First-Time Hertz Customer, Already Blacklisted: The Bizarre Reality of Car Rentals

Hertz is a very badly run company. They hired Palantir to help them because they cannot track their fleet of cars. They regularly think their cars have been stolen, and have reported them stolen, when they still had the cars and were renting them out. That got their customers arrested, sometimes at gunpoint, and then they’ve been unwilling to retract false police reports out of fear that the retractions would lead police to stop trusting their false reports.

They settled a class action lawsuit for $168 million covering 364 claims against them, at an average of just over $460,000 per customer.

One Customer’s Idea: A Custom-Wrap In Case Police Show Up

Here are a handful of examples of what happened. One elite member chalked up 4 arrests spending 30 days in jail, where she suffered a miscarriage. And:

  • Connie Totman, who rented a car from Hertz in South Carolina and returned the car in Georgia. Hertz subsequently overcharged Ms. Totman in error and falsely reported the vehicle as stolen to South Carolina police. Because of this false theft report, Ms. Totman was then arrested on three separate occasions, twice in Georgia and once in South Carolina, over the course of a year. Charges against her were ultimately dismissed.

  • Saleema Lovelace, who was arrested at gunpoint two days before the date on which she had agreed to return her rental car to Hertz. Despite paying for her rental in full, Hertz reported the vehicle as stolen after deleting records of Ms. Lovelace’s payment and of her rental extension agreements. Ms. Lovelace remains under ongoing prosecution today.

I guess it’s not surprising to hear that a customer’s first rental as a top tier elite Presidents Circle member got them banned from Hertz before they even left the lot?

They booked through Capital One Travel for a booking starting New Years Eve in Atlanta. Their Hertz account was brand new – a first time Hertz customer, with status from their Venture X credit card. Since they hadn’t rented before, they had to show their credit card in addition to drivers license when they arrived at the service desk. They picked up the two car seats they’d rented for their family as well and headed to the Presidents Circle lane to choose a car.

On their way out of the lot, things got hairy:

At the exit gate, the agent there re-checked my ID and credit card then, after 20 mins, told me there was an issue with my reservation and I had to go back to the reservation desk. This meant backing up and having to drive into the parking garage.

Once I got to the Hertz Gold Plus Desk, the agent told me I could not rent a car because I am on a “Do Not Rent” list. I found this shocking, especially as I was not told there was any issue at the desk prior to getting into the car or checking my ID. …I escalated to the Manager on duty and she did not offer any alternatives, rather to phone the “Do Not Rent” number. The issue is that the hotline was not open Sunday evening, hence there would be no way for me to rent a car with Hertz that evening! I was even told the Do Not Runt list was not just Hertz specific, rather I would also be on the list on other companies.

Now, there is no national Do Not Rent list, and they weren’t banned from all rental agencies. They wound up renting from Sixt. But the oddity here is that they had never even rented from Hertz before, and it wasn’t the result of a rental with another company – they’d just returned a car to Avis that same morning in San Francisco.

Instead, it appears that a complaint over a Thrifty rental in February 2021 followed him. (Thrifty is owned by Hertz.)

  • His rental had a dead battery, and he had to swap cars in the middle of a trip.
  • This took “almost a day” (returning to the airport).
  • After getting nowhere with a complaint, he disputed the charge for the rental with his credit card company, though in the end paid the bill and received a $50 credit for a future rental from Thrifty as an apology.

He was never informed he was banned from Thrifty. He received a credit to use on a future rental. He was never informed he was banned from Hertz. They accepted his reservation, did not cancel it, and even verified his license and credit card when he first arrived.

Disputing a charge with a rental car company does risk getting you banned from that company and their affiliates but the remarkable thing is that they will do this and it appears (1) not tell you, (2) take future reservations from you, and (3) surprise you as you try to drive off to start an active reservation.

Like I said, Hertz is a very badly run company. They keep taking reservations when they don’t have cars or staff, whacked one renter $519 for going through a single $1 toll (and said they’d done so ‘as a convenience’), and called the cops on a Puerto Rican customer, threatening them with deportation. They’ve suffered massive decline since being George Clooney’s preferred rental agency in 2009’s Up In The Air.

