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Rental car company rethinks position on recall management

For a company that loans cars out to thousands of people in Florida, the mere implication that they are unsafe or noncompliant can seriously affect their business. After coming under public fire for not supporting a move to make rental cars safer, Enterprise Rent-A-Car is rethinking their stance.

Recent legislation has been proposed that would increase federal oversight over fleets of rental cars in order to monitor compliance with recalls. Some of the cars, it claims, may have defective parts that are not properly fixed and should not be rented to customers.

The push for more accountability started in 2004 after two sisters rented a car from Enterprise Rent-A-Car. The car had recently been recalled by the manufacturer because the power steering was catching fire. The company did not remove the car from their inventory or repair the defect, and still rented it to the sisters. The girls died after the power steering indeed caught fire, they lost control of the vehicle and then crashed into a semi truck.

Had greater oversight been in place at the time, the car would never have been available to any customers and the accident might never have happened. The parents of the victims have since been among those who are requesting greater supervision of the rental companies by the National Highway Safety Administration.

Initially, Enterprise claimed they did not need more oversight and had made enough improvements to their procedures as it is. Since the 2004 accident, the company says they have developed better ways of inspecting and fixing cars that have been involved in a recall. However, many consumers did not agree with their hesitation to endorse the measures, which other car hire companies had already supported.

After 170,000 people signed a petition in support of the increased regulations, however, Enterprise had a change of heart. While not technically endorsing the bill that was introduced, the company acknowledges that people want to be assured that they are in compliance.

Dangerous or defective products, especially motor vehicles, have the potential to seriously injure or kill people. A company who rents cars out to customers all across the county would likely want to support measures that make this a safer process.

Source: Columbia Tribune, "Enterprise shifts stance on oversight for recalls," Feb. 25, 2012

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