As an established and reputable business serving customers for over 50 years, Enterprise Rent-A-Car has appreciated a loyal clientele base for decades. Their seemingly untouchable position has been questioned in recent days as the nation’s largest rental car company has become the target of a petition signed by over 135,000 concerned customers over Enterprise’s lack of corporate responsibility.
A loophole in a surface transportation bill has allowed the company to continue renting recalled automobiles with deadly consequences. Raechel, 24, and Jacqueline Houck, 20, were killed in 2004 when a fatal accident was caused by leaking power-steering fluid in their Enterprise rental car, causing the car to burst into flames and crash into a semi tractor-trailer.
The PT Cruiser they were driving had recently been recalled but a long-standing law – effectively forcing manufacturers and new car dealerships to recall cars that have been deemed a safety risk – fails to include rental car companies. An amendment to close this loophole, supported by Senators Charles Schumer and Barbara Boxer, prompted a backlash from Enterprise, who also owns the Alamo and National Car Rental brands. Representatives retorted, calling the proposed regulation “unnecessary.”
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The mother of the young women killed in the tragic accident, Cally Houck, began a petition with Change.com which quickly gathered more than 100,000 votes of support Thursday, the first day it was posted. Houck posted the petition after USA Today reported Hertz had agreed to support the measure, while Enterprise refused to compromise their position.
The overwhelming support for the petition quickly gained national attention with countless statements posted by previous Enterprise renters expressing their outrage and frustration over the deaths. Enterprise Holdings released a statement Friday saying, “... A growing number of people, including our customers and business partners, clearly want more assurance on this critical issue. We hear them – and what we’ve heard has caused us to rethink our stance.”
Although Houk called Enterprise’s statement a “step in the right direction,” she is calling for the corporation’s full cooperation and the petition continues to gather signatures. As posted on Change.com, Houk’s responded, “We will continue to press onward until Enterprise announces full and unconditional support for the Hertz agreement.”