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, 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. Years ago I only rented from Hertz and am still 5 Star (mainly due to longevity in the program and credit card status). However, I will NEVER rent from Hertz due to the many horror stories. National is my go to now with Avis as back up. It amazes me that so many people still rent from Hertz.

  2. Why would anyone with any sense rent from Hertz. They are truly a badly run company that should have gone out of business years ago. Avis & Budget are the only companies with whom I will do business.

  3. They are truly awful now. I’m Pres Circle (yeah big f’in deal, right?) and had a confirmed rez for a gas car. Arrived into Vegas and was told EV or come back tomorrow for my car – no gas cars available. What a nightmare. Tesla was only 51% charged. Wait times for superchargers in LV are CRAZY unless you go extra early or late. Wasted almost two hours of my Vegas trip dealing with charging the car. DO NOT RENT EVs IN VEGAS!

  4. I had the unique experience of both being a valid President’s circle member and denied a rental due to being on a DNR list. And I have had issues with Avis too. My new approach is to avoid renting, which to be fair is not always possible- but on city trips if between the rental, parking, gas etc it is going to cost say $150 a day to rent I will spend $200 a day on rideshares and call it breakeven.

  5. Sounds as if they should change their name to Hurts Car Rental. Although, Bendover Car Rental might be even more fitting.

  6. I used to ONLY rent from Hertz. I stopped entirely several years ago and want the company to go bankrupt. Hertz execs should be spending time in jail for filing false arrests. I hope each of the pending cases get 7-figure awards. Or more.

    Hertz needs to DIE.

  7. I’m glad to see that the Thought Leader is no longer claiming that Hertz elite status is one of the 19 things he loves about the Venture X.

  8. Be very careful when renting from Hertz. They will rent out a vehicle with significant damage to it. I have rented a number of times but always check out the vehicle after I get away from their poorly lit garages (I’m sure the poor lighting is on purpose to hide vehicle defects. My go to rental was Enterprise but their prices are now 500% to 1000% of what they were for the vehicles I used to rent. I have been renting from Budget the few times since Covid-19.

  9. The local car rental for me is Enterprise, and the only time I might have used Hertz was in Florida in 2019, still hoping that doesn’t come back like others have. Enterprise, never had an issue.

  10. Hertz, Marriott, and American Airlines are all companies I no longer used. Too much risk of arrest with Hertz (Gold), tired of being Bonvoyed by Marriott (lifetime platinum), and sick of being treated like cattle by AA. Now, if I could just get away from Delta, which is hard to living in Atlanta.

  11. This story sounds familiar as it happened to me, but with Sixt in Maui. Never rented from, but was on their do not rent list. Was the weekend so no one to talk to in the correct department. Agent was sympathetic (seemed like it happens often) and made a new reservation in my wife’s name and matched the rate.

  12. I just rented from Hertz on December 27th. On December 26th, I received two emails confirming my reservation and a call from the store manager saying my car was in as I am a President’s Circle member

    Of course, when I show up first thing on 12.27, the car is not there. Hertz kept trying to tell me that I already rented it. Then they change their story and say I cancelled out the reservation.

    Turns out, a walk in customer wanted my car and the representative rented it out to him. When they realized it was tied to an existing reservation, the Hertz person at the store cancelled me out.

    Still waiting on an apology from Hertz . . .

  13. For sure the story and all of the comments are correct: Never, ever rent from Hertz. That said, the other issue here is the legal immunity that the Execs at Hertz hold, all of this would stop immediately if they were being sued personally for all of the misery suffered by their customers. It’s not unlike the qualified immunity that Government Officials receive, we’re seeing a lot of mischief and lawfare lately, which would also stop immediately if they were held personally responsible.

  14. I have had several bills from Hertz in association with a rental in Norway. No one at Hertz seems to be able to tell me why I am being billed. The rental had an outstanding parking ticket, which Hertz said they could not collect or it would cost more. I responded that it would be fine, I just wanted to close out the rental. Then they refused to help. I have rented all over the world, this rental was the most unpleasant in my experience.

  15. Rented from Hertz at DEN. Prepaid. Went to leave and they messed around for a long time. Opened gate and I left. When returning they said I stole the car. I said 1. It was prepaid. 2. If I stole it, then why would I return it? A manager thanked me for being courteous and said to leave. Have used other companies since…usually Budget.

