Does Hertz want a customer to feel like a beaten rat?

This is the first time I write a blog story in English, since I very much would like Hertz people in the USA would have a chance to read about my experiences in December 2013. Sorry, if my English isn’t as fluent as a native has, but it should be understandable ūüôā

This story begins actually already in November 2013 when I rented a car from Hertz at Los Angeles International Airport and drove the same day to spend almost three months in Palm Springs, California with my wife. Since I knew we would have some relatives coming to visit us during that time, we wanted a ‘normal’ size car for the months to come and Hertz gave us a Nissan Altima and assured the car would not neet any maintenance during our stay.

Immediately when we had arrived in Palm Springs and parked the car in our carage we felt something propably is not ok with the car. Everything seemed to function, but there was a very strong smell of gasoline, spreading gradually to the whole one-floor condo. After two nights with this terrible smell I called Hertz roadside assistance and they adviced to exchange the car at Hertz Palm Spring Airport, which we did. As a replacement we got a Chevy Malibu, which had much better accessories installed and also was nicer to drive along highways.

The strange experiences with Hertz started about two weeks after these first couple of days.

On December 3 we were driving to LAX to pick our guests and bring them to Palm Springs after their very long flights from Finland. About an hour before arriving in the Interstate 10 a warning light came on and a text on the information panel stated: “engine power reduced”. Immediately it was clear something was wrong and driving to LAX slowed down – not a nice experience after sunset along very crowded highways in L.A. area! Eventually we picked our guests and I called again for help from Hertz. Again they suggested to exchange the car at LAX. I was pretty upset as this was already the second time in two first weeks the car broke down during our multimonth rental. It made me think Hertz really does not maintain their cars at all.

Hertz LAX was very busy at the time we exchanged the car, and we had to drive to their car return instead of changing the car to a working one. It was dark, I was pretty pissed off as our guests had been travelling a long time and we still had to drive to Palm Springs. In the exchange hassle we needed to pick luggages and all our staff from the car.

I must admit right away here, I forgot a very critical device in the car into a box under information panel. That device was a remote carage opener which we had planned to use to enter our apartment – why we did not have any physical keys with us.¬†We rembered after an hours’ drive to Palm Spring I had forgotten the carage opener into the previous car. I drove out from I-10 to and parked to call our rental office who explained where to¬†get a physical master key and we managed to go inside. So without any more major delays we arrived in Palm Springs about two hours later than we had expected.

But getting the carage opener¬†back to us turned out a real mess with Hertz’s personnel and systems.

The next day after our car exchange I called Hertz LAX Lost and Found number and explained our story. A lady responded and said they had not found anything from the car we left in LAX after a thorough search. I insisted it was in the front panel box under the information panel and an hour later the lady called back to my cellphone and said the key was found. At this point all phone calls relating to this unhappy case had cost me about $30 USD. Wau, we would get the carage opener back and using the car would be like before!

But it was not easy to get the found carage opener back to us.

Hertz insisted that we have to write a lost & found report on their website, otherwise they would not return the found the carage opener. The opener appeared on their Lost and Found report in their website a day later. I got the item reference code from that report a wrote an e-mail back, and they replied: you have to write a L & F report and state the mark, model and serial number of the (already found!!!) carage opener into to the report. Otherwise they would not send it back. I was amazed. Does anyone write down this type of information about a carage opener in a rented apartment? I do not.

But I wrote a new report explaining in detail what the opener looked like and where and in which car and where inside it this opener was located – and already found as the lady in the first phone calls had confirmed! Also I wrote an email back to Hertz telling the address where the opener should be sent to.

Finally Hertz answered my latest email and stated: “we have located your carage opener and it can be either sent to you or you can come and pick it at LAX). I replied: please, send it over to my address in Palm Springs. And they replied back: please write your correct mail address and select the form of delivery on our website so we can return the opener. At this point time had passed and at Hertz at least three different individuals had signed the e-mails – obviously never having been discussing with each other.

Hertz’s Lost and Found system had an obvious bug, since it did not accept my US address. Instead, the system always changed the country to Finland, since I had made the rental contract with my Finnish address as they required. I reported this problem back and had spent at this time totally about a full day with this sad case and also told this along the obvious system bug in my email.

A week passed and still another person from Hertz sent me an email that I should again fill in their delivery form in their website. I tried it and mysteriously the bug had dissapeared and I could write down the US address, pay them $25 USD using my credit card and a couple of days later FedEx delivered the key back.

All this process took three weeks. There were obvious information breaks inside Hertz LAX and with their systems. I spend more than a full working day playing with this Company and their systems, which I also told them – along a joke stating that my usual consulting fee from a full-day work discounted due to our existing relationship would be only $3 000 USD. If I could only find a way to charge that amount from them ūüôā

Nobody from Hertz has expressed any apologies about their poorly working cars nor about their poor customer service or systems trying to get the clearly found carage opener back to me. A frustrated customer making a small mistake (and this happens A LOT with rental cars – the same the at least four forgotten carage openers had been found at LAX) does really feel like a beaten rat after this experience. Maybe Hertz would not want a customer to have such a customer feeling – or maybe the really do? I suspect this as the only thing after these incidents has been a request “our procedure is monthly to ask the mileage or your car to guarantee its perfect condition”, and an invoice of the first months rent.¬†They still sent another email to me asking details about an accident with the¬†car¬†– I replied there¬†was not accident, just an engine failure.¬†Strange, since I had expected some kind of an apology and maybe a refund ūüôā

These experiences are to me an extreme case of a company who only relies on their internal IT systems, not on their own personnel exchanging information in a very simple and basic case. I sincerely hope they read this story and learn to trust both their own people and customers as persons instead of systems – and also learn to apologize their really poor behavior. And I hope no other US company performs like this. Ever.

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