Help, A Colony Of Ants Attacked My Enterprise Rental Car And Ruined My Vacation!

Steven was enjoying his drive down the California coast in his Enterprise rental car when he noticed a few ants marching across his dashboard. Before long, he “saw a large ant colony coming out of the inside of the car door.”

Three days later, Steven finally returned the traveling ant colony to Enterprise, which promised to issue a full credit. That was two months ago. Steven is still waiting for the credit.

He cc’d us on his Executive Email Carpet Bomb:

On 6/3/08 I rented a car from Enterprise at the San Jose Ca. Airport Office (Rental Agreement No. D 604659). We drove south to Carmel Ca. and noticed a few ants crawling on the dash board. By the time we arrived at our first destination we saw a large ant colony coming out of the inside of the car door. We were unsuccessful in removing the ants and could not locate any nearby Enterprise offices. On the third day we dropped the car off at the San Luis Obisbo Airport and I informed them of our problem. We were assured that we would receive a call from the manager of Enterprise at the San Jose Airport within 2 days and he would address our problem. No call came! We finally were able to reach Customer Service on 6/12/08 who assured us once again that we would receive a call from the manager at San Jose within 48 hours. No call came! On 6/14/08 I talked with “Kyle” in the San Jose office who assured me that in several days I would receive a credit and their accounting department would handle it. No credit came!

On 6/27/08 I reached the San Jose office once again. The individual I talked to went back and forth with the manager while I was on the line. I was assured that a full credit ($163.37) would be issued by July 1. No credit came!

Not only did the ant nest create a terrible rental experience, but it also created a dangerous driving situation. I had been impressed with the friendly Enterprise service in the past and have always chosen your company when traveling. I would like to think that this is an isolated case of very poor service and repeated broken promises. For that reason I have held off with my complaints to the Better Business Bureau, and I have not yet disputed the charge with my VISA Credit Card Company.

I would like to think that you will handle the problem and do the right thing. I look forward to hearing from you in the very near future regarding the full refund that was promised to me by your representatives when I brought this issue to their attention.

I have included on this e-mail local Orlando consumer advocates from the Orlando Sentinel and Local Six News, as well as the immensely popular The Consumerist.com Blog.

Sincerely,

Steven

Sorry Steven, but the ants have overtaken Enterprise’s accounting department. The ants won’t issue a credit because, quite frankly, they don’t understand your problem. “Who doesn’t like ants,” goes the old ant-saying. Pleading your case to them will get you nowhere.

Instead, call your credit card company, which, hopefully, has not been overrun by ants. Chargeback the fees and consider the matter closed.

(Photo: zigwamp)

Comments

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  1. MadameX says:

    Come on… next thing you know, someone will be claiming that a colony of killer bees infested a fifth wheel.

    Oh wait…

  2. citabria says:

    I rented a car from Hertz in Hawaii and had an ant infestation as well. However, I demanded a refund on the spot.

  3. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Do you think they fixed the problem or just passed it on to the next renter? :)

  4. ptrix says:

    did they take photographs of the alleged “few ants” which allegedly “crawled on the dashboard” and the alleged “large ant colony” which allegedly crawled “out of the inside of the car door”?

    and for that matter, is there any evidence other than the poster’s own testimony that those ants didn’t get inside the car as a result of his or his passenger’s own actions (or inactions)?

    What makes this exclusively the car rental company’s fault? if anything, the poster saw the ants and failed to get the car cleaned, thus potentially subjecting the next renter to the problem. :(

    just askin’/sayin

  5. midwestkel says:

    @MadameX: Thats what I was thinking…

  6. smrtypants44 says:

    @ptrix:

    i honestly dont see how anyone could induce a large amount of ants into a car accidentally

  7. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I don’t necessarily think that Enterprise is negligent here..even if the car were cleaned, that doesn’t mean they would have found the ants…it’s just one of those weird things. But if I were Enterprise, I’d want to keep the customer and would happily refund the rental charge.

