Hertz Presidents Club Elite Member Sitting In Jail Due To False Police Report

Hertz has what at this point is a very well-documented problem: they send customers to jail for no good reason. In most cases this appears to be the result of Hertz systems and employees doing bad recordkeeping. When a customer changes cars, or extends a rental, the transaction doesn’t get recorded properly and Hertz doesn’t think their car has been returned. I’ve even seen instances where they continued to rent out a car after claiming it was stolen and having a customer arrested.

The rental car company files about 3300 car theft police reports on their customers each year and even sends people to jail for car theft who never rented their cars (or even entered the state where the cars were located).

What’s perhaps just as shocking about the incompetence – and arrogance in downplaying the issue – is that it appears,

  • To still be ongoing – the lawyers in the class action lawsuit against Hertz have documented cases where this happened in January 2022 (when I first writing about this issue a couple of years ago) and a reader shared with me that it happened this month

  • That is even happens to Hertz’s top tier Presidents Club members.

CBS News reported on President’s Circle customer Charles Doucette being wrongfully arrested last Friday. He is, it seems, currently in Brevard County, Florida jail after having gotten off of a cruise ship.

  • He’s not even a status matched or credit card Presidents Circle member, “in 2020 and 2021 [he] spent over $15,000 with Hertz.”

  • The arrest stems from a Salt Lake City rental in November 2020 where he “properly extended the rental agreement several times,” returned the car and paid $3900 for it.

Here’s a portion of his attorney’s letter to Hertz pleading for help correcting this.

The court ordered him held without bail while waiting for extradition to Arizona for the next 14 days. He could spend many more days in custody while being extradited, an unconscionable outcome.

…We demand that Hertz immediately step in and notify the authorities in Salt Lake City, Mohave County, AZ, and Brevard, FL that the report is withdrawn and that Mr. Doucette needs to be released immediately. Be sure to copy me in on this communication.

…If you need additional details to identify him, he was reported for theft on March 8, 2021. After his car was pulled over and towed on March 18, 2021 in Mohave County, AZ, he called Hertz on March 19, 2021 and asked why a false report was filed. He was assured by a representative that his bill was fully paid, that the rental was closed, and that there was no issue. Nevertheless, he was prosecuted for theft anyway.

Apparently your elite status will not protect you. While this isn’t a foolproof strategy, 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 each rental with Hertz seems like a risk to me.

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. So I switch to Avis for rental last month @ MLI mainly because Hertz wa closed at 6:39 pm Thursday. But just got email alleging tire damage totaling $200+ It’s why I take pictures and rent with AmEx Extra insurance because these greedy corporate types Grumble Grumble

  2. This is one reason I don’t play with their “drop & go” system…sure, drop and “go to jail” two years later.

    Always demand a receipt.

  3. I’m curious does this also happen to the folks renting on corporate contracts? Or do they actually do the leg work required with their antiquated systems when large corporate customers extend or change vehicles?

  4. This is up there with the worst travel story nightmares I have ever heard of
    Only murder torture and death could be worse.And in many ways this is torture
    I hope Hertz is sued till they no longer exist
    I typically dismiss these kind of stories as a one offs
    Never will I rent from Hertz again as I perceive them as vicious criminals

  5. Something is weird here. They’re filing roughly 9 car theft reports on their customers a day. It is realistic that this many people are stealing their vehicles? I do not of course have industry figures but that does sound awfully high. Anyway, the website at: caranddriver.com/news/a39058176/hertz-release-theft-records-rental-cars/ discusses a big lawsuit on the matter and how Hertz has to release a lot of documents, thanks to pressure by CBS news. Maybe then something will change for the better here (or Hertz will be sued into receivership).

  6. Another really good solution, Gary, is to NOT rent a car from Hertz. Instead, rent a vehicle from a company that has its act together and doesn’t call the police on good customers. I have been using National lately, and been VERY happy with their service.

  7. Even more absurd is it possible that some of these ‘stolen’ cars are still active in the Hertz fleet?

  8. Ever since these stories came out my company has put out a memo asking employees to use other rental agencies to avoid any problems. I don’t work for a small corporation so they lost our business.

  9. This is utterly absurd and, frankly, criminal on the part of both Hertz and the police/DAs. When this issue has been documented and ongoing for 2+ years, stolen vehicle reports from Hertz should not be considered probable cause to make an arrest without significant further evidence.

