Those of you who know me are aware that I travel a lot and, as a consequence, rent a lot of cars. Our company, in their infinite wisdom, recently cut a deal with Hertz, making them our Preferred Car Rental Company. Many of us who were happily renting from other companies are now using Hertz, myself included.
Hertz was, and still is, the Big Guy in the car rental business, a series of unfortunate and infamous OJ Simpson commercials years ago notwithstanding. As such, you would expect them to be "#1" in customer service, right? The occasional flub but overall the good guys, right? Not so, as evidenced by the following:
(as you read through this, pay particular attention to the customer service aspects, not the hardware issues: cars break, customer service systems should not)
I was recently in North Carolina and had need for a rental car. I picked up a "mid-size" vehicle at the Hertz lot in Charlotte, NC. I got on the interstate and the car was making a strange humming sound, but it was running OK. I tapped the brakes at about 60MPH and the car tried to jump into the next lane! "Not good," said I to myself.
The next morning, Saturday, I contacted Hertz Roadside Assistance, telling them of the car's problems. They told me to take the car to the nearest Hertz location and exchange it for another. Off I went for the 45 minute drive. I exchanged the car for an even smaller car and returned to where I was staying.
Later that afternoon I was looking at the replacement rental car and noticed that the front plastic splash guard under the car was lower on one side of the car than the other. I crawled under the car and found there was nothing holding the piece in place on one side of the car.
Now here is where things with Hertz start to get wonky:
1. I called Hertz Roadside Assistance and was put on hold. I gave up after 30 minutes, never getting through to a live person.
2. I called the local Hertz location where I had exchanged the car. I gave up after about 30 rings with no one answering.
3. I called the Hertz Gold Club Number and, after wending my way through their automated attendant, got a live person. I told her I was unable to contact Roadside Assistance and needed help. She apologized and put me on hold. After about 45 seconds I was... back in the queue for Roadside Assistance, the same queue that hadn't answered before. I gave up after 30 minutes, never getting through to a live person.
4. I called the main toll free number for Hertz. This time I told the person answering to PLEASE not transfer me to Roadside Assistance. She didn't and a rather lengthy call ensued. To make it short, neither she or her supervisor could contact the local office to find out if they were open and had a car I could exchange for. They finally got a text through, told me the local office was open but very busy due to incoming flights (a small location). I was assured a car would be there.
So off I went for my second 45 minute drive to the local Hertz location. I then had the ONLY positive part of my rental experience. The local counter person was friendly, apologetic and upgraded me for free. I got the THIRD car of the trip and drove off.
Life was good until it came time to return the car in Charlotte the following Tuesday:
5. I told the check-in guy about my experience (3 cars, no one answering the phones, etc). He suggested I go inside and talk to someone. Having a little time before my flight, I agreed to.
6. I walked into the building and came upon two people sitting behind a counter. No one else was in the area. I advised the gentleman who looked up (the other person totally ignored me) that I had been told to come in and related the problems I had experienced. He looked at me and, in an extremely condescending manner, told me "that is what Customer Feedback forms are for." When I reiterated what the check-in guy had said, he repeated that I should fill out the form and told me I could not talk to anyone. I left.
7. I called Hertz Customer Service from the airport. The nice automated attendant told me I could have someone call me back since there were long hold times. I left my number and waited with bated breath for a return call. An hour or so later, just as I was boarding my flight, Hertz called back. The guy I spoke with wasn't very sympathetic and told me he couldn't do anything. He wouldn't even listen to my concerns. When I told him I had gotten the same response from the local folks he told me it was because everyone was running with "skeleton crews." He suggested I send Hertz an email or a message.
8. I sent a message to Hertz Customer Service via their web portal, outlining my bad experience. I have not had a response.
Hey Hertz, are you reading this because you got an internet hit on your name? It appears it will be the ONLY way I can effectively communicate with you.
As noted above, I can almost understand two cars with problems, although I have never experienced this before in all my years of renting cars. What I cannot understand is why your Customer Service was so consistently bad throughout several departments of your organization and why several of the people I talked to were obviously not interested in listening to me, despite my being directed to them. It appears Hertz has grown a culture attuned to bad customer service.
I will probably continue to rent cars from Hertz because the company says I have to. I will do so reluctantly, will do so with a definite bad taste in my mouth, and will take every opportunity possible to rent from someone else.