Hertz Mass Cancelling Car Reservations For Later This Month via Robocall

Hertz was once the rental company for business travelers. In this extended montage from Up in the Air when George Clooney is grounded in Omaha he wants to buy a Chrysler Sebring from Hertz.

The rental car business has consolidated, and is under pressure from ridesharing. Hertz owns Thrifty and Dollar. And they’re simply not reliable anymore in my opinion. In fact last year they told me that reservations are never guaranteed. If you make a booking with Hertz you cannot be assured that a car will be there when you show up.

It was straight out of Seinfeld.

So it’s no real surprise that Hertz is mass cancelling reservations later this month during the solar eclipse. They’re cancelling so many bookings, in advance, that they’re not letting customers know individually. They’re making robocalls. (HT: Bob L.)

Hertz even has a web page dedicated to renting a car and seeing the eclipse. And of course they do have some cars.

They’re just deciding which people they duped into booking will get their reservations honored since they’re able to keep selling cars, at very high prices, even after their inventory was completely spoken for.

When Oregon hotels started cancelling guests during the eclipse the state Department of Justice got involved.

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. I rented from Hertz Local in Colorado Springs (got there via Lyft since Uber is dropoff only at COS) last February for a hockey tournament. Instead of a compact at COS, I got a 4×4 Toyota 4Runner (what I actually drive at home and love) for the same price, so I grabbed the deal. When I arrived, they could not find the truck. Turns out, one of their employees had been driving it as her “personal” vehicle, and despite the “No Smoking” stickers everywhere, had been smoking in it heavily. They eventually got it there, washed it, and knocked out some of the smell with air freshener before giving me a free day on my rental (though not costing me any of the points I was going to earn on that day, which was cool). Was it worth the hassle? Barely…but I’d still do the same thing to have a better and more capable vehicle, especially when one of our games was played up in the mountains 40 miles away. The weather was great that week, but had it not been, I’d have gotten to the game with ease while a lot of others in their little cars would have struggled.

  2. This is concerning. I have a car rental with Hertz at GSP to see the eclipse. Just checked and it’s still booked. Fingers crossed there is a car at the airport when I arrive!

  3. Does anyone know someone who has an actual recording of the robocall that Hertz supposedly made? For something that’s being portrayed as a major issue, there have only been a small handful of cases so far reported via Twitter, and none elsewhere that we can find. Hertz may very well be canceling some reservations, but so far, according to our research, it’s only a few isolated cases.

  4. One time at FLL, I reserved a midsize once and they literally tried to give me a minivan once, claiming that it was an “upgrade” from my current reservation. I made a fuss and the gentleman went to speak with his supervisor, and ended up offering me a Camaro for only $10/day more. Hmmm… riding around South Beach in a minivan or a Camaro? …hard decision.

  5. I rent frequently from Hertz and although I’ve never had my reservations cancelled, they often don’t have any cars ready when I show up. I would wait an hour for a card to become ready, and then end up with a huge van. I have President’s Circle status but most of the time they won’t assign a car to me at my location.

    The garage is usually full of cars so it’s not that they don’t have cars; they just don’t have enough people who can ready the cars, bring keys to the desk, or staff the desk. There’s usually one poor staff dealing with a dozen angry customers.

    The funny thing is that I’ve still had worse experiences at the same location with Avis, Budget, etc so I just tolerate it and reserve early, since getting to another location is a bigger hassle than waiting an hour or two.

  6. Sorry to hear that Hertz is going downhill, that has not been my experience (except in Cancun), but then I’m an infrequent renter. With all the ranting about Hertz, I am curious as to which company is viewed as better, since I’ve always found Avis to be a step below, with Budget and Alamo two steps down. Thrifty and Advantage are so bad that I would never rent from them again…

  7. @Penguin What location are you renting from? At most major airports these days you just pick a car and go via Hertz Ultimate Choice.

  8. Had a terrible experience with Hertz in Italy 2 weeks ago. I am a President’s Circle member and one of the perks of this status is to have the car you reserved guaranteed. I had reserved a car that could fit my family of four and five pieces of luggage comfortably. When I arrived at Hertz they did not have the car. They offered me a small car that would not fit all our luggage even if I placed some in the rear seat between my two kids. They had a car that would fit us all but according to them that was a premium car and they would not give me unless I agreed to pay extra which I refused. After wasting almost 2 hours of my family’s vacation arguing with them I ended up getting a high mileage station wagon that barely fit our bags. Before I did a walk around the car I was informed the rear door had a “little” dent. OMG!!! The door was completely smashed that it almost did not open. I could not believe that nightmare. I took several pictures of the car and tweeted to Hertz. At the end I got a big discount on my rate but will not rent from Hertz again.

  9. For most renters, where you rent is as important as who you rent from. At most locations, National are the hands down winners, but if you get a National outstation, they can be really hit or miss. Budget is the same way. Hertz gets my business only when they’re cheapest by a significant margin.

  10. Troubling – I have a reservation at CHS. I hope that picking up the day before will protect me a bit.

  11. Best Hertz move I have scene was in MCO during Christmas. Was offering smart cars to anyone who had an economy or compact reservation. Only option was to pay up for an upgrade. Genius!

  12. @AutoSlash

    I usually rent from 30th Street Station at Philadelphia, the main station in the city.
    It actually has an airport code ZFV for the United-Amtrak code sharing program so sometimes it counts as an airport for Hertz discounts.

  13. @Penguin As a PC member, you really shouldn’t have to wait around that long for a car. I’d suggest calling and speaking to a manager about your experiences there. Also be sure to fill out the survey at the end of the rental. The location does look at those (or at least they do elsewhere).

