Nope, I’m not talking about enterprise computer systems. I’m talking about Enterprise the car rental company.
A while back I took a business trip half way across the country. I had reserved an Enterprise car a couple weeks in advance. When I arrived at the Enterprise shop from the airport I saw zero cars in the lot. Zero. I went inside as usual and said I’m here to pick up my reserved car. The young man said they didn’t have any — not even the one I had reserved — and they didn’t know when they would be getting any.
Lucky for me I had relatives in this destination city. I got a ride back to a relative’s house and hung out there, waiting for a call from Enterprise. Hour 1. Hour 2. Somewhere in Hour 2 I figured I could amuse myself by finding names of Enterprise personnel on their web site. I did and started sending emails and faxes (via computer and Internet) about my situation. Somewhere in Hour 3 the manager of the store called me to tell me they were working on getting a car for me. Just what they were doing was left vague, so I really had no idea if the talk was real or just hot air. I asked why they hadn’t alerted me to the lack of cars. His response: “I called, but I got your voice mail, so I decided not to leave a message.”
Somewhere in Hour 6 the Enterprise folks showed up at my relative’s house with a car. By this time word of the fiasco had reached the regional manager. In Hour 7 he called me.
I ended up having a good conversation with him. I explained to him that travelers really need up-to-date information, even if it is bad news, so they can make decisions or make alternative plans. I told him that I was fortunate in my situation that a) I had relatives in town and b) wasn’t getting off the plane to drive straight away to a funeral or business meeting. The regional manager seemed to get this concept. I also told him what the manager had said about not leaving a message. Even the regional manager thought that was odd thinking on the part of the manager. I said it is way better to leave a message than not, especially in this day and age with alerts on smart phones and even email delivery of the audio message.
In the end, for the hassle and lack of reserved car, the regional manager gave me the one-week rental for free. I would have preferred to pay without the stress, but the gesture certainly helped me think that Enterprise was going to figure out a way to improve.