Hertz refunds customers falsely accused of damaging rental cars

By David Flynn, April 5 2016
Hertz refunds customers falsely accused of damaging rental cars

Did you hire a car from Hertz in the last few years, only to be hit with a post-rental bill for damages which you thought were already there when you picked up the vehicle?

As it turns out, you were right and Hertz was wrong.

Wrong to the tune of almost $400,000, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which found the company had charged some customers from 2013 to August 2015 for pre-existing damages.

According to the consumer watchdog, "Hertz represented to some of its customers that the vehicle that they had hired was damaged during their rental period, when in fact the damage was pre-existing."

"Hertz incorrectly invoiced and charged these customers for the vehicle damage."

The car rental firm faces a total refund bill of $395,000 payable to customers and will contact and refund customers who were charged for pre-existing damage, as well as being overcharged for repairs when the company received spare parts at a discount but billed customers for the retail price.

This underscores AusBT's advice when hiring a car: walk around the car when you pick up up, and again when you return it, taking a series of snaps with your smartphone to create a visual record of the car's condition at the start and finish of your hire period.

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 930

I always check the car before leaving the airport, half way through the day I find marks and wonder how they got there knowing full well I didn't do it but also not seeing it before leaving the airport.

Pictures are even more important now with so many companies (icluding Hertz) doing away with the walk around and sign off before leaving the lot. Fo premium customers, as I'm sure you all know, it's just g ot to the assigned bay and drive away.


Keep those petrol (you are all welcome for me not saying gas) reciepts as well. In the U.S. anyway the definition of a full tank is not always clear.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2012

Total posts 14

Always walk around the car! Always get it documented before you leave! Many moons ago I spent 9 years in car rental, working in positions from Detailer to Branch Manager. The pressure from senior management to charge for damage is almost overwhelming, it's the worst part of the job. I have witnessed hundreds of customers charged tens of thousands of dollars for damage that was either pre-existing or had already been charge to another customer. 

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 272

You must have felt really bad charging people when you knew it was not warranted. Horrible position to be put in.

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 272

So glad they have been caught out. I always suspected this was the case and now it's caught up with them.

Rental cars are a necessary evil, and whoever invents a better Customer service model for this will be a millionaire

Qantas - P1 Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2013

Total posts 44

I was stung by Europcar for pre-existing damage. It was only when I issued a court order did they refund my money. The damage they charge for can be incredibly small and can appear on any part of the car. I agree with other posters - take a camera around the car and be prepared to be very picky. It's a pity that it comes to this, but as Enanavih points out, employees can be pressured to find damage - even if there is none. 

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 376

Europcar did this to me as well. After ignoring my requests for more information on what the damage was for, I initiated a charge back and quickly received my money back.

10 Sep 2012

Total posts 149

Europcar were always notorious in this regard, and I was shocked that Hertz were in the same category.  Always take photos of rental cars before driving off, and, if the company claims you damaged the vehicle, be extremely aggressive when dealing with them from the word go.  Photos on their social media pages, contact Fair Trading asap, lawyer-up if they play hardball.

25 Feb 2012

Total posts 78

I request the oldest car in the fleet in that category, unusual you say ? Yes but they are usually coming up to 12 months and have a few bumps and scratches but unlike the new cars when I return the older car it gets no more than a cursory glance and I'm on my way . 

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 272

Good tip, how do you request that?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Feb 2016

Total posts 9

Very useful info re taking pictures of the car pre-driving off. Will do from now on.

Have been stung many a time in UK. Yes, travel insurance covered it, but I still felt dudded.

Probably would not have covered the crack in the windscreen that appeared as I drove over the bump at the exit to Avis Heathrow and had expanded to the entire windscreen by the time I drove around a roundabout 1 mile down the road to get back into the yard. They charged me (or at least my insurance) $1500. The comments re staff being under pressure to maximise income from "damages" is disconcerting but, I guess, predictatble.

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