    Waiting around is not that uncommon, but as a PC member, you really should be given priority. Another thing you can do is to call ahead an hours before to let them know you’re on the way and in a rush and to be sure they have your contract prepared and car ready since you’re in a rush. This really shouldn’t be needed, especially as a PC member, but if they consistently fall down on the job, you sometimes have to call them on it (literally).

  14. How about the car rental companies that tell my clients to upgrade for a few dollars a day then show my travel agency booking as cancelled thereby not paying the commission. I have documented this with several clients.

  15. Weekly renter. I have moved from Avis to National and I have not looked back. The Avis operation at LAX is simply a disgrace.

  16. @AutoSlash

    Thanks for the tips AutoSlash 🙂 I always fill out the survey and have left emails to the corporate contacts. The location has taken away Hertz Gold signs so status doesn’t matter here I guess. Sometimes a customer would triumphantly cut the line saying “I’m Hertz Gold!” and then everyone in the line shouts “I’m 5-Star” “I’m PC” “Go line up like everyone else!” so it could be entertaining at times. Despite the lack of staff the location always seems to have “Most Sales Made in Region” awards posted on the wall so I’m sure it’s corporate strategy to run a bare bones operation knowing that there aren’t good alternatives or competitors around.

  17. Just stay away from the LAX Hertz location. The last time I had to interact with them, they got me so enraged that I literally thought I was going to have a stroke. I had booked a month-long prepaid rental. They gave me a totally unacceptable vehicle and when I came back to exchange it the next day, I spent three hours and got absolutely nowhere. Finally I turned the car in and walked away from over $1000 I had prepaid. That was the third terrible experience in two years and I was done. National is much, much better.

  18. Hertz is definitely going downhill. Here are just two examples. I am Hertz Gold/President’s Circle. On the day after Christmas I arrived at ORF and was told they did not have a car for me. I had a reservation I made months ahead of time. AND I HAD PREPAID! They had my money and I was one of their best customers. I waited for 4 hours, NO CAR. I finally called a relative to come get me, and told Hertz cancel my reservation and I wanted a full refund. The local people at ORF gave me a $100 voucher and began the refund process. I went out of my way to let company headquarters know via email what happened and that is should not have happened. The response was awful. No sympathy, it was a busy time, blah, blah …… these things happen, live with it.
    Second example: Tried to make a reservation online for the BKK airport. The web page said I needed to call International Reservations. I did. Made everything clear. BKK airport. The reservation I got via email was for pick up in downtown BKK. Repeat call. Same thing. I finally went to rentalcars.com and got my vehicle for the BKK airport. Hertz has noticeably gone downhill from my point of view or the past few years.

  19. If you want cheap rates and flexibility then there will be service issues. Just think if making a rental car reservation was like booking an airline ticket. You had the cheapest rate being all prepaid and non refundable. For those who wanted the flexibility to cancel you have to pay 5 times as much. No one books their rental car first.

  20. Many people think that prepaying guarantees you a car vs. pay-at-counter which does not. This is completely false.

    It’s not like the rental company sees that they have 10 prepaids and 100 pay-at-counter, and then sets aside 10 cars when they start running low. In the vast majority of cases, all reservations are treated the same. When the rental company runs out of cars, they run out of cars.

    Reservations that were prepaid get refunded. Pay-at-counter customers just get turned away even though the rental company technically is supposed to cover any difference in price if you rent elsewhere. Generally they will try to weasel out of this, but you can make them pay up with some persistence.

  21. Thank you, AUTOSLASH for the tips. Something else that I thought was going on at the Hertz counter that day, the day after Christmas. As I was waiting the 4 hours for my car (before giving up), two other people got cars (they were in “line for cars” ahead of me). It was my sense that these people were “walk ups” and that Hertz made the decision to rent to them at the exorbitant “walk up” rate – and give them a car when it came in, rather than honor other people who had reservations (like me) which I’m sure was at a lesser rate than what the “walk up” rate was. This seems unethical to me, but probably not illegal. Also, AUTOSLASH, are you associated with the webpage of the same name?

  22. I rent from Enterprise…three times over the past six months…three different locations…each time the service was great…the cars or truck were new or current model year…the only complaint is they seem to vacuum their vehicles less than they used to…just the same my/our “go to” company for years…usually hassle free…except at Orlando International Airport where they pushed a bit too hard on the upsell and ancillaries (glitzy car, GPS, etc.) and the person should’ve stopped trying after we already stepped up one category because the car in the next price point was a perfect match for our needs, while the other car at a higher price point pushed the boundaries of taste and ostentatiousness especially for a business trip (which we also made clear, but fell on deaf ears until they began opening up the door to te car and we had to tell the agent they were getting in the wrong car…)…even so, we understood the agent was just trying to do their job, and everything else for that rental went very well…

  23. Gary,
    What is your source that states Hertz is “mass cancelling”? The only article you cite does not use the word “mass”. In fact, that source discusses “a handful of customer complaints”.

  24. There really should be legal action here. If Hertz is cancelling reservations and then re renting the same cars at a higher rate then that is just despicable. Its one thing if they ran out of cars, but to take additional reservations at a higher rate and pull cars away from people who already booked is just plain wrong.

  25. Sad. Used to find Hertz so reliable until they started their doomed Hertz 24/7. The worst experience ever was for multiple mystery charges on a one-day rental at Johannesburg airport. A week later I personally spoke with the station manager about my experience. She was sympathetic but the insanity of their mystery charges (all of which I eventually got reversed) on such a paltry rental was mystifying. Their Gold Rewards program could also benefit from a total overhaul. Have instead used mostly Budget and Enterprise in the past two years with somewhat better results.

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