What Happened with Hertz
When I walked into the Hertz rental car place downtown, I thought I was going to rent a car, one that I had reserved two weeks prior for a special-occasion weekend. What I ended up doing was turning around and walking out after the man at the counter told me, “We’re sold out of cars.”
Here was my first question: How do you sell out of cars available for rent?
Answer: As the man behind the counter told me, rental car companies overbook in hopes of no-shows and cancellations. It was the same story at U-Haul last month when I was moving and ended up with a different-sized truck at a different time and from a different location than what we’d reserved. “Busiest weekend of the year,” both companies told me. “Nothing we can do.” There is something you can do: You could have the decency to call and notify me that, due to your company’s dishonest reservation policies, I will not receive the service you promised me, instead of letting me show up the minute I need the car and telling me lightly that you’ll take my phone number and call me if a car shows up.
Here was my second question: How can a company offer reservations but not honor them?
Answer: Vehicle rental companies can do it, because our car-centered culture is so dependent on vehicles that they have a guaranteed market—no matter how frequently or thoroughly they screw over their customers. I can swear up and down (and I have) that I’ll never bring my business to Hertz again, but the next time I need a car and they’re the most convenient, guess what I’m going to have to do.
Here was my final question: What the f*** am I supposed to do now?
Answer: Run to the light rail station and take a train to the Broadway Station. Call my boyfriend and then wait in the hottest part of the afternoon (it was 103 degrees) for him to pick me up at the station. Drop him off at the rehearsal dinner, speed to the airport, pick up three house guests and apologize to them for the car being filthy, but I was supposed to have a rental car. Try not to panic when gas light comes on, because the tank was almost on “E,” because I was supposed to use the rental car for the trip to the airport. Try not to cry when I stall the car in bumper-to-bumper traffic, because it’s a stick, and I’m flustered about the possibility of running out of gas, and I was supposed to be driving a rental car with automatic *expletive* transmission. Try not to spend all my time with loved ones I see infrequently venting about rental car companies that screw you over simply because they can.