Friday, November 22, 2013

Living with one car.

Our most recent car accident resulted in a totaled vehicle. (Don't confuse this accident with the one that happened last December. Or the one that happened before my 28th birthday in Louisiana.) Because we rushed into a car last December that turned out to be a money-bleeding mistake, we decided to see if we could make it work with one car. It would save us a little bit of money on gas and insurance, and would force us to be creative.

My job consists of a great deal of travel. I drive several thousand miles a month, on average. Jarrod is in school about 45 minutes from our house two days a week and works 4 miles from our house the other days. Wesley is in school down the hall from Jarrod. How can we make this work?

I don't know, but we are!

I felt a little bit like a taxi driver dropping Jarrod at work and Wesley at school, before going to work myself. Only to do the whole thing in reverse on my way home! Because of a few scheduled family trips and a slow travel season at work, we are making it with one car.

We are saving money in areas we never expected. Besides car insurance and some gas, we are saving money because we are eating out less and shopping less. Jarrod cannot run out to get lunch at work if he wants to and that forces him to bring his lunch. I cannot stop at Target on my way home from work because I need to pick up my boys. Those little trips cost us gas, time, and waste money on silly things.

There are definitely some downsides. On the days where I need to travel far - more than 3 hours away - I rent a car. This is costly and inconvenient. Thankfully, in 3 weeks we've only had to do that once. Our days start earlier and end later because we only have one car. And Jarrod is essentially stuck at work until I can come get him.

Begin Rant.

The biggest problem we have had is in relation to the rental car. We attempted to rent a car from Enterprise. We'd rented from them in the past and always had good experiences. I booked a car for a week for a business trip. Jarrod was going to pick it up near school. A friend drove him to school and Enterprise picked him up to get the car. Because we (obviously) only use debit, he called to ensure he had everything they would need. He needed his drivers license, proof of insurance, debit card with $300 deposit, copy of our lease, and two utility bills. No big deal. Done and done. He schedules the pick-up and goes to the closest Enterprise to school. They refuse to rent him the car. Because we do not live within a 2-3 mile radius of that Enterprise and were using a debit card, they refused to rent the car. Not with an increase security deposit. Not with cash. Not with anything. Do not pass go, no car for you.

Seriously.

We are debt free, have some cash, and are more financially secure than we've ever been. Jarrod was forced to go back to school without a car. I had to rent a car, leave work early, pick it up, pay $100 more, leave the rental car in a parking lot, Jarrod took the train home from school (2 hours), I picked him up at the train station (10 miles from our house) to go get the car (after Wesley's bedtime) and go back home. We each lost at least 2 hours, many dollars, and had a huge inconvenience.

I understand policy. I get that Enterprise won't rent a car to someone with a debit card (even with 45 pieces of paper and cash money) that doesn't live within 2-3 miles of their branch. I think that's silly, but they can have whatever policy they want to. What is upsetting, inconvenient, and frustrating is that we were never made aware of this policy.

When I called to speak with the branch manager she said they just assumed we lived within 2-3 miles of the branch. "I'm an Enterprise Plus member and my address on file is over an hour from your location. Why would you assume that?" Right.

No apologies or solutions from her, only incredible disrespect. Jarrod called the Enterprise 800 number to speak with them. Again, no apologies. This is policy. We should have been told. Not being told is evidently our fault.

Thankfully, we discovered an Avis near us. It's not terribly convenient, but they will rent to us with a debit card. They take a security deposit, but do not require any other documentation.

I know many of you do not use credit and want you to be aware. Policy is different from branch to branch, but if you are trying to rent from an Enterprise, please learn from this mistake and expressly ask if you need to live in the town where you are renting.

End Rant.

Anyone shared a car? Or rented a car? Share your best (and worst!) experiences!
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