  8. I think he should be glad that Enterprise isn’t trying to bill him for having the car cleaned or fumigated or whatever they did or say they’re doing to get rid of the ants. It wouldn’t shock me one bit to hear that they’re blaming him.

  9. n0ia says:

    I’m thinking this ant infestation epidemic is sweeping across the US. Just yesterday at the car dealership where I work (in the south east) we had to set off a bug-bomb inside a GMC Envoy to get rid of the ants.

    Granted, the car was a total disaster inside and the carpet looked like it had super glue spilled all over it and then rubbed together to create that authentic matted look. I’m just wondering how you can let your vehicle get so bad that ant’s take up residence.

  10. badhatharry says:

    I think the real issue here is that the ants rented the car first, and Enterprise just double-booked it.

  11. ratnerstar says:

    Refund? Bah! I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.

  12. beatofhawaii.com says:

    Here in Hawaii, the problem in rental cars is usually cockroaches. In my experience, Thrifty has been the worst. Not fun.

    Aloha, [beatofhawaii.com]

  13. mythago says:

    @ptrix: if the rental-car company did not adequately clean the car out first (and believe me, they don’t always), the previous renters’ slovenliness might have led to the ants.

    I once rented a “smoke-free” car from Enterprise and it was abundantly clear that some idiot had smoked in it, but the car had been cleaned to try and get the smell out (which is nigh impossible). I didn’t have any breathing problems from it, but when I mentioned the issue to Enterprise, they gave me a free upgrade for next time and a profuse apology. Hope OP gets a better result out of Corporate.

  14. @MadameX: beat me to it.

    @n0ia: I parked my ride on mower for a week in a place I don’t usually. When I started it up again, after ten minutes, all of these ants strarted streaming out of the engine compartement. A lot had eggs/pupae with them. I think I read that ants are attracted to batteries/power. There has been a big problem w/fire ants swarming traffic light control boxes and telco boxes in the south.

  15. HalOfBorg says:

    I used to work for Radio Shack Service. We got a lot of door alarms (photo beam things that trip when you break the beam. Used a lot for a BEEEP when someone walks into a store) returned to us, and they always were infested with bugs.

    I always thought they were attracted to the warmth of the transformer.

  16. intellivised says:

    @Git Em SteveDave is a poor substitute for LindsayJoy: I’ve heard this also. I once had some ant visitors move in to a Marshall Plexi I used to have. Almost ruined one of the best. guitar. amps. evar.

  17. sean77 says:

    @n0ia: that was my thought. I can’t imagine the inside of a car is a habitable place for ants. Then again, whether it was an actual colony, or just a hundred ants that hitched a ride (maybe parked next to an ant hill and the ants were going after some food left in the car), it doesn’t matter, the end result is the same, you have ants in your car.

    I would file a BBB claim, assuming you actually have proof that they promised a refund.

  18. Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

    @beatofhawaii.com: Yes – that happened to a friend of mine. Cockroaches streaming out instead of ants. I’ll take ants, any day.

  19. rellog says:

    @ptrix: At first I thought your post was in jest… After reading the whole thing, I realized you’re just a nut. Quit blaming the OP.

  20. ViperBorg says:

    Chargeback FTW.

  21. CumaeanSibyl says:

    THEM! THEEEEM! THEEEEEM!!!

  22. Ubermunch says:

    I blame the original OP for 1) not booking the car from a local mom and pop company and 2) failing to bring along adequate insect repellent on a trip.

    Also, I think Enterprise is missing an opportunity here. Everyone loves ant farms… and rental cars…. Just put clear plexiglass on the doors and interior and charge extra for the experience.

    Jeesh! Do I have to think of everything!

  23. Ubermunch says:

    Just joking on that OP thing… lighten up folks!!! :-)

  24. christoj879 says:

    @badhatharry: I’m still LOL’ing, wow.

  25. trogam says:

    He reacted pretty calmly to the whole situation. I would’ve most likely freaked out and driven off the road…

  26. pixiegirl1 says:

    I’ve been lucky most of the times I’ve rented. One time my dad rented a minivan and they did not clean it out before they gave it too us, it had half eaten peanuts and peanut shells in the cup holders.

