Hertz quietly reverts to overpriced fuel purchase options

by Christopher Elliott on December 4, 2008

It was too good to last. Hertz’ much-welcome decision in July to charge customers who didn’t prepay for a tank of gas based on the average price per gallon in the geographical area where the car is rented is no more.

Effective Dec. 1, it’s back to the old policy, according to a notice sent to its frequent renters.

This means the Flat Refueling Fee, and Fuel and Service Charges based on local pump prices, have been discontinued. All North American corporate-owned Hertz locations, including Airport, Hertz Local Edition® and Off-Airport locations in Canada are affected.

Hertz has three refueling options available to meet your needs:

* You may purchase a tank of gas from Hertz at time of rental and return the vehicle with as little gas as you prefer. Please be aware that we are unable to issue a refund for unused fuel. However, this method eliminates the need for you to refuel the tank prior to returning.

* You can let us refuel for you and only pay for the fuel required to replace the fuel you used, and for the service and convenience of refueling the tank.

* You can stop and refuel the tank yourself, immediately prior to returning the vehicle.

We apologize for any inconveniences this change may cause.

Indeed.

What does this mean? Expect to pay fuel prices that are marked up significantly from the street price. With the price of unleaded gasoline below $2, that may not amount to much right now. But wait until fuel prices rise, as they almost certainly will.

The other issue this announcement doesn’t address is the “full tank” fees, which seem to have been done away with last summer. Renters who returned their Hertz vehicles with a full tank of gas but drove only a few miles were charged a refueling fee, too.

Will these unpleasant surcharges make a comeback? Hertz doesn’t say.

Bottom line: be on the lookout for extra fees when you rent a car.

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  • Lyngengr

    I just got back from a trip and rented from Hertz. I got the “announcement” about the change in fueling charges in my e-mail while on the trip. On the bus from the terminal, they were still announcing the old “pump price” deal. However, when I was leaving the lot, I had two fueling options – buy the entire tank, for $43, or pay $7.19 per gallon for them to refuel. I was in FL and the going rate for gas was around $1.70, so I said I’ll fill it, thank you. Can you believe they wanted to charge 5 times more to fill it?

  • The man who notices things

    I recently traveled to a city in the SE USA and arrived at the Hertz counter. My spouse and I were separated and traveling to a family wedding and I arrived first and went to pick up the #1 Gold car @ the Hertz counter.

    It was train the new employees day. 99.5% of the time if I go to the counter looking for the reservation in our name, handing them my drivers license, the #1 Gold card and the credit card gets me the keys. But no, today the Hertz employees were new and compared the names on the DL with the reservation. You’d have thought I’d just snuck a box cutter on an American flight out of Boston.

    After much time wasted dealing with ‘training’ issues, they simply changed the first name and drivers license number on their reservation record and training was completed. It took about 20 min longer than it needed to take, but that’s the story of travel today. I think next time, after all that work, the guy would just give me the keys . . .

  • Matthew Butenhoff

    I was tricked into the full tank fuel option at the counter at Sea-Tac.
    They had big numbers showing their price per gallon behind the counter. It was assume that this would be the fill up price and not for the whole tank as I found out when I read the very very very small print on page 2 of 4 of my rental agreement.
    I have complained to Hertz about being “cheated” at the counter. Their response is that I should have read page 2 before I signed.
    I feel sorry for the counter persons being trained in this tactic because it will bring bad karma into their lives.

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