Hertz has been generating buzz with its not-so-done deal to buy a 100,000 Teslas, but the company has another much sadder situation happening at the same time. 165 Hertz customers are alleging that they were wrongly arrested for stealing cars they rented from the company.
It’s an upsetting premise and you’re probably going to be baffled to read that this has been going on for years. In 2020, police drew guns on James Tolen of Houston, Texas, because his Hertz rental was listed as stolen. Police cuffed him before finding out that his current rental agreement listed him as an authorized driver for the supposedly stolen car.
Hertz spent much of 2020 in bankruptcy, selling thousands of cars and laying off thousands of workers. It is on the rebound with its bankruptcy case still open. Now, as the Atlanta Black Star reports, 165 Hertz customers that were falsely accused of stealing rental cars are lining up in front of Hertz’s bankruptcy judge hoping to allow their own suits to progress.
In 2019, Delaware resident Hanna Ayoub had a long-term truck rental with Hertz making $300 weekly payments, reports Delaware Online. Each time he made a payment, funds were drawn out of his account, and he received a confirmation from Hertz that he was good for the week. Yet, just one day after extending the rental for a third time Hertz gave Ayoub a call notifying him that he was no longer an authorized driver on his own rental.
Despite giving Hertz his money and receiving receipts, the company told him that it had no record of his extensions, from Delaware Online:
“They said that they had no record of the extension on the vehicle despite speaking to them a day before and receiving confirmation,” Ayoub said in an interview. “Everything just turned into a nightmare from that point onward.”
A month later, he was arrested and charged in Delaware and New Jersey courts for crimes related to vehicle theft. Ayoub would spend three months in jail.
The Delaware Department of Justice and New Jersey prosecutors eventually dismissed the charges after receiving Ayoub’s bank statements and call recordings which proved that he indeed paid for the truck.
But it was too late, Ayoub says “I lost everything, my life, my reputation, everything” in getting arrested for a crime he didn’t commit.
Delaware Online notes that the plaintiffs’ cases all have a common theme:
Hertz gave police incorrect or incomplete information leading to customers being imprisoned despite meeting their rental contract and payment obligations. Attorneys have argued that Hertz knowingly withholds customers’ payment history when filing theft reports to police.
This stemmed from Hertz failing to internally validate and verify information submitted for police reports in an effort to cut down costs, essentially, “letting the police find the cars it has lost,” the lawsuits state.
Even the cops have had enough of Hertz. Remember Tolen? Police chewed out Hertz for making them draw guns on him.
“That’s when I heard officers telling them [Hertz] ‘Do you know what you guys put this guy through? He’s here for a stolen vehicle, his contract is valid, we’re going to give him back the vehicle, and you guys need to get a better system,” he explained.
A Hertz spokesperson says:
“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.”
It also says that the police reports were valid when they were filed. In statements to CBS in the above report, Hertz considers the suits by its accusers to be meritless. But weirdly, it seeks dismissal of the cases not on the merits but on “technicalities”.