Divine Retribution Or Corporate Policy? Hertz Imposes Biblical Ban On A Customer’s Descendants

Yesterday was the last day of the Jewish holiday of Passover, which celebrates the Israelites’ escape from 400 years of slavery in Egypt.

In the Book of Exodus, G-d sent a final plague upon Egypt. The first born male child in each Egyptian household died overnight. This act led to the liberation of the Israelites from slavery, as it compelled Pharaoh to release them. The Israelites had been instructed to mark their doorposts with the blood of a lamb so that the plague would “pass over” their homes, and spare their firstborns.

Christopher Elliott tells the story of Hertz going biblical on a customer, banning the first born male child of another customer from ever renting again from the agency. Even though the banned renter had never broken any Hertz rule.

Hertz keeps a list of customers they will not do business with. Usually this involves financial losses to the company, such as unpaid damage bills. Oddly, Hertz does not keep a list of customers they’ve falsely had arrested.

Here, the man was placed on the Do Not Rent list because of an altercation with his father.

  • His father “was supposed to rent a car from Hertz at the Austin airport in October 2022” but somehow didn’t have a reservation, got angry when Hertz didn’t have a car for him and “he damaged one of theirs.”

  • Hertz added both the father and the son to its banned customer list.

  • It turns out the behavior was out of character. The father was diagnosed with a brain tumor which affected his behavior. He passed away.

  • As a result, he hadn’t settled matters with Hertz or explained the confusion over who was banned.

That didn’t seem to matter to Hertz. The company not only kept Eric Siegel on the Do Not Rent List — it also continued to send him bills for the ding.

“They continue to harass us for credit card and insurance information and have even tried to file a claim on my insurance for his damages,” he says.

Oddly after all of this, the son wants to be a Hertz customer again and is even willing to settle damage claims (which makes sense, presumably the father’s estate owes the debt). But Hertz wasn’t having it. They wrote,

I sincerely regret hearing about your rental privilege status. Our records indicate you were placed on suspension due to the rental vehicle being lost or damaged as a result of willful or reckless behavior by you or with your permission and due to your failure to cooperate with the rental location or claims management in their investigation of an accident, theft, or other incident.

Our records also indicate that there was an incident of threatening, abusive, or inappropriate behavior toward Hertz and its employees. Due to this, you have been placed on a permanent suspension, and unfortunately, you will no longer be able to rent from Hertz, Dollar, or Thrifty. Although this is not the preferred resolution, I hope that you will understand our position on this matter.

It turns out though – in typical Hertz fashion – that they removed him from the banned list on their own. They just didn’t tell him. So he could have been renting from them for the past eight months.

Exodus 34:7 says that G-d “visits the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

While Moses is on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, the Israelites, feeling abandoned, created and worshiped a golden calf. This act of idolatry angers G-d, who threatens to destroy the people. Moses pleads for them to be spared, breaks the tablets of the law in anger, and punishes the idolaters.

Moses then returns to Mount Sinai to receive a new set of tablets. And it is then, in the proclamation of the attributes of G-d, that justice in punishing sin is laid out – visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation. And really, it seems, that’s all that Hertz was doing? But also, eventually, silently showing mercy.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. and woe to any company or individual that takes it upon themselves to play the role of G-d.

    not sure that Hertz has figured out the mercy part…

  2. i am shocked that people stil rent from hertz. my company moved all business form hertz to avis and sixt after they put a colleague on the Do Not rent list for no reason.

  3. How is this business still in operation? Why are executives not being arrested for filing false theft charges when they know their system is fundamentally flawed?

    Hertz needs to die.

  4. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall receive an upgrade on their next rental.

  5. Just a side note to you referencing Exodus 34:7 “says that G-d “visits the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

    Actually, one of the greatest Jewish scholars of all time (until this day), the Rambam (Known as Maimonides by the non-Jewish world of that time), who lived in the 11th century interprets this to say that G-d the merciful does not punish sinners immediately, but rather gives the sinners descendants – up to the third and fourth generations – the chance to correct their way, and not to follow the sinful ways of their ancestor.

  6. Weird that you feel the need to censor the word “God”. I didn’t know it was a dirty word. Weird times we are living in.

  7. @Nick @ PFD

    An “upgrade” is not always a “blessing”, though. I recently rented a “Mazda 3 or similar” from Hertz. I arrived late (flight delays) and they “upgraded’ me to a Ford Expedition. You may consider that a good thing, but I did not and said so.

    But “it was all they had”. Navigating cramped parking lots and especially the tight spiral ramps of downtown parking garages was not a pleasant experience.

  8. OK. We all love to beat on Hertz, often deservedly so but there are aspects of the story above that are not quite believable without other context. I rent cars. My kids rent cars. Hertz has no awareness of any family relationship. So how did Hertz identify the son given the entitled and boorish behavior of the father? Was the son a co-renter?

    In the Hertz attributed text there is something about “threatening, abusive, or inappropriate behavior…..” So this wasn’t just someone kicking a Hertz vehicle with a steel tipped boot. And there is a note about “tried to file a claim on my insurance.” So this appears to have been a joint rental where father & son came in, rented a vehicle. Son must have been the contract signer for Hertz to have his address. Father can’t or won’t control himself and Hertz tries to get compensated for damage but also protect employees from bad customer behavior from the only contact point they have for this incident. I’m not sure that is totally wrong.

  9. Hertz couldn’t honor my reservation (made through them) because they had no cars available and then had the nerve to charge me a “no show fee,” they are a disaster.

  10. Why are you not spelling out
    GOD’S name?
    I find that peculiar…..

  11. I’ve been banned from Hertz since 2010ish because they accused me of stealing a car I had returned. (I had proof of the return. Of course that did not budge them.)

    Interestingly, it turned out the car was stolen from a Hertz employee who was gassing it up, hours after I returned it. I researched and found the police report.

    Probably to avoid consequences of that, the local Hertz office just reported that I failed to return to car. I spent many hours trying to work with Hertz reps, holding all this documentation in my hand. Mostly, they hung up on my calls and ignored my letters. They threatened me for years with their own form letters.

    Back then, I tweeted and wrote sites like Consumerist and everyone else I could think of, to no avail.

    Who would have guessed it turns out I was actually lucky—they could have had me arrested instead.

  12. Thank you Gary. It is indeed offensive to many of us when we see G_d written out.

  13. Wow thanks Gary I had no idea about God names.
    It’s good to learn new things!

  14. Most of the big car rental agencies are like this to one extent or another. It’s amazing they stay in business.

  15. Spelling GOD as G-D is simply stupid. Letters are just letters and replacing ‘0’ with a symbol make zero difference whatsoever. It only serves the ignorant fools who think a grouping of letters and/or symbols can somehow describe or offend their all knowing and powerful God. It makes them both look pretty and ignorant.

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