A cautionary tale about renting from hertz

Old Sep 14th, 2021, 11:26 PM
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A cautionary tale about renting from hertz

I would like to share my experience with Hertz in hopes of saving other travelers from bad business practices that I wish I had been warned of. I planned a summer road-trip with my family and reserved a rental car with Hertz through AAA. Prior to leaving, I called Hertz to confirm the reservation and their business hours. We flew 1,100 miles away and caught a taxi to the Hertz location (on time), where we were told that the vehicle that we reserved was not available, and that the only car they had available was a "luxury" vehicle that was twice as expensive as the car that we had reserved. (Side note: the "luxury" vehicle was a 2 year-old Chrysler with over 57k miles, and an airbag warning light that kept coming on). We called some other rental car companies, but at that point, availability was scarce. We contacted Hertz customer service and were told that they would refund us the $700 upgrade fee since they rented out the car that we had reserved. When we returned from our trip, we called customer service again and were told that they would not give us a refund. One representative I spoke with told me that this was because we "could have rented from someone else", and another representative told me that Hertz does not guarantee availability when customers make reservations. This basically means that when you make a reservation with Hertz, you're not really reserving a car. You might as well just show up without a reservation and ask if they have any cars available.
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Old Sep 14th, 2021, 11:44 PM
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Welcome to Fodors. Sorry this happened to you. . . . but " . . . another representative told me that Hertz does not guarantee availability when customers make reservations. This basically means that when you make a reservation with Hertz, you're not really reserving a car. "

Could have said " . . . This basically means that when you make a reservation with Hertz, Avis you're not really reserving a car."

or "
. . . This basically means that when you make a reservation with Hertz, Avis Budget you're not really reserving a car."

No agency guarantees a specific model/size/class of car. Me personally, I would not have hung up with the first CS rep until they had sent me an e-mail or text stating for the record they would issue a refund. A phone call is just that - talk. You want a 'paper trail'.
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Old Sep 15th, 2021, 05:47 AM
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it is quite reasonable to expect that there will be a car in that class available. So this is a fair warning that in this new travel era rental car availability might be an issue, and it's not excusable that Hertz didn't have any vehicles in the same class, or offer the other car for the same price.

I have higher confidence in airport locations having cars, but these days nothing is guarenteed it seems.
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Old Sep 15th, 2021, 06:13 AM
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Things are weird these days in the rental-car industry. They got rid of a lot of inventory during covid and are now trying to recover and get back to business as usual. What was "reasonable" two years ago might not be reasonable today.
Have you tried contacting your credit-card company to contest the charge?Your case is a little weak since you don't have any documentation about the promised refund, and you did rent the car. But you can try.
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Old Sep 15th, 2021, 08:39 AM
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That sounds annoying. I agree it's not good for rental car companies to reserve a car for you, yet not have one available, when you show up on time.
I don't know how rental car companies could guarantee a car, though, given their loosey-goosey reservation policies.
Not that I'm complaining, but you can reserve a car with no money down, no credit card, and no cancellation fees.

Last car we rented was very expensive, because it was a pick-up in Seattle and a drop-off in Portland. I had reserved an intermediate vehicle from Budget, via Costco. When we showed up, the lady at Budget was so insistent that we would not like the 'very small' car we'd reserved, and kept pushing us to upgrade to a larger SUV. She was overly persistent about it. We refused, and were perfectly happy with the Subaru wagon we reserved.

But, the good news was that our plans changed, and we needed to return the car five days early, in Seattle instead of Portland. Budget auto rental was very good at prorating our price and crediting our bill for the difference. We were pleasantly surprised, as we assumed we'd need to pay the full price.
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Old Sep 15th, 2021, 11:53 AM
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Seinfeld feels your pain. One of the best scenes ever!

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Old Sep 15th, 2021, 11:54 AM
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Oh well, just google "Seinfeld Rent a car."
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Old Sep 15th, 2021, 12:20 PM
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try joining a membership club.......that may help.......Hertz is supposed to promise your car you requested.........call directly...........Costco seems in the past has been on point....
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Old Sep 15th, 2021, 12:44 PM
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maitai tom beat me to it!
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Old Sep 15th, 2021, 12:47 PM
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"Costco seems in the past has been on point...."

Costco does not rent cars -- they are merely an agent/broker that arranges rentals, usually at a discount, through most the usual suspects.
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Old Sep 15th, 2021, 12:53 PM
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rental car companies have memberships you can join.....that may help
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Old Sep 15th, 2021, 12:55 PM
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I've never had a car company charge me extra because they only had larger cars on hand at the time of rental. That's THEIR mistake, not yours.

Forget these customer service phone people and demand an explanation on Hertz's national facebook page. You'll get better action there.

However, it probably depends on what the language actually was at pickup time. If they said "would you like to wait until a compact car becomes available, or would you like to upgrade for $100 more per day" and you chose the latter...then there's probably not much that you can do about it. Your answer should have been "if you don't have the car that we reserved, then I expect another car at the same price or lower".

If you join the "Hertz Number 1 Club" or "Avis Preferred" etc....you usually wouldn't get these shenanigans from the counter agent. But I think some Hertz locations are corporate and some are independent....and the independent ones are probably less likely to follow the Hertz terms and conditions to the T.

