9 Confessions From A Former Enterprise Rental Salesman

A former manager in the Enterprise fleet sales division has a guilty conscience to unload at your feet. 9 tips, 5 pages of insider info about how the car rental game really works. Car rental insurance is a scam, but you can flip the script and use if to your advantage. Prices are liquid, and depending on the day of the week and how you butter your agent in certain ways, you can get a good deal. Despite the commercial with the brown-paper-wrapped car, Enterprise employees hate picking you up and dropping you off.

Don’t use the tips that require lying. They’re just there so you know how the game works.

The flagellation begins, inside…

I sat down wanting to send you a quick list of ways customers can get the upper hand at the Enterprise rental counter, but I know entirely too much about this business to make this brief. In more than six years of employ with ERAC I worked as a grunt (“management trainee”), assistant and branch manager, and finally a manager in the fleet sales division. I know every sad angle of the rental car business and I think people should be educated about some of the games that go on behind the counter. This list is truly the tip of the iceberg; I left the company because I had some misgivings about corporate policies toward customers and employees, but needless to say I picked up a lot of information along the way. I assure you every bit of this is accurate as of February when I left my post, minor details may have changed but I highly doubt it.

Now, Confessions from the Enterprise rental counter:

1. Enterprise doesn’t have any set prices. That rate you got when you called in was either the full retail rate, or the first number that popped into the agent’s head. 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. When an employee makes a reservation it’s critical to key in the rate quoted so the branch knows what to charge the customer when she comes in otherwise nobody would know what to charge. A good branch manager trains his employees to adjust the price as needed to keep the lot sitting tight, that means making some way-too-cheap deals when there are too many cars around. It also means someone walking in saying they need a car no matter the price, that customer might get charged twice what he would have paid just asking for a car.

2. By now everyone knows that you don’t need that extra rental insurance but 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). One of the lines that I used to use was, “For just a few bucks a day you got a million dollars of coverage.” True, but the full million dollar payout from the supplemental liability doesn’t come due unless you die. Gruesomely. Nothing says you can’t initial the “decline” box instead once your contract is printed, thereby declining the insurance and paying only your lower rate.

3. Managers are the ones responsible for how much insurance (usually called “waiver”) their branch sells–frontline agents (“manager trainees”) aren’t commissioned, they just look a lot better on paper if they sell lots of waiver, this is also how they get promoted. The branch manager or assistant manager will be just as likely–if not more so–to drop the daily rate in order to sell you his pricey insurance package.

If you want to secure a really low daily rate but stay on that employee’s good site (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, you can take that coverage off at any time but if you pay for one day’s coverage the person that sold you the waiver still gets credit for the sale and you get the cheaper daily rate for the rest of your rental, win-win.

4. This is the big money tip: Most of Enterprise’s business comes from insurance replacement rentals. Insurance customers pay a lot less and all insurance contracts have unlimited miles. The only substantial difference between a retail deal and an insurance deal (other than price) is that insurance clients are billed in a calendar day instead of a 24-hour clock, this means you can return a car anytime until closing and you’re still charged the day’s rate (conversely, if you have the car at 8am you may as well keep it until 6). If you’re going on a long vacation this can save you a fortune: that minivan that cost you $69.99 per day retail goes for $37.99 if your car is in the body shop and Allstate is footing the bill, the SUV we roll for $109 per day retail is $50.99 if you’re renting because some State Farm customer smashed up your car. The daily rates vary by geography. Insurance rates are negotiated for each region, but they are usually around half of daily retail rates.

Here’s how to get that insurance rate on your next rental: Call for a reservation, say your car was totaled and you need a replacement; your insurance company is cutting you a check for $25.00 per day flat so you need something for under $25. Tell the agent that your insurance company is State Farm, or Farmers, or someone big–the big insurance companies have the best rates (rates will vary a few dollars from company to company). You’ll need your own proof of insurance when you come in but don’t that needs to match what you say here, nobody cares and people utilize different insurance companies for all kinds of reasons (you were hit by another company’s insured is probably the main reason). The important thing is that the insurance company is cutting you a check so you’re responsible for this rental, you’ll bring your own credit card, you don’t even know who your adjuster was (if you know the name of a local adjustor you can use it, Enterprise’s computer will show the adjustor’s name but nobody’s going to check, State Farm uses regional teams for their claims so for State Farm you could say “State Farm Team number something, I forget the exact number.”).

The agent hates these calls–the cheapest car on his books is more than your lousy $25 allowance. In this case he is supposed to give you ‘standard insurance rates’ which are midway between what a big insurance company pays and retail, but in this instance he’ll usually just source you to State Farm’s bargain prices because it’s not worth his time. He should offer you an economy or compact for somewhere around the $25. Stick to your guns: you absolutely have to keep under your $25. He can work that price to come to exactly $25 after tax (or close, if not just call another branch). By now you’re locked into the insurance company’s rates and he knows you’re cheap: if you want an upgrade now is the time: “well I did have a Taurus, my adjustor mentioned I should be able to get something like that for $29.99, can we just do that instead? I can’t really afford it but I think I need the space for my kids.” Remember to be as nice as possible, if the agent likes you he’ll make the deal even if he has to go out of his way to get your car (hint: mentioning you might need supplemental insurance can work wonders to seal the deal, see above).

Daily insurance rates are flexible per region and carrier, in my region which was a major Southern metropolitan area daily rates start around $21.99 for the economy, $23.99 compact, $27.99 mid, $30.99 full, $40.99 premium. Minivans start around $37.99, SUVs around $50.99, Luxury is rare on insurance deals but starts around $49.99. This is the bare minimum insurance replacement cost, rates are generally higher in the East and Northeast, a touch lower in the Midwest, and a lot higher on the West coast. Adjust your figures up or down depending on your geography, call two or three branches and you’ll have a good idea of all the rates in your region.

