Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Hertz Failed. Again. My Experience.

What is the point in paying in advance?

Hertz failed. Again. My most recent experience with this rental car company may not have resulted in me being arrested; but it has significantly changed my mind about prioritizing it as the primary choice when I need to rent a vehicle in the future.

Hertz Failed. Again. My Experience.

Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Before I divulge my verbose explanation of my experience, the bottom line is that the location at which I was to rent a vehicle — for which I paid $319.17 in full well in advance — contacted me 39 minutes before the start of the rental to let me know that not only did they not have a vehicle available to rent at that moment; but that a vehicle would not be available until several business days later — and no vehicle was available from any other location as well.

I booked the aforementioned paid reservation for a rental car at a Hertz Local Edition facility at which I have patronized numerous times in the past. I was to pick up the vehicle at 4:30 in the afternoon on a Thursday in April of 2024 and return it one week later. I purposely rented a car on that afternoon because it was needed it before 6:00 in the morning on the next day for a drive that would take at least six hours.

At 3:51 in the afternoon on the day on which the rental was supposed to begin, I received a voice message from a member of the staff at the location stating that they had no vehicles available for the remainder of the week and would remain sold out until at least Monday — with no guarantee that a vehicle would be available by then, even though Monday would already be way too late.

I returned the call and spoke to an employee of the facility, who was unprofessional and quite rude, claiming that she was the acting manager of the facility. Not only were no provisions made to provide a vehicle from any other location; but she threatened not to assist me.

The first two telephone calls to customer service at Hertz occurred before the location closed at 5:00 that afternoon. Both times the representatives promised to call me back with an update, which never happened.

Subsequent telephone calls were not helpful either — especially as I had to hear the annoying “Let’s Go!” jingle of Hertz loudly repeated itself incessantly while I waited as long as more than an hour for someone to answer. Every single time I spoke to someone, the person was located in what is called an “off-shore” location. Each person stuck to his or her script of repeatedly apologizing and condescendingly claiming that they “understood” my situation without offering any viable solution. They wanted me to wait until at least 8:00 the next morning when I needed to leave at 6:00 in the morning — and once again, results were not guaranteed. In fact, representatives of customer service lied to me several times.

Communications with customer service representatives via Twitter — or X — were no more helpful:

Thank you for letting us know about the difficulties you experienced. I apologize for the negative attitude of our representative, who failed to handle the matter in a courteous and professional manner. We are concerned about the quality of our service and appreciate your bringing this matter to our attention. Please be assured that appropriate management will be sent a copy of your comments for their review and corrective action

They apparently were not that concerned because nothing was done.

I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience experienced when we were unable to honor the reservation. Although our reservation system is designed to provide a vehicle at the time and place requested, situations can sometimes develop that prevent us from honoring a reservation. Normally our inventory of vehicles is more than sufficient to meet confirmed reservations; however, on occasion, customers do not return vehicles as expected, and the resulting shortages cannot be overcome immediately.

One message had me wondering…

I do understand and again offer my apologies for this situation. I can cancel your reservation and waive the fees if you would like.

“Waive the fees?” What fees would I normally pay for the failure of Hertz to provide a rental vehicle? Did this customer service representative believe that she was actually doing me a favor?!?

The following response bothered me:

Please keep in mind a reservation is not a contractual agreement. Additionally, our Terms & Conditions state that we sometimes cannot guarantee vehicle availability due to unforeseen occurrences. Considering this information, we must respectfully decline your request for compensation from Hertz. I can certainly understand this is not the outcome anticipated; however, we ask that you understand our position. Thank you for allowing me to clarify this matter.

I am not a lawyer; but when someone pays for something in full in advance, does that not constitute a contractual agreement?

Hi Brian, we apologize for the inconvenience. To confirm you would like us to cancel and refund reservation XXXXXXXXXXX.

No, I thought to myself. Go ahead and keep the money. Why would I want to cancel a reservation that was not fulfilled at all and became completely useless to me?!?

I simply rolled my eyes and confirmed that that is what I wanted them to do.

Final Boarding Call

Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

I have been a member of Hertz Gold Plus Rewards for years. I currently have President’s Circle elite status. I paid for a reservation for a rental vehicle in advance…

…and I still could not get a vehicle of any type or kind from any location.

My entire schedule was substantially disrupted because of this issue; and a lot of my time was wasted — including waiting on “hold” for long periods of time. My request for compensation was refused and denied. If I canceled the reservation which was paid in advance instead of Hertz, I would have likely received no refund.