Also, the outcome of your complaint might depend on just where you rented the vehicle....this is in the Hertz terms: "1. The law in some places imposes a penalty on a rental company for its failure, in certain circumstances, to offer to rent a vehicle in accordance with a confirmed reservation. Where that is the case, Hertz or the relevant Hertz licensee will do as the law requires."

Last edited by clarkgriswold; Sep 15th, 2021 at 01:16 PM.
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Old Sep 15th, 2021, 01:01 PM
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the best is supposed to be National.,Dollar and Hertz memberships............maybe try Conde Naste ombudsman for help on refund for higher class car charge.......have never been charged extra when car I have reserved a certain class car.......just refuse to pay for upgrade...........those were pre-covid though............seems like a whole different world now !!!!!!
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Old Sep 15th, 2021, 03:30 PM
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I only rent from Hertz even though I have theirs and an Avis membership.

I don’t have any recent experience because I had to cancel last minute a few weeks ago but did have a rental arranged with Hertz. In the past, they never had the car class I agreed to only a higher class but I was never charged more than my agreed quote. I have no idea if it was because of the membership or not. Regardless, I would still pursue a refund for the upgrade. It wasn’t your fault but theirs so you should be refunded that amount.
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Old Sep 16th, 2021, 09:39 AM
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Budget did not charge an upgrade when the "standard" car was involuntarily upgraded in Austin this year (to a Toyata RAV SUV).

I think clarkgriswold may be right. If you signed paperwork agreeing to the upgrade, you may be SOL.
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Old Sep 16th, 2021, 12:27 PM
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"Costco does not rent cars -- they are merely an agent/broker that arranges rentals, usually at a discount, through most the usual suspects."

That's true but not only does Costco consistently get me a better price than I can get myself trying all kinds of discounts, but they automatically guarantee a free extra driver and some other perks that are not standard. And twice when I've had an issue -- once with Alamo and once with Avis, I was getting no cooperation from their direct customer service, but complaints to Costco got me refunds or price adjustments after the fact!
And more than once when an agency didn't have my class as ordered so they had to upgrade, they honored the exact price for the economy car I had booked with Costco. I can't even imagine an agency saying they don't have the car I booked so I'll have to pay a whole lot more to get an actual car -- regardless of its classification.

Last edited by NeoPatrick; Sep 16th, 2021 at 12:30 PM.
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Old Sep 16th, 2021, 12:49 PM
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On top of all this there has been a shortage of rental cars during COVID.
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Old Sep 16th, 2021, 12:54 PM
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I actually had a very similar experience to the OP at London (Heathrow) pre-pandemic going through Hertz via a very good deal via the Auto Club.

In England, I always rent (albeit never from Hertz) a compact stick shift. I hate to drive big cars (especially in England) and always need a car with good views (i.e. not much of a blind spot), since I'm short and can never see around all of the head rests.

Out of compacts, out of sub-compacts and, frankly after 12 hours in flight and 1 hour in the line to get a car, I was in that "just get me a car so I can get out of here" mode. The only at the price I agreed to car was some car that looked more like a truck that had blind spots all over the place. I ended up agreeing to a small volvo estate car . . . they said for an extra 100 quid for the week. I didn't read the fine print, of course, and on return, it cost me about $1,200, are you kidding me?!?

I fought like mad for months with Hertz, Auto Club, you name it, and got nowhere.

A lesson learned. (It was a really great car though!).
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Old Sep 17th, 2021, 09:00 AM
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Anyone who doesn't know you are never guaranteed a car i fyou don't prepay has very little experience with renting cars. How could a company even stay in business if they never made anyone prepay but reserved cars for them? They try to manage supply/demand but sometimes it doesn't work. They are especailly bad at particular minor category differences in size (econ versus compact).

I have had major car rental companies tell me they didn't have the car I reserved upon arrival quite a few times. Most of the time they don't have economy but do have a compact or the midsize. Compact is fine, I don't like big cars but think I took one once as I was desperate. Another time they had nothing remotely suitable but some big honking monster that I wasn't comfortable driving. I went to another company nearby (at an airport) and got what I wanted and even at a good rate, which surprised me. That was the car company's fault, they told me their reservation system had failed and they kept reserving cars for people when they didn't have enough. Since I showed up maybe 2-3 pm, I was out of luck.

I have never once in my life been charged for the replacement, which is always an "upgrade" for me, as I always want the cheapest level. I think these luxury things are a whole other category, though, not just size and as the company said, the OP agreed to that model and level of payment.

\There is nothing you can do here, as you agreed to the "luxury" car and thus I"m sure agreed to pay for it.
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Old Sep 17th, 2021, 10:04 AM
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I rembember once renting a small car so I could drive one way to LAX. Instead of a small car, I got a Mustang GT with a very loud exhaust. The boys on my street were impressed. LBPD followed me for a half dozen blocks from downtown toward my house. I think they may have been running the plates.

But they didn't charge me extra for that car (which I didn't really want, either).

Yes, there are companies that don't make you prepay for reservations. I'm not even sure it makes any difference as far as car availability. Prepaying usually gets you a lower price, and usually a cancellation penalty.
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