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, a branch that has zero cars on the lot can pull a car from another nearby store that certainly will have too many. 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. Prices for the weekends are especially flexible, entirely dependent on how many cars there are in the area. I usually told my employees to roll a car at ANY price just get it off my books–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. If you want the premium car for $14.99 a day and I have one, I’ll roll it (only caveat being you have to add my extra insurance if you want that price _and_ unlimited miles…plenty of locations are open on Saturday just stop by and remove the insurance tomorrow but keep your lower price). Enterprise corporate really frowns on cutting the rate and adding insurance but it’s a great tool to clear out the lot on Friday afternoon.

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). Have your rate in mind and ask for it–don’t be afraid to make your own price! If there is a car available, you’ll get that car. If you still can’t get the rate you want, casually mention you probably need the extra insurance. He’ll write the contract now, then you initial the “decline” boxes when you come for the car (so you changed your mind). The contract is already written; he can go back and take off the waiver with just a couple keystrokes, it’ll probably cheese him off but you’ll get your lower rate and not pay for the insurance.

7. What if you’re traveling to a far away city and don’t want to use the insurance replacement method? Call ERES at 1-800-Rent-a-Car and tell them you’re a State Farm adjustor from [whatever city you’re from]. Your wife/mom/dad/whoever is going to be needing a car in [whatever city you’re going to]. Here’s some jargon for you, say: “I can’t exactly send the reservation over on ARMS [the automatic reservation system, which would make State Farm pay the bill] can you help me get her setup with my rates?” Insurance adjustors are treated like royalty at Enterprise, they’ll bend over backwards to make you happy.

Any insurance company will do, adjustors are the top of the customer pyramid. A little more jargon to help you look like you know what you’re talking about: Ecar is economy, Ccar is compact, Scar is midsize, Fcar is full, P-car is the premium, then SUVs and Minivans are usually just referred to as SUVs and Minivans, an adjustor probably wouldn’t ask for a luxury but that’s an Lcar. So you would say, “My wife is in Buffalo this weekend I need to get her something close to an F-car, pickup Friday evening drop off Monday, can you get that set up for me? Also, you guys are so good to us, my wife really has to get to her mom’s house, can you maybe note on the reservation this is an adjustor’s wife and she’s really in a hurry so they know to take care of her?” When she shows up at the branch they’re going to give her the best car they’ve got, probably a free upgrade if there is a spare one around, and send her on her way without any hassle about extra insurance (remember, she’s married to a state farm adjustor, she certainly knows not to take the extra coverage). It’s a courtesy for one region to help out another region’s adjustors when they pass through since adjustors refer the bulk of Enterprise’s business.

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. Policy depends on the branch, but it’s pretty standard to allow any rep to waive up to a day’s rental (or a tank of gas, something equivalent) without even asking if they thought it was necessary to get me a 5/5.

9. One final note: employees truly will give you a better deal the better mood they’re in. All employees universally hate ‘the ride,’ where we have to pick up a customer and drive them back to the shop. 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, the agent is holding all the cards until your contract gets signed, you’re already getting a way too cheap deal on his car–give the guy a break if you can get a ride in just as easily.



Edit Your Comment

  1. acambras says:

    Or I could just rent from another company that’ll give me a good deal without making me play a bunch of silly games.

  2. Blackneto says:

    geez. I hope this doesn’t get around here at the major insurance company that i work at, which was mentioned several times.

    Enterprise and that “good neighbor” company are tight here in the home office area.

    Enterprises main training facility for the area is less than 4 football fields away from Corprate South property.

    A few of my clients (i’m an independant IT guy) are autobody shops. They have a special deal set up with enterprise brokered by the local adjusters.

    • burnedout says:

      @Blackneto: Don’t worry – none of this works at the Blo-No Enterprises. They have too much business with SF, CC, ISU, IWU, etc. There are NEVER cars on the lot over the weekend…

  3. Islingtonian says:

    Interesting info, but it’s a bit dodgy to just call up the rental place and lie that you’re an insurance agent or have been in an accident in order to get a better deal. I don’t think I’ll be putting much of this information into practice.

  4. Blackneto says:

    @acambras: yep. I’ve gotten good deals with Hertz and Avis. but always had problems with enterprise.
    Especially the time I tried to get my mother a car for a few days while she visited us. It’s was a big mess and i’m not sure of all the facts as it happened 6 years ago, but it was enough to swear me off them permanantly.

  5. Islingtonian says:

    My comment has dissappeared (and I can’t spell..)

    Interesting info, but it’s a bit dodgy to call up the rental place and lie that you’re an insurance agent or have been in an accident to get a better rate. I don’t think I’ll put this advice into practice.

  6. LuvJones says:

    Have to remember lying is bad… lying is bad…

    I will use these tips next time I rent a car. Do these also apply to the other car rental companies?

  7. Hawkins says:

    Thank you, Mr. Former Enterprise Manager. This is very useful. I never suspected any of this.

    I hope you got a way better gig.

  8. This is very helpful. My wife and I do not own a car and Enterprise is the closest (and most affordable) car rental.

    We’ve all heard that the insurance is a scam – but I guess my question is, “Why?” My wife and I don’t have car insurance, we do get collision from using our credit car, but what about the others – wouldn’t we still be liable if someone was injured? Not driving much and living in an urban area, I’m generally skittish about driving around without coverage.

  9. Blackneto says:

    test, comments aren’t being shown for some reason on this post

  10. wreckingcru says:

    Me and my buddy are planning an east-west coast road trip. The plan is to rent a car, drive to the other coast, drop off the rental, and fly back.

    What’s the best way to get a rental company to give me a one-way rental w/o the ~$300-400 “drop-off” charges or whatever it is they call it now??

  11. JRuiz47 says:

    I wish I had known this a few weekends ago when the loaner van I was using started crapping out on me (having a mechanic in the family is all fine and good when they’ll do the work for free, but take *looks at calendar* 49 days and counting to complete it).

    I went into an Enterprise just stating that I needed a car since I wasn’t sure how long the van would last and I was promptly quoted ~$45/day. I walked out immediately, drove back home, jumped on Priceline and got a Focus for $14/day.

    Good informative post, now if the Bubba Gump one would work correctly, I could read the end of the story.

  12. JPropaganda says:

    This is pure gold. Thanks!!