    This is just one of way too many types of cases where arrests are being made without real probable cause. Yet another reason why we need reform on qualified immunity. After this long, continuing to make arrests on cases like this is, at best, criminally negligent.

  10. Hertz used to be #1; after this, they could fail if they don’t get new management.

    If they don’t already have it, they need cameras that scan the car, license, and barcode every time a car enters and leaves the lot. That, plus the video footage should be reviewed before a theft is reported. Moreover, it should be immediately available to renters after they check out. It should put to bed theft allegations. At an Avis in Australia, they also provide a link to photos of the car when you check out, which could be used for proof of damage, or lack thereof, especially if their photos of the prior and next renter of the vehicle are available online to each renter. On another trip to Australia, I caused visible road rash on one of a rental car’s wheels (driving on the wrong side of the road). On return, I pointed it out to the agent, who said “No worries, its not the worst thing Americans do to our cars.”

  11. ” I’ve implored readers over and over renting from Hertz not to change vehicles or extend rentals.”

    Or better yet, don’t use Hertz at all.

  12. Warren Zevon had it about right for this story.

    “Bring lawyers, guns and money, the **** has hit the fan”

    Or at least the lawyers. This is unconscionable.

  13. Gary, have you ever suggested people use a travel agent? I’ve booked 500+ rentals with Hertz over the last 18 months–~45 for a client who regularly extends. And we have never once had an issue because we have engagement on a corporate level. Why do you fail to mention that clients of travel agents DO NOT HAVE THIS PROBLEM?

  14. @John Beeler – Gary probably “fails to mention” what you note because it is irrelevant to the matter at hand, and likely because he believes that American citizens shouldn’t require the backing of a corporate entity such as your travel agency to avoid being thrown in jail without cause. Just a hunch.

  15. @John Beeler So I should use a travel agent because Hertz is a failing corrupt corporation?

    That might work well for my company, I feel like my employees are at risk when they book personal travel. For me, the answer was to move everything over to Avis.

  16. If the police and prosecutors stopped kowtowing to businesses that can’t get their act together, this kind of injustice would be less of a problem than it has become.

    Unfortunately, the court system, the prosecutors and the police are so heavily biased in favor of business interests that they support businesses over supporting justice.

  17. My company also stopped listing Hertz as an option when booking travel. It would be a liability to have a high ranking employee stuck in jail with no option for bail due to a fraudulent stolen car charge.

  18. This is a complete and utter failure of their IT systems and processes. Not to mention customer service and training as well as everything a management team should be doing as part of their responsibility. How on earth can they possibly allow such gaps in their ability to manage the car return process and failure to have appropriate checks in place to avoid such a fiasco? For such an extended period of time?

    This has got to be one of the saddest, pathetic leadership of any business, to allow innocent customers be thrown in jail for their own incompetence. I would be understanding if this was a one-off situation and someone took action to remediate what caused it in the first place, but it’s been ongoing for 2 years and they have done nothing apparently to prevent it from reoccurring. This isn’t like some kind of delinquent payment that you can argue with a bill collector on. You are up against the police and all of the powers that come with it. How can a person be able to fight that?

    I hope they get sued to the ground for this.

  19. Better hope the poor customer survives the Brevard County jail system. Our sheriff loves the absolute power and secrecy that our local government gives him. Several unexplained deaths later…there’s still no transparency as Sheriff Ivey claims that any transparency would compromise his department’s ability. BS.

  20. @John Beeler – A renter on your books with successful extensions doesn’t mean the risk doesn’t exist, nor does it mean corporate relationships confer immunity.

    This is a systemic risk with very low probability but high severity for those caught up in it and Gary is right to warn travelers regardless of booking channels.

  21. 1) The Hertz management should be criminally prosecuted for filing false reports.
    2) The company should be dissolved. Those who have been abused by this criminal activity should get first pick of cars from the fleet.
    3) Congress needs to investigate. Not that I’m a big fan of Congress, but here’s one area they could do some good.

    A couple of questions:
    1) Has their been any problem of this sort with Dollar and Thrifty?
    2) Has there been any problem of this sort at overseas outlets?

