9 Confessions from a Former Enterprise Rental Salesman

Car rental agent with the thought bubble 'I despise you.'
Photo taken from Consumerist

There’s always useful information over at The Consumerist, a blog devoted to helping you get the most bang for your buck as a customer (I’m not so keen on the word “consumer”, it implies that your role is to spend, not to think). Here’s an article for those of you who rent cars often: 9 Confessions from a Former Enterprise Rental Salesman, which are:

  1. Enterprise doesn’t have any set prices. The rates are negotiable, and someone who walks into the office and announces that s/he “needs a car, no matter what the price” is going to get screwed. “There are three main categories of rentals: personal (retail), corporate, and insurance, but on every single contract that goes out the agent manually types out how much you pay per day and he has authority to make it pretty much whatever he thinks you should pay.”
  2. You don’t need all that extra rental insurance, but you can use it to lower your rental rate. “…just like service contracts at Best Buy, you can negotiate the daily rate of your rental down by agreeing to add all the insurance (we call it “full boat” when some poor soul gets soaked for all of the extra protections–damage waiver, personal accident insurance, and supplemental liability: the trifecta of consumer stupidity).”
  3. If you want to secure a really low daily rate but stay on that employee’s good side (i.e. so you can get the same deal again and again), take your rental by any Enterprise in the region the next day and remove the extra coverage. It’s win-win: you end up not paying for insurance you don’t need, and the sales rep who rented out the car to you still gets credit for the sale.
  4. Most of Enterprise’s business comes from insurance replacement rentals, so they get a better deal [NOT RECOMMENDED]. Knowing this, you can go to Enterprise and tell them your car was totalled and that State Farm (or some other very large insurance company) is giving you low daily rental allowance. I don’t recommend using this trick; I’m all for saving a buck, but I’d much rather do it honestly.
  5. Enterprise runs the “weekend specials” because there are loads of spare cars on weekends. “Airport and tourist-heavy places won’t have much for you, but neighborhood branches will be “sitting fat” (way too many cars) 40 out of 52 weeks of every year…Weekends are hard on insurance adjustors’ numbers so they push the body shops to get all their jobs done by Friday evening, therefore a ton of rental returns come in on Fridays…having a car unrented over the weekend is murder on your branch’s numbers, the more expensive the car the more we need to get it off the books for that weekend.”
  6. For the best weekend deal call up on Friday sometime before 2pm and say, “I have all my info, drivers license and credit card, can I get a rental all setup so I don’t have to do anything but sign the ticket when I come in?” “This is GOLD because now the agent can pre-write your ticket and get that car off his books before the 2pm count (if a car is unrented at 2pm, it counts against the branch for that day so he’ll write your ticket before 2:00 and then the car can sit there all day for all he cares).”
  7. What if you’re traveling to a far away city and don’t want to use the insurance replacement method (tip #2)? Call ERES at 1-800-Rent-a-Car and tell them you’re a State Farm adjustor [NOT RECOMMENDED]. “Insurance adjustors are treated like royalty at Enterprise, they’ll bend over backwards to make you happy.” For a number of reasons ranging from the moral to the Machiavellian, I think that this trick is a bad idea.
  8. Enterprise has what they call “ESQI,” like car dealers each branch is rated on how many customers rate our service as 5/5 on the phone surveys. “Anything less than 5 is the same as zero. Managers have to answer for this number like you can’t believe, so next time you forget to fill the tank or you bring a car back a few hours late, say there was some problem with the car–it smelled smoky, wasn’t running right, anything that says you’re not entirely happy with your experience. Most people just turn the car in and go; you’d be amazed what you can get away with just so the manager makes you “extremely satisfied.” I’d happily waive up to a full day’s rental charges if I think that’s needed to keep you happy, a grunt doesn’t have much stake in the ESQI but he has the authority to do the same.”
  9. Don’t take the free ride. Yes, Enterprise has a service where they’ll pick you up and drive you to their branch, but don’t take it. “If you make us pick you up, even if you’re really close, we won’t be so happy to serve you as if you’d walked in. Set the deal up on the phone and if you can get a ride in, do it. It seems small but every little bit helps.”

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