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Hertz Car Rental Saga

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We have sent this to Hertz Iceland and Hertz International USA. So far we have not received a response.

Summary. We believe we were rented an unsafe vehicle. First, there was no jack. Second, and more importantly, the right rear tire on the vehicle was defective. This tire did not match the other three tires on the vehicle and upon subsequent inspection was found to have two bulges on the inner sidewall.

Please find below a detailed chronology of our problems with this rental. While it would be nice to be reimbursed for the 7,000 IKR that we spent on repairs that issue is minor compared to the lost holiday time.

30 May 08 – 1600 hours Picked up Toyota RAV4 rental car at Reykjavik Airport.

07 Jun 08 – 1200 hours Flat tire occurs at Ring Road and Road 964. There is no jack in the car!

07 Jun 08 – 1210 hours Repeated calls are placed to the “if your car brakes down” telephone number: 522-4499. There is an an announcement in Icelandic the number is never answered. We then call the Hertz Reykjavik number: 522-4400.

07 Jun 08 – 1225 hours We are eventually connected with a Hertz representative in Egilsstadir. After 20+ minutes he decides that there is no assistance that he can find and he will need to drive to our location. We are 1.5 hours from Egilsstadir which is the town where we began the day.

07 Jun 08 – 1245 hours We stop a fisherman and ask him if he has a jack. He does and offers to help. Unfortunately his jack will not get the car high enough to change the time. The fisherman stops a farmer who goes to his farm and gets some wooden planks that is then used to get the car high enough to change the tire.

07 Jun 08 – 1310 hours We call the Hertz representative from Egilsstadir to tell him we have managed to put on the spare. He returns to Egilsstadir. He suggests that we might be able to find further assistance in Hofn which is over 100 kilometers further along the Ring Road. This man tells us we can drive on the spare, which is one size smaller than the other tires on the car, but we should not exceed 75 kilometers per hour.

07 Jun 08 – 1340 hours We stop at a farm – building – Ruunna – at the suggestion of the fisherman. There is a man there that fixes tires. He fixes the flat but we notice that there are two large bulges in the tire on the sidewall. We know that this tire is completely unsafe to use but we must proceed to Hofn. He charges us 2,000 IKR.

07 Jun 08 – 1730 hours We arrive in Hofn and immediately call Hertz. Once again there is no answer from the Roadside Assistance number. After repeated calls and conversations with a person at Hertz Reykjavik we are given two other numbers to call: 478-1990 and 892-8790. We call these numbers repeatedly and they are never answered.

07 Jun 08 – 1800 hours Once again we make repeated calls to Hertz Reykjavik. The initial response is that we should wait until tomorrow – Sunday – and call the numbers that are not answered. We say that is not acceptable.

07 Jun 08 – 1820 hours We are called by a man – Market (spelling uncertain). He says he will find assistance in Hofn.

07 Jun 08 – 1840 hours Market calls to say that we should contact a man at a garage named Staindtor at 478-1327 at 1000 tomorrow.

08 Jun 08 – 1000 hours We call 478-1327. It is answered by people who are Icelandic, don’t speak English, and never heard of Hertz.

08 Jun 08 – 1010 hours We call
Market. He says he gave us the wrong number and that the garage person will come to our hotel in five minutes.

08 Jun 08 – 1030 hours We follow the Hofn garage person to a garage labeled Michellin. He looks at the repaired tire and says it is unusable under any circumstance. He does not have any tires that are either new or the correct size for the car. He provides a used tire that is one size larger than the other tires on the car. This tire does not fit on the back of the car so we stack our luggage and put the tire in the car. This person insists repeatedly that we can drive at normal speeds on the spare tire and even use it on F roads. We call Hertz once again for advice but are told that no one is available and we should call again on Monday. The Hofn garage man charges us 5,000 IKR. We ask for a receipt but he says to give us a receipt he would need to charge 15,500 IKR!

We further notice that the tire that had the flat was different than the other three tires on the vehicle. Not only was it a different manufacturer with a different tread but it had almost no tread. We take pictures documenting the other tires on the car and the tire which had the flat to include the bulges in the sidewall and the tread.

08 Jun 08 – 1130 hours We continue our travels to include driving up F958 to Joklasel at the base of the Vatnajokull glacier. This is a steep road and includes a river ford due to a washed-out bridge.

08 Jun 08 – 1800 hours We call the Hertz number at the airport and are told we should call the Reykjavik city number tomorrow – Tuesday.

09 Jun 08 – 1030 hours We call the Reykjavik Hertz office and ask to speak to the Hertz Manager in Iceland. We are told he is on an airplane but someone will call us back.

09 Jun 08 – 1050 hours We are called back and a very responsive person – perhaps Katherine – listens to our story. We tell her that we are going to the highlands and she says that we can’t do that with the existing car and she will send another car.

09 Jun 08 – 1400 hours We meet the Hertz representative at the Ring Road and Road 26 and he provides us with a replacement Toyota RAV4. This man is very unhappy when we hears our story. He tells us that it was unsafe to be driving a four wheel drive with different tires sizes. Our space is one size smaller than the other three tires and our other spare – from Hofn – is one size larger. Further he tells us that it is against Icelandic law not only to drive with different tire sizes but with tires on the same front or back that have different treads.

11 Jun 08 – 1320 hours Rental vehicle returned to Reykjavik Airport.

The remainder of our trip is uneventful with no issues whatsoever with the rental vehicle.

Morals. Check for a jack. Even check the tires as best you can. On car rentals you are generally responsible for ALL tire damage. Credit card based car rental insurance may cover this issue but probably not. AmEx coverage does not expect to full size SUVs. A RAV4 is not full size.

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