    If that shit happened to me I would probably need to get some therapy, I hate ants they totally freak me out. But then again if I saw ants walking across the dashboard I would probably get in a accident and total the car.

  27. agency says:

    To Carey: too often, Consumerist posters make the chargeback sound like a piece of cake. I don’t know if it is with Amex, but with a US Bank Visa, as I recently learned, you need written proof of the inadequacy of any service or you’ll get rebilled. What’s more, those @sses at US Bank closed my chargeback case and rebilled me because *the merchant* didn’t send in paperwork documenting their side of the story within the time limit. But then I complained, the merchant happened to finally come through *late* and then they said I needed written proof. To the OP: I hope you have a better experience if you file a chargeback. It might be useful to tape record them promising you a refund if you can get them to say it again and record it legally where you are / where you’re calling.

  28. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Ah, so that’s where I lost my bag of sugar. Sweet delicious sugar.

  29. rellog says:

    @agency: Yeah, chargebacks are the panacea people make it out to be. Worst Buy scammed me a couple years back and I lost the case with Citibank even though I had proof. It is a useful tool, but it is far from guaranteed…

  30. rellog says:

    I meant aren’t…

  31. BrendaNerq says:

    Also,

    There is NO chargeback code for this type of situation. The OP needs something in WRITING from the merchant stating that credit for $XXX.XX is to be issued (a credit slip). Without this, it is a service issue. The customer paid for 2 days rental, and received 2 days rental. Oh, and also VISA does not accept voice recordings. Save that for small claims court.

  32. @Applekid: Hey, where’d you get the sugar for that tea?

  33. jwissick says:

    I rented from enterprise once before. Never again. I got a car with 1/8 a tank of gas, dirty dirty windows, and stank of stale cigarette smoke. They refused to give me a new car and refused a credit or the like.

    Enterprise is a crumby operation.

  34. Complaints like this one need to occur while renting the vehicle, not after the fact. IF returning the car was not an option, then the OP really needed to be more aggressive when the problem occurred. Photos these days are so easy to acquire and would do a lot more to bolster the claim.

  35. Trai_Dep says:

    Boy, do I hate it when a bunch of aunts smuggle themselves in our road trip. HATE!

  36. Hobie-wan says:

    I had some ants take up residence in my car when I started parking under a certain tree at school. My car wasn’t full of food wrappers, so I never figured out why they invaded. I just stopped parking under that tree. That would certainly suck to find in your rental car though.

  37. rworne says:

    I had a colony of ants move into my S2000 one hot weekend. On the drive to work, I saw pretty much what the TFA said – a few on the dash, then they started swarming out of the center console, pupa at hand. Odd thing was they stayed on the center console and left me alone and I had an uneventful remaining drive to work with thousands of new friends.

    Temps were forcasted to be well over 100F that day, so I parked on the top of the parking structure, in direct sunlight. When lunchtime came, there was not a single ant to be found in the car.

  38. ShadowFalls says:

    @Git Em SteveDave is a poor substitute for LindsayJoy:

    They are attracted to the heat, more especially so in the winter months. They also like things such as leaf piles and wood objects. Have to say something for ants, they know how to make themselves at home, and do it quickly too.

  39. lauy says:

    I’d like to thank all the posters above who finally voiced the true successes of disputes and chargebacks – difficult to win at best with most of the scenarios presented here in consumerist.

    I processed Visa check card disputes and chargebacks for a large bank for several years. The only realistic chargeback for the above situation would be credit not received – however, only if the cardholder (OP) has physical proof of a credit, like a credit slip. Just getting a promise from someone over the phone never works, because it would eventually come down to Visa arbitration having to decide who is telling the truth, and they will never make a decision like that. Sometimes a bank will try a defective or wrong service dispute for something like this, but, again, it comes down to undeniable proof the merchant was at fault – an ant infestation could never be traced back undeniably to one party or the other.

