Folks, this will be a relatively short rant from me regarding HERTZ, or the new home of Rent a Wreck. I am 64 years old, the 1st time I rented a car; it was at the age of 20 to use while I was home on leave from the Navy. I saved a ton of money, I was going to be home for a week, and I didn’t want to have to beg my father time and time again to borrow his car. I don’t remember the name of the company I ended up getting the car from (most likely Avis), but I know it wasn’t HERTZ. At the time HERTZ was the premier auto rental company in the US and most likely the world. It was the 1st choice of anybody that could afford to pay a lot extra, but they had the nicest cars, best maintained, their staff was beyond reproach, and they had service that was topped by no one in the industry. Avis for years advertised being #2 to HERTZ, with a tag like “We try harder.” Apparently Avis has tried harder and gained because of it. But this post isn’t about; Avis or Dollar or Thrifty or Alamo or Payless or Enterprise or National or Budget or anyone of another dozen or so companies you can rent a car from. I am pretty sure that most of you have your own horror stories regarding renting a car. This story is about HERTZ and what a suck ass company they have worked so hard to become over the years. It also a story about how saddened I am by their self-infected terminal wounds.
As I stated earlier HERTZ has always been my first choice when it came time to rent a car. With coupon in hand, I would call HERTZ, express my need, and then be shot in the head by the pricing. Folks I wasn’t surprised, I anticipated the sticker shock of renting a car from HERTZ, but because they were the best, I always wanted to at least put forth the effort to see if I could afford them this time. After my time in the Navy my career put me in the position where I traveled a lot. When I travelled I always tried to rent a HERTZ car, because I knew they stood behind their vehicles, and that the vehicle would be top notch, and the service always a class act. But even having the “government rate,” HERTZ pretty much priced themselves out of that part of the market. But my opinion of HERTZ never diminished. Now as I have grown older the fruits of my labor are paying off. I can pretty much rent a car from whomever I want. And whenever I go on a long trip I rent a vehicle, and I rent the best vehicle I can, I didn’t say cheapest, I didn’t say cost effective, I rented the best vehicle I can. Which brings me to my story, in August of 2013 I started to plan a trip to Louisville KY, it was a trip intended to visit family, and on the trip back, visit my folks resting place at the Pilot Baptist Church. When I started making plans I gave AAA a call, I figured I use them on a regular basis and they are good to me, so I would send my business to them. I called them and gave them my itinerary, and told them I wanted a Luxury vehicle. I didn’t want a full size, I didn’t want a “Premium,” I wanted a luxury. AAA was more than happy to accommodate me. And to my greatest surprise, because of their relationship with HERTZ, I could get the required Luxury car, at a location that was convenient to me, which was an even greater surprise. Normally to get a luxury car I have to go to Tampa International Airport, irrespective of who I am renting from. And what was even more surprising was that the rate was almost too good to be true. I should have known better, shame on me. I will also say that I had to change this reservation twice, once because the dates didn’t work for all my family, and then because of the accident. Each time I changed the rental day, the folks at HERTZ were great, they assured me that I would have the vehicle I desired (a Cadillac sedan) at the Brandon Florida location, that there would be no problem. Again shame on me! On the morning of the day I was picking up the vehicle, I called the Brandon location, and was told they didn’t have the vehicle now, but it would be there when I came by to pick up the vehicle later. I said thank you, but the big ass voice in head was screaming, so I continued to chat with the individual, (a disarmingly sweet young lady), and she told me that not to worry that she would personally ensure the Cadillac or similar vehicle would be there when I picked it up. But if not they had a Crown Vic or Altima sedan available for me (neither of which qualifies as Luxury). When I showed up, the sweet young thing had left for the day, the manager said “oh gosh, we are so sorry,” but we don’t carry luxury cars at this location. To which I when snake shit crazy. They had purposely lied to me the entire day. I was stuck; I took the Altima, and started to drive home only to find it didn’t have enough electrical connections for me to power my portable concentrator and anything else. Half way home I called and told them I was returning the vehicle. I got back, and again was told, that if I wanted I could drive down to the Airport HERTZ location and take my chances there, or basically shut-up and take the crown vic. During this entire exchange I had so much smoke blown up my butt; I needed to get a pilot license. Oh gosh we have checked every HERTZ location within 25 miles, we have called the airport, to see what kind of inventory they had, blab blab blab. The HERTZ people were maxing out the bull shit meter. And it all started with a simple lie at 10 am that morning. Had they been honest, and started they don’t have any luxury cars here, I believe between myself and AAA we could have come to a solution. But HERTZ chose to LIE, to lead me on and then finally when I showed up for the vehicle, start blowing real smoke up my butt. That simple LIE was the start of the problems, and my disgust with HERTZ grew and grew. Because the nature of the trip had changed, and I was in no mood to make a bigger scene than I had, I took the crown Vic. At least the vehicle was large enough for me to comfortably load all the crap I needed to take. I will say this as well, because HERTZ could not provide the vehicle reserved, and FORCED me to take a lesser grade of vehicle; they also wanted to charge me an additional $150.00. They wanted to charge additional because they couldn’t meet their obligations. When they scraped me off the ceiling, they said they would honor the “contracted” price even though they hadn’t met their end of the contract. Gee wasn’t that good of them, great customer focus there HERTZ!! Folks if you ever get the opportunity to lease or rent a car from HERTZ DON’T ! ! !
