Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Complaining To Hertz

I didn't get much work done yesterday - I was writing a letter of complaint to Hertz! Took me ages. Now I've got to complain to Eurostar and American Express. I don't know if they'll do any good but it always makes me feel better!

Customer Relations,
Hertz UK,
Hertz House,
11 Vine Street,
Middlesex UB8 1QE

Dear Sir,

Confirmation Number: E5893473877
Pick up date: December 28, 2009

I am writing to complain in the strongest possible terms about my most recent Hertz rental.

I booked a car on line, and paid for it in advance with my American Express card. I booked a VW Passat from your Green Collection.

When I arrived at the Hertz Marble Arch location at about 9.30am on Monday December 28, a member of your staff (I later found out that his name was Asdi) was berating a customer. The customer was foreign, I think from Scandinavia, and was a Hertz Gold Card Member. Your member of staff was treating the customer with total contempt. I’m not sure what the problem was – the man’s car wasn’t ready and there was some confusion about using a discount voucher. I was appalled at the way Asdi was talking to the customer. The customer was polite and dignified and asked to speak to a manager. At first Asdi refused to contact a manager, then he said that the manager was busy. The customer continued to politely ask for a manager and eventually Asdi agreed to phone the manager. After a brief conversation, Asdi pointed at the door and said to the customer ‘your vehicle is ready.’ There was no apology, no politeness, just sheer contempt.

After the customer went to collect his car, Asdi picked up the phone and called his manager again. ‘That customer had a really bad attitude,’ he said, in front of me and three other customers. I hope that’s not how you treat all your Gold Card Members.

I was next in line. Asdi asked me if I had made a reservation. There was no greeting, no smile, no please or thank you. Just ‘Do you have a reservation?’

I said that I had. He then held out his hand and said ‘Driving licence and credit card.’ Again, there was no please or thank you. He was behaving more like an immigration officer than someone working in a customer service business.

Once he had checked my reservation, he told me that he did not have a VW Passat, but that he would upgrade me to a bigger car. There was no apology or explanation as to why the car that I had already paid for was not available. I asked him what car he was giving me and he said it would be a Kia Soul.

I asked him why he thought that the Kia Soul was a bigger car than the VW Passat and he said it had a bigger boot. (He actually kept calling it a booth but that is by the way). I asked him if the Kia Soul’s engine was bigger than the VW Passat and he admitted that it wasn’t. I pointed out to him that when people talk about the size of a car they are more often than not referring to the size of the engine and not the boot.

He agreed with me but said that it was the only car he had. It was that or nothing, he said. I explained that I was planning to drive a long distance with my family and that the Kia Soul would not be suitable and he again said that it was the only car available. Eventually I had to agree to take the car. I argued that I should be entitled to a substantial discount but all he would offer was to allow me to return the car with the tank empty. I said I was not happy with that, but there was nothing I could do other than to take the car offered, but under protest.

I had booked the Passat because I was driving my wife and daughter to Manchester, then up to Northumberland, and then back to London. The Kia Soul was totally unsuitable for this. The driving position was terrible, the car is clearly designed for small Korean housewives and not six-foot tall Englishmen. I ended up with back and shoulder pains after the four days I spent driving it. I could not see any of the dashboard instruments without slumping in the seat and lowering my neck, so that for most of the journey I was unable to see what my speed was. Despite your representative’s claims, there was very little space for luggage. I won’t bother mentioning that the charger that I was given with the Sat Nav system didn’t work and had to be replaced. Or that the car was dirty inside and out.

The car did not handle well at speed and visibility, particularly with the off-side mirror, was bad. What made matters worse of course was that during the rental period the UK was hit by snow and driving conditions were terrible, especially up north. The Kia Soul was totally unsuitable for the snowy and icy conditions that I was driving in. I have to say that you were lucky that I wasn’t involved in an accident because I would have held your company responsible for giving me a car that was totally unsuitable.

It was not the car I paid for and it was in no way an improvement. I can confidently say that it is the worst car I have ever driven, with the possible exception of a fifteen-year-old Suzuki Jeep that I rented in Phuket many years ago.

When I returned the car to your Marble Arch location I asked a member of staff why they thought that the Soul was an upgrade from a VW Passat. He agreed that the Soul wasn’t a better car but that it was in Hertz’s Fun Collection.

I have to say that driving the Soul was not a fun experience. It was totally unsuitable for my needs and was on occasions dangerous. It does not handle well at speed or in the snowy and icy conditions we had in late December and January. What makes this inexcusable is that not only had I reserved the car, I had paid for it in advance. You took my money but you then failed to deliver what I had paid for. That is tantamount to fraud and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

The last time I had a bad experience with Hertz (I was given a car in Manchester with a leaking tyre valve) the manager who handled my complaint asked me what it would take to make me happy. It was a good question, and we agreed that she would knock the cost of one day off a three-day rental.

If you were to ask me the same question regarding my treatment by your staff and the fact that you gave me a totally unsuitable car, I would have to say that there is only one way to make me happy and that would be to refund all my money. If that doesn’t happen, I don’t see that I’ll ever be using your Marble Arch location again.

Yours faithfully,

Stephen Leather


Mike said...


Let me offer my sincerest apologies and tell you that we hear you loud and clear. I'll make sure that customer service has received a copy of your letter and gets back to you promptly.

Mike McDowell
e-Commerce Manager

Anonymous said...

And did they?

Stephen Leather said...

Not yet. BUt Eurostar's Commercial Director emailed me to say that he wanted a chat, which was nice! I have to say that I think that people don't complain enough. I don't mean that we should turn into a nation of moaners, but when a company fails to serve its customers, they should have the error of their ways pointed out to them!