  13. Kbomb says:

    I’ve rented from neighborhood Enterprise locations about two-dozen times and never had a bad experience, I rented once from an airport location and regretted it.

    All that to say, I don’t figure how much better a deal all this deception and scheming will get you. If you sign up for the Enterprise email you’ll essentially get discounts you can use any day of the year. I’ve never paid more than what was fair on a rental using these. 3 out of 4 times if I just ask for an upgrade, I get it at the same price.

    I’ve also been pleasantly surprised how “low-pressure” Enterprise was in trying to sell me the collision coverage. The first time I rented from the neighborhood they asked if I wanted it and I declined. Ever since then the salesperson has always declined it for me!

  14. lindyman77 says:

    That was an incredible read! Thanks for the tips.

  15. any such name says:

    I know #1 to be true as my visit to LA flying into the LBC airport, my friend and I got a ridiculously huge Nissan Armada for the price of a small pickup ($40/day).

  16. nweaver says:

    Enterprise negotiation is also cool.

    I had a cavalier on rent for $20/day or so at Burbank. I got there (this was in february) and upgraded to the miata they were using as the stereo system for $10.

  17. Little Miss Moneybags says:

    @SteveJeltzFan: I wonder the same thing–I don’t have a car, so don’t have insurance, and I’m not about to drive around with no coverage. While my credit card might cover me, the details were vague enough that the last time I rented a car (from hertz, I think) I purchased the coverage. It was about $15 and worth the peace of mind it gave me at the time…but now I wonder.

  18. ucdke says:

    I can confirm that this information is correct. I used to work at ERAC too.

  19. acambras says:


    If you have a AAA membership, here’s something to think about — they partner with Hertz, and the last couple of time I’ve reserved rental cars through AAA’s website with my AAA membership #, I’ve gotten tremendous discounts (much better than the rate offered through hertz.com without the AAA discount). You can also get frequent flyer miles.

    I once needed to do a one-way rental and at the time (2003), Enterprise flatly told me they don’t do one-way rentals. So they didn’t get my business that time. And most other times their internet rate is substantially more than the rates of other companies.

    The couple of times that I have used Enterprise, their service was less than friendly/helpful. Perhaps they hated me because they had to drive five whole minutes to pick me (and my credit card) up.

  20. latrevo says:

    As a former Thrifty Rental worker (a couple years while I was in college) I can confirm alot of the pricing stuff said in here. I don’t know about the insurance, but pricing is COMPLETELY arbitrary. We would just make up numbers depending on whether we had lots of cars or few, whether the renter was an attractive woman or not, etc. Sometimes you could tell when someone was going to trash the car and return it a mess, so you’d double your prices as they walked to the counter so that they’d go rent from someone else. It’s a bit shady, but it was encouraged. As long as you’re renting tons of cars, they really don’t care what you do.

  21. latrevo says:

    Actually acambras makes a good point. I don’t know if it works this way at other places, but at Thrifty, when I started, my manager told me that if the customer even utters the word discount (as in corporate, AAA, senior, etc) give them 10% off the top just like that. Never even asked for a card.

  22. Kbomb says:

    I’ve rented from neighborhood Enterprise locations about two-dozen times and never had a bad experience, I rented once from an airport location and regretted it.

    All that to say, I don’t figure how much better a deal all this deception and schemeing will get you. If you sign up for the Enterprise email you’ll essentially get discounts you can use any day of the year. I’ve never paid more than what was fair on a rental using these. 3 out of 4 times if I just ask for an upgrade, I get it at the same price.

    I’ve also been pleasantly surprised how “low-pressure” Enterprise was in trying to sell me the collision coverage. The first time I rented from the neighborhood they asked if I wanted it and I declined. Ever since then the salesperson has always declined it for me!

  23. e-gadgetjunkie says:

    Having a husband who works at the national reservation center, I can tell you that some of this is true, some is not. The guys at 1-800-Rent-a-car have no control over what happens to you when you get to the branch or the airport. He cannot change the rates in front of him, no matter who you are. Please, do not call the reservation center pretending to be an insurance agent and then get mad when they can’t do anything for you. You’ll do no more than ruin some poor person’s day.

  24. not_seth_brundle says:

    @acambras: Who did you end up using when you needed the one-way rental? I may be needing one in the next few weeks, and short of trying every rental car’s website methodically, can’t figure out who does them and who has the best rates.

  25. acambras says:


    I think I ended up using Thrifty. It was just from LaGuardia to New Haven (a relatively short trip), and it was several years ago.

    Funny thing about that. When I got to my apartment (they gave me a ride), I realized that I had left my housekeys in the rental car! The guy found the keys and drove back to my apartment to bring them to me (where I was waiting in the parking lot). I was embarrassed, but he was so nice about it. Needless to say, I tipped him generously for his trouble.

  26. John Stracke says:

    @acambras: Do make sure to compare the AAA rates with non-AAA, though. With hotels, I’ve run into cases where the AAA rate was actually higher than the default rate through hotel’s own website.

  27. John Stracke says:


    We’ve all heard that the insurance is a scam – but I guess my question is, “Why?” My wife and I don’t have car insurance, we do get collision from using our credit car, but what about the others – wouldn’t we still be liable if someone was injured?

    Well, yeah—and, depending on the state, it might be illegal to drive without liability coverage. Rental company insurance is a scam if you’ve already got your own insurance. (Usually. I suppose there might be auto insurance plans out there that don’t cover you in a rental car.)

  28. frumpter says:

    These tips are great! Thank you.

  29. acambras says:

    @John Stracke:

    Yep — that’s the whole thing. The past 2 times I’ve rented from Hertz (in the past year), I’ve checked — and the rate I get by booking with Hertz through AAA is much better than the rate on Hertz.com. And there have been no problems with the service.

    A few weeks ago, I booked a room at a Holiday Inn Express. I needed to use that particular hotel (only convenient location in a small town), so I looked at rates for that hotel through Holiday Inn’s website, AAA’s website, and Hotels.com. AAA’s rate came in $5 below the others. Not as substantial a savings as my Hertz thing, but still saved me $10 over 2 nights. And there were no advantages to booking directly through the hotel’s website vs. AAA.com.

