Hertz sent me a $700 bill for eight extra days! How do I get a refund?

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Christopher Elliott

When Elie-Anne Chevrier rents a car in Palm Beach, Fla., she expects to pay around $200. So why did Hertz just charge her over $900 for extra days she didn’t have the vehicle?

Question

I recently rented a car from Hertz for three days in Palm Beach, Fla. Hertz billed me for 2 hours and 11 days.

I have contacted the car rental company several times to try to resolve this. But Hertz employees haven’t been able to fix this problem.

I’m able to prove that I was at the Palm Beach airport when I returned the car and back in Philadelphia on the dates Hertz is claiming I rented the car for 11 days. I should have paid Hertz $237. Instead, Hertz charged me $953.

Please help me resolve this issue. I know the Palm Beach airport location for Hertz is extremely understaffed at the moment. The folks that work there are a gem. I use this rental location often. — Elie-Anne Chevrier, Philadelphia

Answer

Whoa, that’s a significant billing error. Hertz should have charged you for the number of days you had the car in Palm Beach, and no more. So what happened?

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Hertz says its location inadvertently closed the original contract before the return date. Then it opened a new contract but closed it on the incorrect date.

Hertz should have a system in place to resolve a billing dispute like yours. And again, under normal circumstances, someone would review your grievance and adjust your bill. In the last few months, I’ve seen more automation taking over tasks like these. And bots are frequently infuriating; they often dismiss serious issues, forcing customers to either pay up or dispute the charges on their credit cards.

I think you would have had a strong case for challenging the bill on your credit card under the Fair Credit Billing Act. You kept excellent notes and could prove that you were not in Florida during the extra days charged by Hertz. We also list the names, numbers, and email addresses of the Hertz executives in our database. A brief, polite email to one of them might have helped.

The good news: Hertz has agreed to send you a refund for the extra days

There’s one thing that I didn’t notice in your paper trail that might have been helpful. Car rental companies will offer a receipt when you return the car. Sometimes, they also email you the final invoice. Hold on to that because it proves you brought the car back as promised. I saw what appeared to be an estimate of final charges, but it was for a different amount ($237).

I contacted Hertz on your behalf. A representative called you and agreed to drop the extra charges. Hertz also offered you a voucher for two free rental days, which was a nice way of apologizing for the mistake.

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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 weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, Forbes and the Washington Post. He also publishes 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 Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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