Hertz gave away his car — does he deserve any compensation?

Stephen Ballard’s plane arrived late in Stuttgart, Germany. Six hours late.

But he was unconcerned, because he’d prepaid Hertz for his rental car. He was confident that the vehicle would be waiting for him.

It wasn’t.

“Our prepaid car had been rented out to another party,” he says.

He says the Hertz representatives at the airport tersely informed him that cars were in short supply and that since he was late, he lost his car. “We were treated in a rude manner,” he says.

But wait. Didn’t he pre-pay for the vehicle? Doesn’t that mean it should be waiting for him?

Not exactly.

Here’s what Hertz’ policy says about late arrivals:

Reservations will be held for two (2) hours past the reserved pick-up time, except if you contact your Reservation Centre to change your arrival time.

Two (2) hours after the reserved pick-up time the reserved vehicle will be made available for other customers. If you arrive at the location more than two (2) hours after the reserved pick-up time, we will try to provide a vehicle for you, however, availability cannot be guaranteed.

And that applies to all rentals, including the ones you pre-pay. Sorry, Stephen.

People who are unfamiliar with how car rental companies manage their fleets might assume it would be easy to hold a car for six hours. But that’s not the way the system works, unfortunately. (Although you might be able to do that with a specialty vehicle that’s been reserved in advance.) Cars come and go during periods of high demand, and if you’re not there to pick up the vehicle, someone else may claim it.

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All ended well. Hertz found a comparable car, even though it was lacking in the manners department, according to Ballard. But he’s not ready to let the company off the hook.

“Some penalty or compensation should be levied against Hertz to lessen such actions to others in the future, so as to avoid the anxiety, stress and problems we as 76-year-olds experienced.”

Ballard wants me to get an apology and compensation from Hertz for giving away his rental and being unpleasant.

I agree, no company should ever be rude to a customer. Hertz should definitely apologize. But for giving away his car? I’m not sure it owes him anything for that.

Should I take Stephen Ballard's case?

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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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