Enterprise Cares? Not From Where I’m Standing

May 6, 2012

I experienced the worst car rental company customer service I can ever remember from Enterprise Car Rental in the Oklahoma City Airport recently. The line at the counter was ridiculously long, and they only had one person working the desk. The reservation system ensured they knew the other customers and I were coming, but they chose not to be prepared when we arrived.

I stepped back and took a video of the line which I then posted to my Youtube channel. I tweeted my complaint and within a short time received a reply tweet from @enterprisecares.  They gave me an e-mail address and asked for more information, so I sent them the link to my video of the long line along with an explanation of the situation. Within a short time I had this direct reply in my e-mail.

The e-mail promised someone would get back to me and discuss the issue. That was nine days ago, and I’ve heard nothing – no call three days later and no e-mail reply. By any standard, that is dismal customer service. If the long line at the counter was not evidence enough that Enterprise Car Rental does not really care about customers, the non-response to the e-mail certainly is.

When I returned the car a few days later about 5:45 am, there was only one attendant working a lot that was a mess. Once I finally located the attendant, I just gave her my keys and took off.

I see two big problems with Enterprise based on this experience. One is operational. There are no excuses for failing to prepare to impress your customers when you know they are coming. That’s a local leadership issue that I suspect is driven by corporate level training, policy, and reward systems.

The other problem is the disconnect between their social media monitoring teams and the people with the real authority to resolve customer complaints. The Twitter team actually did their job very well, but because of the way Enterprise has structured their response system, the social media team has neither control nor responsibility over the final resolution of the complaint. If you are going to give your Twitter team the authority to promise customers a response from other departments in the company, you should also make it a responsibility for them to follow-up on the promises they make.

Enterprise does have low rates, but their service sucks. I think other companies offer competitive rates and competent service, so I won’t be renting from Enterprise again anytime soon.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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Comments (14)

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  1. I used to work for Hertz and our better customer service was the easiest way for my local location to compete with Enterprise.

    I think it is a lack of Leadership and communication of the supposed “values” and “mission” of the company that they let it get out of hand like that. I have seen it happen many times.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, James. I think I need to give Hertz a try! Thanks for sharing. Bret

  2. Eric Pretorious says:

    I found this while searching for the maxim “Take care of the customer and everything else will take care of itself.” and was reminded of our conversation on Saturday about handling mistakes:

    “The road to success is paved with well handled mistakes. – Neiman Marcus

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Eric. Thanks for sharing that great quote! Concur. Bret

  3. Eric Pretorious says:


    “How you handle mistakes and problems distinguishes you from your competition.” –Unknown

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:


  4. Stacey says:

    I always wonder where the disconnect stems from in situations like this. “Enterprise, we pick you up” is what they advertise and they routinely hire “Managers in Training” and tout the fact that they listen to their employees ideas and feedback regarding ways for making the company more effective. All this tells me that they don’t walk the talk. They want to empower their employees and ppl at the top want to advertise that they do but somewhere along the chain of command someone prefers to keep barriers for their employees rather than remove them.
    So disappointing!

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Stacey. Great points. I learned that Enterprise has great window dressing, but not much else. Sure you eventually get a car to drive, but there are so many other choices. This is a commodity, and you have to compete on service as well as price. Thanks for sharing, Bret

  5. Bruce Lynn says:

    Long lines are the #1 indicator of company disdain for customers. As you note, for reservation centred businesses, they ‘know you are coming’. They simply chose not to bring in extra staff and pay them overtime because they would have increased their costs. They figure that you can just wait and check in a later time when they have fewer arrivals scheduled and it is more convenient for them.

    This kind of attitude is one of the reasons by corporate profits are up, but employment and living standards are down.

    Another large company that irks me in this regards is Starbucks. They crow about their focus on customer experience with comfortable seating and soft jazz, but if you have to wait for half an hour for a coffee (that will take you 10 minutes to drink (it’s not a great experience. The Starbucks at Terminal 5 Heathrow has had a massive line for the past year every time I have flown. The barristas tell me ‘it’s always like this’ Starbucks must figure that they have the only premium coffee bar in the terminal so where are you going to go?

    One company that I am growing to respect more and more every day is McDonalds. They do listen to customer concerns about nutrition, packaging, options and have made many changes over time. They were the first major chain to do the obvious thing and offer free wifi in their stores (when I was still have to faff about paying for my Starbucks access). And their guiding principles of customer service is quick service (it is ‘fast food’) and they are obsessive about (a) short lines, and (b) fast service. I have regularly seen managers working feverishly to keep the service high, an have often been given my food free or something extra if it took too long. To tell you the truth, I stopped eating McDonalds when my kids were no longer toddlers, but I tried it again when I needed the free wifi. I found few old favourites and some new items were quite tasty and now I am regular customer. It’s not gourmet, and it’s not white linen service, but it is a great customer experience.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Disdain for customers.. never heard it put like that before, Bruce, but it’s probably fair. Regardless of the rhetoric, we know when as customers we are truly guests or just a necessary evil to a company. You McDonalds was IMHO a GREAT company in the 70’s, but they lost sight of customers as they got mega big. Glad to hear that you think they are once again doing well. Thanks for sharing! Bret

  6. I think it’s ironic because they have (or have had, in the past) such a strong management training program. I had several friends out of college who went to work for them their first year out of college because of it. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Enterprise because I bought a car from them last year and found out about 6 months later that I had different sized tires and treads on my all-wheel drive car, which led me to believe they may have not been maintaining it as well as they say they did. But I did get some heavily discounted and also free tires out of it. Hmmm.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    They seem to have a great talk, but the proof is in the pudding. Poor execution is very difficult to explain away. Thanks, Tiffany! Bret

  7. Enterprise falls into the same camp as US Air.

    US Air made me late for their connecting flight due to their inability to find someone who could get a jetway out to the plane for us to get off.

    Upon rushing to the next gate 5 paying passengers were relieved to see our small plane on the tarmac with the door wide open.
    But we were told by the surly gate agent, “The flight has closed, it’s not my fault, you should have been here on time.”

    No empathy, no coordination with the other gates. Their sum total of their response was to blame the passengers.

    To make it worse, it was 1 PM on a sunny Tuesday afternoon, we were in Philly trying to get to Newark. They told us the rest of the flights were sold out and we couldn’t get there until the next day.

    I left the terminal, took the train and was there in 3 hours.

    When they file for bankruptcy or merge, and everyone loses their pensions, it will be the inevitable demise of a company that believed their customers were profit centers instead of people.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    I agree with you, Lisa, it’s just a matter of time before what does around comes around for these companies. I think those time frames are shorter now than they were 5 years ago with the advent of social media. These days when you neglect your paying customers, there is nowhere to hide. Thanks for sharing! Bret