Hertz Went After Another Reader For Stealing Car They Returned, Says “Oops”

Hertz has become known for broken systems that don’t track their cars properly. It seems that just because a vehicle is returned, and gets re-rented, that doesn’t mean Hertz knows it ever came back. And though they claim otherwise, they seem to have a hair trigger for reporting cars stolen (or at least threatening customers that they will).

The rental giant argues that this is rare (a small percentage of total rentals) and a thing of the past (they’ve made process improvements). But it seems to keep happening. And though it may represent a small portion of transactions, readers of this blog keep reporting that it happens to them.

Fortunately for Jason Hertz only threatened criminal prosecution over a vehicle he rented and returned, and he shares in the comments about another reader Hertz threatened to have arrested for making the simple mistake of renting from them.

Happened to us recently. We are Hertz Five Star members. Received text messages and a letter in the mail threatening arrest/legal action. ..[T]here was nothing abnormal about the rental whatsoever.

I called customer service and they saw the rental was closed properly, and agents at the location itself saw the same. Only Hertz vehicle control did not. While Vehicle Control said it must be “just a mistake”, they refused to send me any documentation confirming this, continuously claiming they “did not have the resources to provide us anything like that”.

We had to get a manager at the rental location to at least send us an email stating that the Vehicle Control messages were incorrect, and our contract had been closed.

If you’re going to keep renting from Hertz, document that you’ve returned the car. And if you get pulled over for driving a vehicle that’s been reported stolen, even if you properly rented the vehicle from Hertz, remember no sudden movements. Have your license, rental contract, and insurance available before the officer approaches the vehicle or announce your acttion to get these clearly and don’t make sudden movements.

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. The big question becomes:

    Even though the percentage is low, why do you still rent from them? Are you so attached to the benefits you feel it is worth the risk? If your company has an agreement with them, get HR to give you a letter that they will immediately pay and and all related expenses plus trauma benefits. I recommend telling your corporate planner you will just submit the expense from another company for reimbursement and you refuse to be put at risk.

    If you continue to use them, quit crying. It is on you at this point.

  2. I rented from them through Hotwire and was not pleased but what could I do?

    My experience at JFK in NY was concerning. The woman in the return area refused to provide a proof of return and became belligerent when I complained. I went to the rental desk and complained and they provided a confirmation of return. That said, I did not feel comfortable with the whole experience.

  3. Hertz used to be “number one” and has had preferred locations within airports. Their express service used to be great and justified slightly higher prices. Now I don’t trust them at all. (I also don’t trust Enterprise, but that’s another story.)

  4. Literally walked away from a rental car counter this morning after National told me they were out of vehicles. Hertz was the only other desk with staff in this small regional airport, and I still know I made the best decision I could by walking away.

    A rental car is not worth risking my life.

  5. @RD you don’t need that receipt and it won’t help you. Just take a selfie with the return agent, make sure location tagging is on, and immediately upload that photo to social media tagging Hertz (which gives you incontrovertible proof of timestamp).

  6. “The rental giant argues that this is rare (a small percentage of total rentals)”

    This is the wrong metric. I’d like to see the actual number of cars stolen by their customers vs number of cars they report to the police were stolen by their customers.

  7. @JorgeGeorge: Class actions are not that big of deal. The plaintiff’s lawyers fees all get paid the by defendants, and the class members get something like $25 off coupons for their next rental from Hertz. Most people wont bother to file a claim and Herts lives happily ever after. Can you name ANY significant company that was “destroyed” by a class action lawsuit? I didn’t think so. The falsely arrested renters will do better suing on their own for false arrest, defamation, and infliction of emotional distress.

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