Recently, my wife and I splurged on a two-day vacation at Universal Orlando with three of our kids. Because we don’t get to take vacations like this very often at all, we decided to maximize our vacation by taking advantage of various amenities that allowed us to save time and inconvenience by spending more money.
We needed to do a one-way car rental on the last day of our vacation to drive to visit my parents for the weekend, so one of the amenities we decided to leverage was the Hertz car rental location located at the hotel we were at. Hertz is one of the most expensive car rental companies, all the more so after the $17.22 “hotel concession commission fee recovery” they added to our reservation. We knew going in that we were going to pay Hertz a lot more than other rental companies, but we decided it was worth it for the sake of being able to pick up the car right at the hotel.
When I walked up to the Hertz counter at the hotel at 11:00am on Friday, there was no one there. Instead, there was a sign listing several numbers I should call for assistance. The first number I called went straight to voicemail. The second number was Hertz’s nation-wide toll-free number. I explained to the agent to whom I was connected that we had a reservation but there was no one there to assist me, and I asked what to do. She put me on hold for about five minutes, and then came back on the line and said, “I’m sorry, sir, but we’re not going to be able to rent you a car from that location. What I can do is find you another nearby Hertz location to rent from.” She did not offer any explanation for why our reservation was not being honored.
In response, I explained that the only reason we had chosen Hertz, despite the fact that it was hugely more expensive than many other available options, was because of the convenience of being able to pick up the car right at our hotel. Therefore, I said, what I expected Hertz to do was to send someone in a car to pick me up at the hotel and bring me to the other Hertz location, and to remove the $17.22 hotel fee from the cost of our reservation. She said she was unable to do either of those things, so I said, “Well, then, no thank you,” and hung up.
I then went online and within five minutes had found a Budget rent-a-car office 3.4 miles from our hotel and reserved a car for a total cost of $58.96. After $10.69 Lyft ride to the Budget office and five minutes of paperwork, I was on my way. Compare my total cost of $69.65 renting from Budget to the $136.80 that Hertz was going to charge me before they jumped the shark.
It seems to me that the only way Hertz can justify the ridiculously higher prices they charge than other rental agencies is by providing much better customer service. Clearly they don’t do that. Why, then, does anybody rent a car from Hertz rather than one of the much cheaper alternatives?
(Incidentally, this is far from the only horror story I’ve heard about Hertz.)
P.S. This is what happened when I tried to submit feedback about this to Hertz:
P.P.S. Imagine my surprise that my attempt to email the address given on the error screen above bounced:
Hertz is up to its old tricks: https://whatever.scalzi.com/2019/07/23/my-300-mile-lyft-ride-from-chicago-to-bradford/
On a work-related trip, I once made a reservation with Hertz. It…did not go well.
I was traveling to Puerto Rico, then Miami, and would only need a car in Miami. I waited in line for an eternity at Miami airport with one of my co-workers. When I got to the desk, they claimed they had no car reserved and in fact none even available – the rental car shtick from Seinfeld immediately came to mind. I pulled up the confirmation number in my email and shared it with them. They still said they had no reservation.
We stepped to the side while I called our contracted travel agency. Shortly after explaining the situation, the woman on the other end of the line did some digging on their system, gave a huff that clearly intimated a frustrated shake of the head, and explained to me that the reservation was scheduled for pickup in Puerto Rico and drop-off in Miami. Needless to say, I went across the building to Dollar instead.
Obviously the travel agency could have made the original mistake. What blew my mind even more though was that Hertz would even allow such a reservation to be made. I mean, even Google Maps will tell you “No Route Found” if you try to find driving directions across the ocean someplace.