They’ll Squeeze You ‘Til It Hertz

Hertz: Another fine mess

Richard Lutz fights the good fight against a car hire firm that decided to slap on the extra charges.

Nothing like a summer holiday, eh? Get out the suntan oil, eat the wrong food, enjoy the sun, hire the car and get away.

But what happens when Hertz, the mega hire firm, decides it will take your money- and then add on a heap load of charges as you sit there in arrivals with the luggage, family and jetlag?

As I signed away my life in Boston’s Logan Airport this past summer, I figured this is one scam that will not beat me.  This is what happened:

I paid via the Aer Lingus website for a hire car. I asked Hertz for a guarantee that there would no extra charges. It replied with a cast iron promise that what I saw as the bottom line figure was the final sum. I landed in Boston to find Hertz added on the following inscrutable fees, many of them indecipherable to the English speaking world:

Concession fee recovery-             $80.21

Customer facility charge + tax  $127.40

Parking Tkt Schg/Cnv ctr schg     £10.60

Energy surcharge                             $1.03

Tax                                                          $50.14

I was stuck. Either I stumped up despite the email promise or I went back to the arrival lounge to start again with another company, and probably another scam. I decided to take the car, its crazy surcharges and get out of town.

After the break, I return with the car to Logan. I complained verbally. The processor in the return carpark said: ‘It’s London’s fault. Britain always gets it wrong.’

With that encouraging start, after the break  (aforementioned suntan oil, wrong food, sun…etc), the battle began. I sent the original Hertz email promising no extras with copies of the extra charges to Hertz HQ in the US. Nothing came back. It was a kangaroo court. A stitch-up. They had  my money. Why reply? I re-sent the complaint. Nothing.

After a month I  phoned the London offices.  A spokeswoman  came up with  the barely believable alibi that the US site had crashed and there was no record of any complaints or even return email addresses for the past month. Plus, she said, since I booked the car through Aer Lingus in Dublin, it was an Irish problem.

But she did promise to process my complaint and even gave me a reference number. Here we go again…

But the London office did come  up trumps.  Within the time honoured period of ten working days, all the charges were slipped into my credit card’s account- plus, I have to say, the extra requested charge for adding another named driver.

So a small victory for the care hire customer. I seemed to have joined a small army by the way. There is blog after blog catalogueing specific angry complaints against Hertz and its scammy charges. And a friend of mine, a man full of redoubtable resolve, got his extra charges refunded when Hertz in the UK wanted to charge him for ‘damages’ that didn’t exist- something funny there too.

My advice?

Ask…no, demand..a written guarantee ensuring no extra charges. Then, when they drop (and they will, they will) wave it on front of anyone with a Hertz logo on his or her  fleece.  Whatever happens enjoy the trip. Then when you return, roll up your sleeves and never stop ’til this seedy company gives you back the money you deserve.

So beware.

(Oh, by the way never hire a Chevy Malibu.  It has appalling blindspots off the rear)