Let me say this about the HERTZ car I was given. I am being polite to the highest degree possible only calling it a piece of shit (POS), it was only a tenth of a step away from becoming a cab. I have seen ghetto cars in better condition, and the worst thing about it is that the HERTZ Manager there at the Brandon location winked at me and said, if the car gives you any trouble just take it to a HERTZ location and have them switch it out. This car had 49,000 + miles on it, before I drove it off the lot, the front end seemed to dip slightly, and it’s a ford so it rode like a large turd. I drove the POS back to my home, in rush hour traffic, so I never got the car up to highway speed. I parked it in front of the house, and made ready to leave in the morning. I can’t say often enough what a POS this car was. When I wasn’t thinking about urinals, (that story is in another post), I was worried for my life in this car. I come to find out 10 miles into my upcoming 923 mile trip to Louisville that the POS needed front brakes. That when you touched the brakes the whole front-end shook like a bag of beads. That entire day driving north on 75 was a test of will, I had to get to KY, and I was bound and determined to do so. As I approached Atlanta that afternoon, I almost took a detour to the Airport to change out the car, but stupidity won out and I wanted to be north of Atlanta before stopping for the day. I should have stopped at the airport and spent 2 hours there, because I got caught in Atlanta traffic, and was caught in the forever parking lot of Atlanta. I made it finally to my stopping point for the day (Cartersville GA), and had every intention of calling the local HERTZ office, but by the time I checked into the hotel the local office was closed for the day. So I was stuck with the vehicle until I got to Louisville.
BTW if you are ever in a position to visit Cartersville GA, do so, it is a very quant little town with a wonderful little downtown filled with shops and restaurants. Over the years I have stopped here several times, and it is a nice place to visit.
Anyway back to the HERTZ POS story. I left Cartersville early the next morning, in a slight drizzle, only to find out that the wipers on the vehicle were the factory original grade D wiper and didn’t even come close to keeping or helping with visibility. The worst part about this is, at this point, it didn’t surprise or phase me. I shook my head and slowed down. Please keep in mind that this POS needed a major front brake job and alignment. That each time you touched brake pedal the steering wheel shook, to the point that 2 hands were needed at all times under braking. The crappy weather only lasted an hour or so into the days ride. I only having to adjust for a slight pull to the left all the time, and the fact that the front end seemed like it could collapse at any point the ride into Louisville went off without a hitch.
But I did not drive directly to the hotel to join my family; I drove directly to the Louisville International Airport. Right to the HERTZ POS turn in place. The guy there took one look told me and told me to drive the vehicle to a point as close to the terminal as I could, then get the mileage and tank reading and go see them at the desk. I gathered my stuff, when to the HERTZ desk, and Nancy helped me right away, She took one look at my reservation, and explained she did not have a Luxury car available but if I wanted to wait, as soon as one was turned she I would get it, or she would put me into something as nice as possible. I was given the choice of an almost brand new Chevy Envoy (loaded to the gills) or an equally nice Suburban. I chose the Envoy. The folks at the Louisville HERTZ lot and customer desk were extremely helpful and polite. And I drove the Envoy back to Florida without incident. The story should end here but it doesn’t. When I turned the vehicle in at the Brandon location, I was met by the same equally rude unprofessional folks that I left there the week before. They tried to ping me for extra fuel, and for a couple streaks on the paint that were there when I left Louisville. Folks as nice and as professional as the HERTZ folks were in Louisville, and those that answered the 800 number. I will never rent from HERTZ again, and I will tell this story time and time again. If I convince one individual to not rent from HERTZ it is worth every word I have written today. If I keep 2 people from renting from HERTZ I get twice the pleasure. And you’re seeing where I am going with this. So when you read this please keep in mind that you will make me happy if you never rent from HERTZ again. If you talk someone else into not renting from HERTZ just imagine how big I am smiling.
If you have any questions, or concerns or if you wish to make a comment please do so. Take care, Bill