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5 Warnings From Former Enterprise Car Rental Employees

There's plenty you never knew about your favorite place to book a ride.

Besides handling your luggage and making sure you pick the right hotel, renting a car remains one of the more stressful and lesser-understood components of traveling. That's why many who are hitting the road opt for a reputable option like Enterprise Rent-A-Car when securing a temporary set of wheels. The company operates more than 8,000 locations worldwide and has become known for its standout customer service and pricing. But while there's a good chance you've dealt with the iconic brand in the past, there's still a lot you probably don't know about the company. Read on for some warnings former Enterprise car rental employees have for customers.

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You may not be actually getting a better car with an "upgrade."

man loo
shisu_ka / Shutterstock

Besides "on-time," the word that seems to be on the top of everyone's mind while traveling is "upgrade"—especially if it's accompanied by "free." And while the car rental experience is no different, employees say the term can get thrown around pretty loosely to make you think you're getting a better deal than you really are.

"Just so you know: Sometimes you think you're getting an upgrade, and you're not. I've lied to customers and 'upgraded' them into a lower car before," one former Enterprise employee posted in a Reddit thread discussing his time at the company.

"The goal is to sell you up and get you to pay more than what you initially walked in hoping to get. If I can't sell you the 'protection,' you'd best believe I'm going to get you to pay me more money in another way," they write.

Sometimes, you get more than just coverage when buying insurance.

white coupe on the open road
iStock / mevans

Renting a car can feel like a pretty straightforward process until you get to the part of the conversation about picking up insurance. At this point, it's common to waver back and forth while all of the anxieties of denting your borrowed vehicle race through your mind. But to some degree, the offer to pay upfront for protection is more the company hitting their bottom line than it is about offering peace of mind—and can even help secure that "free" upgrade.

"If you buy insurance, they will move you up to a higher level car if they have one, and they're doing it as a selling point," a former Enterprise employee of six years who wishes to remain anonymous tells Best Life. "And at the end of the day, the insurance is OK, but your credit card's coverage is just as good as the company's, if not better."

Unsurprisingly, this tactic has a lot to do with each store hitting its monthly sales quotes. In fact, it can even affect an employee's career path.

"They're all about insurance. They will find every possible way to encourage you to buy it," the anonymous employee says. "From a staffing and promotion standpoint, the more success you have in insurance sales, the more likely you have for promotions and a track to management. If you have no insurance sales, you will never move up in that company."

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Your reservation is far from a guarantee that you'll get the car you want—or even one at all.

car rental sign

Just like you can get bumped from a flight or show up at a completely booked hotel, it's also not uncommon to arrive at a rental car lot to find there's no vehicle waiting to whisk you away. Employees warn that despite their track record of good customer service, this can also happen with Enterprise.

"The company would say to book every deal, and then at the end of the day, they're going to have more orders than they can handle," the anonymous employee tells Best Life. "It's not necessarily lying, but it's deception. They'll tell you something went wrong with the car when really they didn't get enough returns back. It's just like the Seinfeld episode! It happens on a daily basis—really, every single day."

In the end, you might also end up being outbid by someone who gets to the lot before you with deeper pockets. "Even though we have posted rates, if a customer wants a certain car and it's assigned to someone else, we would increase the rates if someone is willing to pay more so they could get the car on the spot," the employee says.

You may be wasting money when you fill up before returning your vehicle.

man getting gas for his car

It's common knowledge that returning your car with less gas than it had when you drove off the lot can land you with a hefty surcharge. Even worse is agreeing to let the rental company fill up the car for you after you drop it off at their exorbitantly high rate. But if you want to save some money, former Enterprise employees say there's one trick you need to know before you bring your car back—no matter who you're renting from.

"Turn on the car—but don't start the engine—before filling up the gas [when you're returning] so you know exactly when to stop and never overpay for gas you won't be using," a former employee posted on a Reddit discussion. This will allow you to see when the needle reaches just to where it needs to be, and not a drop more.

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You may be blamed for someone else's damage.

man looking for scratches on car
Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock

Nothing sends fear down a traveler's spine like discovering a dent or a scratch on a rental car that's about to get returned. But according to employees, there's a chance you weren't even the one responsible for the ding.

"When staff are driving the cars to pick up customers, it's not uncommon that they'll damage them slightly," the anonymous former employee explains. "Instead of taking the hit themselves, they will not show the customer the proper walk around and get them to sign the contract. Then, they will put customers who pay for insurance on those cars, so it's covered."

"I saw that happen multiple times," they admit. "They didn't want the repair on the vehicle going against their store's profit. So now you've got a customer who thinks they've damaged that car! In the end, they don't pay out of pocket for it, but it's unscrupulous."

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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