Pros: Pick-up and Delivery, reasonable rates, functional cars, intuitive website.
Cons: Hidden fees. Bill not adequately explained.
My trip to New Orleans last week was my first time back to that amazing city since I was stationed there following Hurricane Katrina. Having experienced the worst of New Orleans following that devastating storm, I wanted to go back to the areas I was assigned to see the rebuilding process. The tourist companies around New Orleans offer City Tours, which include post-Katrina tours that provide emphasis on the storm. While an organized tour would be easier, I didn’t want a canned tour. I wanted to familiarize myself with the terrain once again. Instead, I opted to rent a car and see the city on my own.
I was staying at the JW Marriott on Canal Street, which is only half a mile from the Avis and Budget office. I stopped in to the Avis office while I was walking the city early in my trip and discovered that they did not have any compact cars available for rental on the day I wanted to explore the outer areas of the city. I remained wishy-washy about what I planned to do until the day arrived to see the city. I just failed to pull the trigger until the day was upon me. I woke up that morning, fired up my iPad and visited the Enterprise website. I knew there was an Enterprise also on Canal Street, just another half mile beyond the Avis and Budget rentals. Plus, I know that Enterprise picks up and drops off their customers from my previous experience when an insurance claim landed me in one of their rentals.
The online booking tool was very intuitive to use. After arriving at the enterprise website, I was able to select my city and type of rental. It took about three steps to get a confirmation number, which was surprisingly streamlined for internet booking. After obtaining my confirmation number, I called Enterprise to see if they could pick me up. It was around nine-thirty in the morning by the time I called for my pick up, since I was planning to head out around ten in the morning. Unfortunately, Enterprise was booked with pickups until about eleven thirty in the morning. That is what I get for procrastinating. However, Enterprise offered to offset my rental by the cost of a taxi ride, if I opted to take a taxi. Knowing that Enterprise was just a mile down the road on Canal, I offered to take the streetcar instead. The streetcar is only $1.25, so I didn’t bother asking for an offset.
When I arrived at Enterprise, they were ready for me. It took a few minutes to finish up the paperwork, which was followed by an inventory of the car. The car I booked was a compact, which set me back a mere thirty-eight dollars for a one-day rental. Not bad for a short rental. The car was a Toyota Corolla, which was not a bad car for a sub-compact. After examining the exterior for damage, we were advised that window chips would be our responsibility. It was explained that Louisiana law requires an entire window replacement if the chip is on the driver’s side of the car. We were mildly pressured into purchasing additional insurance to our regular policy, which has a deductible that probably wouldn’t be worth filing a claim on for a windshield repair. The insurance was twenty-five dollars, nearly doubling the cost of the rental. With taxes, the rental ended up in the high sixty dollar range.
The car was in decent condition on the interior, although there was a cup holder that would not close on the passenger side of the car. The rental ran smoothly and handled the pock-marked roads of New Orleans as well as could be expected for a small car. Because I did not intend to use the car for two days, I did not want to get hit with an additional thirty dollars for parking, so I asked what time Enterprise locks their gates. With a closing time of six o’clock, I planned to return the car by five. In the meantime, I was able to explore New Orleans, visiting the marina, airport, lower ninth ward, garden district and even made a short trip out to Metarie. After driving the car most of the day, I put seven dollars gas in the tank, which filled it beyond the original mark (Enterprise offered to let me return the car on empty for ten dollars).
Returning the car was a breeze. Another agent took my paperwork and examined the car. The final price he quoted sounded higher than what I thought the total should be by around five dollars. I still am not sure what drove the price up, but I did not feel like arguing over a few dollars. If anything, I wish I had not purchased the additional insurance, in retrospect. But all things considered, the price was not outrageous and the car was adequate for my purposes. After completing the transaction, the pick-up delivery driver returned me to my hotel.
I had one other complaint about how Enterprise bills. As a precaution, Enterprise places a $250 hold on your account. Once the car is returned without damage, the credit your account the difference between the rental and the deposit. I placed this charge on my credit card, which nullifies any issue without tying up funds. This process merely ties up my available balance pending my next bill. Because I am nowhere close to maxing out the credit card, it is a moot point. But if one were to use a debit card, then those funds may be tied up for a week or so while the credit is processed. That is important to know if you use a card that has limited funds available.
I have rented from Enterprise several times in the past. It has been a few years since my insurance claim landed me in one of their vehicles. That experience was a very positive. Especially considering everything was direct billed to the other driver’s insurance company. All I had to do was get picked up from the Ford dealership, ride to Enterprise, sign the paperwork and drive off. This time was not that much more complicated, although the hidden charges are kind of tacky. Even so, the price was not outrageous, so I am not hitting the company too hard on that point. They have an easy-to-navigate website, friendly staff and do pick up and deliver customers. The customer service aspect seems top rate. All things considered, I will continue to consider Enterprise among the car rental companies I use when I travel. Four stars.