Hertz Car Rental Complaint

During my recent trip to Perth with my family on 1st May 2009, I have learned much more about Car Rentals and their operations, at least in Perth context. The issue started with my family's road trip to Western Australia. We rented a car from Hertz which was a reputed company, their Perth office is at Milligan Street. The car given to us already contained some existing condition. The lady serving me commented that dents are common and did not jot down any damages on the car. She however, noted in words of the scratch on the bumper.

Fig 1 Hertz Documentation

Since no record was made on exact location of damages, I took the liberty to take some pictures of the visible scratches of the car.

Fig 2 The impressive Camry SP

Fig 3 The scratch mark on bumper

We drove the car for 8 days with satisfaction. On the 8th day, the car was returned to their Airpoort branch. During the returning process, the personnel only collected my keys, street atlas and outstanding payment and sent me off. No effort was made to inspect the car at my presence. So I thought that was it.

It was not until more than 6 weeks later, ie 22nd June 2009, I received a letter regarding a repair bill amounting to AUD791.00 on a replacement cost of the front bar spoiler. As my insurance covered about AUD361.00, I was told that a AUD413 was charged to me.

I have made dispute to the Hertz representative over the claim and insisted that the car was returned with the same condition as it was collected. The staff whom I managed to contact eventually continued to claim that the damage was found by the next client on the same day without giving any proofs. I have requested for the pictures to analyse the extend of the claimed damages, of which he obliged. The pictures I received as posted below:

Fig 4 Car front bumper

Fig 5 A hand removing the bumper

Fig 6 The same scratch mark

If Fig 5 intend to portray the dislodge of the front bumper due to accident, this contradict what's shown in Fig 4 which evidently show a fully intact bumper with no evidence of an accident. If there is something shown by these 2 pictures, it is clear that the bumper can easily be dismounted without much effort. Does this indicate potential hazard on the road? I mean the bumper can come off any time and is dangerous to the driver, passengers and other road users. It gives me a suspicion that Hertz australia wants accident to happen so that they can claim for the damages either through insurance agent or their clients.

Fig 6 are straight forward, it is the same damage in the picture taken by me during collection. It comes down to one thing, a lack of communication. Have the Hertz people from the Airport verified with those from Milligan Street? This fiasco won't happen if they have done so. No, they want to jump in quickly to fix the bumper and collect the claim.

I have also checked on the the time when these pictures are taken. The file displayed date on 12th May 2009. This is 4 days after I have returned the car. If I want to play nasty, this simple fact is enough for me to refute their claims!

The worst thing is my discovery today that they have already charged to my Credit Card on 5th of June 2009, rightfully the bill won't even arrive at my door step until next month! No attempt was made to contact me prior to the repair work and I was only informed of the charge to me from a letter dated 16th June 2009. The letter simply stated that the location I have returned the car noted damages made during the time of my use and base on a claus 5(a) of Accident Damage Excess, I was charged with AUD413. I noted the Rental agreement contact an amount AUD413 deposit. Seems like they calculated to pin point accuracy to ensure that all my deposit is collected!

Seriously the whole event has shown Hertz Australia to be sloppy in documentation, lacks the sense of customer service and give me a feeling that they are out to cheat their customers!

After this whole event, there are a few things that I think is a must do for car rental:

1) The car you booked might not be the car that you get. The car rental companies will simply shove to you whatever equivalent available. I have booked a Camry Sedan, but Camry Sedan was not available to me. They gave me a Ford instead. But because Ford cannot hold 2 baby seats, they have no choice but to up-grade me to a Camry SP;

2) No matter what the staff tell you, insist that they jot down every damn damages visible on the vechicle, no matter big or small;

3) On returning the car, the staffs from the company will likely not inspect the car. Insist that the receiving personnel inspect the car at your presence and confirm no external damages.

4) Do not think (2) and (3) is a hassle. These forced inspections will prevent the car rental companies in claiming damages to the car in future times.

5) Ensure pictures are taken on the car during collection and return. Especially on the damaged location, these pictures will be proofs in case of disputes with the car companies.

6) Keep all documentations on the rental for more than 2 months. You are likely to only receive notification after a month of return.

7) Note down local consumer protection groups, in Singapore it would be CASE. In case the dispute cannot be settled, lodge a report to these organization.

One last thing, after I have finished this post, I check on Hertz complaints on the web. Seems like there are tonnes of them. You can find it here.

Labels: , , , , ,