I subsequently canceled all future reservations with Hertz, as I cannot trust that I will have a vehicle available when I reserve one. I also have no plans to rent from Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty, or Firefly in the foreseeable future. To be penalized for a situation in which I was not at fault at all is inexcusable and unacceptable. All I was trying to do was rent a car.

This is not the first time Hertz has failed with past vehicle rentals for me; but at least their customer service recovery was usually satisfactory enough to continue to use their service — such as with this notable example when the car I rented had a flat tire.

Gil West became the chief executive officer of Hertz and a member of its board of directors in April of 2024. At one time, he was chief operating officer at Delta Air Lines from 2014 to 2020. He is the latest person charged with leading the company out of its current miasma of malaise, muck, and mediocrity. After 106 years in business, one would think that they would conduct well — and have perfected — the main purpose as to why they are in business: renting vehicles to customers.

What is Hertz going to do to win me back as a regular customer?

Never mind. I know the answer…


All photographs ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

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  1. Wow. I swear this is *exactly* what happened to me two weeks ago, though I was dealing with IHG. I wonder if they use the same “off shore” call centers??

    After finding my reserved room at one IHG property thick with cigarette smoke and cockroaches, I spent hours on the phone with IHG trying to get them to help me find a place to stay. That was hours on the phone missing important meetings, with repeatedly broken promises of call backs, and reps who told me they were doing me a favor by not charging me for the nights I couldn’t use.

    I am flabbergasted at how IHG and Hertz seem to have been working off exactly the same scripts!

    This can’t be a coincidence.

    Oh, and Hertz tried to give me a compact car on that trip because they had run out of the SUVs that I needed and had paid for months in advance. I guess I was lucky I got a car at all!

    1. I am sorry to learn of your awful experience, Aanna. Have you escalated reporting your experience at IHG?

      I would not be surprised if multiple multinational corporations contract with the same “off shore” call centers…

      1. Ha! They promised multiple escalations, with absolutely no results.

        In the end, I gave up while I was on the trip and paid out of pocket for a new hotel room — which was a pain because I had budgeted the stay on points and not in cash.

        When I got home I had more time to play the HUCA and email game. Ended up getting all the points on my original stay refunded plus a 5,000 point “apology.”

        I am still over budget by the full $700 for the last-minute replacement accommodations, but I’ve reached the end of my negotiating skills.

  2. This is the modern day Travel modus operandi be it cars, airlines, hotels or airports. They all have an avoidance template to use, now done by bots not people. The last thing they want is to actually speak to you with a real person. The workaround to this is to always work in writing preferably by registered letter not by email so you have evidence. Once done put your Card Provider where you paid on the spot and deal with them in writing too. Finally prepare a draft Court Claim and send it to the Firm so they can have a good think about things. More often than not you will move to the top of the “get rid of this person pronto list” their template works on a percentage avoidance failure rate.

  3. Similar thing happened to us in Dallas. I remember the good old days when Avis and Hertz were the ‘gold standard’of the industry. Those days are long gone. I reached out to corporate but got nowhere. Sad.

  4. A friend and former coworker of mine just became Hertz’s new CFO. He comes from the airlines as well. My only words were “God bless you.” He was part of the team that somewhat brought America West back from the dead (which say what you will about resulting acquisitions and what turned into American but at that time they had a nice financial recovery and America West did improve… this was pre Parker).

    I won’t rent from Hertz after they have a car in my name to someone else (who took my assigned car – in front of me, and I notified the Hertz rep immediately who said “they’ll fix it at the exit”) and that person drove it around Dallas for a week racking up tolls and lord knows what else. I got it resolved thanks to Amex and some other intervention.

    I guess you could say I’m one of the few customers who had the pleasure of calling the police on Hertz. I opened a police report to cover myself, and Hertz wasn’t cooperative, so a very nice Sgt from DFW Airport police went over to Hertz and offered to cuff the counter agent until a manager was available.

    1. That is a wild story, NedsKid.

      Thank you for sharing it.

      Did you wind up on the Do Not Rent list of Hertz?

  5. Same thing happened to me with my party of 6 in Cabo. I needed a large vehicle, had reserved and paid in advance as a President’s Circle member, and when I arrived on-time, there was no vehicle available. Thankfully I was able to rent the National hotel pick-up van for the week! Needless to say, we got a lot of funny looks driving that around!

    1. That is rather bizarre, Eric — but funny!

      Did you take any photographs of your experience driving that van around?

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