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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Hertz Has Terrible Service, And I Want To Know If They Are Running A Scam

-by Melody Siegler

Before I get to my thoughts about a possible Hertz scam, let me give some background.

I’ve had to go to the L.A. area several times over the past months, as executor of my mother’s estate, flying in from Atlanta. So far, I’ve rented cars from Hertz. I will not rent from Hertz again, for many reasons, culminating in my most recent “adventure,” thus:

Somehow, before my last trip, I was made a “Gold Plus Hertz member” without asking for this. The apparent upside to this is that I can change to another car, no questions asked, if I don’t get the one I want. So, last time, flying in to LAX, I got some car other than the 2016 Toyota Camry I had asked for. So, I decided to go to the LAX Gold Plus Hertz “change your car” area and wait around to see if a 2016 Toyota Camry appeared.

Why did go to this trouble?

Because on the previous trip (flying into Burbank), I happened, by chance, to get a 2016 Toyota Camry. It was wonderful to drive, and not at all hard to figure out various things that had caused me “car rental hell” on four previous trips. Just one example of that: Like how to change the mirror to “night view,” which on one previous trip, driving a rental car of a brand I can’t remember, I tried to change the mirror view, and instead I ended up pushing a button on the mirror that got me in voice contact with some internet site. Just what I didn’t need.

So, my waiting for a Camry at Hertz LAX was rewarded (or so I thought). I got a Camry. I drove the Camry to the exit gate. Gold Plus members can just drive to the exit gate, and they get all the rental ticket stuff printed out there. And so I did. But, I asked “don’t I/you have to fill out the form that notes all damage/ imperfections to the car?.”

I asked because on the previous trip, Camry Hertz rental from Burbank, the woman at the exit asked me for this “damage form” (what damage form? I wasn’t given one.) So, she filled it out for me (at Burbank).

Back to most recent experience at LAX. I was told that was not necessary to fill out this “damage form” because I was a Gold Plus member. Note this detail. It becomes important later in this rather long story.

So, I drove out of the LAX Hertz lot in the Camry, and got on to the 405 North, to drive to the Valley. A neighbor was waiting there, to give me dinner. It was rush hour, stop and go on the 405, after dark. For an hour and a half, I felt every bump in the road, and every time I had to put on the brakes. I am especially prone to motion sickness, and by the time I arrived at my neighbor’s for dinner, I was close to throwing up. Instead of eating dinner, I sipped an Alka-Selzer on the rocks for about an hour, and then was able to eat a bit of dinner. But, I took a bowl with me when I went to bed in her guest room, in case I had to throw up. Thankfully, I didn’t throw up.

The next day, I drove the LAX Camry on various errands. I knew that there was something wrong with this particular car. Remember, I’d driven another Camry on my previous trip, and had had no complaints. It was as if the suspension on this particular car was damaged-- again I felt every slight bump in the road to the max.

I decided to take advantage of the “Gold Plus exchange this car” priviledge. I phoned Hertz, and arranged to exchange the LAX Camry at Burbank Airport, giving the reasons stated above. It was a Saturday, and thankfully a good friend in L.A. had driven to my place of abode in the Valley. He went with me to exchange the car at BUR. I simply wouldn’t have driven there alone, because I was afraid of getting motion sickness again.

And, my (our) experience exchanging the car at BUR was gawd-awful. I’ll abbreviate the story, so that I can get around to the part where I started wondering if Hertz was running some kind of a scam.

So, every person, from the moment I (we) drove into the return lot at BUR was rude from the get go. The general theme was “you can’t park here.” Okay, fine. And lots more that I am leaving out.

After many travails, I finally made it into the desk of the “Gold Plus” place. As things progressed, I happened to hear a woman standing at a nearby computer telling the person at the computer-- “The windshield is cracked. It has to be replaced.” I said “Are you talking about my original rental car (LAX Camry)? “Yes”, she said. “Show me,” I said. So, we went outside to the car, and she pointed out a small nick on the outer side of the winshield, driver’s side, about halfway up. It was maybe 1/8 an inch in diameter. I felt the spot, and yes, it was slightly rough.

And now I get into the “hmmm, I wonder if this is a profitable Hertz scam” part.

So, in discussing this nick, the woman said “Maybe you got it on the freeway.” (That would be me driving on the 405). Given the speed I was going, 5-10 mph, I thought to myself that this was very unlikely, and also, I didn’t remember anything hitting the windshield. The woman said repeatedly, staring sternly at me “But the windshield will have to be replaced.” She didn’t say that I would have to pay for this, but that was the strong implication. The friend who was with me witnessed this, and had the same impression.

I finally said “I have a loss-damage waiver”, or whatever that expensive daily insurance Hertz provides, is called. Her tone changed immediately. “Oh, then you’re golden.” No worries.

So, the Hertz scam part-- supposing you or someone else didn’t have the expensive insurance that I did. And, you happened to overlook this tiny nick when inspecting the rental car, assuming you were given the damage form at all. I’d never been given such a form in all of my previous rentals from Hertz. You would be on the hook for considerable dollars for a windshield replacement.

I very much doubt that Hertz replaced the windshield on the rental Camry I returned. I suspect that they put the car back in rental circulation. I wonder if some poor “fool” will eventually be entrapped. Seems like it makes for a great Hertz scam, no?

And, back to the suspension problem with the LAX Camry I returned. Dave, the mechanic at BUR, yes, that was the name on his shirt (he was the only Hertz person who had a name) was eventually called up to assist my friend and I in resetting the clock on my “new” rental. Dave was the only person I encountered who was polite from the get go. It took him only 20 mins to figure out how to reset the clock.

After this was done, I told him about the suspension problem in the Camry. His response-- “Those idiots at LAX-- the tire pressure was probably 400 when it should have been 300.” Made immediate sense to me-- if the tires are overinflated, then they have no “give.” Stiff as a wooden wheel on those old Conestogas. No ability to absorb irregularities on the road surface.

Scam or not, I’m done with renting cars from Hertz.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

U.S. Election Day

What a disgrace for America, but at least one Middle East Airline is cashing in on the dubious prospect of an unlikely Donald Trump victory today.

And from our German friends... a not so subtle warning to any American voters who haven't quite made up their minds yet-- or who are leaning towards making a fatal mistake: