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.
"It's not acceptable to Hertz to have any customer caught up in what's happened," says @Hertz CEO Stephen Scherr on claims of false arrests. "We will do right where our customers have been negatively affected and we're working to resolve that very quickly." pic.twitter.com/tMrJqdrA83
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) April 4, 2022
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 The theft report was withdrawn when they were found yet these people got caught, you know, in a moment where that that, you know, rescission wasn’t recognized.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.