Hertz charged him an extra $102 for fuel he already bought — or did it?

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By Christopher Elliott

When Jordan Smith returns his Hertz rental, his receipt indicates a full tank. So why is the company charging him $102 for fuel? And is there a way to reverse this Hertz extra fuel charge?

Question

I rented an Infiniti Q60 from Hertz in Los Angeles recently. Before I returned the vehicle, I filled the tank within five miles of the Hertz location. I paid with cash and did not ask for a receipt. I returned the car with a full tank.

An attendant marked the fuel level as “full” on the receipt. A month or so later, I received a bill for 9.86 gallons of gas — more than half a tank on the car I rented — for $102.

I promptly sent a letter disputing the charge. Hertz didn’t respond. All I ever received were repeated bills in the mail, and last week, a notice that they would be sending my bill to a collection agency.

I would like Hertz to halt any transfer of my information to any collection agency, cancel my outstanding bill and remove me from its Do Not Rent List. If my information has been sent to a collection agency and resulted in damage to my credit score, I would like said damages reversed. Can you help me get rid of this Hertz extra fuel charge? — Jordan Smith, Provo, Utah

Answer

If Hertz said your tank was full, it shouldn’t have charged you. But let’s skip straight to the end of this one: Hertz says your tank wasn’t full. As far as Hertz is concerned the attendant marked it “full” in error, because the car rental company’s records definitely show you shorted it by 10 gallons.

And yes, Hertz charges about $10 a gallon for gas, so the bill is correct.

It is also not correct. When you showed Hertz the receipt that indicated a full tank, it should have worked with you to fix the problem, not simply send you one bill after another and finally threaten you with a collection agency and its Do Not Rent list. It looks as if you were caught in some kind of automated system. Had a person reviewed your case, I think it would have been fixed a long time ago.

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Speaking of a real person, I have a list of real executives at Hertz. You can find the Hertz customer service executives on my consumer advocacy site.

How to avoid a Hertz extra fuel charge

But how could you have avoided this? Always, always keep receipts when you fill your tank at the end of your rental. That way, if there’s a discrepancy between your final receipt and the car rental company’s records, you can prove that you filled your tank. I’ve rented an Infiniti Q60 from Hertz, and I can tell you from personal experience that the gas gauge is easy to read. (Here’s what you need to know before renting your next car.)

If you happened to pay for your fuel with cash and forgot the receipt, you can still take a photo of the dashboard before you return the car. (And, in fact, you did — and you showed me a photo of a completely full gas gauge. Nice work on keeping the evidence.)

This should have been an open-and-shut case. I contacted Hertz on your behalf. A representative said that while the company can’t verify the proper fuel level without a receipt, it decided to credit the fuel charge back to your account, “as a goodwill gesture” and in an effort to retain your business.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in São Paulo.

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