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Car Rental

The Hertz Glitch Landing Customers in Jail

The Hertz Glitch Landing Customers in Jail
Jennifer Billock

Thanks to a glitch in Hertz’s system, car rental customers are ending up in an unlikely place: jail. The company is apparently accidentally reporting cars as stolen when they’ve been properly rented, and some customers are getting pulled over and arrested, sometimes spending up to two weeks in jail.

Hey Hertz drivers, have you been to jail yet? You might end up there at some point because of a glitch in the car rental company’s systems. Due to the glitch, cars are getting reported as stolen when they’re actually lawfully rented and those customers are getting arrested and thrown in jail. Some have been arrested at gunpoint. Others spent two weeks in jail.

It appears that the issue occurs when customers switch from the vehicle they’ve originally rented to a different one. According to Hertz, reported by View From the Wing, it’s only happened to about 30 people.

“The problem is Hertz has broken computer systems,” Francis Alexander, an attorney working with one of the customers who was arrested, told ABC Action News. “They have broken policies around standard operating procedures and, as a result of that, good people are being thrown in jail. It’s shocking, it’s bad and it needs to stop.”

For Hertz’s part, they acknowledge the problem—but that’s about it. Sometimes they pay damages to the customers who rented the cars. But it doesn’t appear they plan to do much else to remedy the problem.

“False reports of stolen vehicles are extremely rare,” Hertz spokesperson Tressie Rose told ABC Action News. “When it has occurred, it has been the result of unique and extenuating circumstances. In the rare instance an error within our controls has occurred we take responsibility.”


[Image Source: Shutterstock]

View Comments (34)


  1. strickerj

    May 16, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    Interesting. If I were to do this, I’d be charged with filing a false report. What sort of repercussions will Hertz’ representatives face over this (if any)?

    And more importantly, will the customers falsely arrested be compensated and have those criminal records expunged?

  2. j2simpso

    May 16, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    While I am sure Hertz is sorry for the inconvenience caused to these travellers it does not appear that Hertz is interested in making the whole (if that is even possible!). Imagine having to spend 2 weeks in the slammer and losing your job, children, etc. due to this. Even when the ordeal is over and you’re acquitted, you’ve still got a record and that could impact you further down the road if you need to apply for security clearance, a job or Visas.

  3. Dave510

    May 16, 2019 at 8:28 pm


    If there is a criminal record (which is unlikely, since it wouldn’t even move to trial), it would be possible to expunge on grounds of actual innocence.

  4. Xelodia

    May 17, 2019 at 4:30 am

    I rented from Hertz this week and presented this situation to the manager. She seemed puzzled by the possibility of this happening because of all the steps needed to go through on their end to file a report for a stolen vehicle. This must be some glitch!

  5. SarcasticMisanthrope

    May 17, 2019 at 5:23 am

    Way to go Hertz, You are as bad as Enterprise who has not updated their computer systems since the 1980’s.

  6. jonsail

    May 17, 2019 at 7:34 am

    These case will be very appealing to both plaintiffs’ lawyers and juries. I expect Hertz will pay significant monetary damages in most cases.

  7. skidooman

    May 17, 2019 at 7:56 am

    Unless they do something about it, Hertz is not a business I will patronize for sure.

  8. corpgator

    May 18, 2019 at 10:40 am

    “Only’ 30 times. 1 is far too many. Great example of corporate speech. I’ll never rent with Hertz.

  9. laperk1028

    May 18, 2019 at 10:43 am

    Hertz doesn’t seem too concerned and has absolved itself of responsibility. This tells me a lot about the culture of the leadership. They should be properly “horrified” at this and stating it publicly. “Only 30 people” is a lot when you consider jail time. Goodbye Hertz – it’s been 40 years, but I’m done now!

  10. jrpallante

    May 18, 2019 at 10:44 am

    I suspect that anybody who spent 2 weeks in jail on a false report must have had some other outstanding legal issues. Between the credit card charges, email confirmation of the reservation, and the rental agreement you carry in the car, even a public defender could secure immediate release.

  11. The_Bouncer

    May 18, 2019 at 10:58 am

    One can only hope that the loss of business due to the publicity, as well as potentially very significant lawsuits, will convince Hertz to do something about this. I will certainly not be renting from them until this is sorted out.

  12. RSSrsvp

    May 18, 2019 at 10:59 am

    Free rentals for life would be a fair settlement! :)

  13. m44

    May 18, 2019 at 11:04 am

    expunged – it does not mean it is deleted. The arest record or a criminal case when expunged remains – its visibility to the world is limited. But the “private investigator” services already captured that record before it was expunged – so it is in the public record available to all who will pay.
    All expunged records are visible to law enforcement anyway anytime.
    By the way – the info does not include any mention that it was a false arest because Hertz messed up.

  14. m44

    May 18, 2019 at 11:21 am

    Every time you switch the car in Spain at AVIS – you risk getting to pay for somebody’s traffic ticket.
    AVIS in Spain, just as any other company, does not keep good records. They are sending all tickets to Hungary, were the regard for law is as low as in the White House.They grab a first contract that pops-up with the registration number that was fined – and send the bill. They are sending your name, address and driver license to the police issuing the ticket. All this is no on-line cross-country available to any cap in EU.
    They have no problem billing a zero mile driven contracts for traffic tickets hundreds of miles away.
    It takes time and effort to get Avis to correct their billing. They never correct the information they already sent to the police. So expect to be jailed the next time you are in Europe – the traffic tickets non-payers can now be arrested by any cap in any EU country.
    Good luck.

