Tales of Incompetence: Hertz

Unlike my epic battle with UPS, this one is pretty short. But no less frustrating.

A few weeks ago, I rented a car from Hertz. I was charged a little over thirty dollars as a fuel surcharge and told that if I returned the car with the same amount of fuel I’d taken it with, I would be refunded that money. Sounded good to me — I wouldn’t have to worry about topping off the tank (always a pain in the butt in New York City).

I took the car from the location with half a tank of gas. And a few days later, I returned it with half a tank. Great!

They were swamped, so the guy asked if he could email my receipt. No problem; less paper for me to handle.

Well, the receipt never came and it was New Year’s, so I forgot about it (as you do). A couple of weeks later, I noticed the charge had come through on my credit card statement…and the fuel surcharge was still there. I called the local office to have the charge removed and was told that their systems were down…and had been for days. My only option was to call the national billing department.

I called the billing department and explained the issue, expecting them to say, “Oh, yes, we’re sorry for the oversight. I’ll email you a receipt immediately and also remove that charge.”

Instead, I was told that I would have to provide a receipt for my fuel purchase. To prove I’d brought the car back with gas.

I explained that Hertz already knew that I had taken the car with half a tank of gas and had then checked it back in with half a tank. Part of the check-out process is confirming mileage and gas. Part of the check-in process is confirming the change in the same. If you’ve ever rented a car before, you’ve witnessed this. It’s Car Rental 101. Hertz knew — they had a record — that I’d taken and returned the car with the same amount of gas. Why did they need a receipt?

“You have to send us a receipt,” the woman on the phone insisted.

Thinking I must be having some kind of communication issue, I asked to speak to a supervisor. But she, too, insisted that I send a receipt.

Well, I had returned the car weeks before. I didn’t have the receipt any more. How long do you keep a receipt from a gas station?

The supervisor told me I could send along a credit card statement showing gas purchased “on the day you returned the car.”

This seemed even more idiotic to me! For all she knows, I could have bought gas the day I returned the car and returned it to Hertz with the tank bone-dry! The proof Hertz needed is in its own records, that I returned the car with half a tank of gas.

But no amount of explaining would budge her. It was proof I’d bought gas that day (not proof I’d actually put it in the car, mind you, like, say, Hertz’s check-in record), or nothing.

She read out to me a ridiculously complicated email address to send a scan of my credit card statement. I sent the scan off and heard nothing back. A couple of days later, though, the charge was reversed on my credit card, so that’s nice.

Basically, then, everyone can rent Hertz cars, pay the fuel surcharge, buy gas the last day you have the car, but return the car with the tank empty. Then call Hertz’s national billing department and insist that you are due a refund. When they ask for proof, send them a receipt from a gas station.

Instant free gas, courtesy of Hertz’s corporate idiocy.


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