    Now with airline tickets, that’s another story. I use Yahoo Farechase (farechase.yahoo.com) to search (it searches about 10 different websites). Then, when I select my ticket, Farechase’s link takes me to that airline’s website (or Orbitz, or whoever has the deal I want), where I book directly. The Farechase search engine is easy to use and there are no damn pop-ups. (By the way, I don’t work for Yahoo or Farechase or receive any compensation from them — I just like the website).

  30. Jordan Running says:

    I rented a car from Enterprise for a weekend a few weeks back. Their rate was good–$17/day for a full-size, and we ended up with a fully-loaded Nissan Altima. The car was great, though it wasn’t as clean as it could have been. My only real complaint with the experience is that, since I was three months shy of my 25th birthday, I had to pay the stupid underage fee, which was an extra $15/day, for a total of $60 extra. When I went to pick up the car I asked politely if the fee could be waived since I’m so close to 25, but the guy said he couldn’t. Can any Enterprise insiders tell me if this is a policy or if I just wasn’t willful enough? Granted, I probably won’t be renting a car again until after my 25th birthday, but I’d still like to know.

    Also, I picked up my car at a strip mall branch where I discovered they don’t actually keep any cars–they just had a guy drive one over from the shop a few blocks away. Are the policies or conventions any different at branches like these?

    One other anecdote about the experience: When I picked up the car the needle was just below three quarters of a tank. Before I brought it back (after hours) I put gas in it, but mis-estimated and only filled it to about five eighths. The next day the Enterprise guy called and said “It looks like you left with three quarters of a tank and brought it back with half a tank.” I said, politely, “Oh, I think it was pretty close to three quarters,” and the guy just dropped it. I would have been upset had he insisted on dickering over an eighth of a tank, but happily he didn’t.

  31. @John Stracke:
    Thanks (and thanks from Scarfish, too, presumeably). This confirms what I thought.

    Not having a car/the requisite car insurance I guess my car rental experience is slightly different than others – but I’ve always made sure I had the insurance since my jurisdiction requires it and I’d be uncovered otherwise.

  32. Gena says:

    USA Today has an article about the changing prices at rental car companies today…


    Amusing, given this post.

  33. acambras says:


    First, happy birthday.

    I remember having a very hard time renting a car when I was under 21. I’ve seen the under-25 thing before, but I’m not sure if it varies from company to company or if it’s industry-wide.

    Sadly, it’s been a long time since I was under 25 (sigh).

  34. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I’ve never had problems renting from Enterprise. I actually found out about the insurance reimbursement tactic by accident. When I got into a fender bender, I had to rent a car but I didn’t have rental car reimbursement option on my policy. My plan was to rent a car that day, and then add the option later when I got to my office.

    The Enterprise guy gave me a price of $36 a day for a Camry. But when I told him that this would be an insurance reimbursement, he dropped the price to $25. Wow.

  35. camas22 says:

    I used to work for Hertz as a Management Trainee, here’s my take:

    > i wouldn’t mess around with pretending to be an insurance replacement. that’s a thin tightrope to walk, and if you never provide a valid claim number or it comes out you’re lying you better hope the csr that sorts your case out is lazy or sold you insurance.

    > call up the local branch location NOT the national call center. The national call center is a bunch of drones that follow the book and have no reason to quote you a better price. Build some rapport with the local person who you’ll actually be meeting later to rent your car and your likely to get a price break.

    >rent from the local branch, not the airport. Lower rates, no airport taxes, and anyone (not just enteprise) will pick you up from transit (even thought it’s a pin in the ass, unless you’re hot)

    >insurance. the mt’s at hertz bonus off our insurance sales figures. use this to negotiate.

    > if you make a reservation for a smaller car we can give you that lower insurance rate on any car you end up with. upgrade fees are negotiable to a point.

    > the liability insurance serves a purpose for people who don’t have their own. credit cards work for the car itself but other than that i’d be wary.

    > if you don’t want to get asked about the insurance sign up for the frequent renter club, indicate your preferences and by policy you shouldn’t be asked again.

    > if you rent consistently always ask for the same agent, buy some cheap insurance, and you will get hooked up when we have good cars, G35’s etc. This korean business man always went premo (bought all insurance) and got half off his C230 and Navigator rates once in a while.

  36. Roosh says:

    “All employees universally hate ‘the ride,’ where we have to pick up a customer and drive them back to the shop. “

    How about if i sweet talk you and make you laugh during the ride?

  37. weave says:

    I hate Enterprise. Way back when I didn’t own a car they would refuse to rent to me since I didn’t have car insurance, despite my Amex being primary in that case. The major companies don’t hassle over that. My wife has rented from them and I swear it takes about 30 minutes to get her in and out. And the gas tank game is ridiculous. It’s tough to estimate how much to put in to get it the same as how it went out. I want a full tank when I rent, and to fill it before I return it.

    Anymore I just rent from Hertz through their #1 Gold Club. No hassles, just go right to the car and drive off (show ID at exit gate) or if a neighborhood one, flash license, get keys. Maybe the rate isn’t the best, but not having to play stupid games and get the third degree about insurance is worth a few extra bucks a day to me.

  38. katewrath says:

    I think any service-based company is going to vary wildly from office to office, but I’ve had pretty good, even great experiences with Enterprise. For the three years that I lived in Chicago without a car, they got me to weddings, summer homes and far flung job interviews without fail.

    My only routine car-rental hack is to insist on the lowest-rung car I can possibly stand (compact, I think, one up from economy) and not budge when offered an upgrade for “just $xx.xx” more. Result: Get upgrade for free, because there isn’t a compact on the lot they could give me.

    (My husband occassionally screws this up, because he’s a sucker for the idea of “treating” ourselves. Now we have a little talk on the airport shuttle, and things go much more smoothly.)

    I do think maybe the offices located away from the easy public transit routes have slightly better customer service, for the obvious reason that they can’t count on the same flow of foot traffic.

  39. acambras says:

    I’ve used the same technique (booking the cheapest car and then often getting a free upgrade because they’re out of the cheap cars) with great results.

