I shared a story from one of my dad’s friends yesterday who was stopped by the police with guns drawn because the rental car he was legitimately using had been reported stolen. Of course, Hertz refunded the rental fee, but beyond that, there weren’t a lot of facts yesterday. It was still enough of a bizzarre story that I wondered if anyone else had experienced something similar. Today I have a few more details.
One of my hypotheses was that this car had been reported stolen, recovered, and then rented out again while the original theft report was still on file with the police. This is pretty much what happened. At some point Hertz had reported the vehicle stolen. Hertz claims they have safeguards in place to make sure recovered vehicles are no longer in police databases, but in this case the recovery was never reported. So the police were still on the lookout.
But what makes it worse is that the officers who stopped his car were under the impression that the car had been stolen by someone who was armed. And it was a giant yellow sports car from the Hertz “Adrenaline Series.” You can imagine the picture in your mind of a cop looking for a stolen, bright yellow muscle car zooming down the street with an armed driver. Not good. So with that information, it shouldn’t be surprising that not one, not two, but TEN officers responded when the vehicle was spotted, and my dad’s friend was ordered out of the vehicle at gunpoint.
Yes, everyone agrees that a waived rental fee isn’t sufficient in a case like this. Part of the problem is that he had two of his friends with him in the vehicle, and you can probably appreciate that all of them deserve some compensation for this experience, not just the renter. They’re still negotiating with Hertz. I’ll keep you updated if I learn anything new.
I gave him my usual advice when requesting compensation:
First, DO NOT act belligerent and claim you will never do business with them again. It doesn’t matter how awful the experience was. The company’s goal is to smooth things over with a valued customer. If they’ve already lost the customer, they don’t have much incentive beyond their legal obligation. Too many complaint letters start out angry and lose sight of the reason for the complaint and what the company can do to make the customer happy again.
Second, DO suggest non-financial forms of compensation. Any business is more likely to offer you some form of elite status or credit toward a future transaction instead of cash you could use with someone else. If you are willing to do business with them again, a $200 voucher is just as valuable to you as $200 cash, but to them a $200 voucher costs them much less because it reflects both expenses and a profit margin. There’s also a chance that you will spend more than the voucher (more business for them) or less than the voucher (“breakage”).