FlyerTalk Member Arrested After Hertz Files False Police Report

A member of frequent flyer community FlyerTalk reports being arrested because they rented a car from Hertz that the company had previously reported stolen

I was an extraordinarily loyal and highest tier gold member before Hertz’s lazy stupidity ended our relationship with a bogus felony arrest.

It’s shocking that these stories keep coming out. You rent a car, go to jail. You go directly to jail. Do not pass Go, do not collect (much devalued) loyalty points. One Hertz elite member chalked up 4 arrests, spending 30 days in jail where she… suffered a miscarriage.

Much of the time, though not all the time, the problem seems to be with cars a customer swaps out midway through a rental (preferring a different vehicle) or where a customer extends a rental and the company doesn’t record the change properly. Hertz appears to do a terrible job tracking its fleet. And they say they do not withdraw false police reports, or else the police might stop believing them.

Two things currently stand out about the issue.

  1. There are currently 40 active prosecutions of Hertz customers. According to attorneys representing customers suing the rental car giant, this is “because Hertz refuses to cooperate with investigators.” That’s not surprising when Hertz is facing numerous lawsuits over these arrests, but they’ve pledged to clean up their act. You’d think that once stories of these incidents became commonplace a couple of years ago, that every Hertz vehicle theft report would go through a separate and vigorous review process. But the incidents keep happening.

  2. Hertz has not announced any actual changes to policy, technology, or procedures. Hertz’s CEO has acknowledged problems, and claims they’re fixed, but the stories keep coming. And they haven’t things they are actually doing differently.

    Hertz has announced a deal with Palantir to track their fleet so perhaps they’ll know when their cars aren’t actually stolen at some point in the near future. However the rental car giant has not made any public statements to suggest these two things are related, so it may just be unjustified hopefulness on my part.

Investors and the company’s board appear complicit at this point. They’re certainly losing out on rentals as a result of the stories. Even if risk of imprisonment is small for any given rental, it’s the sort of long tail risk you don’t normally associate with reserving a rental car. And the consequences are bad enough, a certain segment of customers simply look at Hertz and say ‘why bother?’ That doesn’t just mean fewer transactions, it means lower prices to induce make up demand. (I frequently see Hertz as the cheapest option when I search.)

Hertz needs to speak clearly to this issue and explain how they’re going to stop it from continuing, and then they need to back it up with action.

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. Wow, please somebody start a class action lawsuit on this. Get national news media on this and or Consumer Reports.

  2. I wonder what will happen with the lawsuits – I assume Hertz has an arbitration clause in its rental agreements,

  3. What % of theft reports are false? If it is high, then Hertz should simply stop reporting vehicles as stolen . Put each one through a thorough review process first.

  4. I used to be a long time Hertz customer. This whole thing staggers me and I would never use Hertz as a result of this incompetence.

  5. In other news I’ve just received an email “Congratulations! Welcome to President’s Circle Status.” As an American Express Platinum card member enjoy Presidents’ Circle status now”… I feel good my employers personal use code for Avis has had great rates for the past few years.

  6. Stop just blaming Hertz. The majority of the fault lies with the police and individual cops who arrest people blindly without verifying accuracy of claims. Cops are criminally negligent if they take a company or individual at their word without substantiation. Cops blindly enforcing warrants is the problem. Nothing will change until individual cops are personally held accountable for their actions. Just following orders is not a valid excuse.

    Imagine how cops would feel if their sons and daughters were pulled off the street and caged for 30 days on a false claim. I think they would stop blindly enforcing warrants without verifying accuracy of claims first. Lawsuits don’t do anything because cops don’t personally pay and even if they do in rare cases were judges remove qualified immunity it’s just money.

  7. This is unimaginable. For once I’d support hauling the C levels in front of Congress. Imagine your wife or kid in the slammer because of this and nothing you can do til they schedule a bond hearing. Nauseating.

  8. I drive rental cars continuously for work (I do monthly terms) – I had done this for 7 years until this came out and I switched to Enterprise. Not worth the risk.

  9. I don’t think the lawsuits can proceed – I assume Hertz has an arbitration/no class action clause in its rental agreements.

  10. @John -no. Don’ try to shift the blame to the police.

    If the do a routine traffic stop, and they find a felony warrent, the have no choice but to arrest.

