St. Louis’ Enterprise Agrees to Stop Loaning Defective Autos

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Defective Products on Wednesday, October 3, 2012

It took several years, but St. Louis-based car rental giant Enterprise has finally agreed that it is a good idea not to allow motor vehicles that have mechanical defects to be loaned to rental company customers. The company reached an agreement on Sep. 27 with a group of U.S. Senators, including Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, to support a bill that would make it against the law to do so.

Since Enterprise owns six of the top car rental companies in the U.S., including Enterprise, National and Hertz/Advantage, the deal with lawmakers could have a major impact on the bill’s chances of passing. Federal law does not currently prohibit rental companies from putting their customers in danger by leasing them defective vehicles. But it appears that Enterprise may have finally agreed to stop doing so after Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, introduced a bill to close that loophole last year.

Enterprise denied that it leased unsafe vehicles but reserved the right to decide on its own whether to take a recalled vehicle off its lots. But now, the company has decided to support Schumer’s bill, which would require it and other rental companies to stop renting vehicles subject to recall within 24 hours of the recall notice.
Much of the pressure that caused Enterprise’s executives to change their mind came from a woman whose two adult daughters were killed in a 2004 car accident while driving a rental car with a serious safety defect. The car in the accident was subject to recall but was still leased to the sisters.

The grief of losing her daughters to a preventable accident led the woman to become an activist on the issue. But it was not until she began an online petition asking Enterprise to support the Senate bill that the issue received national attention. The petition collected more than 100,000 signatures, showing that many Americans agree that car rental companies should not be allowed to put customers at risk of driving defective autos.

Source: Silicon Valley Mercury News, “Lawmakers announce safety deal with rental car companies; woman whose daughters died in rental crash, hopes bill will be passed this year,” Jondi Gumz, Sep. 28, 2012

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