Hertz is Charging Tesla Renters for Gas — And It's a Pattern

Hertz's surprise 'refueling' bills tarnish Tesla rental experience
Written by Jim Belt in News 19 May 2024

Hertz's leap into the electric vehicle (EV) rental market was supposed to be a game-changer. With a fleet of shiny Teslas ready to hit the road, the rental giant aimed to revolutionize the way we think about car rentals. But, as some customers have found out the hard way, renting a Tesla from Hertz can come with some unexpected—and downright frustrating—pitfalls.

Hertz's Ambitious EV Rental Plans Hit Roadblocks

Hertz made a bold move by adding Tesla electric vehicles to their fleet as part of an ambitious EV initiative. The goal was to position Hertz as a forward-thinking, green alternative appealing to eco-friendly and tech-savvy drivers interested in experiencing the future of electric mobility.

Mistaken Fuel Charges Frustrate Customers

However, Hertz has faced multiple issues with incorrectly charging customers for gasoline when renting Teslas, causing frustration and eroding trust in the company's EV rental program.

In separate incidents, customers Evan Froehlich and Toan Le were charged $340 and $475 respectively for a "Skip the Pump" or fuel fee after renting and returning Tesla EVs - vehicles that do not require any gasoline. This error appears to stem from problems with Hertz's billing systems being unable to properly account for electric vehicles versus gas-powered cars.

Customers like Froehlich and Le had to persistently reach out on social media to get Hertz's attention before the charges were finally refunded. But the hassle and poor customer service left a sour taste.

Lackluster Consumer Adoption of EVs

While offering EV rentals was an innovative move, general consumer interest and adoption has been lackluster so far. For conventional car enthusiasts, electric cars lack the power, visceral driving experience, and emotional connection of gasoline engines they crave. Concerns like range anxiety due to limited charging infrastructure remain barriers as well.

Regaining Trust Through Operational Reforms

These high-profile incidents of mistaken fuel charges for EVs could further deter potential electric vehicle buyers and renters. Hertz will need to thoroughly update staff training, billing practices, customer service protocols and invest in transparent communication to prevent such basic errors and regain consumer trust for their EV rental program.

Resolving these operational issues is important for the successful adoption of electric vehicles by rental companies and consumers alike. Hertz's ambitious EV plans risk stalling if the customer experience falls short.

Broader Challenges for EV Adoption

The situation also underscores the broader challenges facing EV adoption. Negative rental experiences can skew public perception of the vehicles themselves beyond just the Hertz brand. A poor experience renting an EV like a Tesla could dissuade curious consumers from ever considering an EV purchase.

In addition to billing problems, Hertz has also faced other customer nightmares like wrongful arrests over rental disputes. These legal issues have further tarnished the company's reputation and dented the trust of renters.

The Path Forward for Hertz's EV Ambitions

Moving forward, Hertz must get its house in order through accountability and meaningful reforms if it wants to capitalize on the EV rental market opportunity. Transparent pricing, quality customer service, up-to-date staff training and a user-friendly rental experience for all vehicle types are table stakes. Failure to improve could jeopardize Hertz's position as EVs go mainstream.