I won the credit card dispute with Hertz. Why am I in collections?

Bohdan Boytsov won his credit card dispute with Hertz, but he lost. In doing so, he perfectly illustrated one of the consumer world’s greatest contradictions: You can be right and still be wrong.

Boytsov reserved a luxury car from Hertz, which it didn’t provide. He filed a chargeback for the price difference, and although he prevailed, Hertz wouldn’t accept defeat. But then, neither would Boytsov. It’s an interesting story.

Hey Hertz, that’s not a Rover!

Boytsov rented a Range Rover from Hertz in late December. But when he arrived at the airport, the company had bad news for him.

“The car wasn’t available,” he says. “So they gave me a lower class vehicle.”

Boytsov figured the price difference was about $200 over the rental period. He asked Hertz for a refund, and it declined.

“I called my credit card company and asked for their advice, and they told me to dispute a certain sum of money. With their advice, I disputed $200 of a $646 rental. Chase reviewed the case and ruled in my favor,” he says.

A Hertz dispute closed? Not exactly

Hertz didn’t like that ruling, so it sent Boytsov another bill. If he didn’t pay, it would send his case to a collection agency and add his name to its infamous Do Not Rent list. That scared the living daylights out of him.

“I kept receiving letters from Hertz to pay the $200,” he says. “It’s gotten to the point where they said they would send me to collections if I don’t pay.”

Chase said it couldn’t help him, even though some credit card companies don’t allow a merchant to rebill a customer in this way.

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“Out of fear, I sent the check for $200 about a month ago,” he says.

Now paranoid, Boytsov emailed Hertz three times to make sure it received the check. His bank shows it as cashed.

Hertz sent his case to collections, anyway. And it added him to its blacklist.

“Now I don’t know what to do,” he says. “I paid them, and they still sent me to collections. I really don’t want my credit to suffer because of this.”

This is stupid

I share Boytsov’s exasperation. If Hertz lost the case fair and square, it should accept defeat. Instead, if his account is to be believed, Hertz pursued him even though it knew it was wrong. Then, after he paid his bill under duress, it pursued him anyway.

Come on.

In Hertz’ defense, it claims it provided Boytsov with a $100 rental certificate for the inconvenience of the downgrade, which he accepted. It viewed his dispute as unwarranted but offered no explanation for sending his case to a collection agency even after he paid, or for adding him to the Do Not Rent list.

Our advocates shared our Hertz executive contacts with Boytsov and recommended he send a brief, polite email, explaining his predicament.

It worked.

“Our records indicate that the payment was received,” Hertz responded. “The collections case has been closed, and you have been removed from the Do Not Rent List.”

That should come as a relief to him, but also as a warning to the rest of us. Even though you win your chargeback, you could end up losing a lot of sleep when the company chases you down and sends your case to a collection agency.

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Stories like this make me wish consumers had an equally powerful weapon they can use, perhaps reporting a large, intransigent company to a powerful agency that has almost zero accountability.

Oh, wait. There is! Boytsov can add Hertz to his Do Not Rent list. And he can tell all of his friends to do so, too.

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 chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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