  22. Jim Baround said everything: you should ALWAYS ask for a final receipt after returning your rental car.
    I know it’s getting harder and harder to put your hands on a receipt, but it’s our right to receive one at the end of our rental and we should always demand one.
    There’s a reason they don’t want to give us a receipt, if we don’t have one, we can’t prove we returned the car and they can charge us for damages or other things they wouldn’t be able if we had a “Return receipt”.

  23. Stop blaming just Hertz. Every single cop who participated in the arrest of this man and every single jail guard who holds this man and every single prosecutor and judge who does not drop charges and release this man should be arrested and spend at least life in prison for their actions. It’s up to the police to verify with absolute certainty the veracity of claims. If they don’t, they are doing evil and claim they are just doing their jobs. They should not be arresting people on warrants without giving people who were unaware of a warrant the opportunity to challenge it. Citizens should not spend a second in jail because someone filed charges they were not made aware of previously. The process is punishment and abuse.

    If these men or their families took action outside the legal system on the cops or the families of cops who arrested them, it would be morally justified and fair. The system will never hold their enforcers accountable. Sometimes the only way to get justice is to do so directly.

  24. Perhaps all these lost /stolen cars from Hertz are actually cars they have disposed of from the fleet during the pandemic?

    Has someone at Hertz even checked their “active” fleet vehicle logs versus the “disposed” fleet?

    This is what bankruptcy has done to them. This once great company, (and I mean great) that never let me down when I booked them all over the world, has lost my business forever.

    The ongoing saga with Hertz should be front-page headlines in every newspaper, along with local and national TV news outlets around the world (for a solid week or longer) until they’re shut down by every government regulatory agency that has the power to put these bankrupt crooks out of business!

  25. Hi Gary,

    Thank you for your blog regarding Hertz. I currently am seeking assistance with my case. My experience was so awful and humiliating, that I had not toldy family. I did not know, until now that they have made other people suffer. I need assistance with representation…asap. Can you assist with getting me information on the attorney handling the class action lawsuit?

  26. Hertz said in a statement that “situations where vehicles are reported to the authorities are very rare and happen only after exhaustive attempts to reach the customer.” The company did not respond to questions about Doucette’s case.

    so Hertz is fully aware of the situation.

    Hertz execs must be killed.

  27. Mark Fields

    Paul E. Stone

    Darren Arrington

    Angela Brav

    Alexandra Brooks

    Kenny Cheung

    M. David Galainena

    Tim Langley-Hawthorne

    Eric Leef

    Joe McPherson

    Laura Smith

    Once all of these people are in Hell, there will no longer be a problem of false police reports filed by Hertz.

  28. “The court ordered him held without bail”

    This is why bail reform is important folks. Innocent people trapped in jail because a corporation said so.

  29. What @Allen said. Social media should be flooded with things like #ShutHertzDown. Not just the “big name” travel bloggers, but even any regular visitors to those sites who use twitter, etc. It needs to constantly be in the face of anyone looking up Hertz on social media.

    I hate cancel culture sort of crap, but this company has gone way past the point where trying to be more polite or positively constructive would be helpful. They’re ruining innocent people’s lives and simply don’t care. And they’ve known about it for years.

  30. Hertz should be prosecuted for filing false police reports. Once one or two of their people are indicted they will be more careful. Also, as someone else has pointed out, because of their track record no district attorney should consider a Hertz stolen car report as credible evidence.

  31. If anyone here still rents from Hertz I sure would like to know why. This company needs to be put out of business and those filing false police reports need to be prosecuted.

  32. Horrific.

    I’m extremely curious to know why:
    1. Police/DA continue to accept Hertz filings at face value;
    2. Hertz hasn’t become subject to criminal investigation/charges (assuming that we’d know if a criminal investigation had become formalized.)

  33. I received two text messages this week saying that my HERTZ contract had expired (which I thought was just SPAM) and then another today from the same number saying that due to a failure to return the vehicle it was now being sent to a recovery service at my expense. I refenced the included RR number at the bottom of the message, and was surprised to see that this was for a rental 10 days ago in Canada, where everything remained within the parameters of what was booked, was charged accordingly to my CC, and paper receipt was received when I returned the vehicle.

    I called HERTZ to find out what the problem was. Thankfully, their records also indicated I returned the car, but they couldn’t explain why I was receiving these messages! The agent just said “it must be a mistake”.

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