Before Stephen Gondek boarded his flight back to Minneapolis, Hertz broadsided him with some bad news. The car rental company had given him a quote of $203 when he reserved his car, thanks to a Friends and Family Hertz discount code. Now it was charging him $814.
What happened to his missing Hertz discount?
Gondek’s case underscores the importance of carefully reading your car rental contract. It shows how elusive some of the discount codes and programs can be (so elusive that you hardly know they’re missing). But it also has a satisfying ending that everyone’s happy with.
When you don’t look at your car rental contract
Gondek reserved a compact car for a trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., through Hertz’s website. Choosing Hertz as his rental car agent came easily to Gondek. He had done so many times in the past and had always received terrific service. So he wasn’t expecting anything to be different this time.
The quote he received contained the notation “CDP Hertz Family Friend N America,” a reference to Hertz’s Friends and Family discount. The Hertz discount code CDP stands for Counter Discount Program. This discount allows program members to rent vehicles on special terms not available to the public.
The Friends and Family discount would lower Gondek’s rental charge by 25 to 30 percent. Or so he thought.
Gondek didn’t read his contract when he picked up his rental car in Myrtle Beach. He had never read his contract when he’d rented in the past and didn’t think he needed to this time.
He should have. His account no longer contained any Hertz discount code.
The case of the missing Hertz discount code
Gondek returned his car at the Myrtle Beach International Airport Hertz facility and then entered the airport terminal. Only then did he review his receipt for the car he’d just returned. He discovered that Hertz was charging him 400 percent more than the company had quoted him.
He immediately called Hertz’s customer service. The representative to whom he spoke wasn’t helpful. This employee told Gondek that the car rental company had removed the Friends and Family Hertz discount code from the reservation. The representative also told Gondek that he should have read the contract when he picked up the car.
“I acknowledge that I did not read the contract,” Gondek says. “Nor did I know anything about the change in status of this Hertz discount code. I was not asked to read the contract when I picked up the car. I never have been asked to do so. Nor was I told that any material changes had been made to my quote. No email, text, or verbal information was conveyed to me about any changes.”
Gondek went back to Hertz’s website and tried to reproduce his rental reservation with the Hertz discount code. He received a quote of $300 without the Friends and Family discount. The disappearing discount didn’t explain the entire difference between Hertz’s rental rates. And when he looked at his reservation on Hertz’s website, the Friends and Family discount code was still there.
Can the Elliott Advocacy team find that lost discount?
Gondek wrote to Gregory Crum, Hertz’s senior director of North American customer care and our primary contact for Hertz. He asked that the rate difference of $610 be refunded to his American Express credit card. He also disputed the charge with American Express.
Unfortunately, he received no reply from anyone at either company.
After receiving no help to restore his missing Hertz discount code, Gondek asked the Elliott Advocacy team for help. Our advocate, Dwayne Coward, reached out to Hertz on Gondek’s behalf.
A Hertz customer service representative notified Gondek that “the Hertz employee who sponsored you for this discount removed you from his portal. When an employee removes you from their portal, the discounted rate no longer applies, even to previously booked reservations.”
The representative offered Gondek a credit of $407, half of the amount Hertz had charged him. She didn’t explain why she thought this was a fair resolution. Nor did anyone at Hertz tell him why the employee who had sponsored Gondek for the discount removed him from his portal. But Gondek considers the offer an acceptable compromise.
How to avoid future Hertz discount code surprises
Gondek might have used our other Hertz executive contacts to escalate his complaint when he didn’t hear from anyone at Hertz. When advocating for yourself, we advise writing to corporate executives, exercising patience, persistence, and politeness in your letters. Start by writing to the primary contact. If you haven’t received a helpful response after one week, write to the next listed executive and work your way up. Allow each person a week to respond before escalating your case.
Don’t forget to review your car rental contract as soon as you receive it. Reconfirm your full rental rate with the counter agent before you leave the rental facility. Had Gondek done so, he would have noticed the missing Hertz discount at the time.
But he didn’t read his contract until it was too late to contest the significantly higher charge. At that point, the Hertz discount code had been invalidated. And Hertz had sped off into the sunset with $610 of his money.