Mexican Hertz Charges $499.48 For A Flat Tire

Why is Hertz charging Kathy $499.48 for a flat tire? Kathy writes:

For a pre-paid one month economy car rental for $632.03, on January 16th Hertz rented me a 2007 Blue Chevrolet , Lic#5981AVB in good condition at the Los Cabos airport. I declined to purchase insurance. Late on the night of January 20th, during a rainstorm, a tire blew out on the vehicle; so, after exchanging the tire with the spare the following morning, on January 21st, I returned the vehicle to the agency at their suggestion and wrote a full report. The agency assured me there would be no problem of any charges.

Upon returning to the airport three weeks later, the manager, Eleazar G. Leyva informed me that Hertz was demanding payment of $60.00US for damage to the tire. Anxiously on my way to a plane, I agreed to the charges, more for the sake of expediency rather than out of any sense of obligation. Subsequently, my credit card was charged $499.48

Kathy called Hertz Customer Relations in Oklahoma City and was told that there was nothing strange about the charges. What should she do?

We think Kathy should stop dealing with Hertz and start dealing with her credit card company.

Since Kathy declined the insurance when she rented the car, she should be covered under her credit card’s auto rental insurance waiver. Here’s an example of Visa’s coverage. If Kathy is still within the time period for filing a claim, she could deal with this issue that way. However, we think there’s something shady going on in this case. The Hertz agent told her the charge would be $60, and then billed her for $499.48. This sounds like fraud. We suggest that Kathy contact her credit card’s fraud department and report the Hertz agent. In this case, it’s time for a chargeback. —MEGHANN MARCO

Kathy writes:

For a pre-paid one month economy car rental for $632.03, on January 16th Hertz rented me a 2007 Blue Chevrolet , Lic#5981AVB in good condition at the Los Cabos airport. I declined to purchase insurance. Late on the night of January 20th, during a rainstorm, a tire blew out on the vehicle; so, after exchanging the tire with the spare the following morning, on January 21st, I returned the vehicle to the agency at their suggestion and wrote a full report. The agency assured me there would be no problem of any charges.

Upon returning to the airport three weeks later, the manager, Eleazar G. Leyva informed me that Hertz was demanding payment of $60.00US for damage to the tire. Anxiously on my way to a plane, I agreed to the charges, more for the sake of expediency rather than out of any sense of obligation. Subsequently, my credit card was charged $499.48 for that problem. I’ve been assured by Traci Atkerson of Hertz Customer Relations in Oklahoma City that that is fully in keeping with standard practices of the car rental industry in most countries.

$500.00 seems a wildly unreasonable amount to pay for such a small item. It’s difficult to imagine how Hertz arrived at that sum. It might have been reasonable if all four tires had been damaged. I understand that tires are more expensive in Mexico than in the States, but surely they are not the price of a round trip ticket.

Has anyone else had this sort of experience with this company? Are these prices in line with Hertz policies?

(Photo: e.t)

Comments

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  1. rocketslide says:

    I agree, take it up with the credit card company. Did she get a receipt for the $60 charge?

  2. r81984 says:

    I would do a charge back with the credit card company. Hertz sucks.

    How would you be responsible for a flat tire from normal use?
    Hertz is insane to think the driver would be responsible for a flat tire from normal driving.

    I think this is their way of taking advantage of those who do not want to get ripped off by their crappy insurance.

    My insurance would cover rentals, but there is no way in hell I would make a claim for a flat tire. Hertz needs to find a new business as they know nothing about customer service and common sense.

  3. kerry says:

    When my boyfriend’s credit card number was stolen it was used to make several $499 wire transfers. I guess $500 is the magic number for something, because they stopped at $499 each time. He had no trouble reversing the charges with his credit card company. Could something like that be going on here? That $499 and some change smells like a fraudulent wire transfer.
    (My boyfriend learned a valuable lesson from his experience — kids, always shred your credit card statements before you throw them out!)

  4. brokenboy says:

    $500 for a tire, mounting, and balancing isn’t insane on a lot of cars, but it probably is on this car. However, if you drove on the wheel at all after a blow out, the wheel may need to be replaced as well.

    Not saying the OP should have to pay it, but $500 isn’t a totally unreasonable price for a blown out tire.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for being honest. Also, you shouldn’t depend on a counter rep’s opinon on a maintenance issue, you should depend on the VDA or information recieved from the location of Hertz that fixed the car. The counter rep was not be fradulent, he or she was trying to be helpful and gave you an understated estimate.

  5. ChiefDanGeorge says:

    $500 most certainly is unreasonable. You can get 4 tires, mounted and balanced for that amount.

  6. I had a flat on an Enterprise rental Jeep Grand Cherokee. After driving about 30 miles on dirt roads in the Oregon wilderness, there was a slow leak. I set up camp and changed it the next morning. Fortunately the spare was an acutal 4×4 tire, not a donut. When I returned it to Enterprise, there was no charge. I was really happy about that.

  7. ChiefDanGeorge says:

    $500 is a ridiculous amount of money for 1 tire.
    You can re-tire an entire car with mounting and balancing for less than that.

  8. Bourque77 says:

    Unless you drive something european or something that does 200+mph $500 is a hell of a lot of money for a tire.

  9. crayonshinobi says:

    @kerry: I had the same feeling Kerry. The amount is suspect…I also guess $500 is a magic number for flagging fraudulent charges, etc.

    My advice to Kathy is along the same lines as the Consumerist. This is an issue for the credit card company to handle. Dispute the charges, and let Visa argue with Hertz about it.

