Reader Didn’t Rent From Hertz, Got Emailed A Receipt And Credit Card Charge Anyway

Reader Jeff received an email receipt from Hertz even though he hadn’t picked up a rental car from them. It turns out that he made a booking at the Austin airport, but just didn’t use it. Nonetheless Hertz showed him picking up the car, driving 100 miles, and returning it the next evening. They billed him $91.77.

The good news is he got a receipt – they checked the vehicle back in – so they don’t think he stole it.

What do you do if this happens to you?

  • If you’re not going to pick up a rental car, cancel the reservation
  • Call the rental company. They won’t know how to help, but will probably ‘open a case’
  • Try reaching out to the local location. A manager there might be able to help sort it.
  • Collect any information you can showing where you were at the time the car was being picked up. (This reader was in a Lyft, nowhere near the rental location)
  • Dispute the charge

Jeff was surprisingly reluctant to dispute the Hertz charge, afraid to get banned by them (most people wouldn’t consider renting from them again!). He says he “likes their Teslas.”

This with the rental car company that won’t withdraw false auto theft charges, afraid that doing so would hurt their credibility. Hertz really does seem to have broken processes and IT systems, although I’m at a bit of a loss how they managed to attribute a rental to someone who wasn’t there – they’re supposed to check IDs and match those to contracts, unless of course someone with the same name had a rental on the same day and a clerk pulled the wrong booking.

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, 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. Dispute of with the CC company and move on. So wants to do business with Hertz anymore? Consider it a blessing if they ban you.

  2. They need to figure this out. Hertz had been my go to for the last 15 years…business and personal. But with all the arrests, I stopped renting from them 2 years ago. The risk/reward just isn’t there.

    They are losing satisfied, paying customers due to stupidity.

  3. Who in their right mind would ever rent from Hertz. How are they still in business??

  4. @Gary – Serious question here: Do you only run across this stuff for Hertz, because you pretty much only target them for scathing criticism? I’m not saying they don’t deserve to be called out for their mistakes but surely the other big players are doing similar things, even on a smaller scale. You spread justified criticism of airlines around pretty well; It just looks like you’re holding a personal grudge against Hertz by not doing the same.

  5. I totally agree with LennyD above, but sadly too many people are unaware of the Hertz issues and will continue to rent from them until Hertz is shut down. I cannot imagine the trauma I would experience as an older law abiding citizen my whole life to be pulled over much less thrown in jail. And at this point, shouldn’t every darn police dept in the land be aware of this insanity and use their discretion when encountering an alleged stolen vehicle? Walk or take a cab…anything but rent from THEM.

  6. @Christian – I have zero personal animus towards Hertz, I occasionally call out Sixt for not having the cars they let customers reserve, but I just don’t see the same things happening regularly with Avis/National.

  7. This literally happened to me last year. I made a Hertz reservation but my flight was canceled so I never picked up the car. Nevertheless I got an email receipt for my reservation showing the miles driven and everything.

    Luckily I called the airport location and got it resolved quite easily. JUST KIDDING! Airport locations never, ever pick up the phone and their voicemails are usually full…not that they’d ever call you back.

    Fortunately, as a President’s Circle member I have a dedicated line to customer service reps comparable to the Hilton HHonors Diamond desk and Delta Diamond Medallion line. JUST KIDDING! I called their only customer service line and got some guy in the Philippines who was trying his hardest to understand what happened but was entirely unable to help me.

    The rep told me to go to the location in person for assistance. But again, my flight was canceled. I was 1,000 miles away from that location and didn’t desire to fly there simply to talk to a Hertz rep at the airport.

    Eventually I just disputed it with my credit card company and won. F Hertz so very much. I don’t know why I didn’t switch to National sooner.

    (Also, if I remember correctly, my rental was also at Austin!)

  8. @GreggB – You can dispute with the credit card company but that isn’t a “get out of jail free card”. Companies can dispute the charge back on the premise you got value or that they full filled their obligations and you won’t get your money back. I had a friend that disputed a charge for a condo rental with Capital One during COVID when he couldn’t go to the location and the contract he signed specifically said he was due money back under those conditions. Capital One originally credited it back and then 2 months later clawed it back and charged him the full amount after the rental company disputed the chargeback. People act like you can dispute anything with a credit card company and it will go away but, outside of clear fraud that often isn’t the case.

  9. You’re right, but inept companies like Hertz are usually unlikely to respond to the dispute in time. Also, from personal experience you’re far less likely to succeed with Chase/Capital One disputes than with AMEX disputes. AMEX treats you like you’re innocent until proven guilty, Chase/Capital One treat you like you’re guilty until proven innocent.

