Hertz billed him for an additional eight days. Where is the refund?

DEAR TRAVEL CAREER: I recently rented a car from Hertz for three days in Palm Beach, Florida. Hertz tried to charge me for 2 hours and 11 days.

Christopher Elliott, the travel convenience store

I contacted the car rental company several times to try to resolve this issue. I can prove that I was at the Palm Beach airport when I returned the car and returned to Philadelphia on the dates Hertz claims to have rented the car for 11 days.

I should have paid Hertz $237. Instead, Hertz charged me $953.

Please help me solve this problem. I know the Palm Beach airport location for Hertz is extremely understaffed at the moment. The people who work there are a gem. I often use this rental place.

— Elie-Anne Chevrier, Philadelphia

TO RESPOND: Whoa, that’s a major billing error. Hertz should have billed you for the number of days you had the car in Palm Beach, and no more. So what happened?

Hertz says its location inadvertently closed the original contract before the return date. Then he opened a new contract but closed it on the wrong date.

Hertz should have a system in place to resolve a billing dispute like yours. And again, under normal circumstances, someone would review your grievance and adjust your bill. Over the past few months, I’ve seen more automation take over tasks like these. And robots are often infuriating; they often dismiss serious issues, forcing customers to pay or dispute charges on their credit cards.

I think you would have had a strong case for disputing your credit card bill under the Fair Credit Billing Act. You kept excellent grades and were able to prove that you weren’t in Florida for the extra days charged by Hertz. I also list the names, numbers, and email addresses of Hertz executives on my consumer advocacy site, www.elliott.org/company-contacts/hertz/. A short courteous email to one of them might have helped.

There’s one thing I didn’t notice in your paper trail that might have been helpful. Car rental companies will offer a receipt when you return the car. Sometimes they also email you the final invoice. Hold on tight, because it proves you got the car back as promised. I saw what appeared to be an estimate of the final charge, but it was for a different amount.

I contacted Hertz on your behalf. A representative called you and agreed to waive the additional charge. Hertz also gave you a voucher for two free rental days, which was a nice way to apologize for the mistake.

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