  10. lgf says:

    Whenever you make a credit card charge in Mexico you should ALWAYS get a copy of the receipt with your signature. Always, for all credit cards (Visa, MC, Disc, Amex).

  11. mikesfree says:

    hertz? YES IT DOES… That tire/ wheel combo should have been less than $100, especially in mexican labor.

  12. Solo says:

    4 years ago, we rented a Neon from super-el-cheapo rentals in Phoenix, AZ (I forgot the actual name of the rental place)

    Drove to Vegas, NV, blew a tire there, bought a new tire locally, went back to PHX and made them pay us for the tire. They agreed save $8 for some kind of fee/tax or something.

    So in this case, I don’t know what went wrong.

    Charge back. No hesitation.

  13. swalve says:

    I wonder when normal wear and tear ends and “damage” begins? If I rent a car and smash up the fender, it’s my fault. But if I run over a nail? Or if the tire just fails for no reason?

    And I find it hard to believe that garbage pickers are the most likely cause of credit card fraud. Does anyone have real data on the fraudsters’ sources for their numbers? I always assumed it was retail employees with access (since they can see the 3-digit code on the back or have access to the raw data of the card swipe. Or hacking into retail PCs, running a keylogger and grabbing the data like that. Much easier than picking through garbage or running a packet sniffer.)

  14. Joe says:

    A) Foreign Hertz stations typically ARE NOT owned by Hertz – they are considered local franchises. (Independent licensee)
    B) Hertz Customer Relations: 800-654-4173

  15. Vince says:

    Happened to me once. We rented a cheap car, and did not pay attention and ran it into a curb hard enough to cause a blowout. It also damaged the cast aluminum rim. This happened in a Canadian city.

    I called and asked the customer service line what to expect for charges and was told actual cost of damages, nothing more.

    Surpise! The in the mailbox from their “settlement” department was for $437:
    -“administrative fees $250″
    -the rim, tire and dealer labour charges
    -$60 daily loss of use fee (the fee they charge when you break their car and they can’t rent it for the day)

    When I told the settlement department there was no freakin’ way I would pay this, and that the ONLY thing I was told was to expect to pay EXACT damages by their customer service line, I was told that “whoever in customer service told me that, they had no authority.”

    My response was equally as swift “Irregardless of someone with no authority, on xxx/xx/2005 your employee made a commitment to me after I asked the question two different ways. If an employee or coworker of mine makes a commitment to a client, it is my responsibility to honour it. I shall now give you the choice to honor it, or not. If not, my entire team of staff will be switching our corporate rental agreement and I shall propogate this story within my corporation”. It didn’t hurt that I worked for a major north american employer at the time.

    The final bill to us was for tire, rim, labour, loss of use.

  16. misskaz says:

    @swalve:

    http://www.bbbonline.org/idtheft/protect.asp

    “Today, most identity thieves still rely on tried-and-true methods to get their hands on your paper records – real documents that can serve as the basis for their dirty work.”

  17. soldierboyadam says:

    500 is the magic number at which it becomes a federal crime. If you rip someone off for under 500 bucks the feds do not get involved. I learned that in Criminal Justice. I would say that someone got her info and then raped her credit card for just under this amount.

  18. Snoked says:

    soldierboyadam, don’t forget that a transaction made in Mexico does not fall under US jurisdiction, hence your argument that the feds would not get involved doesn’t really make sense.
    What can happen though would be that employees of these franchises can use an apparatus that can be used to scan the card and retrieve its information, that can ultimately be used to retrieve money from the account.

    I work for a canadian credit card company in the customer service dept, and 500$ is also the magic number that would get the account flagged for potential fraud.

    Fraudsters are aware of this.

  19. iamjames says:

    I’d also call your car insurance AGENT (NOT THE COMPANY!!! THEY’LL CONSIDER IT A CLAIM!!) to see if the agent knows if your personal car insurance would cover it.

  20. tubgnome says:

    I was recently charged twice the ammount for my car rental fee’s in Germany. It took me 3 months to get back my money!

    Last time i used Hertz

  21. impudence says:

    I used to be a manager for Hertz. As Joe said above Hertz in Mexico is a licensee and not owned by Hertz Corporate. It was generally not corporate policy to charge for a flat tire unless there was extensive damage to the rim. If there was damage to the rim and the vehicle had to go out of service for a day or two for repair, Hertz would ALWAYS charge for additional days, at the same rate it would have cost under the contract. So if for some reason the rim was damaged you could easily have a $375 charge for a factory original alloy wheel including installation, and then $125 for out of service time.

    As for resolving the problem. I would demand a copy of the charges from the repair shop. Additionally, I would do a charge back arguing that you did not sign a credit card charge slip for $499.48. I doubt the car rental coverage from your CC company will help you since it was an out of country incident.

  22. abyssphobia says:

    Hello everyone, I am from Mexico, I read about hertz overcharges and I want to share the way to deal with any dishonest deal. It isn’t anything like in the U.S. though, but it works.. you contact PROFECO is a goverment institution that help you handle unfare deals.

    to file a complain.
    http://www.profeco.gob.mx/formas/f_3i_quejas.htm

    FOR ANY QUESTION OR COMMENT CALL US AT OUR PHONE NUMBERS: 52-11-20-52 52-11-94-75 extranjeros@profeco.gob.mx

    to call them from Mexico 01 800 468 8722

    They are like consumer reports magazine, they have a magazine too, they try different products etc… but they are part of the goverment, so they tell others on the net , magazine, or by phone. I hope this helps!!