Archive for February, 2009

Hertz Car Rental Ripoff

February 21, 2009

Welcome to my blog.  It just so happens that I am starting my blog within a day or two of when I received notice that Hertz was attempting to take my money without my permission and frankly for something that has no factual basis, a move I refer to as “robbing” me.

The story starts where you think it would, I rented a car when a group of us went out to Salt Lake City to snowboard and ski.  I reserved a rental car through my Hertz Gold membership, thinking I would save myself inconvenience and expense at the airport.  The reservation, in relevant part stated:

Rate is guaranteed.  Taxes, fees and extras, if not included in the Rate, are subject to change.  
Base Amount:
Weekend Days: 3 Weekend days  at 21.36 USD
Rate Code: MCLE
Total Approx. Charges: 134.93

It is important to note that this charge include a $39 fee for a ski rack, which ultimately I decided we did not need.  We picked up the car at the SLC Airport and drove to pick up our rentals and out to Park City.  The distance from the airport to Park City is 40 miles or so per Google maps.  We used the car daily to go out for food, perhaps logging 20-30 additional miles on the car.  After our three days on the mountain, we drove the car back early in the morning for a 6:00 am return flight.  On the way, we stopped for gas and filled the tank at a station that is, again, per Google maps, roughly one mile from the airport.  

At 4:45 in the morning there was no one checking in cars for Hertz, and so we did the express dropoff, leaving the car and keys with Hertz.  Everything seemed smooth at that point.  However, I just now received an “express return receipt” for my rental, with a total charge to my credit card of $201.29.  (Note:  this is less the ~$40 for the ski rack that I did not need and had removed from my charges).  This total is basically $100 more than I was quoted, fully twice the amount of my rental (the base rental was $22.49/day for 3 days, so even more when you ignore the additional fees and taxes).  In any event, the only charge that stood out is the $91.20 fee for “fuel & svc.”  Remember, I returned the car after driving a mile from the gas station where I filled the tank.

After fuming about the additional charge, I finally figured out what the “basis” for this charge was:


  • First, they calculated that I drove 300 miles (a fact that simply can not be true, and come on, such a nice, round number?)
  • Next, they assume gas is worth $6.99 per gallon (uh, not even close)
  • Then they apparently figure out that at $6.99 per gallon, the car I drove cost roughly $0.304 per mile in fuel (I checked the mileage per EPA of the vehicle I rented, 26 mpg, which even at the $6.99 is significantly less than $0.304 per mile)
  • Ignore the fact that I returned the car with a full fuel tank
  • And ultimately charge me for “fuel & svc” by multiplying the total (they say) I drove by the bogus fuel charge per mile to a total charge of $91.20.
  • Bingo.


Here it is:


The Receipt

The Receipt




Now, this really upsets me.  It is not simply that they appear to have lied about four things (the miles I drove, the cost of gas, the efficiency of the car, and the fact that I returned it without adding gas), but I am clearly not the first one that has had this happen.  Ex. 1 Ex. 2.  Furthermore, I checked my receipt; how many people simply do not bother to check.  And, of those that do check, how many care enough to complain or write about it on the internet?  From what I see, this appears to be a standard practice and is no more legitimate than being held up at the ATM machine after just pulling out $91 in cash. Well, no, it is actually worse; at least when you are held up you know you are being ripped off, most people probably never notice when this happens.

The company, no doubt, will claim that this is not a standard practice, and I surely hope, promptly refund my money.