Some travelers spending big bucks to get from a handful of nearby airports to the path of this month’s full solar eclipse, report they are just now learning that rental cars won’t be available as promised.
The chance to see a full solar eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most people who will manage to position themselves in the narrow path of the rare natural phenomenon on August 21. Hundreds of travelers who were depending on Hertz to provide a car from the airport to the path of the eclipse, however, say that the rental car giant is dashing their dreams with little more fanfare than a cold computerized voice on the phone.
BuzzFeed reports that Hertz customers, some of whom booked cars months in advance in order to be on hand when the moon momentarily causes daytime darkness, are now learning that the company will not be honoring their reservations. The heartbroken eclipse pilgrims say that, adding insult to injury, the rental car company delivered the bad news with an automated robocall informing customers that their reservations were being canceled due to “overbooking.”
To make matters worse, many of those who have been carefully planning eclipse junkets for weeks claim that Hertz knew full well that demand would be high on the day of the celestial spectacle. Dejected travelers point to a marked increase in car rental rates on the days surrounding the eclipse event in North America. In fact, in some regions, Hertz even launched a promotional campaign encouraging potential customers to rely on them for their eclipse-related car rental needs.
Customers took to social media, both to complain about the rental company’s perceived price gouging and the unceremonious cancelling of reservations. Mary Anne Eagan @geekgrl4 lashed out at Hertz on Twitter, writing, “To see eclipse and visit grad schools – Airline tix for 2 from NY to OR: $1400; hotel: $1300; @Hertz cancelling res: priceless!! …”
To see eclipse and visit grad schools – Airline tix for 2 from NY to OR: $1400; hotel: $1300; @Hertz cancelling res: priceless!! …
— MaryAnne Egan (@geekgrl4) August 4, 2017
Meanwhile, Amy Milstein @greenmangos called out the company more directly, even using the seemingly apt hashtag #highwayrobbery. “Car rental, Portland OR Aug 20-27, $3000,” she posted for the sake of comparison. “Same car, same place Aug 22-27, $300. 10x more if rented before eclipse.”
— Amy Milstein (@greenmangoes) July 31, 2017
Despite the robocall’s stoic delivery of the news that travelers’ eclipse fantasies might now be out of reach, actual humans at the company are now working on some emergency damage control. “We are reaching out to those customers this week to let them know that we are bringing in additional fleet from outside areas to fulfill as many customer reservations as we can,” a Hertz spokesperson told Inc’s Chris Matyszczyk this week.