If you’re thinking of hiring a car through Hertz, then you might like to know about the hidden charges I encountered when I hired a car from Hertz on my recent holiday in Budapest. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know I’m not normally one to winge, but spending half an hour arguing with Hertz staff over an additional charge of €54 above the price I thought I had booked on the internet, left me with steam coming out of my ears.
The additional charges were hidden in a way that even the most internet savvy consumer would have been unlikely to pick up. Here’s the sorry tale. After doing a fair amount of price checking on the internet I prebooked a car for 5 days to be picked up in Budapest for use on our holiday in Hungary. On arrival I was told by the office staff that there was an additional €9 + local 25% tax per day to pay for ‘high season charges’ levied in the month of August.
I remonstrated and insisted that the price I had booked at was the price I should pay, but the staff were sorry, it was the fault of Hertz ‘head office’ who had made the mistake and we would have to pay up and then make our claim through them. We were not the only unhappy customers, they said, who had booked at a price that did not include this ‘high season charge’ and wished that we would make a fuss so that Hertz ‘head office’ would sort out this problem that left them having to deal with unhappy customers like ourselves.
So on my return I duly made my formal complaint to be told that the ‘high season charge’ was apparently made clear on my booking. Looking at the example below, you might be forgiven for thinking that the price published top right, was the price you would pay, unless you wished to book any of the additional services such as child seats or snow tyres. WRONG – dear readers, hadn’t you noticed the small link at the bottom that says Rental Qualifications and requirements?
If you click on that small link, you’ll be taken to a drop-down box with no less than 34 options on which you could click that may or may not tell you about additional charges. Most of these are for additional charges for additional services, which you would expect, but if you had clicked on the one for High Season Fee, you would have been told about this additional charge for bookings between 20 July and 31 August.
Now is it unreasonable to expect that if you are levying an higher price in peak season, you could programme your booking engine to show this in the original price calculation – after all, isn’t this why you enter your booking dates on the quotation? I’d also argue that the wording is not entirely clear – has the high season fee been already included in the quotation or is at an extra that you’ll need to pay locally? – it’s not obvious to me.
Had I realised that the price I was going to pay was €54 higher than the price that appeared on my booking quotation for exactly the same car and time period, I would probably have booked with another car hire provider with a cheaper quotation.
I’ve also noted that Hertz is the official car hire partner for Ryanair and therefore plenty of unknowing Ryanair customers are probably booking with them thinking they’re getting the best deal.
But I for one will be avoiding Hertz in future – I don’t want to deal with a company where I can’t be confident that the price I’m quoted on the internet is the one I will pay on the day and I don’t want to feel I have to scour their website, just to be sure there is no other hidden charge.
If you’ve had any experience of hidden charges with Hertz or any other car hire company, please do let me know through the comments. I may have had to pay these hidden charges from Hertz, but at least I’d like to warn other travellers so they can avoid doing the same.
Soon after I published this article and also linked to it on Twitter I was contacted by a member of the Hertz Europe Social Media team who said that they wished to investigate my complaint further, giving me a contact number. A few days after that I received an e-mail from Hertz Customer Services apologising for the fact that the High Season fee was not included in my quotation and that they would be refunding me that charge.
Full marks to Hertz for their use of Social Media like Twitter and Facebook to respond to customer feedback and also to their Customer Service team who eventually refunded me the charge, after initially saying it would have to stand. I do hope that they’ll also make these charges much more transparent on their booking site, and let’s hope that any other unhappy customers will receive the same service and not just bloggers like myself who have a public voice via the internet.