  10. Rented from Avis last Saturday night (actually 1am Sunday) one way LGA-BOS. Returned the car around 5pm Sunday, was not offered and did not get a receipt. Checked web Monday am, receipt showed a charge for insurance which I had denied but only 50 miles driven. Should have been 200+, it’s a shame I had unlimited miles!
    Moral of the stories all seem to be “Get a receipt when you return the car”. I’ve been Executive Elite at National for 5+ years and have only had good experiences with returns. Maybe I’m spoiled, but I often have my receipt emailed to me before I’m on the shuttle bus back to the terminal.
    I recognize most of us don’t have time to wait around for receipts when there’s a flight to catch, but maybe we’re too trusting that these giant corporations.aren’t trying to squeeze every penny every time.

  11. Hi AC.
    I spent about 25+ years in the airline industry and did everything but fly the planes, turn a wrench, or serve the drinks.

    You are likely to just get aggravation fighting with a huge corporation. Disputing the charge may not be a perfect solution, but the CC company gets to do the fighting for you. If you don’t win there (or you want to rachet up the noise), you can complain to Hertz too. It’s not a panacea, and I didn’t intend to leave that impression.

  12. I had something similar happen with National a few years ago. Got a mystery charge for $250 that nobody could explain after months of calls; chargeback resulted in a receipt for someone else’s rental that just happened to originate at the same location at around the same time. I dropped the chargeback since they threatened collections if I won with Chase, and amazingly still rent from them due to a great corporate rate and lack of other options…

  13. Definitely agree with Adam’s comparison of disputing with Amex vs. Chase (don’t have experience on this with Cap One because I rarely ever actually use my Cap One card.) The times I’ve needed to dispute something with Amex, I had no problem getting the money back immediately. I’ve had one dispute filed with Chase, over an erroneous Hyatt charge. For some reason, Hyatt inexplicably charged me something like $43 after an award stay. I called them to ask what it was for and without ever even saying why the charge happened, they immediately issued a refund. However, somehow, the mistake was made again and a second charge issued for the same amount. I called again and, once again, they immediately issued a refund. However, apparently someone either someone fat-fingered which charge that was supposed to be a refund for or Chase just messed up because Chase (without any action on the part of Hyatt) identified it as an erroneous double refund and removed the second refund. So, I filed a chargeback with Chase. I explained the whole situation, Hyatt agreed it was there fault and that I should have received both refunds. Even after the whole situation had been explained in detail to Chase (with the full agreement of Hyatt,) Chase declined the charge back.

  14. Also, agreed with Adam on the frustrations of trying to contact a Hertz location. I needed to check on the status of a vehicle damage incident from a Hertz rental a few months ago. Tried calling the location at least a dozen times over the course of several weeks. Never had anyone answer and voicemail box was full. Corporate couldn’t contact anyone there to have them call me back or get an answer, either. Their answer was that I should call the location… Which, of course, I explained that I had already attempted unsuccessfully many times. Never did get through to them. And, yes, this was with President’s Circle. When I was actually at that location during the rental, the people there were actually very helpful, but contacting them again afterwards proved simply impossible. (And being 4,400 miles away from said location, just dropping by wasn’t really much of an option.)

  15. When I read stories like this, I always wonder … what do people think will happen when computers run everything? This is a taste of it, and it’s going to get far, far worse every year. Pretty soon everyone without a very strong credit card is going to spend their lives trying to unscrew something a computer did. Over and over and over. Perhaps some calamity will come along and travel providers will be forced to HIRE PEOPLE who can think, train them, and compensate them for giving good customer service. Probably not in my lifetime … I’m grateful for my Chase Reserve, that’s for sure.

  16. Sounds like Hertz is basically a criminal enterprise now. I don’t for the life of me understand why a state AG has not charged the company and its executives with criminal racketeering. Maybe they all receive complimentary 5* status?

  17. Only an idiot would rent from Hertz. Anyone that does so and has this type of misfortune should not complain. They deserved what they got.

  18. “Hertz really does seem to have broken processes and IT systems, although I’m at a bit of a loss how they managed to attribute a rental to someone who wasn’t there”

    That is EXACTLY the core issue: a company whose IT has been broken for YEARS but somehow manages to charge a non-renter for a rental that never happened needs to be liquidated.

  19. this happens in airport locations where there’s gold service the contract automatically opens I think a half hour after your reservation time… this happened to me a whole bunch of times the funny thing is when it happened to me I didn’t receive a email showing a new contract being opened all I saw was a pending charge on my credit card and then after the rental was officially over they closed it out and made up some mileage amount… they’re system is messed up and if you need stuff fixed you just gotta call the Presidents circle billing line 8884448600 they always resolve your problems again this has happened to me and the past and all it took was one phone call to them on the other hand if you dispute the charge 1st of all they will put you on the do not rent list and they could send it to collections which is a huge headache… I’m speaking from experience you just have to know how to navigate they’re whole system speak to the right departments and your good. never try fighting with a corporate company like hertz they usually win and your left with a headache best is just to work it out with them by speaking to the right department.

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