Hertz CEO Admits Falsely Reporting Cars Stolen, Sending Customers To Jail

Hertz seems to have a real problem sending customers to jail for no good reason. As best I have been able to tell, it seems that when a customer changes cars, or extends a rental, Hertz sometimes doesn’t record the transaction correctly in their system. They show the original car as overdue and unreturned, report it stolen, and the customer gets arrested.

There’s a class action lawsuit, with numerous reports of customers who were arrested for theft of vehicles they’d rented, and who wound up in jail while trying to clear matters up. I’ve even been contacted by readers trying to deal with the bureaucracy of Hertz over these issues.

Appearing on CNBC, Hertz’s new CEO acknowledges it happened, says it’s rare, and that it won’t happen again.

SCHERR: Well, this is among the first things I’ve started to look to take care of and deal with in the first 30 days I’ve been at the company. It’s not acceptable to Hertz to have any customer, a single customer sort of caught up in some of what’s happened.

I think though it’s important to put it in context, which is if you look at the number of people that were impacted in this situation, and it’s unfortunate these were vehicles that were reported as stolen. The theft report was withdrawn when they were found yet these people got caught, you know, in a moment where that that, you know, rescission wasn’t recognized.

No one customer should be put through that, Hertz is going to deal properly with people who were affected, but in the same in the same vein, you know, we’re not going to obviously engage with people who look to do harm to the company. We have changed our policies to avoid the possibility of this happening and I think to put context to it, if you look at the several 100 people impacted, we, we engage in 15 million transactions a year, this is 1/100 of a percent of those transactions. But again, it’s to make no excuse, one customer should not be affected by this. We will do right where our customers have been negatively affected and I’m looking to resolve that, you know, very, very quickly.

It’s refreshing to hear the CEO acknowledge that this has happened, but if he’s being genuine I think he’s getting bad information and unfortunately still downplaying the problem.

Hertz’s position has been that since most of their customers don’t get sent to jail this is no big deal. I disagree. And I’d note that this appears to continue to be happening rather than being a thing of the past.

Here’s a recent story of a Presidents Circle member arrested recently as he got off of a cruise. And it appears this member earned Presidents Club the old-fashioned way, not by getting a Capital One credit card or through a status match.

Hertz is a shell of its former self. It was once the go-to brand for business travelers. That’s now probably National. I love to see them refreshing their fleet with electric vehicles. They’ve got a great presence in airports. But they need to get their house in order. I do note I’ve again seen opportunities to redeem Hertz points, something that had largely disappeared for awhile in my experience. Though I’ve had multiple non-prison problems with Hertz, from lack of cars to lack of honored reservations.

So let’s say you want to rent from them, but don’t want to spend the night in jail. This isn’t a foolproof strategy, but I’ve implored readers over and over renting from Hertz not to change vehicles or extend rentals. The problem certainly doesn’t happen every time but when it does it’s bad enough that I’d avoid these actions that seem to increase risk at least until I’m convinced they’re actually solved the problem.

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. Gary, maybe you should do a blog post ranking the major car rental companies and pointing out pros and cons. I don’t rent cars that often so I don’t have much of a sense of how the big names stuck up against each other.

  2. Hertz is now the American Airlines of the car rental industry. Both were rated #1 in customer ratings years ago and now both are at the bottom.

  3. Doing right by those people would be in the seven figures each. He is still downplaying it. It should never happen. Ever. I will not consider renting from that company until credible sources such as Gary indicate they have ended this practice entirely.

  4. ” but in the same in the same vein, you know, we’re not going to obviously engage with people who look to do harm to the company”

    “if you look at the several 100 people impacted, we, we engage in 15 million transactions a year, this is 1/100 of a percent of those transactions.”

    This math is a sleight of hand. I think the real issue is: what percentage of the cars they reported stolen were really stolen?

    If 99.9% of the cars they reported stolen really were stolen he has a point.

    But if say 20% of the time they report a car stolen it was a false report that’s a real problem, no matter whether you divide it by the number of Hertz customers or all the people who have ever rented a car, or all the people who have ever driven a car..

  5. What was not said in this interview: “Our IT systems are atrocious and disconnected from each other, so we still won’t know when a vehicle is safely returned or when a police report has been rescinded. Also, our licensees are on even shittier disparate systems that also don’t talk to each other, and they aren’t part of Hertz so if something happens to you with a licensee rental then it’s not our problem.”

  6. I’m a president circle member, I made a reservation for feb 13-15 2022 in denver. I hand to cancel my trip, I didnt cancel my reservation with hertz.
    A week later I started getting calls from Hertz that I should return the car. I called them back saying I never took a car.
    They still havent refunded me.