    >rent from the local branch, not the airport. Lower rates, no airport taxes, and anyone (not just enteprise) will pick you up from transit (even thought it’s a pin in the ass, unless you’re hot)

    So when I call to make the reservation and I need to ask them to pick me up, should I say, “Oh yeah, by the way, I’m really hot” ?

  40. tourpro says:

    I love these “insider” posts. Keep them coming!

    I spent several years of my life hustling hotel rooms. There are not a whole lot of businesses that enjoy the luxury of doing “on the fly” pricepoint manipulation to massage demand. Rental cars, hotel rooms, airline seats, are the best examples of these. Airlines and hotels have this down to a science. Holiday Inn used to have this thing called HIRO which monitored room demand over time and produced a hi/low threshold for each day to maximize revenue – or what I like to call, “the customers pain threshold”. The best days are when you know your competition in the area are full and you have the only rooms left. Turn off the HIRO and max the rates. On the other hand, if I’m getting ready to go down for the night with unsold rooms, you could walk in and practically name your price.

    In the end, if you know your product and market, you get almost a zen-like ability to pick the right price for each customer. These days, rates are virtually consistent across all distribution channels so a lot of the fun of negotiating is gone. I’m looking forward to the day when reverse auction comes around. I could notify a town that I was coming and every general manager with available rooms would meet me at the highway exit to huck their wares. Power to the People!

  41. gutman says:

    In an effort to enlighten us about the questionable practices that go on in the car rental business, you advocate we lie about why we need the car. i.e., Because our car was in an “accident”, just so we can get the insurance rate. This seems a little inconsistent.

    It doesn’t bother me that the Enterprise prices are not fixed, but essentially negotiable. Good. That’s one of the reasons I like them. I will gladly do business with a company that is willing to negotiate and work for my business, than to deal with one that won’t budge on price even if it means losing a sale. In my experience, the Enterprise people I have dealt with are professional and provide a level of service that will keep me coming back.

  42. bmolo says:

    Former ERACer as well, and that post is spot on. Were I to add anything, it would be far more emphasis on the “waiver”. It is everything to them, and the only reason for promotion at the company. It is crazy. Fight the Waiver!!!
    -also scary, if you are really into it, they say you are “bleeding green!!”

  43. pramz says:

    Well if you live by San Francisco, there is a place by the SF airport called Fox rent-a-car. Great rates. I remember making a reservation for a mid sized car and when I got there, the only mid-size car was a Buick which a questionable sound coming from the engine. The agent put me in a Chrysler 300 (luxury) for the same cost.

    Oh when you rent from them, all cars have a full tank of gas.

  44. koz1000 says:

    Someone else mentioned the eighth-of-a-tank unit of measurement, which makes me think all those times I rented an ERAC car with less than a full tank was NOT a coincidence.

    How the hell am I supposed to return a car refilled to the nearest eighth of a tank? It’s nearly impossible. And when you see the price of their gas (nearly $6/gal) buried in a price like “$24.99 per quarter tank”, you know that’s gotta be a profit center for them.

  45. acambras says:

    Yeah, that fraction of a tank thing is a big racket. Every other place I’ve dealt with gives me a car with a full tank, and I make sure it’s full when I return it. No guesswork.

  46. Gopher bond says:

    I worked at ERAC for 3 months, then quit. Towards the end I was asking the customer what they felt like paying. I’d tell them if you opt for the insurance now, I’ll give you that $29.99/day Camry for $13.99. Then, you call and ask for me tomorrow and say you want to stop the insurance. I almost always got an agreement and a smile. Though some people thought I was trying to screw them.

  47. ruben says:

    I was really into this post until you advocated out-and-out fraud. Numbers 4 and 7 have no business being here.

  48. RomeoPapaDelta says:

    I was a car rental agent in college. Customers would rent the car and switch tires – 4 brand new tires for the price of a one day rental!

    We didn’t do anything about it we just didn’t rent to them again.

    Also, they would buy the insurance and switch dented fenders etc…

  49. GT4NE1 says:

    My sister works for Enterprise and here’s her response to my sending her link with the question; Are these true?

    “Yes, so don’t even try to complain about your job to me! Even the jargon
    like “full boat” and “sitting fat” are terms I use everyday. I’ve never
    done #6 though, because we have far to many people call at the last minute
    and then not come in.

    Now you know why I hate my job so much. In addition to feeling totally
    corrupt and shady, (#1 really bothers me the most) I have to do things like
    #8, when I totally hate the customer and know that they are just trying to
    work the system. They can be the rudest assholes and I just have to smile
    and eat shit because of stupid ESQI.

    True, the first one shouldn’t bother me quite so much because we are a lot
    like hotels and airlines where prices should depend on availability, but I
    wish there wasn’t so much flexibility. We have guidelines, but a lot of
    times you do kind of make up your own prices for retail deals.

    I can’t believe I spent 4 years in college to do this stupid job.

    I’m on my lunch break now and really don’t want to go back to work after
    reading that. It makes me feel lousy about myself. I tend to try to forget
    all that when I’m at work.

    My job sucks.”

    She also says to check out:


  50. daddyman says:

    I just want to ask why does everyone think that the rental ins is a rip off? Have you ever been hit in a rental in a parking lot and have to pay 500 to file a claim for a 3day weekend rental? I have and from now on I alway pay th 15 buck to total out a rental and walk away! Get real if they are willing to buy a car for that small amount then let em. Why is it such a crime for them to sell this!

  51. JoeWaiver says:

    Wow. Yeah, that’s pretty much how it works. Yikes. Long time consumerist reader I had to register to add my input on this one:

    As a barely employeed ERAC-ite (i’m not so good at pushing their wavier), I really think the former manager gave too much info about who he is. Andy Taylor’s thugs will be knocking down his door anyday now, I know the company doesn’t take kindly to people pulling back the curtain like that. Anyone else remember the late Enterlies.com?

    In all seriousness, great material. Won’t make my job any harder, if you use those tactics and call in with a price and your credit card ready to go, all you’re doing is making my day a whole lot easier since I don’t have to bargain with you.

