Customers pressure Hertz to change refueling policy — and it does

Sometimes, companies do listen to their customers. Case-in-point: Hertz.

For the better part of the last week, I’ve been corresponding with the car rental company about its poorly-disclosed and questionable refueling policy. Several readers have noticed that they were being billed for gas even when they returned the rental with a full tank.

Seems Hertz had a policy of charging a refueling fee for rentals that put less than 50 miles on the car. And making matters worse, it was less than open about the rule. Reader Bart Moore confronted a Hertz manager after being charged several times without any warning.

I was floored when the manager confirmed my suspicion! He explained that for rentals for less than 50 miles they always charge; it’s automatic, and is a policy.

I said, “Isn’t Hertz worried about a class action lawsuit”? And the manager replied, “I wish someone would — we hate this policy.”

I contacted Hertz on Moore’s behalf. In the meantime, my colleague Erik Torkells over at Budget Travel noticed the mysterious surcharge, too.

The Hertz rep said that if you drive fewer than 100 miles during your rental — as we did, remarkably — the computer automatically charges you for gas (“and if I don’t catch it and you don’t catch it, you get charged for it,” he said).

This morning, Hertz apparently has reversed itself. It is now charging market prices for gas — an announcement made earlier this morning in the U.K. and that a Hertz insider says will be made shortly in the U.S.

The new policy, which goes into effect July 1 at most Hertz locations in North America, means that both the fuel and service charge and the fuel purchase option will “reflect new, lower pricing bases upon the average price per gallon as set by the Oil Price Information Service in the geographical area where the car is rented,” according to the announcement, which a company insider was kind enough to send me.

Related story:   “Misled and overcharged” by Budget

For customers who don’t refill the fuel tank before returning the rental vehicle and elect the option of then having Hertz refuel the vehicle – will be based upon local market fuel prices, plus a one-time Refueling Fee of $6.99. The fuel purchase option – for customers who elect the option to purchase a tank of gas at the outset of the rental – will reflect local market fuel prices minus a small discount of approximately 15 cents per gallon.

Not bad, Hertz.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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