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Tesla Renters Beware: Reports Say Hertz Is Falsely Accusing Customers of Theft

Scores of media reports indicate that Hertz has been systematically accusing innocent customers of auto theft with disastrous consequences.

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According to more mainstream media reports than we can count, Hertz appears to be systematically reporting vehicles rented by customers to the police as stolen. The results are horrifying. Renters arrested at gunpoint. Many are held in jail while mixed-up paperwork is sorted out.

A detailed report by CBS News that you can view in the Youtube video below lists the following:
-One realtor lost her license over the apparently false arrest
-Drivers were arrested at gunpoint (on video)
-Multiple reported cases involved corporate rentals
-Arrested customers range from cleaning personnel to a NASA employee

As the report details, more than one of the cases went to court and were then dismissed, but not until after innocent Hertz customers were forced to deal with the indignity of being arrested and taken to jail accused of a felony. In one video, two police officers level weapons at the driver. One officer aims his weapon with one hand while simultaneously using a free hand to operate radios. That driver was presumably an accidental discharge from death. The driver was reportedly not even charged with a crime after being detained.

One of those arrested says that she spent 40 days in jail after the vehicle she rented was returned. Another, who says he never rented a Hertz vehicle at all spent two days behind bars. A third reports that she rented a car from Hertz for three days and returned it on time as per the agreement. Yet, she later received a letter from Hertz saying that the company reported the car stolen.

News4 Nashville reports that a class action suit against Hertz by customers that say they were falsely accused of stealing Hertz vehicles is gaining momentum. This situation is not a few isolated incidents. Hundreds of customers are joining the lawsuit against Hertz according to multiple sources.

New4 Nashville was told by Hertz, “...The vast majority of these cases involve renters who were many weeks or even months overdue returning vehicles and who stopped communicating with us well beyond the scheduled due date. Situations where vehicles are reported to the authorities are very rare and happen only after exhaustive attempts to reach the customer.”

Note that Hertz does not claim that all of the cases are baseless. According to Statista, Hertz had over 400,000 vehicles in its fleet in 2020. Even if the false reports of stolen vehicles are “very rare” it can add up to quite a number of devastated individuals being falsely accused or arrested. The fact that numerous arrests resulted in no charges or dropped charges seems to offer proof that the Hertz claims are either false, without merit, or don’t rise to the definition of car theft.

What seems most odd to this automotive expert is that Hertz doesn’t simply use the vehicles’ telematics systems to locate the vehicles it feels are stolen and then repossess them. One person who was reportedly leasing a Hertz vehicle reports that did happen to him. He says he watched as it was towed away. Hertz could then pursue a civil case against the individual or company that Hertz felt was in violation of its rental or lease agreement in court to recoup its financial losses. How does Hertz win by reporting a vehicle is stolen to police if it knows that it could be mistaken?

Hertz recently made news by running advertisements highlighting the company’s green vehicle offerings and announcing it is adding more Tesla Model 3 cars to its rental fleet. A celebrity football star who makes very few commercials helped Hertz with its promotion. Hertz does not highlight in the advertisements that it owns one of the world's largest fleets of fossil-fuel-powered vehicles and operates a vast network of gasoline vehicle refueling operations.

For more on this subject, we offer the following list of resources from other publications.
MSN: Claims are mounting against Hertz from customers who say they were wrongfully arrested for rental car theft.
CNN: Hertz files for bankruptcy
Fox Business: Dozens of Hertz customers allege company had them falsely arrested
KPRC 2 Investigates: Hertz customers report being accused of driving stolen rental cars
Naples Daily News: Hertz accused of falsely reporting that customers stole rental cars
Metro UK: Hertz car rental customers ‘arrested at gunpoint after company falsely reports vehicles stolen’
Inside Hook: Why Are Dozens of Hertz Customers Being Accused of Auto Theft?
Inc.: Why Are Hertz Customers Getting Stopped--or Even Jailed--for Driving 'Stolen' Cars?
Business Observer: Attorneys expand wrongful theft allegations case against Hertz
ABC7 / KATV: Hertz still wrongfully accusing customers of stealing rental cars, attorney says
Inside EVs: Why Did Hertz Choose Tesla Over Other EVs, And Pay Full Price?

Image courtesy of Hertz' media page attributed to E.R Davidson.

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's interest in EVs goes back to 1990 when he designed the thermal control system for an EV battery as part of an academic team. After earning his mechanical engineering degree, John completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers, in the semiconductor industry, and in biotech. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American news outlets and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on TikTok @ToknCars, on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin

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Robby (not verified)    December 17, 2021 - 10:08AM

There's two sides to every story. When you rent a car for the weekend and you still haven't brought it back or contacted the rental company a month later with a maxxed out credit card what is Hertz supposed to do? I knew a guy like this who left out of state with a rental and just dropped the car off back to them with the keys after a year - no theft charges, just a whopping bill he never paid!