Why It Hurts to Rent With Hertz

Why It Hurts to Rent With Hertz
Photo by Luca Merz on Unsplash

Over the past few years I have had significant struggles with Hertz to the point where they are now permanently on my blacklist to ever deal with the company or any of their affiliates ever again.

Let me start by saying that Hertz used to be the only rent-a-car company I ever used. They had an awesome corporate rate with my company and I was a top tier President’s Circle member and all of my business and leisure rentals used to happen with Hertz. It was easy to score great upgrades, their staff was fairly friendly, and I never had an issue with returning a car.

"1955 Ford in a Hertz Ad" by dok1 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened, one of the heaviest hit industries was car rental agencies, they had loads of cars that they couldn't rent because nobody was traveling. This pushed Hertz into bankruptcy due to the pandemic and they sold off most of their fleet. Like other companies they struggled for just about a year, then in about mid-2021 everyone started to get the travel fever and vaccines were starting to roll out around the world which meant people could travel again.

I spent about 9 months at home unable to travel for work or pleasure and I too was feeling the need to travel once more. As I felt it was safe to do so once proper testing and protection was available I planned my first trip to Hawaii, the island state was just opening up to tourism again and I was eager to socially distance while still enjoying some fun. After booking my flights I once again turned to Hertz for my rental needs, I booked a full sized car and upon arriving in Hawaii I was told that I was out of luck and that all that had was Economy and Compact cars and they would not have anything larger for days.

This was obviously not the best and while I was reluctant to accept I just wanted to get to the beach and relax, so I took the Compact car. I was also informed that I was not entitled to a refund for the difference between what I booked and what I got because Hertz never guarantees the type of car you'll get. I did get the cost resolved after hours on the phone with customer service, it was extremely frustrating.

Rental Car Army / flickr

Then a few months later I had to rent a car for a single day, I move states and had to fly back to my previous residence to finalize some paperwork that I had to do in person. It was a standard overnight trip, arrive around 10AM on a Monday, pickup a rental car, stay overnight, and leave around 10AM the following day. To Hertz's credit I had only rented a midsize car and they ended up giving me a SUV which was a nice upgrade. However, when I picked up the car I noticed a little bit of fender damage and had the agent notate it and take pictures of it. I should have known right there I should have had them give me a new car.

When I returned the car the next day the agent checking my car in after use stopped me and said that I had damaged the front fender. I tried to explain to them that it was previous damage and that it was already notated on the rental agreement. However somehow all that notation got "lost" and they wanted to claim that it was new damage. Queue me having to speak to a manager and being told I needed to hand over my insurance information before I could leave. I even had pictures and they still told me that I was responsible for the damage.

I was beyond frustrated at this point, they would not believe me or the pictures that I took and wanted to charge my insurance to fix the car. Eventually I got it worked out in my favor days later and they never tried making a claim against me but the whole process was extremely accusatory that I was either trying to hide the damage or that I was lying to them about it.

Hertz will pay $168 million to customers it falsely accused of stealing its cars
Faulty recordkeeping and failure to rescind police reports led to more than 360 false accusations by the rental car company, resulting in arrests, felony charges and jail time for some customers.

And while it didn't happen to me, Hertz has been on a streak of accusing renters of stealing their cars and having them arrested by police even through they have valid rental documents. That alone scares me that it hasn't happened just once or twice, but many times Hertz has marked cars as stolen when they have a valid rental agreement. That's just too much and too scary for me to ever trust this company again.

Final Thoughts

For a company that used to do so well before the pandemic they fell so far down that Hertz and their associated companies Dollar and Thrifty are on my permanent do not rent list. And I make a note to anyone that I know who is thinking about renting from Hertz, to tell them my extremely frustrating and negative experiences. Hertz has permanently lost me as a customer and no amount of Tesla rentals will make up for it.

And if you're curious I now mainly rent from National rent-a-car. I've had a much better and much more consistent experience with them.