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 against the rental car company over the practice, though Hertz told a judge that most customers don’t get falsely arrested so it’s not a huge deal. However it appears that while I’ve been writing about the problem for a couple of years, and Hertz faces an active lawsuit, they still haven’t fixed things and continue to do it.
But this is a rather unique twist on the Hertz saga. Colorado resident Drew Seaser:
- Was arrested for stealing a car from Hertz
- That was rented in Georgia
- Even though he’d never rented from Hertz
- Or been to Georgia
This story doesn’t surprise me. Last summer a reader contacted me when Hertz threatened them with criminal prosecution over a car they never rented. This reader reported receiving a letter that they were supposed to return a car to the Las Vegas airport on June 24 and hadn’t done so – even though they apparently hadn’t left their home state of California since before the pandemic. They gathered credit card receipts and other data to show their location at the time of the supposed rental, but Hertz was apparently non-responsive.
This wasn’t even the only reader dealing with false claims of auto theft from Hertz. And some of the other Hertz customer stories are truly insane.
- A frequent renter drove a Ford Mustang convertible for two months (extending the rental several times), returned it, and paid his bill. It was reported stolen. He traveled back to Florida to contest the charges, with proof of payment. Hertz no-showed the hearing. When he was stopped for a travel violation eight years later he was taken into custody on the outstanding warrant. He was held 40 days, including being transported back to Florida, before charges were dropped.
- Another customer rented a car that Hertz had already reported stolen. He was arrested in front of the Flamingo hotel in Las Vegas for stealing the Toyota Corolla that Hertz flagged as missing six days before the start of his rental contract.
- Still another person who rented from Hertz, and extended her contract, faced police when the company failed to log the extension. She was taken into custody. And “[b]ecause she was on probation for an unrelated theft conviction, Higgs was held in jail for 37 days” before pleading no contest in order to be released.
It seems like Hertz should settle the suit, complications over its bankruptcy emergence notwithstanding, but most importantly Hertz needs to stop doing this no matter how rare. My recommendation in the past never to swap cars or extend a rental with Hertz as a ‘stay out of jail’ strategy doesn’t work when they’re reporting people for auto theft who don’t even rent cars.