After years of hundreds of customers saying they’ve been wrongly accused of stealing rentals from Hertz, a federal judge is ordering the company to back up those claims by making its rental theft records available to the public.
CBS investigated Hertz after it was made public that the company was reporting many of its rental customers to local authorities over alleged car thefts. CBS says Hertz now faces over 230 claims from customers accused of stealing rental vehicles.
The federal judge in Delaware has ordered that Hertz release their theft data in bankruptcy court. While the data has yet to be released, it should help those hundreds of people who have been falsely accused by the company. In a statement to CBS, Hertz tried to be slick and downplay the number of people that it says it had to report to authorities. From CBS:
Of the more than 25 million rental transactions by Hertz in the United States per year, 0.014% fall into the rare situation where vehicles are reported to the authorities after exhaustive attempts to reach the customer,” Hertz said in a statement to CBS News after the ruling.
That 0.014 percent of 25 million might not seem like a lot at first glance. But it’s really just wordplay on a PR spin. That 0.014 percent comes out to 3,500 people per year. That’s a lot of people. Also notice that Hertz says “exhaustive attempts to reach the customer.” That’s pretty much saying the company is assuming a customer stole the vehicle if they lose contact with them. But that comes after weeks or months the company says:
The vast majority of these cases involve renters who were many weeks or even months overdue returning vehicles and who stopped communicating with us well beyond the scheduled due date. Situations where vehicles are reported to the authorities are very rare and happen only after exhaustive attempts to reach the customer,” the company said in a statement.
Once that data comes out, this could all get uglier.