DOWNTOWN — Enterprise CarShare is shutting down new reservations for Chicago, blaming crime in the city for the move.
A shortage of available cars in Chicago and the surrounding area has "been a direct effect of significant vandalism, theft and fraud," according to a Tuesday night email the car-sharing service sent to members.
A screenshot of Enterprise CarShare shows most of the nearest available cars as being in a "hidden lot" about 6,096 miles away.
Enterprise's announcement came as a surprise to Bryan Shrode, of the South Loop, who relies on car-sharing services when he needs to drive in Chicago. Shrode, like many of his neighbors, uses one of the two Enterprise CarShare cars kept in their building.
But Enterprise CarShare is no longer accepting reservations, according to the program's email, and has started canceling existing reservations.
"They had thousands of cars all over Chicago. It's made life way easier without a car in Chicago," Shrode said. "It's a little scary, I guess, when you think about it because I'm so dependent on these car-sharing [programs] now."
An assistant manager in Shrode's building told him there's never been any problems with those cars, Shrode said. Shrode had noticed the cars in his building were marked unavailable recently, he said, but he thought it was because the service was busier than usual.
Jane Michalski, of Logan Square, has been using CarShare — and its predecessor, IGO — since 2009. About a month ago, her husband noticed no cars were showing up for Logan Square, though some still appeared in Lincoln Park.
The Michalskis called Enterprise but were told the issue was due to a software problem. No cars would be available in Logan Square while the problem was fixed, Michalski said she was told, but the family kept their membership and was even billed their annual fee of $40 on June 5.
"We were always relying on the CarShare," Michalski said of Enterprise's announcement. "This was a surprise.
"It just seems like since this big company [Enterprise] bought the car-sharing service [IGO] it was a little bit ... less personal and more problematic," she said. "They moved the cars around a lot. Sometimes cars weren't available."
A customer service representative told Michalski on Wednesday that she could get a refund if she wanted amid the news CarShare has stopped reservations. Michalski said the call was "not very reassuring at all" and she's not sure if it will return.
"It has created an inconvenience in the last couple of weeks when the cars disappeared," Michalski said. "We do need to have another car available to us. We'll probably switch to ZipCar and see how that works out."
CarShare allowed members to reserve cars from around the city, sharing them with other members. The service is also available in New York City, San Francisco and other major cities.
Enterprise did not immediately respond to a request for comment.