  16. 10 times in 8 years they have LOST cars on return. Been PC the entire time. Granted never got the cops called on me as they were ALL returned but had call backs on why I didn’t return the car. On each return I photo’d the car and mileage when they were un-attended return. That was enough for someone in corporate to force the location to look for the car – which they ALWAYS found. Sometimes this was 14 days later!

    Now I NEVER do a return without having someone check in the car. NEVER do an extension – just return the car and get a new one (based on others saying they’ve been caught in extensions not being processed).

    When I can in Europe I’ll rent with Sixt now. Pathetic what Hertz has become

  17. In Europe Hertz is usually 50% more expensive than all other companies.
    I never use Hertz. The only time they had a good deal for me there were no cars at the desk….
    I used to do business with Europcar and had 2 issues with them.
    Moved to Avis and I am VERY happy!

  18. I’ve been renting Hertz vehicles out of the Fort Myers airport for years with no major issues. I did have a vehicle that was making some odd noises as I left the facility and turned around which they gave me an upgraded vehicle. Solid service for me; either the location or I am lucky.

  19. What country was Hertz threatening to deport the Puerto Rican customer to? Maybe he would have loved a free trip to Spain or France.

  20. I’m wary of all car rental companies. I photograph every angle, scratch, etc. and the interior of the cars I rent. I include my wristwatch with the date and time next to the odometer before I leave and after I return it. The iPhone camera puts meta data on the photographs too to bolster the accuracy of my wristwatch’s date and time. Hertz hasn’t messed with me, thank heavens. I will NOT use Alamo, Sixt or Budget ever again after a couple of bad experiences. I haven’t had any issues with Avis (I know…they’re part of the Budget group), or National. I recall during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, someone ordered tickets to an event over the phone and wanted the tickets mailed to their address in New Mexico. “I’m sorry, but we cannot issue tickets and mail them out of the country.” Ignorance can be fixed…stupid is forever.

  21. I have been banned from them because I disputed false charges with chase. Chase sided with me after I submitted all my documentation. But a few months later i discovered that Hertz instead banned me. I don’t miss them, they suck. The crazy thing is you can never reach anyone who can resolve a billing issue so the only resort you have is a dispute. The idiots don’t realize they hurt themselves, I was a 20 user Customer and they lost me forever and my business.

  22. By coincidence, I went their website yesterday to close my account and found that it was impossible via their website. All my points have evaporated since I haven’t used them in over five years.

  23. As Delta’s premium partner, SkyMiles members can earn more miles with each premium Hertz rental.

  24. I used to prefer Hertz after some gripes with Enterprise. I’ll be passing on Hertz and Avis to avoid being tangled up in the legal system.

  25. I had basically this exact same experience. During the pandemic in Seattle they had almost no cars so their sign said to choose any vehicle in gold or the one level above. I did and didn’t notice they upcharged me until I was far away. $50. They demanded I drive all the way back to the airport and talk to the counter agent. That was a no. When I returned the car, during the day, it was 100% without employees. They checked my vehicle in two days late and charged me for it. Customer service was zero help. I did a charge back. They black listed me. I found this out a month later in Seattle again. The counter agent agreed with me and my story, but it was Saturday so nobody would answer the Hertz customer service line I needed to call. I rented from national, but when I called they stonewalled me, as if it was all my fault.

    I’m still black listed, but they sent me a letter a few months ago saying I could try to restore my account. F U Hertz. (My friend was also a former counter agent a few years ago at AUS (Austin). He said they were encouraged by management to trick inexperienced and foreign customers into buying insurance and extras. He said he silently refused, but others would do it as personal entertainment.)

  26. If a Hertz car is the only car available, there is no car available. I don’t always agree with Gary on things, but here I look to his leadership. When he declares that Hertz has cleaned itself up, I will reconsider. In the meantime, no.