    People are getting antsy about fibbing to get a cheaper rate: we. don’t. care. The friendly ERAC employee will source a rental to anything you say (try it, make a reservation say you work for a big company in your area, so long as they have an account, poof, you got that company’s rates, but the best corporate rate is still higher than insurance rates).

    I’m renting these cars every bloody day. We truly, honestly do not care how much you pay for your rental, we just have to sell enough waiver to keep from getting fired. If you buy one day’s waiver and cancel it again and again, you’ll get treated like a king (or queen) because that really helps our numbers and we’ll always make it up in daily rate even if we know what you’re up to.

    HA and that last bit about “the ride”? T-R-U-E. If you think you’re funny or cute, remember we have to drive twenty or thirty people around a day and the more you talk the slower that ride feels. I wish every one of my customers read this just so they would find their own ride in, you can have insurance rates.

  52. oudemia says:

    Re: One-way rentals. I have used Budget and Hertz many, many times for one-way trips and neither charges a fee. I suppose this could vary by location, but I have done it from New York to Boston and to Cleveland and to Chicago and back with no extra fee.

  53. yahoals says:

    I retned a car from Enterprise LAX airport. I did not checked the car carefully when I leased it and found the second day that there were some scratches on the door paint (this car had more than 40K miles). I told the LAX rental office when I returned the car and I was charged for the full repair plus $100 hanlding fee.

    I never had any problems with other rental car companies on this kind of issues. Are they nuts?

    I quit renting from Enterprise.

  54. ThoughtsOnEnterprise says:


    Neighborhood Enterprise locations (and the 1-800 droids) will NOT warn you up front if your rental is subject to an excise tax. This screw-you, city/county-mandated arbitrary tax, ADDED TO STATE/LOCAL TAXES, is often labeled on your receipt as an “arena fee” (a joke, given that the speedtrap, Podunk city/county has probably just discovered indoor plumbing).

    Note that you may find an excise-tax-free location just across the Podunk line, so compare rates and do your (tax) homework.

    Podunk Example: Cobb County, Georgia (NW Atlanta). Given that Atlanta’s Philips Arena is only 25 minutes away, the excise tax is likely used instead to fund one of Cobb County’s true pursuits, such as its religious-whack-job, anti-homosexual propaganda.

  55. sniggity says:

    No way would I do all that crap to get a deal on a car. Lie, lie, lie? Not to mention, enterprise doesn’t even let you go west of the Mississippi River ! WTF ?

  56. E-Bell says:

    I know I’m a little late to the game, but I have a couple words of advice as far as insurance on rental cars go:

    1. Most states require rental car companies to provide the minimum insurance required by law. So you can rent a car, and you’ll be covered – but only to the minimum amounts. If you kill someone and don’t have any other insurance available, you’re gonna get sued into bankruptcy.

    2. If you lie to the rental car company about why you need the car (i.e., a “retail” rental vs. an “insurance” rental), there’s a good chance that either the rental car company or your own insurer may refuse to cover any losses you might sustain or cause during the rental period.

    3. Supplemental insurance isn’t necessarily a scam. Like I wrote above, the rental car company is only going to cover you up to the minimums required by state law. There are several different types of supplemental insurance they ask you to buy, and they go by different names. Do your research – get the one that will cover you if you seriously injure yourself or another person.

    Disclaimer: I am an attorney – but I’m not YOUR attorney. The above isn’t legal advice and if you rely on it, you’re on your own. Consult an attorney in your jurisdiction before you take anything I wrote seriously.

  57. Galval says:

    Thank you Enterprise ex-employee for coming out…I have rented from them often and have felt that I was cheated…just did’nt know how bad at the time!! Now I’m better informed….hope you have a better job now!!

    Also, ANYONE know how to get around the exorbitant hotel rom rates….need help with that area too!! THANKS…..

  58. quail says:

    Re: One way rental – Florida is a state, or was when I traveled heavily, where the rental companies could care less about where you picked up the car and dropped it off. That is as long as it remained in the state. Fly into Orlando and leave by way of Miami and never pay a one way charge. Other states may be so heavily traveled that it could be the same. Not sure. Also found this to be the case when dealing with cities with numerous airports.

  59. thewife says:

    I used to work at Enterprise and everything you are saying is too true! You are so right about being able to get a good rate by saying, “State Farm told me to call and they will reimburse me for this rental” to get cheap, low rates!
    And about the customers who are getting waiver, you are absolutely right that we treat them nicer. Oh, and the dredded pickup and drop off…. we hate it! And of course, the lazy assistant managers are so glad they don’t have to do it! The AMs are also shady because they will prewrite tickets of people they know are getting waiver so their numbers can be good in DW sales because they are trying to get promoted.
    Don’t forget about washing cars in suits and ties!

  60. rdubtec says:

    I thought Enterprise’s coverage was a ripoff too. It is, until something happens to the rental. I was fortunate enough to have the rental hit in a parking lost…twice…in 2 months. I then happily paid my deductible of 500.00…twice. Just like any insurance, whether its for your car, home, boat, whatever..it’s all a ripoff until something happens.
    I’ve done a lot of research on ERAC’s business plan over the last year, and to be honest, it’s good business, not shady in any way. ERAC will negotiate prices with you, just as any good business minded individual would. If you do run across a 3 month employee that lowers the rate for you to buy coverage (the post above), you should notify the manager. This is unethical and I assure you, the higher ups at Enterprise won’t go for it. There are over 50,000 employees at Enterprise, and you very well may run into one in your dealings with ERAC that is a bad apple. With that many people, it’s bound to happen occasionally. I have a corporate account w/ Enterprise and in over 200 rentals in the last 1-2 years, 95% have been fantastic. But again, no company is perfect and you may run into a problem now and then. Look at your own company and tell me there aren’t some people who you question how they ever got hired.. it happens. Some of the posts on this site amaze me. Ideas on how to cheat a company that is just trying to rent cars, it’s pretty pathetic. I don’t think the problem is really ERAC, it looks like the problem lies with some of the deadbeats that rent from them (and Hertz, Thrifty, etc) Good luck on your way to cheat a company to save a few bucks on a Ford Taurus next weekend.

