drive. Some 20 kilometers into the drive it became obvious that something wasn’t right with the right rear tire. I checked and it was only half filled. I inflated the tire at a gas station.

2018-08-25: The tire didn’t hold up over night, it lost enough pressure to get me worried. Luckily I had to go pick up a client from the airport anyway, so I returned the car and asked for a fix. They had no 7-seater available, the Enterprise rent-a-car office at Donegal Airport is quite small. But as I had to return to the airport again the next day for another pickup, they gave me a Seat Leon for the day, so they could repair the Ford and then swap it back the next day. Good plan.

2018-08-26: I returned to Donegal airport to swap the Seat back for the Ford Galaxy. I was a bit surprised to be told something along the lines of “we brought it to the garage, they inflated the tire and they said there’s nothing wrong with it”. I insisted on a fix, as I wouldn’t feel safe to drive my clients around in a car with a leaky tire. Safety first, especially on the windy Irish roads. The Enterprise rent-a-car manager (?) finally agreed to fix it. He even gave me his private phone number and asked me to call him the next morning at eight to arrange for a car swap where they would deliver a working car from the Letterkenny office.

I drove back to Dunfanaghy with the leaky tire, while keeping an eye on the tire pressure.

2018-08-27: I called the manager at 8, he wasn’t in the office just yet and promised to return the call by 8:30.

We topped up the tire and started our planned photo tour, driving south for the day. We received the promised call a bit later while driving. They had another 7-seater available for us and they would send someone from Letterkenny to where we were and swap it out. We arranged to swap in Dungloe.

An Enterprise employee showed up with an equivalent replacement car at the agreed place and time. This would’ve been perfect, if it weren’t for the (not so) minor inconvenience of having a broken boot (trunk). The door wouldn’t open. The Enterprise rent-a-car employee was as surprised as we were. But we are photographers who carry a lot of luggage/gear and need to be in and out of the car with access to our photo equipment, so this was an even worse option for us than the leaky tire.

The employee promised to find a solution and said he’d call us back later that day.

We continued our photo tour with the replacement car. Getting our equipment in and out of the car by folding down the back seats was not much fun and slowed us down.

We didn’t hear back from Enterprise by 8pm, so we called the Enterprise hotline. After explaining what was going on, the call abruptly ended. Did they hang up on us? Not sure, might have also been a technical issue. (As an aside, a friend told us about his own problems with aborted calls with Enterprise Ireland). We called them again and explained everything from the start. We managed to escalate this to their UK office, who then involved the Dublin office who finally got to the Enterprise Letterkenny office. They promised us a call back.

The call arrived a while later, it was the Enterprise Letterkenny manager and he promised a fix and a call in the morning at 8:30.

2018-08-28: We received a call by a lady from Enterprise rent-a-car at about 8:15. She said she would deliver the car by 9:00. Our original plans were to leave at 8:30. We waited with our clients. At around 9:10 we received a text message from her apologising for being late and that she would deliver the car by 9:30.

She finally arrived at 9:45 with the Ford Galaxy, which had a new right rear tire. Our photo day could finally begin around 10:00. The tire seemed to be alright, holding the pressure this time. We used the car all day and it didn’t have any further issues.

Here we are

This is where we are right now. In the middle of a photo tour, four car swaps later and not really happy with our experience with Enterprise rent-a-car. But in all fairness, the lady who delivered the car this morning said that to make up for the inconvenience she’d reduce the bill and give us a partial refund.

Because of this mess, we weren’t able to give our clients the full experience that they paid for. This might cost us future business.

After several tries Enterprise rent-a-car finally did came around and they got us a car that works and that’s safe. I wish there were alternatives at Donegal airport though. Unfortunately it looks like Enterprise rent-a-car seems to be in a monopoly position in that location.

In the end I can only leave it up to you to speculate what weird chain of circumstances might have lead to this mess of a car rental experience with Enterprise in Ireland.