  27. I haven’t rented from hertz since they stopped letting us have the cars for free. Y’all gotta upgrade.

  28. Here’s an opposite experience that US car rental companies should emulate. I rented a car from Discount Car Rentals in Auckland, NZ. After the reservation is confirmed, they send an email with a link that asks something like, “would you like to pre-fill the paperwork.” That leads to a website where you upload a picture of your driver’s license, decline (or buy) insurance (they call it “cover”) and that’s about it. When I arrived at the car rental desk, they asked me my name, grabbed the keys handed them to me, then told me where the car was. No aggressive nagging for upgrades or insurance. On return, it was just as simple: I gave them my name and handed over the keys. So fast, and so simple. No long check-in lines, since they have it down to a science. Earlier in the year, I had the opposite experience with National at the Milan Malpensa airport. They grilled me about the insurance & I told them (and they knew) that my corporate account included it. I also told them my credit card covered it as well. I declined it a dozen times. Unfortunately, I don’t speak Italian and blindly signed the agreement on a tablet. When I returned the car, I discovered they added every type of insurance coverage imaginable. But the same con artists were at the desk upon return and they told me that I had insisted on buying insurance and they wouldn’t take it off. So, I still use Enterprise in the US, but will avoid them in Italy, or any country where I can’t look over the agreement in English. On the bright side, it wasn’t Hertz, so I didn’t end up in a foreign jail!

  29. @Gary The Hertz issues with the lawsuit were from its pre bankruptcy days in 2020 and 2021. Do you mention the Delta meltdown in the summer of 2022 or Southwest’s meltdown over christmas 2022 whenever you refer to these companies?

    Seems abit of a hit job on your part to highlight one person’s rental experience and paint an entire company. I regularly rent with Hertz and enjoy their level of service and selection of autos. They are a much better operation at SNA and MCO than Budget, Sixt, Thirty, and Avis.

  30. For all the people complaining about never renting with Hertz, they posted $1B in profit from 3rd quarter 2022 to 3rd quartee 2023. Some people like renting with them, especially since they rarely market on being the lowest cost rental car provider. For the airports I travel I find their lines as short as Enterprise/Alamo/National

  31. @Gary So is there a way to check if we are on the DNR list? I’d sure rather know in advance, as we successfully disputed a charge years ago when they charged us for a cancelled rental.

  32. Used to get a paper receipt when returning a rental.
    Now, agents just wave you off. I challenge them by inquiring what the final billing amount is which requires them to push thru the close-out ticket with mileage, amount, location, and time stamp. I “maintain” the agent’s attention with a question or two till I get the e-mail confirmation as a means to cover my arse (British vernacular)!!!
    A bit awkward, but I’m putting the burden back on the rental agency!!

  33. They all suck. Just a note for Hertz. They royally screwed low executives by moving from NJ to FL and relocating many executive home office staff only to find out FL has cheaper labor, then laid them all off.
    National, rented a car to someone else under my name and corporate card (while I was already in a car from them). I sense criminal activity here and the local manager refuses to get me a corporate contract. Each branch is so autonomous the national customer service number says they can’t do anything. I rented 239 days from them last year.

  34. They are the worst. They say our rental was t-boned when we had it, but they have no proof. I turned it over to State Farm, but Hrtz keeps calling me. Never never never again.

  35. Why doesn’t someone step in and close down this bad company? The better business bureau or federal trade commission should close it down. It’s making fraudulent charges against innocent people. We don’t deserve to be Hurt by Hertz. I always thought of car rental companies as Ma_fia driven.

  36. I’ve rented from Hertz many times and never had a problem other than having to swap out a car after getting on the interstate that was not accelerating properly.

  37. I was also put on the dnr list from hertz. I had rented a car one Oct. my friend lost the key fob. We paid for it. We paid for the tow. They gave us a new car since we had 3 more days in town. We turned it in and everything was fine. Rented a car at the same place, one year later, evening was fine. Then a month later tried to rent a car in my hometown and found out I was on the dnr list due to “damages” on the car we lost the key fob to. How come my profile wasn’t flagged and I wasn’t notified when I turned in that second car. And a whole year later?! Super sus

  38. After hearing so many horror stories, I avoid Hertz at all costs. I stick with National and Avis. I’ve advised my family to avoid Hertz as well. Its a shame because they were actually pretty good back in the 90s.

  39. Month 4 of traveling Europe and no rental car. Trains and buses everywhere. How freeing not to be in the car mandatory US.

  40. What I’ve learned after some bad experiences is to bring up the airport map, or get rental center map, and look at the specific car rental companies google reviews. You can usually tell which ones to avoid– they have 2 or 3 start reviews for the most part. The better ones will have 4+ stars. But it can change city to city, so after I find a decent price, ci double check the map before booking.

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