Car rental nightmare shows how Hertz oversells inventory and extorts stuck customers

Kate Klonick posted about a nightmarish Thanksgiving experience with Hertz, the car rental outfit. Though she is a "Gold" member, the company refused to honor her $415 booking over the holiday, pushing her to agree to a $1,800 gouge to "reserve" another vehicle. And that's the short version of a gruelling, multi-day customer service shakedown that she ultimately ended up on her credit card—and was reimbursed for only after her story went viral on Twitter.

"This was not just poor customer service or bad logistics," Klonick wrote. "It was extortion."

"Hertz refused to honor our contract, we had to call 20+ times, were hung up on 6 times, were 2 different locations that couldn't help us on our own dime, tried to make us pay $1800 for a new rental 4 times, and ended up making us pay $500+ over quoted price for a bad car … A number of their employees shared that this happens all the time, and I suspect it is by design to force higher payment when customers are most vulnerable. I also suspect the Kafkaesque customer service is part of this."

You could buy a used car for the upsell they hit her with!

The inherent desperation of travelers means low standards are expected of the car rental industry, but Hertz finds ways to make the headlines.