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Entries in Enterprise (2)

Thursday
Sep272012

Rental Car Companies Pledge Not to Rent Recalled Cars

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The nation's four largest rental car companies have banded together in a pledge not to rent out any vehicles that are subject to a manufacturer safety recall and to support legislation that would legally enforce the promise.

Enterprise/National/Alamo, Hertz/Advantage, Avis/Budget joined Hertz in the agreement pushed by Sen. Charles Schumer (D.-N.Y.), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.) and by Cally Houck, a California mother whose daughters died in the crash of a rental car that was under recall.

Houck's two daughters, Raechel and Jacqueline, were killed in 2004 after the PT Cruiser they had rented from Enterprise apparently began leaking steering fluid and suddenly caught fire before crashing into an oncoming semi-tractor-trailer. As reported in a 2010 ABC News investigation, the car had been under a safety recall for the potential fire hazard and, after a lengthy legal battle, Enterprise had to pay the Houck family $15 million in damages.

WATCH ABC News Investigates: Deadly Rental Cars on the Road

Under current law, car dealerships are banned from selling vehicles that are under a safety recall, but the restriction does not prevent rental agencies from renting out recalled cars. New legislation sponsored by Boxer and Schumer, called the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2012, aims to close that loophole.

"If this bill had been the law, and the rental companies complied, my beautiful, precious daughters would still be alive," Cally Houck said day. "My abiding hope is that it will be enacted, and other families will be spared our devastating loss."

After the 2010 ABC News report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation to see how quickly rental car companies repair vehicles that have been recalled.

With the exception of Hertz, all the major American rental car companies declined to sign a pledge this summer saying they wouldn't rent cars under recall. At the time, they said that while they supported safe rental car legislation, they wanted it to extend to other businesses that transport passengers in vehicles, like limousine and taxi companies. All the companies said then that they address safety recalls in a timely manner, and representatives for Enterprise and Avis said their policy was already not to rent cars that were under recall.

But their recent decision to sign the pledge -- along with the newfound support of several safety auto agencies -- is a "breakthrough years in the making," according to Sen. Schumer.

"Consumers will no longer have to worry about what they aren't being told when they go to the rental car counter," he said. "With the industry's full backing, we think we have a great shot to get this legislation passed before the end of the year."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb232012

Enterprise Rent-A-Car Blinks in Battle with California Mom

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Under pressure from a mother who lost her daughters in the crash of a recalled rental car, the nation's biggest car rental company said Thursday it had changed its stance and would back a new federal law banning the rental of cars recalled because of safety risks.

"In the past we believed that this step was unnecessary," said Laura Bryant, a spokeswoman for Enterprise Holdings, "but 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."

The announcement came after Cally Houck, whose daughters died in a recalled car rented from Enterprise, launched a petition drive earlier this week calling on Enterprise to drop its opposition to the law. By Thursday, according to Change.org, the organization hosting the petition online, more than 100,000 people had signed the petition.

Houck said she had started the signature drive "to keep this from happening to another family and to be sure that my daughters' memory is preserved." She alleged that Enterprise both opposed the bill and had lobbied against it. Bryant confirmed that Enterprise had opposed the bill, but did not address whether the company had worked against it.

Hertz, the nation's second-largest rental car company, announced earlier this week that it had reached a deal with a consumer safety group to support federal oversight of rental car recalls. A spokesman for Avis, the third-largest company, told ABC News it was "currently reviewing and discussing the Hertz proposal."

While Enterprise had said as recently as Wednesday afternoon that it opposed the new law, proposed by Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Bryant said Thursday afternoon that Enterprise was "announcing its formal support for federal legislation to oversee the way car rental companies manage the safety recall process for vehicles in their fleets."

The nation's rental car companies together own more than 1.5 million vehicles, with hundreds of thousands subject to recall in any given year. The law proposed by Sen. Boxer and Sen. Schumer would stop care rental firms from renting out cars that are subject to federal safety recalls until after they are fixed. The senators attached the law as an amendment to a transportation bill that is up for vote in Congress later this month.

As featured in a 2010 ABC News report, Houck's two daughters, 24-year-old Raechel and 20-year-old Jacquie, were killed in 2004 when the Chrysler PT Cruiser they rented from Enterprise apparently began leaking steering fluid and suddenly caught fire before crashing into an oncoming semi-tractor trailer. The car had been under a safety recall for the potential fire hazard, but was still rented to the sisters. The Houck family sued Enterprise, and after a lengthy legal fight, the company admitted negligence and was required to pay $15 million in damages to the family. After the ABC News report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation to see how quickly rental car companies repair vehicles that have been recalled.

Before announcing that Enterprise had decided to support the law, spokeswoman Laura Bryant had said the Houck accident was a "terrible tragedy," and that customer safety was Enterprise's "top priority," but that the company didn't believe legislation was necessary.

"[A] number of respected individuals, including elected officials and regulators, [believe] additional oversight of the recall process may be needed," said Bryant Wednesday. "While we believe this 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."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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