    For them to do elsewise would have them in the role of a judge, jury, or mediator. And that is not their role.

    Conversely, I would welcome being arrested for a Hertz warrant now, as it is clearly documented that the repeated failure is on their part.

    The settlement would be enough for generational wealth by the time the attorneys were done.

  11. I’ve been resting from Avis and Hertz pretty often for the last two years. Maybe I’m lucky this didn’t happen to me? I actually have more problems with Avis than Hertz, but on different issues. One time I rent Avis in Memphis, I returned the vehicle in the return area. No one was there to even acknowledge the return. I was running late to my flight, and I just left the vehicle there. I tried their app to return the vehicle, but since location function was working. It didn’t work. Two weeks later they charged me 10 days rental, and I used the car for 7 days. Good luck trying to speak to a representative on the phone. I waited 90minutes once and 40 minutes second. I gave up. My boss told me just submit the 10 days (over $1200, for a Ford EcoSport). Since our accounting reimbursed, I didn’t care anymore. Still they ripped me and my company off. Also this seems to happen a lot in Phoenix Airport at least to me. I returned the vehicles fully fueled, and they still charge me the fuel used. Both Hertz and Avis do this. I wonder if their management tells them to do this. It happens a lot. Again, since they always email you the receipt, you can’t dispute them on the spot. Sometimes our accounting catch me, and I can only expense one of them. I’ve filed complaints to our travel department, but they can’t seem to do anything about it.

  12. @rdinsf arbitration clauses are not absolute. In cases of clear negligence or worse, a court will declare such a clause as invalid and allow a case to go forward. The reason is the one party agreement where one party wrote the agreement with terms favorable to itself then proceeds to abuse those terms.

  13. This is terrible, of course, but I wonder: does this happen with other rental agencies and, if so, how often.

  14. Not defending Hertz in any way. This is truly egregious. But how does someone who has earned elite status allow themselves to sit in jail for 30 days?
    Not only would I make bail in 24 hours, I would file suit against the CEO personally for inflicting mental distress and false arrest.

  15. Cops are quick to arrest an upper middle class white guy in a rental car, but God forbid they have the balls to enter a school and stop an active shooter. #copsarepussies

  16. Although I am not a commercial or criminal lawyer, I doubt initiating a legal proceeding against Hertz for false (illegal) arrest is a matter governed by Hertz’s or any other business’ arbitration clause. If I were its outside or inside counsel, i certainly would laugh and then refuse to draft any language dealing with such unconscionable conduct.

  17. @Zebraitis

    No, cops don’t have to arrest people for a warrant. They choose to. They choose to perpetuate and perpetrate a system which is corrupted and inhumane instead of say no. Cops don’t enforce marijuana laws in some counties and states despite the federal criminalization. Cops don’t enforce immigration orders in sanctuary cities. They can simply ignore warrants. Cops have the option of telling a person they have a warrant and to contact the court. They have the option of saying they can’t verify identity and can’t arrest someone just because they have a common name. It’s not Politicians, judges, or prosecutors who directly harm people: it’s cops who use physical force and are 100% responsible for all the evil that is done. Without the complicity of cops, an abusive process and illegimate laws can’t happen. Were cops good guys or bad guys for enforcing slavery? Obviously they were the bad guys.

  18. @David Stone

    The big problem is out of state warrants as someone will usually be held for a felony charge for an extradition hearing and then it might take weeks for one to be picked up by that state. Of course, judges can release people, they don’t have to hold people for out of state warrants, they can issue bail, and they can deny extradition with an order the person present to that state in 48 hours on their own. Most judges don’t do these things even though they could. Likewise, cops can notify the driver their is an out of state warrant and to contact the court. It’s called discretion. There’s plenty of precedent. Of course, most don’t use discretion and are rubber stamps for an abusive process.

    If these warrants are in state, people can bail out in hours if bail is preset for the charge or the next day usually after bail is set. It depends on if people can afford cash bail, have the credit limit to charge for a bondsman, have promissory bail, or etc and the amount of bail judges set which is arbitrary and capricious.

  19. @ Gary — Thanks for the repeated reminders to stay away from Hertz. I miss the ease of renting with them, but I’m not doing business with this company.

  20. Yet all you travel blogs keep promoting their company and loyalty membership to your readers lol! Just seen a new cc with hertz gold membership as an extra perk!