  61. Trackback says:

    Straight from The Consumerist, I bring you the confessions of an Enterprise rental salesman. It provides you with a look into the dirty underbelly of car rentals, complete with scams, double-crosses, and even#8230;ways to save yourself some money.

  62. jim202 says:

    Just rented a car from Enterprise in Jacksonville, FL. When picking the car up, the agent was trying to rush me during my inspection of the car. I pointed out a very small black scuff mark on the front bumper. She said not to worry about that. Well guess what, when I turned in the car, I got the third degree from the person giving out your rental receipt. We had some strong words over this mark that would come off with some polish and a rag. He wanted to charge me my insurance deductible to cover

    I was trying to be polite, I asked him if he knew just how bad his stand on this scuff mark would effect any future rentals by my company and government people that I work around. He still wouldn’t budge off the paying for the scuff mark. So I told him that as soon as I got through security in the airport, I would be sending an email to my company to inform them that Enterprise was to no longer be used for any future car rentals. I also explained why this message was being sent.

    When I got home, my wife told me about the car the dealership just rented for her. It was through Enterprise. The young man that was doing the inspection, informed her that Enterprise has informed their employees to be extremely pick for any minor issue with their rentals. They were trying to collect as much money from the rentals as possibly.

    This just backs up my position not to use Enterprise for any new rentals.

  63. Lisakz says:

    I had a horrible experience the first time I rented from Enterprise. Someone hit my car and their insurance paid for my rental. While on the highway in very hot weather, the tire on the rental blew out. I called Enterprise and they left me sitting on the side of the Interstate for 45 minutes with cars flying by at 70mph. They put me in another vehicle, but gave me the 3rd degree and tried to tell me that I would have to pay for the new tire. (The tire blew out from the side, so it was clearly a defect in the tire). I definately did not “run over” anything. They finally came to the realization that I was not paying for ANYTHING but I still swore off renting from them for several years. Just last week I rented a mini-van for a vacation and had a pretty good experience, but after reading your story I see that I was WAY over-charged. Also, I had a hard time finding a van. I called the branch and they told me they didn’t have one. I immediately called the national number and guess what…..they booked me a mini-van at that SAME location….imagine that! Thank you for your honesty. It really helps for someone to expose this business for what it is.

  64. STOPCRYING says:

    A huge thank you to all of those brave enough to express your feelings and experiences that go against the theme of this article. I have been in the car rental industry almost 10 years and have worked in many facets of it including ownership. Since everyone loves phrases, let me recite the most common prayer of the claims department, “Please tell me they didn’t buy coverage!”. Is there truth to agents getting commision? Absolutely, but it’s no more a racket than getting insurance for your car, home, health, dog, and extended warranty on your laptop. I rent cars myself on ocassion and when I do, I full boat it and check the contract twice to make sure they didn’t miss anything. If I’m in a strange town in a strange car I am not taking the risk. I have taken people to court for damages they didn’t think they should have to pay for one hairbrain reason or another (like they didn’t like the color of the car). Unfortunately I’ve even had to take people to court that didn’t have the money and had to garnish their wages to pay for damages. I always hear people say “I didn’t budget for the coverages.”, but did they budget for their insurance deductible and or the down-time of the vehicle that can be charged for everyday that car is in the shop. People cry to me “It’s not fair!”, but hey, did we hide in the back of the car and pull the steering wheel when you weren’t looking and make you hit the wall? Almost every major rental car company is self insured and when it’s totaled, makes that lousy $15 a day seem like a life-saver. I’m sure if it wasn’t offered I’d see blogs crying about how many people have gone bankrupt because they had an accident and had to pay for a $25,000 car. Please don’t confuse me here, am I stating this industry is perfect? Absolutely positively not, but I see a lot of people in this industry that work in this life consuming career only to get crap flung at them for just trying to save the bottom line and keep a roof over their heads and jobs for all their employees. A friend of mine just got married and spent almost $350 to rent chairs for 3 hours and I had some guy wanting to street fight me because he couldn’t get a free upgrade to a Mustang for $20 a day, what’s wrong with this picture? Most search engines on-line charge $5-$20 per reservation, some even ask for a percentage of the reservation. May not seem like a big deal, but try justifying that from a business standpoint when competition is so tight that you’re forced to drive your rates down to $10-$13 a day but still pay the $10 commission, leaving you with three dollars for this one day rental. Doesn’t even cover the gas from the airport. Please don’t mistake me folks, for every downside of the job there’s three ups. There’s not many jobs with such a wide variety of tasks and not nearly as many jobs where you can get a better understanding of running a business. I’ve met a lot of very wonderful people along the way and by no means, ever, have a boring day. I’m just trying to simply point out that there are always three sides to every story, you’re side, their side, and the truth. This is not a job for everyone, so if you’re in and don’t like it, get out and stop crying! Life is way too short! If you think you’re getting ripped off, go rent a lawnmower, (saw one advertised $15 an hour!) If you made it this far, thanks for listening, I hope it may do someone a little good to get another perspective.

  65. filmteknik says:

    Regarding Enterprise:

    Years ago I rented a car from Enterprise (I think mine was in the shop or something). I don’t recall the precise location but it was in Chicago on the north or northwest side (not downtown nor an airport). I picked up the car in the afternoon and brought it back mid day the next day, less than 24 hours later. They charged me for two days. I asked what gives. The counter guy said yesterday was a day and today is a day so two days….read the contract. I didn’t bother as I figured it’s probably in the fine print but whether it was really the way they do business or just this location’s way of boosting numbers I don’t know but rest assured I have never done business with Enterprise again.

    Some years later, after the advent of WWW I wrote to them off the their website to ask about this (specifically NOT asking for a refund at this late date); just because I was (and am) curious about that transaction. They didn’t feel I warranted a reply. Another reason I don’t do business with them.