  15. pony_trekker

    May 18, 2019 at 11:38 am

    Hertz is a deplorable company that couldn’t give a shit about its customers. As a frequent renter (50x a year) I haven’t set foot in a Hertz for 2 years. Before that, I never had a positive experience. Someone should file a class action against them and absolutely glass them.

  16. SpaceCoastBill

    May 18, 2019 at 11:53 am

    Yes, you would have a criminal history. It isnt tied to the trial, it is started during the arrest and booking.

    Hertz may not care to do much for the people they have caused to get thrown in jail, but the civil suit should definitely have an impact on them.

  17. Eryeal

    May 18, 2019 at 11:54 am

    Two weeks in jail? How is that even possible? You show them your rental agreement and that’s it. I have a hard time believing someone was in jail for 2 weeks over this – perhaps they had other warrants for their arrest.

  18. gkbiiii

    May 18, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    Any wonder I now do my rentals through Turo, the AirB&B of car rentals.

  19. RooseveltL

    May 18, 2019 at 12:47 pm

    Hertz has been a favorable company with what sounds like a computer glitch in a specific scenario BUT, this scenario (after switch out of car which I’ve done multiple times prior to Ultimate Choice) would frighten me. As a person of color – and being accused of theft of a vehicle while doing nothing wrong can lead to heighten tensions and potentially viral as both parties (police officer(s) and the driver) are 100% correct. That misunderstanding can be fatal pending fear/nervousness and overzealousness.

  20. Firewind

    May 18, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    Then there’s the license plate switch game… I was once stopped in a rental car on a New Hampshire highway for having an out of date sticker. The officer checked out the contract, came back and said the plate was for a different car. “It happens all the time. Go on. It’s too much hassle to do anything about.” I told the guy about it when I checked it in. “Oh.” For the record, it wasn’t Hertz.

  21. kileysmom

    May 18, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    Shame on Hert! And it is true that just the arrest will generate a record that won’t disappear at least here in the US. And, just for the record, “even” public defenders is a nasty remark about some of the better criminal defense attorneys and by far the majority of those who do it full time. Shame on you, jrpallante. How they manage to cope at all with the caseloads they are expected to handle is in itself a demonstration of skill!

  22. KevAZ

    May 18, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    Doesn’t ring true. The rental agreement gets them out of jail. Even if they kept it two or three extra days without the agreement in hand reflecting this, no police would hold someone without a fairly extensive felony history.

  23. sar7cee

    May 18, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    m44 is wrong about traffic tickets non-payers being arrested in any EU country.

    There is a convention regarding this that not all EU countries have signed-up to. The UK being a major exception for some reason.

    Drive a non-UK car, except a rental, in the UK and you can speed and contravene other laws without penalty, unless it’s a cop and not a camera that catches you. Don’t pay parking tickets – except if it’s a rental car. The reason is that because the UK has not signed the agreement, licensing authorities refuse to disclose the address of law-breakers.

  24. SamirD

    May 18, 2019 at 4:21 pm

    Hmmm…good to know if I’m getting stopping–in any rental car. Sounds like no one really has their ducks in a row.

  25. kds4

    May 18, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    There’s a real opportunity here for them to update their corporate slogan. Perhaps, “Choose Hertz, we’ll bail you out.”

  26. LeeEddie

    May 18, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    Let Hertz Put You in the Driver’s Seat, oh wait, I mean in jail.

  27. KimchiExpress

    May 18, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    It is easy to stay two weeks in a US jail regardless of your innocence. Our legal system is a nightmare and it doesn’t give a flying F*^K about innocent people – it has other priorities.

    Every police department / prosecutor is different in the USA. And their inceptives are different also.

    Some towns get revenue from the jail, tickets, etc. So the whole system lives on it.

    There is little to no incentive to help innocent people. Just look at all of the people who spent 20+ years behind bars only to be found innocent because of DMA tests.

  28. Ysitincoach

    May 18, 2019 at 7:53 pm

    Fake News.

    FT gives no victim name, quote, or case to reference.

  29. OMSHH

    May 18, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    @corpgator: the “only 30 times” quote came from the blog that first stsrted this nonsensical story.. The quote frpm Hertz went as follows: “False reports of stolen vehicles are extremely rare.”

    BIG difference!

    At any rate, anyone with evem the most basic understanding of what it tales to report a car as being stolen would understand that a “computer glitch” isn’t going to get matters bad enough where people are getting arrested for car theft, let alone having to go to jail for 2 hours.

    My bet is this is a rumor that was started by someone who has an axe tp grind with Hertz. I am shocked that Flyertalk would choose to publish it.

  30. socalduck


    May 19, 2019 at 7:28 am

    I walked away from Herz two years ago, despite being at the highest tier for over a decade. High-mileage, crap cars and generally poor customer service. The fact they would take an indifferent attitude to their customers comes as no surprise. Switched to National, and wish I had done so much sooner.

  31. fartoomanyusers

    May 19, 2019 at 11:09 am

    “In the rare instance an error within our controls has occurred we take responsibility”

    how exactly could a false stolen report be anything other than within their control ?!

  32. macssam

    May 20, 2019 at 4:42 am

    I never rent from Hertz
    always highest rates
    the name Hertz is already a No No

  33. cebootsw

    May 21, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    The “car rental agreement” won’t help you much as so many rentals are paperless now and if you can’t immediately pull it up on the phone, you are dead meat.

  34. spartacus

    June 18, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    Wow, I just had to swap a car rented at Lincoln HLE at the OKC airport after picking up a bolt in a tire. If it wasn’t 11 PM I would have found someplace to fix the tire because I had an entire tailgate setup in the trunk, Nothing like schlepping everything from one car to the other after a full day in the sun at baseball.

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