  7. Whenever I return a car to Hertz, I take an iPhone photo that shows the car, with its license plate, and the surrounding car lot. The photo will have time and place data on it. That way, I can prove I returned it.

  8. The real question is “How do I best position myself to get arrested because of a Hertz erroneous report” since many here seems to think this is worth $1 mill plus in damages.

    I need 3 hots and a cot, but preferably on a lounger.

  9. @ Yaakov Fleisher I don’t understand why you should get refunded from Hertz if you never canceled your reservation? (This question of course does not address their internal issues of demanding you return a car which you never picked up…)

  10. There is no way I would rent from them with this even being remotely a chance. Also from what I have seen they don’t just simply drop charges or try resolve this quickly instead it haunts the arrested people for quite some time.

  11. “John MacDougall says:
    April 5, 2022 at 10:48 am
    Whenever I return a car to Hertz, I take an iPhone photo that shows the car, with its license plate, and the surrounding car lot. The photo will have time and place data on it. That way, I can prove I returned it.”
    Good. You can show the photo to the police at the police station after you get arrested.

    I will never rent another car from Hertz.

    It is unforgivable to have reported returned cars as stolen, as Hertz did.

  12. I’m looking forward to renting from Hertz, since no one else will. The price will be right, for sure! And, risking a false arrest? That seven figures sounds juicy to me! Forewarned is forearmed.

  13. @Annette Based upon my recent experience at LAX, unless you’re renting a Tesla, you’re probably not getting a car. The lot was nearly empty. Compared to the other companies’ lots I drove by on the way out, something is clearly wrong with Hertz.

  14. Can we also get a class action against Hertz for taking all of our Reward Points during the Pandemic. For those of us that did not rent cars within the 1 year timeline Hertz deducted all of our rewards points, I had been saving my points…Gone! Contacted Customer service wrote letters, they would not waive the 1 year requirement during the pandemic.

  15. “if you look at the several 100 people impacted, we, we engage in 15 million transactions a year, this is 1/100 of a percent of those transactions.” – that’s the stupidest and most irresponsible and arrogant statement that a CEO of a company could make. Imagine the CEO of a hospital or even a pharma company making the same about killing their patients.

    If it’s only 1/100 percent of transactions, then by the same token, they should not care if such a miniscule percent is indeed stolen for real. Why bother reporting such a small percent of stolen cars to police? If it’s a negligible portion to justify false imprisonments, it’s a negligible portion to bother reporting in the first place.

  16. @Gary – You put the wrong spin on this. CEO downplayed when he should have owned a serious issue. Further, you excuse his misinformation as others’ fault (we don’t actually have reason to believe it is others’ fault, and Hertz continues to act in ways that bar giving them the benefit of the doubt).

    Why apologize for this guy? Honestly, he seems like the kind of person I would NOT want to be friends with if I actually knew them. What kind of asshole excuses their shitty behavior by downplaying it?

    Hertz remains firmly in my “nope” list because I simply couldn’t handle being arrested, even if it was based on false accusations. I have a life to live, no time for that shit!

  17. Our baby food kills only 0.01% of babies who eat it!

    Millions of healthy babies can’t be wrong.

    We’re sorry for your loss.

  18. “Do harm to the Company”, what’s that mean, suing them for wrongful arrest and false theft allegations? If anyone is crazy enough to still rent from Hertz and has a Loyalty Account with them, just a tip. Check the price for the same vehicle, same duration, same location as a non-Hertz Member it would be interesting to see how the prices compare.

  19. Amazing, this CEO is whining about what Hertz has done to many, many people. I notice that ALL of the other car rental agencies have not had the same issues, only Hertz. And now this CEO wants to cry about what they have done. What an idiot. Not only does the name Hertz stand for high prices, it also stands for the fact that they have HURT many renters with their asinine legal accusations.

  20. Gary, you have written about Hertz many times, so I thought I would bring your attention to another strange thing. I have a reservation that has a price of $80, but the website/app is now showing a price of over $400!
    After discovering this discrepancy, I checked my other reservations. All of them are now showing higher prices than the original, which can be found in the confirmation emails. I don’t know what’s going on and am wondering if others are experiencing the same nasty surprises.

  21. @Mike – these are Hertz reservations? Did you make them on the Hertz website or through a third party site? Are there Hertz CDP #s you’re using and are those still in the bookings?

  22. @Gary – yes, I made these reservations on the Hertz website. I did use a CDP and it is still in the bookings, although the rates are now different.

  23. @Mike – ok that is weird and I do not envy dealing with Hertz customer service on this, bring your confirmation and deal with it at the counter, and you can always dispute the charge but be prepared for Hertz to say you altered the document they sent you (and try to send you to jail for it heh)

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