Enterprise Rent-A-Car Targeted by Grieving Mother
A California mother, who battled Enterprise Rent-A-Car after her two daughters died in an accident allegedly caused by a known defective car they were rented, just launched a petition. Have you had any concerns about rental vehicles in this way locally?
Nearly 117,000 consumers quickly joined a grieving mother’s just-launched Change.org campaign requesting Enterprise Rent-A-Car to stop opposing proposed legislation that would prohibit rental car companies from renting cars recalled due to safety risks. However, Enterprise Holdings' representatives said that with almost 50 million vehicle rental transactions every year, customer safety is a top priority.
The social action campaign focused on Enterprise was initiated this week by Cally Houck, a mother whose two daughters were killed in an accident when they drove a recalled car rented to them by Enterprise, according to information released by Change.org staff.
Raechel, 24, and Jacqueline, 20, died in 2004 when the power-steering fluid leaked in their recalled PT Cruiser, which then caught fire—causing them to lose control of the car and crash into a semi tractor-trailer, according to the Change.org release. It also stated a month before the fatal crash, Enterprise received the safety recall notice from Chrysler, but did not fix the car; instead continuing to rent the defective PT Cruiser to three other customers before renting it to Houck’s daughters.
Laura Bryant, spokesperson for Enterprise Holdings told Patch in an email Wednesday: "The Houck accident in 2004 was a terrible tragedy. Our hearts go out to the family, and we are very sorry for their loss. Given all we have learned, today we would ground the recalled PT Cruiser until repaired. We share the Houcks’ goal of preventing anything like this from happening again."
In a USA Today article, Houck called her daughters' rented vehicle "a ticking time bomb."
After a five-year legal battle, Enterprise admitted it was 100 percent liable for the young women's deaths. Houck was awarded $15 million in damages from a jury two years ago.
“I want to keep this from happening to another family and to be sure that my daughters' memory is preserved,” Houck stated in the Change.org release. “Until there is real accountability and Enterprise has a responsibility to its customers, we are still going to have problems like this. I created this petition because I have to go forward on this. My daughters' memory demands it.”
Houck launched her petition on Change.org, according to the release, when she learned that Enterprise is allegedly working "behind closed doors" to oppose an amendment that New York Sen. Charles Schumer and California Sen. Barbara Boxer plan to include in an upcoming surface transportation bill. The amendment would prohibit car rental companies from renting recalled cars until they are fixed, a regulation that already applies to car manufacturers and new car dealers.
Enterprise Holdings Stance on this Issue:
As a result of the increase in the number and frequency of automobile safety recalls in recent years—in particular the massive Toyota recall of early 2010—Bryant said Enterprise teams made significant changes and improvements in their processes for inspecting and repairing recalls.
She said the company does not rent vehicles that are subject to a recall notice approved by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and received from manufacturers.
"However, we also maintain a team of senior executives to review recalls when the manufacturer recommends an interim measure. From time to time, we may elect to use that interim solution to avoid stranding many travelers for no reason," said Bryant, citing the most significant example of this common-sense approach is the Toyota floor mat recall, whereby simply removing the mats promptly completely addressed the problem.
"Even in such cases, we have recall work done on our vehicles as quickly as possible," she said.
Bryant said there are, however, a number of respected individuals—including elected officials and regulators—who believe additional oversight of the recall process may be needed. "While we believe this (proposed) well-meaning legislation is unnecessary and based on inaccurate, obsolete data, our company continues to work with these individuals and organizations, including NHTSA and the auto manufacturers, to find common ground and produce a solution that addresses everyone’s concerns.
"In fact, we openly and repeatedly share data on recall completion with NHTSA to assist them in completing studies of rental recalls."
Enterprise Holdings is the nation’s largest rental car company, and owns the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo Rent A Car, and National Car Rental brands.