Let’s face it, renting a car is never an easy process. Whether you book your vehicle online or not, you still have the unenviable task of having to waddle up to a counter where a customer service rep sits smugly behind a PC monitor you can’t view while attempting to upgrade you/get you to pay for a full tank of gas/insurance etc. before you can blink.
On October 23rd I not only faced all of the above, but additionally had what is easily the worst rental experience of my life.
Let’s rewind back to October 20th, where I decided to use the Internet to find promotional codes for my family’s trip to Michigan. For those who use online travel resources and sites such as Orbitz, Travelocity, etc. it’s almost a crime not to seek out these readily available promotional codes for discounts on trips.
Low and behold after a simple Google search, I found a few great coupon codes for car rentals. One of my favorite sites Retail Me Or Not, not only provided me with codes but success rates of codes being accepted in percentages.
Heading to hertz.com, I used one of the promotional codes and received an aggressive rate on a mid-size vehicle. The code was accepted without any issue or requirements. “Excellent!” I thought…reservation accepted and confirmed.
Our trip into Detroit was easy. We literally parked, breezed through security and waltzed onto the boarding plane. An hour and some change later we were on the ground. My wife even commented that we were making fantastic time.
As the Hertz shuttle dropped us off, we quickly realized with glee that we were next in line. Could this day get any better? It was 5:30 pm, and my daughter was wide awake and smiling…dinner at Buddy’s Pizza was in site!
I unfortunately spoke too soon.
As I provided my license and a credit card to the woman behind the desk, I saw her face grow very sour. Below is our dialogue:
Hertz: I need to see proof of this promotional code you used.
Me: Proof? I booked online. I have my laptop with me, I can print out my confirmation page if you have a printer available…
Hertz: No. I mean proof. Do you have a Hertz family member card?
Me: No, I wasn’t asked to bring one.
Hertz: If you don’t have a family member card I can’t approve this rate.
Me: M’am, the rate was approved upon confirmation of my reservation.
Hertz: Yeah well my manager isn’t taking any internet reservations with promotional discounts. Do you have a AAA card?
Me: …I do but I don’t understand the issue. No where on your website did I receive a red flag for the promotion.
Hertz: Where did you find this promotional code?
Me: Online. *smirking*
Hertz: This is an employee only code.
Me: But there wasn’t anything on your site claiming so. In fact once I entered it in, I received a “thank you, your reservation has been confirmed”. If this wasn’t the case I wouldn’t have used the code…
Hertz: Do you have a Costco card? I can try to get you a similar discount.
At this point I’m looking back at the growing line and my family’s plea of impatience. She’s beating my promotional code out of me.
Me: Fine. Yes. I have a Costco card.
Hertz: (typing in discount code for Costco) oooh, this didn’t help you much.
Me: What are we talking about regarding the cost of the reservation if you don’t recognize my promotional discount?
Hertz: (Ignoring my question and typing furiously looking very intense) Okay sir, I think I’ve got this for you…give me a moment to print out an estimate. I assume you want us to fill up for you?
Me: No, I’ll fill the tank up.
Hertz: But sir, you will save if you let us do it…
Me: I don’t plan on using a full tank of gas.
Hertz: (Ignoring me) Okay, adding tank of gas.
She takes the print out of the estimate, still holding my credit card and my license, and begins circling where I sign. She nonchalantly slides the estimate my way. I take one look and feel the blood rushing to my head. This was not going to end well.
Me: This quote is for $557.00!!! My rate walking in the door was $115!
Hertz: I understand you’re upset. This is the best we can do for a mid-size vehicle.
Me: Is it a Jaguar? I asked for a Ford Fusion…(noticing she added a tank of gas) You know what? Forget it. I’ll pass on the rental.
Hertz: (realizing I’m now actually agitated) Wait sir! Let me speak with my manager.
At this point she walks two desks over and speaks to a woman with her face down in a computer. I don’t think she uttered a single sound but you’d think given the idiocy of quintupling a confirmed rate for a customer, she’d be up apologizing.
Hertz: Sir, my manager is offering you a rate of $358.00
Me: So you tripled my reservation? No. I’m not going to agree to this. There was nothing in writing on hertz.com that prevented me from using a promotional code. If the code was to be used for employees only, I should’ve received a red flag and there wasn’t one. You’re denying me my reservation.
Hertz: You think you can do better than $358.00?
Hertz: Next in line!
So at this point I was infuriated. My wife was upset, my kid was cold. Fortunately I took out my laptop, and walked into their lobby and went on Orbitz.com. I found a FULL SIZED rental at a competing chain for $150.00. Hertz offered zero assistance in taking us to the other rental car company across the street which meant my family and I and all of our luggage had to walk across a busy highway in 42 degree weather to rent.
Look, I’m not Joe Jaffe, and I’m not Jeff Jarvis so I probably won’t strike up the fires of protest against Hertz. They’ll defend their refusal to accept my reservation based on the premise of not having the required proof upon reservation but there was zero on their website that informed me that I needed proof. In fact, even as I typet his blog, I realize there’s very little in regards to contacting customer service to relay this story to them.
All I know is I will never rent from Hertz again. Ever. Besides the fact that you did not accept a confirmed reservation, you left my wife, myself and my daughter to walk at night across a highway. You could’ve at least offered your shuttle.
Renting from Hertz seriously hurts.