Don’t give up.

Over the weekend, Chris and I were in LA. We rented a car, and after driving it for an hour or so, we realized it sounded horrible. It was a 2013 Prius, and was making the most annoying rattling noise. Knowing that we had an hour + drive ahead of us later that night, we both felt we needed to get a different car to ensure that we were not stranded with a broken down car late at night. (Not my idea of a good time).

First we called the closest Hertz location. No answer. We called the 800 number for Hertz Roadside Assistance. They said we would have to go back to the LAX location where we rented the car. Not an option, we would have sat in LA traffic both ways and never would have made it to our dinner plans. We drove to the Hertz location listed as closest (the one that did not answer the phone). It was not at the specified address. An hour has now passed.

We called Roadside Assistance again, and were transferred to another area within Hertz and got hung up on. We called another location in the vicinity, and they said they had no cars and that we should go back to LAX or call the Hertz 800 number. We called the 800 number, they said they would transfer us to the Venice Hertz. The man who answered that phone call said he would call a few different locations, took my number, and said he would call back. He never called back. We called Roadside Assistance again, and they said they would transfer us to Customer Care. We were disconnected.

By this time, I was livid, frustrated, and quite a bit nasty with Hertz. During my final call to Roadside Assistance, the agent tells me there is nothing they can do for me, the only people who can help me is the LAX location, but that I would need to go there to have them swap out cars. They let me know that Hertz Roadside Assistance can do nothing for all the frustration, hang-ups, my only resolution is at the LAX location (they supposedly have cars). By this time we are in Sherman Oaks, and a few hours have passed.

I call the LAX location at least 10 times, and each time I get a voicemail. I do not want to leave a voicemail, because who knows when anyone will return it. The agent tells me they cannot help me, after I get very irritated with her, and ask her what she would want done if she was in my situation, she agrees, but says she can no do anything to help me. I firmly ask to speak with her manager, (who I find out is Fred). Fred and I will spend the next few hours trading phone calls and voicemails. Hertz must not teach or empower their managers to think for themselves. He tells me there is nothing he can do for us, the only thing we can do is drive back to LAX and trade out for a new car. I knew that was not going to happen. So we had to decide to push further with Hertz, or give up all the hours we already wasted in our day and just drive north with the potential that our car will break down.

I am not one to give up. I press on. I tell him I am in Sherman Oaks, and will be for the next few hours. Could he find a location near me that can bring us a new car? He finds one at Burbank and tells me I have to drive there. I tell him that is not going to happen. We have plans and I have already wasted 5 hours of my afternoon being hung up on and trying to deal with his company. The least they could do is bring a car to us. He finds a Nissan Altima and says a tow truck will come to meet us, but it will be a few hours. I ask what he is going to do with my rental rate after giving us a car that was not 100%, having such horrible help and customer service issues, and that I lost half my day due to Hertz. He said there was nothing he could do. Eventually he says he will pay for our gas when we returned the Altima.

Ha. Our gas. Part of the reason for renting the Prius in California was the miles we were going to drive. I knew we would not have to pay much for gas, so his comping our gas was nothing. I asked him if he could comp a day, since we did not get to do all we wanted due to the car. He said he could not do that, but would comp me the gas. After I yell at him, and he yells at me, I hand the phone off to Chris. I am livid and sweating, and not going to give up. I used to be in customer service and I am appalled that someone who manages an entire Hertz location does not have the authority to fix these types of issues.

In the end, Chris told them if he did not fix this, and make it right, that I would end up taking it up the line at Hertz (and yes, I will be writing them a letter, and will be happy to share this blog post with them). He mentioned that I have a blog, and I will be sure to make my experience known so that others do not have a similar situation in the future. Fred said, “well we do not want that, let me call my manager.” He called us back and offered a day off our rental and to pay for our gas. In the end:

  1. Hertz delivered the car to us in Sherman Oaks.
  2. It was another Prius… new, with only 1,300 miles.
  3. Our gas was only $10.17 to fill it back up… we paid for it.
  4. We got one day comped on our rental.

Customer service representatives should always ask for phone numbers and call customers back if they get disconnected. My health insurance provider does that, and I appreciate it. Companies should also empower customer service agents and managers to be able to offer their customers some type of compensation when issues arise.

I wanted to share this in hopes that others will not give up if in a similar situation. What do you think?

4 thoughts on “Don’t give up.

  1. How frustrating. You’d think that as a car rental company they’d have a system in place to make issues like these get fixed as quickly as possible. What if a customer got in a car accident or the car really did break down and needed a new rental? I can’t imagine they’d make that person find a way to get to the original location and get a new car. The whole point of having a company that’s country wide is that you can go to any location and get help. You’re paying for services, it’s not like they’re doing you a favor.

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    • That is EXACTLY what I was thinking. And the fact that they were so unhelpful and combative with me – I’m in the midst of sending a letter to their headquarters. I hate to think that someone else might have the same issue we did!

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  2. Very sad but helpful. If you, a customer service guru, had to spend hours before finding a helpful person with a solution at Hertz, I wonder how they got to be #1 (or if they still are)? Recently I’ve experienced the power of negative online customer postings. A salon was recommended, so I checked it out online and there were 9 positive comments and 1 detailed negative comment. I didn’t go. I usually check Yelp or other online reviews before trying a new restaurant. Bad reviews/no go. If you’ve ever used Angie’s List, you know that it’s all about customer reviews. I’ve seen companies give “over the top/what can we do to make you happy” service to appease a dissatisfied customer (Hertz should have done that!). Most companies that deal with the public know that one negative posting for their restaurant or rental agency or whatever can result in exponential numbers of lost customers. I’m totally surprised and disappointed to hear that Hertz has lost its rep for keeping its customers satisfied and happy. Any recs for car rental companies that consistently give great service?

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    • Siouxsioux! I have heard that Enterprise is great, and in my past job used to use Avis. I never had any issues with either company. I know just what you mean about online reviews. It is a consumer culture, and the customer now controls the emotional feel of how other customers may or may not respond based on their reviews. Sometimes you have to throw a bad comment out if all the good outweigh the bad, because sometimes there is a bad apple that just complains. In terms of a salon, I know a great stylist 🙂

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