Customer Service in the Rental Car Industry Seems Low

Jane Lu
· 4 min read
With pandemic restrictions easing, people are eager to get back to regular life. For many, that means traveling and
renting cars for road trips
. The problem is that returning to travel hasn't been as smooth as people would hope.
Several people have complained about the poor customer service they’ve received from car rental agencies like
. It seems that some car rental agencies weren't prepared for the sudden increase in bookings. As a result, their customer service teams aren’t properly equipped to handle complaints and other concerns.
The rental car industry has seen a lot of ups and downs

Why are rental car agencies having trouble with customer service?

The majority of the people who've rented a car during 2021 have been pleased with both the service and car they received. But, there are also quite a few people who seemed to encounter multiple issues with car rental companies. Common complaints include cars not being available even though they were pre-booked, billing problems, and slow service.
According to
Consumers Reports
, the reason so many people are encountering customer service problems is because car rental companies simply weren't adequately prepared for the sudden increase in demand.
Most of the branches don't have enough customer service reps to deal with complaints. As a result, some customers aren't getting the treatment the rental car company would like to provide.
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What other issues are people having with rental cars?

Tim Keel didn't have any second thoughts about renting a car from a Sacramento Hertz agency. The car got him where he needed to be and he returned it. Everything seemed fine until he received the final bill, as reported by the
L.A. Times
It included all of the regular expenses but also had an additional $400 fee. The fee was added because the person who inspected the vehicle thought they smelled smoke. Keel said he doesn’t smoke and tried to speak to a service rep. The company didn’t report any ashes in the car or cigarette butts in the ashtray, but Hertz didn’t reverse the charge.
L.A. Times
reported another disturbing story about an
woman’s experience with her rental car. When Faith Cenobio first received her rental car from Hertz, she noticed that it didn't look like the car had been vacuumed. The car was supposed to be "Gold Standard Clean."
She asked for another vehicle but the service rep told her they didn't have any other cars available. With no other option, she accepted the keys. Cenobio was driving her 7-year-old niece in the back seat, when her niece asks about "the plastic thing on the floor of the car"—it was a used condom. Horrified, Cenobio threw it out and called Hertz.
After speaking with the manager, Cenobio was eventually able to convince them to take $100 off of her rental car bill. Just before she boarded her plane, she received an email from Hertz billing her an additional $75 because the car wasn't clean. They claimed that there was dog hair inside, but Cenobio insisted that it belonged to someone who rented the vehicle before her.
Cenobio told L.A. Times that she believed, "they were charging me the $75 cleaning fee to partially recoup the money they paid for the condom."
If rental car companies are having issues keeping track of cleaning problems, it can be worrying to think about how they’d handle
accidents involving their cars

Protect yourself from customer service headaches

It’s likely that Hertz doesn’t have enough people cleaning and inspecting vehicles or enough people handling complaints and relaying important information. The result is potentially unfair charges and unhappy customers.
As Consumer Reports recommends, it might be a good idea to take pictures of your rental vehicle while the representative is standing beside you. This includes taking pictures after you’re done driving the vehicle. You should keep a careful record of your transactions, customer rep interactions, and try to get help in different ways if you need it.
Are you planning on booking a rental car soon? Make sure to check if you need additional
rental car insurance
. If you want to save money on car insurance,
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