    What many people that have won disputes don’t realize is more often than not, the disputes consumers file are invalid (as far as the regs and rules for the card they used, not the validity of the claim), but are often paid by the bank and taken as a loss to satisfy the customer. The majority of fraud (lost/stolen/unauthorized) disputes filed fall into this category, because a chargeback cannot be initiated unless there is proof of merchant error.

    For the OP, I would encourage him to work the EECB angle the best he can. A chargeback in this case would probably result in continued frustration and lack of results.

  40. ohiomensch says:

    I rented a car in San Diego, my daughter and I went shopping and she noticed some ants crawling on her pants leg. We thought it was the store, but then when we went back to the car, she opened the door and the doorframe was literally full of ants. We immediately took the car back to the rental agency and they gave us another car on the spot.

  41. @ShadowFalls: This was about three weeks ago in the northeast US. I wish it was cool.

  42. Rachacha says:

    You guys are all wrong. Enterprise issued a Press release the other day:

    July 31, 2008

    ST. LOUIS – Enterprise Rent-A Car is improving the car rental experience while helping to save the environment. Enterprise is introducing a new program in selected markets across the United States that will provide our customers with some of the cleanest cars of all the rental fleet. Enterprise Rent-A-Car has contracted with top insectologists to create an artifical ant colony inside each of our rental vehicles. Harry Automan, Director of fleet management says “installing these ant colonies will accomplish several goals:
    1) Create the cleanest cars among our competition – Anytime a customer drops a crumb of food, our highly trained ants will continuously scour the vehicle and pick up any crumb of food and carry it away.
    2) Help the Environment – By having the vehicles cleaned by ants, we will no longer need to vacuume the vehicles after every customer, reducing electricity coinsumptiion and helping the environment.
    3) Help cut costs for Enterprise – Enterprise estimates that deploying our ant fleet will allow each rental branch to reduce staff as we will not need to have a person to clean the interior of each vehicle.
    4) Provide in car entertainment – What better way to pass the time then by watching a colony of ants match around your car and try to make obstacles in their marching path to see whether they will climb over the obstacle or walk around it.”

    Early feedback from our customers is positive with comments like: “The Kids LOVED it, they were smashing potatoe chips and sprinkling them on the floor of the car just to watch the ants clean up the crumbs” and “Watching the ants really helped pass the time while driving 7 hours through rural Montana, rather than focusing on the road, I could drive and watch the ants busily working”

    Enterprise Rent-A-Car insectologists are working to create other features for our vehicles using insects. Current projects under development include:
    1) Vehicle theft deterent using killer bees
    2) Customer clothing cleaner using moths
    3) In-car audio systems using cicadas

    About Enterprise Rent-A-Car
    Founded in 1957, Enterprise Rent-A-Car is headquartered in St. Louis and serves customers in the United States, Canada, the U.K., Ireland, and Germany. Enterprise is North America’s largest car rental company in fleet size, number of locations, and annual revenue, ranking No. 18 on the Forbes Top 500 Private Companies in America. Enterprise has ranked highest in customer satisfaction among airport rentals in eight out of the past nine years, according to J.D. Power and Associates Rental Car Satisfaction Study. Enterprise is owned by the Taylor family, which acquired the National Car Rental (nationalcar.com) and Alamo Rent A Car (alamo.com) businesses in 2007. For more information about Enterprise, visit enterprise.com.

    ***DISCLAIMER, The above Press Release is NOT REAL, it is intended for entertainment purposes only. I Rachacha freely give up any and all ideas mentioned in this post to Enterprise, so if Enterprise likes these ideas, go for it, they are yours to develop.****

  43. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @badhatharry: Gold! You win.

  44. Trai_Dep says:

    @Rachacha: Yeah, but just wait until the ants unionize and demand higher wages and vacations. THAT will wipe the smirk off of Enterprise’s face QUICK!

  45. shufflemoomin says:

    I didn’t read this article. The photo oozes so much awesomeness that what’s written can’t possibly compete…

  46. huginn says:

    I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.

