Hertz Rent-A-Car (HTZ) stock price is at $17.29 a share as of this posting , down from a high of $30.61 a year ago. In my opinion, $17.29 is overvalued.
As opposed to companies like Zappos, Virgin America or Eat24 whose brand values have literally been built on customer service, Hertz acts as a cautionary tale of what will happen if you decide to ignore the customer.
After a delayed flight, we arrived in the Buffalo Niagara International Airport at 1am, and learned that Hertz was closed, even though we had a reservation. No one was at the counter. I was stuck. The day had been harrowing enough. I was traveling alone with my two sons, aged 9 and 11, for nearly 12 hours, thanks to layovers and a medical emergency of another passenger.
I did what anyone would do, I called the Help line and was told that the Manager of the branch would be emailed. Considering that it was now after 1am, I was not holding breath for anything to come of that.
Technically, Avis was closed as well, but their representative stayed late to help his customers from the delayed flight. I went into his line, but he couldn’t help us because the Avis computers were down.
Outside the airport, I learned it would cost $250 to take a taxi to Hamilton, Canada (where we were staying). That one trip cost as much as the week of rental car, and was an unexpected expense out of our budget.
I called Hertz again and asked for it to be raised to a manager – and I got one. I asked the Customer Service Manager to CALL the manager of the branch and have that person come back to the airport and help the stranded customers. We weren’t the only family left stranded. As it was our journey wasn’t done – we still had to get from Buffalo to Hamilton.
After begging, pleading and even kind of threatening (saying “I have followers!” is pathetic I know, but please don’t judge me, it’s amazing what you’ll resort to when you’re desperate and exhausted and being nice doesn’t work) he told me he got a hold of the Branch Manager and that this person would be calling me back in 10 – 15 minutes.
I was thrilled. We went back inside.
As I mentioned we weren’t there alone, among the families left stranded by Hertz was Hannah Case and her four teenage sons, She had “…called Hertz twice to confirm that they would be open, spoke to Kelly, who had assured me that we wouldn’t have a problem.” Hannah also happens to be a member of Hertz’s Gold Plus Rewards and has a lot of points. She should be someone Hertz wants to make happy.
Hannah and I got to chatting. She was also on the phone with Hertz – unlike me she was hung up on twice and was in shock by the horrible treatment she was getting. I told her I got through to a manager and that manager promised he got through to someone in Buffalo and that the person in Buffalo would call me.
I gave her the CSR Manager’s name “Sydney Cruz” while she was on the phone with Hertz, and she was told that there is no one there with that name.
Even still, I had hope. We waited 10 minutes, then another 15.
The call never came.
In the meantime I’m tweeting and Facebooking the experience. I’m behaving like a normal, upset customer. While my friends online felt bad for our predicament, and some had their own nightmare stories from Hertz – there’s nothing to be done.
We go back outside and negotiate with the taxi driver who took pity on us and charged only $175.
I wish the story had ended there for us, that we’d just rent a car in Canada and have our vacation – but that didn’t happen. After arriving in Hamilton at 5am, we woke up around 11 and started calling rental agencies.
All. Rented. Out. Till Tuesday.
Turns out that this weekend was a holiday in Canada and we were stuck, left without a car and not able to do any of the trips for the next three days that we had originally planned. There went half of our vacation. The vacation we had been looking forward to all year.
We were going to go to Amish Country or check out wineries on the weekend. We couldn’t go during the week as my cousin doesn’t drive and her husband works. Why didn’t we all go in one car? We couldn’t fit. She has 4 girls under the age of 8.
By the way, this was my cousin’s holiday as well – and Hertz ruined it.
Customer Service is Marketing
Hertz didn’t even attempt to fix this. They didn’t help us that night to sort out another possible solution. They didn’t go above and beyond to help us get a car on Tuesday in Hamilton. They didn’t offer us any service, special or otherwise. I received a request from Hertz on Twitter for more information via DM and they would get back to me. (See below).