[See update at bottom for Enterprise Rent-A-Car's response.]
If you ever have to return a car to Enterprise Rent-A-Car "at the JFK airport", here's a few things to note:
- Staff at both the Newark Penn Station Enterprise facility (where you might rent a one way rental and pay the $175 one way drop off fee) as well as the Enterprise facility "at JFK" will tell you they have a facility at JFK. What they'll fail to tell you is that it's not actually at JFK, it's off-site.
- When you drive into the airport and follow the signs for rental car return, there will be individual signs for all the companies but not Enterprise. You will now be stumped.
- When you pull over in the airport cargo area and look it up on your iPhone, it will show you the nearest Enterprise facility is a mile or two away on Merrick Rd.
- When you get there, if it's Sunday it will be closed.
- Oh, and it will be in a cellphone dead zone. So you can't call Enterprise and ask them where it is.
- (If you need to use the bathroom now, in what is essentially a sketchy neighborhood, being well dressed with a Bluetooth in your ear will gain you access to the bathroom at the nearest gas station, despite the fact that it's only for employees)
- At this point, since you're not on the highway, the fact that the A/C in your car isn't working on Mother's Day in NYC will become a big problem.
- When you get to a cell area and you call enterprise, they'll tell you to go to 149-05 131st St in Jamaica Queens.
- When you ask google maps to look that up, it will not be able to find it. The "-" in the address stumps the geocoding algorithm. It will give you an incorrect address with an Enterprise logo on the map, which is wrong. There's an awesome Enterprise logo on the map, though.
- Text your wife some choice curse words about how angry you are at the world.
- When you call Enterprise back and explain that it's not able to find it, they'll offer to help you "remember the address since you forgot". When you lose your temper because you're overheated from broken A/C/, worried about missing your flight, angry at having been misled about the facility being "at JFK", you'll be transferred to a supervisor who will patiently listen to you ask not to be blamed for this. She'll then conference in someone at the mythical Enterprise Rent-A-Car facility.
- When you do speak to someone at the magical facility, they will do their best to guide you in, but they can't actually explain street directions because this part of Queens is laid out so disjointedly. Avenues and streets start and stop as they are intersected by highways.
- After having them tell you the intersection the facility is at, you will find one of the streets of that intersection and drive towards the potential intersection. This will almost certainly dead end into some sort of park. (See above) Call the sincerely helpful facility again.
- They'll try and guide you in by saying things like, "Go past the Marriott" or ask you helpful questions like, "Do you see the Dunkin Donuts?" They really do mean well, but this process will require you to drive around until you see a landmark they recognize, and then let them talk you in.
- You will finally arrive, at which point a tiny brown-haired wisp of a girl will smile at you, check in your car, and listen to you sympathetically, telling you that the Newark staff should have been more clear about the location. She won't actually charge you for the rental until her supervisors review the situation, and send you off to the waiting shuttle. For about 30 seconds, you will be enamored and this will be the start of shaking off a truly nasty mood.
- Your shuttle driver will let you off in front of an unused baggage cart ($5 savings) and load your luggage on it, renewing your faith in humanity. Tip him.
- You will sit in a bar, not drinking alcohol (a depressant which would make this thing worse) and writing this up for your blog, which is a cathartic method of letting the whole thing go.
Consider the fact that when I trekked my way in Pakistan to the Afghan border and went to the black market arms bazaar, I actually found that place on Google Earth afterwards. Stunning that a rental car facility in one of the most populated cities in the US could be this hard to locate, yes?
I just got off the phone with the New York City regional manager for Enterprise. I had sent the link to the PR people and he said he wanted to respond. He apologized about the incident. He said they haven't been able to get signage up at the airport, but have been asking for over a year, and may be close, but that didn't help me and he understood that.
He also said that he agreed, Jamaica's laid out pretty tough for a non-native. He specifically said he wasn't happy with the way I wasn't given clear instructions and would work on changing that. He offered to do whatever it took to make me happy with the experience.
Except for the AC, I was pretty happy with the car, and said I thought that dropping the $175 one way dropoff fee was fair, since that was the part that really made my life difficult. I suspect he thought I would ask for the entire thing for free, but frankly, I don't think that's equitable.
He seemed concerned that I wouldn't ever rent from Enterprise again. I frankly don't think that way. Having been there once, on the rare chance I had to rent a one way from Newark NJ to JFK, I know now exactly where to go, and would do it again. Enterprise doesn't have a brand problem, or a company values problem, they just have a facility findability problem.
Unless I don't get a chargeback, I think everyone should be pretty happy with the outcome.
Yay for Enterprise customer service!