    Seriously I’ve heard of cars with bugs in them, but this is over the top. How do you not notice this at all enterprise? It’s not only simply foolish to let it slide, but dangerous. If I’m down the highway and I see a few dozen of these little creepy crawlers on me, I’m liable to panic and becoming a road hazard.

  47. ShadowFalls says:

    @Git Em SteveDave is a poor substitute for LindsayJoy:

    Yes I know, just pointing out they have this sort of behavior more often in winter months. Ants also like to choose places that do not absorb so much water either. Sometimes though, they choose random places without good reason or cause…

  48. verdantpine says:

    Enterprise is a really, really shady company. Had a car die, and the rental I got from them, the tire blew out on a deserted highway the next day. They made me pay for a replacement tire – my insurance company wouldn’t cover it, it was below the deductible – but Enterprise had other incorrect charges I had to dispute.

    In dealing with them, I discovered this fantastic website:
    [www.failingenterprise.com] It was started by an angry customer, but many people inside Enterprise also participate and can probably help you. The “bleed green” stories are pretty sad.

    They treat their employees as badly as their customers, it seems.

  49. e-gadgetjunkie says:

    On behalf of Enterprise, I apologize for your situation and hope that the issue is resolved favorably. I am not high enough in the company to hold any influence, but I do understand your situation.

    To clear a few things up:

    Enterprise locations are run pretty much independantly. While corporate tries to police locations and remove managers who are money grubbing idiots, they can’t always. As for the way they treat employees, I will only give you this…

    My husband and I (both Enterprise employees) are going to the theater tomorrow with our co-workers. A few months ago, we went to the symophony. Last month was a baseball game. We are both very happy with the company. They treat us very well.

  50. FrankReality says:

    I would have been ticked off enough to buy a couple of bottles of Terro. Ants suck it up like candy and take it back to their nest and it takes out the whole colony within hours.

    The newer formula doesn’t work quite as well as the old formula that had arsenic in it.

  51. @lauy:

    Yes, entirely correct:


    What many people that have won disputes don’t realize is more often than not, the disputes consumers file are invalid (as far as the regs and rules for the card they used, not the validity of the claim), but are often paid by the bank and taken as a loss to satisfy the customer. The majority of fraud (lost/stolen/unauthorized) disputes filed fall into this category, because a chargeback cannot be initiated unless there is proof of merchant error.

    What consumers that frequently have chargebacks fail to realize is the number of chargebacks processed is a reflection of the consumer’s buying habits and the risk potential to the issuing bank. Ultimately the issuing bank can re-evaluate the need to keep the customer and will discourage the customer’s continuing relationship through higher interest rates or service fees.

  52. Froggmann says:

    Hey at least Enterprise didn’t charge the OP for pest removal!

  53. It isn’t just cars anymore people. It’s computers check this out from Gizmodo. [gizmodo.com]

  54. junglee069 says:

    i rented at enterprise from dfw and drove down to houston. when leaving from houston – was only there for a day – i realized the car was slipping on the road a little. it was raining a little.

    i pulled over and checked the tires – one of the tires was BALD!! i was appalled!! i hadn’t thought to check the tires before leaving, and i quickly took the car to the airport in houston as it was the closest location to me.

    it took me FIVE HOURS to get a new car. the silly return agent charged my credit card 450 some odd dollars for a one way rental even AFTER i explained what was wrong and that i needed a new car…

    the agents inside the car rental terminal were great – but had to literally ‘unwind’ the process. their system sucks, it’s too complicated to return a faulty car and get another one if you do it in another city.

    they gave me another car, after aggravating hours of waiting. half way up to dallas, i realize a couple of ants are running around the dash. ignored it initially. at my next stop, i noticed a few more, and decided to look around – there was a half eaten mcdonals applie pie under the seat – INFESTED with ants!! had to do my best cleaning it up.

    upon arriving at DFW , i was furious. they gave me the entire rental for free, and also gave me a 50 dollar voucher for next time. i told them there won’t be a next time – 50 dollars wasn’t worth taking the chance of the agro ever.

    i rent at Hertz. in my experiences, they are pleasant, and more focused on customer service.