  66. funnycomicgirl says:

    I just had the worst car rental experience with Enterprise. I can’t even go into it because I’m so angry that my computer might burst into flames if I relay the story right now. I will say that when I rented the car in Los Angeles it only had 1/8 of a tank–then when I had to switch it out in Las Vegas dut to mechanical problems–the new car only had 1/8 of a tank of gas. Since I had been hearing “it’s our policy” every time I expressed my displeasure with the process I asked if it was “their policy” to make sure every tank of gas was at 1/8th. She said they have no control over how full the tank is when someone returns it. I should have never left Alamo and I just heard Enterprise bought them out. argggggh!!! Oh! Gotta go.. computer on fire..

  67. trisch says:

    So if I buy the add-on insurance, even though we have full coverage insurance on our cars, does that mean if anything happens to the rental, our fault or not, we pay nothing, no deductible? Our insurance rates won’t go up? If that is true, hell yes I will buy the extra insurance! I need to know by Christmas, if anyone can please tell me ;)

  68. BigYellow says:

    A lot of this is clearly spun by a disgruntled former employee. I’ve been working there for a while now (in Canada), and while being successful in insurance sales is important, customer satisfaction is drilled into us as the number one priority. If you think it’s an awful place to work, look at where it ranks in Business Magazine’s (i think that’s the name of it) top employers the last several years running.

    Staff who use deception or misleading information or tactics to make sales are reprimanded by the other staff or management anytime it’s witnessed, and any claims of having misunderstood the damage waiver purchase upon return of the vehicle are taken seriously.

    I don’t know if your boss groped you or something near the end of your time with Enterprise, and now you’re bitter towards the organization as a whole, but to be honest, here in Canada the sleazy types you’re referring to don’t stay employed for long. A couple of writeups sprouting from customer complaints based around unethical or dishonest sales techniques or conduct will have you back on the job market in a hurry.

  69. BigYellow says:

    and yes trisch, as long as you’re not doing anything illegal or otherwise in violation of the contract terms (ie. DUI, offroading, unauthorized drivers operating the vehicle), you’re covered. And that includes the most common problem with vehicles, windshield damage. As long as you’re 25 or older its a 0 deductible, and the group you rent from (large city, state or province) pays for the repairs out of their own income.

  70. _Truth_ says:

    Of course the insurance isn’t a “scam”, but for those of us who are relatively solvent, and have our own insurance, and a credit card that covers stuff, too, it’s probably not a good deal, or not even necessary. The risk of a deductible just isn’t worth the $15-20/day extra to full boat it. Better to pay the $500-1000 once every lifetime or so, than the $15-20 every day. If you can’t afford the $500-1000, you probably shouldn’t be driving any car. The exception its seems to me would be a foreign country or where you don’t have any personal car ins. (e.g., you don’t own a car – you crazy New Yorkers, you).

    My Enterprise experiences: rented from them many times – usually book in advance over the internet or customer service center – from what I gather, this lands me with neither the best nor the worst rates. Hard to avoid this, it seems, when you know you need a car to be there in advance, and can’t walk in from location to location trying to wangle a great deal (or don’t want to waste time on this – for example, when on vacation).

    Mostly an OK experience, though I have to repeat again and again, NO on the extra insurance. And usually deflect an upgrade (Actually, worst was at Alamo – They wanted me to take their Excursion instead of the mid-size SUV I had reserved!). I guess to them I am probably an OK at best customer – occasionaly retner, no upgrades, decline all insurance.

    One guy said I needed the extra ins because my credit card wouldn’t cover damage if I was hit in a parking lot or while not actually driving. He almost had me, but I still declined and then called my credit card company. They assured me I would be covered by their supplemental ins. in such an instance. Upon return, the manager asked how my rental was. I said fine, except for his – pointing at the guy who had helped me earlier – lies about insurance. Caught in a lie, he apologized for any offense, but I believe I was surveyed thereafter, and the experience did not get a “5”.

  71. RichardEastes says:

    I’ve used Enterprise twice before and I was very impressed with their customer service. I was so impressed that I even use it as an example to demonstrate to my own staff how good customer service can be.

    Some of the things they did to impress me were, shaking my hand when I first arrived, driving to my house when they didn’t even need to, going out of their way to help me with maps and driving directions and being so genuine about it with no hidden agenda.

    I booked them using the VroomVroomVroom website so I don’t know if that had anything to do with it. Either way, I’ll be using Enterprise again.

  72. BigYellow says:

    I just wanna throw this out there at those people whose biggest complaint is the gas “policy”: There’s no such thing. We try to have our vehicles full, but when vehicles leave full and come back with less than that, it is quite simply not realistic to gas them all up, especially considering the turnaround time (how long a vehicle actually sits on the lot before it’s re-rented)

    Two ideas to try… first of all, try asking the staff member assisting you how big the fuel tank is in the vehicle. Then do some simple math… I’m about to return the vehicle, it has 1/4 tank, and it had 5/8 when it left. If I put about 3/8 x (insert fuel tank size) liters/gallons, plus a little extra to get back to the branch to return it, then I should be good.

    Second of all, when you’re at the gas station, turn the engine off, and turn the key back to the “On” position, so all the accessories in the vehicle are working. Then, go put gas in the tank. Leave the pump in the gas tank, and poke your head in the door… Oh look, I’m almost there!!

    What I don’t understand is, if it shouldn’t be a big deal to Enterprise for you to return the vehicle a little under what it went out at, then why is it the end of the world if you accidentally put 1/16 of a tank too much in before returning? If you’re so concerned, drive around the block a few times and use it up before you park.

    I think if you treat ERAC employees like human beings, you’ll be amazed at how considerate and accommodating they can be.

  73. Anonymous says:

    I work for ERAC as a car prep/driver and I have to say that for me the best part of my day is picking people up or taking them home! I like the short conversations you get in a car ride and meeting interesting new people.

  74. jp2010 says:

    yikes. I can’t help but question if you are a “former” enterprise salesman because of these unethical business practices you seem to have no problem suggesting (against the company that paid your bills for 6 years). If I were an employer I would think twice about hiring you after reading this article. Some of the tips are helpful, but, have you considered that your guilty conscience make be a direct result of your blatent dishonesty?