Hertz Ad Violates Rules For Renting Hertz Car

Rental car company Hertz has recently begun a massive ad push in cities where its rent-by-the-hour Hertz Connect service is available. The ads I’ve seen here in New York tout the service as a way for us car-less city folk to do things like go shopping in the ‘burbs or drive to a beach where dead bodies are less likely to wash ashore.

One ad, urging customers to get some “sand in your toes,” features a Hertz vehicle parked on the sand right by the ocean. Aside from that not being the best thing for either the car or the beach, as Consumerist reader Ben points out, it’s also a violation of Hertz’s own rules.

After seeing the above ad, Ben pointed us to the Terms & Conditions page on the Hertz Connect site.

There, under the heading “VII: Prohibited Uses of the Car” is the following:

4.) Engage in any willful or wanton misconduct, which, among other things, may include reckless conduct such as… use off paved roads or on roads that are not regularly maintained.

Hertz even recognizes that their ad isn’t in line with their own policies. It’s hard to read on the photo, but there is a line at the bottom left that says that driving “off paved roads is prohibited.”

Of course, car ads have a long and storied history of showing us behavior that is neither safe nor recommended by anyone without proper stunt driver training.

So just be forewarned if you plan on taking your Hertz car mudding or try to use it as a dune buggy — Just because it’s in the ad doesn’t mean it’s allowed in the fine print.


Edit Your Comment

  1. smo0 says:

    I grew up living near a beach, not once did I see a non-security type vehicle driving on the beach.. is this something new?

    • trey says:

      you can drive on the beaches of Daytona Florida. from Wiki… “It is one of the few places in the world where a car can be driven on an ocean beach”

      • smo0 says:

        Ah, I grew up in Southern Florida…

      • Chmeeee says:

        I drove my rented Maxima about 2 miles up Daytona Beach. Just wanted to be able to say I did it.

      • DanRydell says:

        WikiPEDIA is not the only wiki, FYI. What you just said is the equivalent of saying “from book” instead “from [insert name of book].” “From a wiki” would have been grammatically correct but not terribly informative.

        • seaanemoneman says:

          Eh, I’m sure you’ll get over it in time.

          Meanwhile, beach driving is *not* new, and it *does* cause big erosion problems.

    • phil says:

      Depends on the beach. Dayton is well noted for beach driving areas. NC’s Outer Banks has a number of areas open to vehicles. Surprisingly, 2WD can do it in many areas – with care and paying attention to the surface (loose, dry sand is a no-no without 4WD – and lowered tire pressure.).

      I saw an obviously-well-used fishing vehicle several miles into one of NC’s Outer Banks driving beaches. It was vintage FWD Olds 98. The only visible special equipment was snow tires. He appeared to be getting around just fine…

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      Well, kind of. In Tampa Bay along the bay bridges, you can pull off to the side (on a paved road) and park your car along the “beach” (which is a sandy area of 50 feet or so).
      Example: http://www.florida-photo-magazine.com/apr/images/CWAY0446.jpg

      As for the real beach – I have never seen anyone driving along the coast of a beach.

    • brilang says:

      There are beaches on Washington’s coast where the beach is considered a state highway. And it is “maintained” – at least they plow the sand down to a smooth surface between the end of the pavement and the hardest packed sand area that is recommended for driving.

      • Orv says:

        Yup. Have done that many times, but in my own car. I’ve only gotten stuck once, so far. ;) I can see why a rental company wouldn’t want you doing that, though.

    • XTC46 says:

      Happens all the time in Hawaii. Tourists (or just idiots) rent cars and decide they want to park on the sand, and then get stuck. As a kid, we used to go off-roading a lot and not a weekend went by where we were pulling some rented convertible from softsand.

      • Sudonum says:

        My buddy and I rented a car in Honolulu about 15 years ago. Reserved a convertible from Hertz. They delivered a jeep. Try going anywhere in a jeep where you need to lock your stuff up inside the car.
        The map that Hertz provided also showed 2 areas where there were “No paved roads, rental cars prohibited”. We felt that between the map to the sand dunes and Hertz providing us with a Jeep instead of a Mustang Convertible, we were being sent a message to experience off road driving in Hawaii. At one point we wound up on the golf course at Turtle Bay. Later in the day we were on the trails where the road ends on the west side of Oahu. Driving back to Waikiki on the interstate the Jeep vibrated so bad the top hinge on the drivers side door (half door?) broke. Luckily we only had to return it to the parking structure at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Left it in the lot and never heard another word about it.

    • JennQPublic says:

      Oceano Dunes near Pismo Beach in California allows this. You drive out to the shore, hang a left, and drive a couple miles down the shoreline. Then hang a left and drive until your vehicle sinks in the sand, and that’s where you camp.

      You can drive an RV out there, or bring/rent ATVs and go tearing through the sand dunes. It’s a blast. That’s where my husband and I went on our honeymoon. :-)

    • NewsMuncher says:

      Daytona Beach. People drive out on the beach all the time, and there are trucks that are shops for the big wheeled sand rover things and other beachy equipment.

    • zumdish says:

      Heck, the beach rental houses in Carova, North Carolina, at the north end of the Outer Banks are ONLY accessible by a 10 mile drive up the beach, 4WD required.

    • MsFab says:

      In Florida I know plenty of beaches that allow regular cars to drive on the beach. Daytona Beach & New Smyrna Beach definitely, cause I’ve driven & parked on those beaches.

  2. TheMonkeyKing says:

    Ever had a “hertz donught”?

    • PanCake BuTT says:

      Brilliant ! Thank you so very much for sharing. Those are the sort of comments this site needs more of ! Short, informative, effective & to the point !

      Kudos to you my kind, & generous sir !