  21. This is unthinkable. I certainly have much stronger words than “Why bother?” to say about this criminal gang (Hertz)., I do have a couple of questions:

    1) Have there been any such cases with their affiliated companies?
    2) Have there been any such cases involving their overseas operations?

    I will be renting cars at least a dozen separate times in the next three months. There is no chance I would ever consider Hertz under any circumstances.

  22. I’ll continue to rent from Hertz. If this happened to me, I’d look at it as a multi-million dollar pay day after I sue the hell out of them.

  23. For those of you who think it’s a big payday, think again. You may get shafted by the arbitration clause, and it will take years to litigate and settle. A friend of mine once spent a night in the drunk tank, he said it was the worst night of his life though he was not molested or anything. Personally I would not want to risk it for “the payday” but then I went running with the bulls, so I guess everyone has their own risk tolerance.

    Unfortunately it is not so easy to bail out if you are charged on an out of state warrant. Typically the only way to secure immediate release is on mistaken identity (i.e. they arrested the wrong Mike Smith). Presumably it would be easier to prove the car is not stolen if you have a printed contract and are still within the rental period. But not so easy if you returned the vehicle months ago and you are picked up in another state on a warrant issued in your name. Then you have to waive extradition and wait to be extradited and then eventually you get a bail hearing.

    I am sure there are millions of clueless people who are unaware of what Hertz is doing but I don’t understand why anyone else would rent from Hertz. For the same reason I don’t fly Spirit – the aggravation is just not worth the few $$ I might save.

  24. At first the comments left here had me so full of anger but then it turned to pure sadness. I don’t expect anyone who hasn’t gone thru it to fully understand the damage that the false arrest have caused each one of us “victims” individually. The comments about the money.. especially the one about generational wealth. For the last 44 months, my life has been stripped from me due to Hertz incompetency. My children have now gone birthdays and Christmas without the simple things that most are use to as tradition. No cakes, no presents, no tree etc…just a basket case for a mother who use to have a profession with a professional license and was able to provide for her family. Now with a felony on my record and no steady income due to this false arrest, I am finding it hard to put food on the table. So I am sorry that when I read the comments about “how much money will be won in a lawsuit”, I just do not feel any bit of satisfaction or relief. Many of us who have gone thru this have lost it all because of it. Homes due to foreclosure, professional licenses, reputation, family, self worth, stability, our vehicles, our health has suffered and our sanity no longer exist. Sometimes, there are things which you cannot place a monetary value on.

  25. Boraxo.
    For some people, like me; Hertz is the preferred vendor for my company. We don’t have a choice. Also arbitration can be nullified if negligent on part of the Hertz or any part of the language is considered unreasonable. Just because there is a contract, that doesn’t mean every part I’d kosher. What do you think trial lawyers and contract lawyers are for? Also even arbitration, reasonable compensation for inconveniences, any loss that can be attributed to the event, and legal costs are usually deferred to the responsible party. After all spirit airlines and United Airlines are still in business. At 40 cases, that’s still a small percentage of Hertz business. They maybe getting bad advices from their legal and public relations department.

  26. By now this problem is very well known. Continuing to rent from Hertz is simply asking for trouble

  27. You’re 100% right. I work for a company with a contract either Hertz and National and no one uses Hertz anymore. Why risk it, even if a tiny percentage?

  28. It’s nuts!! I’m genuinely scared to rent from Hertz in America and have actively avoided them (even though I have high status with them thanks to Centurion).

    Even when the charges get dropped, it stays on your record as a previous charge and you have to answer questions about it for the rest of your life at various ports of entry (or if you get deposed in a lawsuit they’ll always bring it up in a very mean way).

    We have to vote with our wallets

  29. No repercussions for Hertz with filing a false police report? What happens if an individual files false police reports? These are particularly egregious errors on their part, and I really hope they are held accountable. I had a recent rental with them in KOA, just for a quick work trip. Only rented with them due to price or limited availability with other companies.

  30. I’m refusing to rent from Dollar + Thrifty also, as they are owned by Hertz. My wallet is going elsewhere in spite of the status granted with AmEX Platinum. AmEx should negotiate Hertz out of their benefits. And any other credit card company should do the same. The other car companies should be running ads mocking the Hertz arrest records.
    Employees at corporations should lobby their own company to cut all ties with Hertz (not simply provide another option)

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