  3. Bizdady says:

    Is that a 4×4?

  4. rpm773 says:

    4.) Engage in any willful or wanton misconduct..

    That would also appear to preclude one from renting for a couple hours solely to make use of the back seat.

    Oh well. Back to those dirty motels….

  5. COBBCITY says:

    An ad agency trying to be creative and Hertz marketing department approving the ad copy without knowing the company’s terms for renting. Embarassing.

    • narfinity says:

      While I am not a fan of fine print excusing misleading ads, the bottom left corner of the ad does mention the rule, with a line ending in “off paved roads is prohibited”

  6. ubermex says:

    On the east coast of Florida, there are several barrier islands with local roads that officially cross the beach and you are allowed to drive on them. They have street names and everything.

    • webweazel says:

      NC has them, too. The outer beaches has one town where they built the houses right in the sand. Street signs are stuck in the sand. The “roads” are following the tracks of the last truck that went that direction. To get there, you have to go over the cattle-crossing (wild horse area) at the end of the road, onto the beach, and drive quite a ways down the beach to get to the town. That is the only way in & out. If the tide is especially high, you might not get there until a few hours later. Most houses are rentals, and the local car agencies rent 4X4’s for visitors to that town. They don’t care if you drive on the beach!

  7. NarcolepticGirl says:

    I wonder if they’re more expensive than zipcar

    • jessjj347 says:

      I was wondering the same thing. I suppose they are because there wouldn’t be any monthly/yearly fees. Too lazy to check…sorry.

      • NeverLetMeDown says:

        Pretty much the same price. Fewer cars, but on the plus side, they all have GPS, if you care about that.

  8. Clyde Barrow says:

    Ok, apparently the OP needs a lesson in common sense. An advertisement is NOT an Stadard Operating Procedure (SOP), it’s only an ad. The rules will be listed elsewhere probably on the back of the rental contract. Do not confuse them by reading into one and the other.

    • trey says:

      spell check before you “teach” lessons.

    • smo0 says:

      No this is clearly stating – If you’ve ever wanted to drive on the beach, rent from us, even though our policy says you are not to.

      It’s not advertising a new car parked in some scenic area…. it’s depicting people walking to the beach, and playing around the car…. that’s parked in the sand….

    • coren says:

      It’s not SOP, but it is trying to entice a person into the purchase (or in this case, rental) of a product. Doing so by showing said product being used for activities that void the warranty/contract is at best misleading and deceptive.

    • seanjustinpenn says:

      DO as I SAY, not as I DO

  9. WordTipping says:

    So, if you live on a dirt lane or a dirt lane off a gravel road as some of rural America…then you can’t rent a car?

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      Yeah really.
      One side of my family lives in a valley in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico. I’ve rented cars whil visiting and have driven them through many dirt roads, up and down mountains, through mud, etc.
      The last time, I was nervous because the car looked like it went through a bug-infested swamp. i wanted to have it washed but we were running late for our flight.
      When we pulled in a spot to return the car – everyone elses cars looked the same way.
      That was with Alamo. I find Hertz too expensive to use.

  10. ZimZombie says:

    After all, Enterprise DOES allow you to drive their cars completely wrapped in brown paper and tied with a string.


  11. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Did Ben have the term and conditions memorized? Or does every advertisement and consumer-related printing automatically require intense scrutiny?

    • bendee says:

      OP here – I don’t own a car and use a combination of Zipcar (around town) and Hertz (weekend excursions) when I need a car. Last summer I was going into the Poconos with a Hertz 4×4 and delved deep into the rental contract to know what types of roads were and were not okay to drive on.

      When I saw the ad, it was easy to put 2 and 2 together and see if Connect by Hertz had a similar usage restriction.

  12. Hoss says:

    Read the full agreement though. It basically says that if you drive off a paved road, you are responsible for damages. The full wording is can of vague though since it does not address damages on private property such as in a driveway or parking lot. The picture looks like the typical beach parking area (in my state at least).

    • UltimateOutsider says:

      But the ad itself even says you’re not supposed to do it: ‘Hertz even recognizes that their ad isn’t in line with their own policies. It’s hard to read on the photo, but there is a line at the bottom left that says that driving “off paved roads is prohibited.”‘

      • Hoss says:

        OK, now i see the point. Do we leave the car on a paved road and never enter a parking area? hmm

    • Nighthawke says:

      On Mustang Island, Texas beaches, they are vehicle accessible and very driveable. Hertz is being careful as to say if you bury your ride up to your axles, you are on your own on getting a tow and paying for it.

      Then paying for any damages incurred if the tow operator screws up. Snapping his cable, causing a whiplash, breaking both windshield and rear glass, or ripping your bumper loose due to a poor hook placement.

  13. Jim Fletcher says:

    It’s also against the terms to leave the vehicle unattended with the top down. The people in that ad are totally gonna be screwed when someone steals that car, LDW or not.

  14. PanCake BuTT says:

    Yeah, when I first saw these ads on the ‘way…I also found it rather odd to have a car on the beach like that. I don’t think the Parks department would take kindly to you parking your 40k Volvo on the sands of Orchard or Rockaway beach.

    On a lighter note, does anyone else unconsciously associate that font and green color with the BP logo ? Not to mention the beach and water and sludge balls that have been reported making their way ashore ? Baffled indeed !

  15. James says:

    The local large rental place has a small branch downtown with a fancy F350. I’ve rented this a couple times the past year for camping trips, driving it down dirt bumpy roads to campsites my Saturn would never make it on.

    Unless they have GPS they’d never know.

    • squirrel says:

      Some rental car companies do. They are installed to help recover the rental, notify the company of out of bounds driving, and speeding.

      One rental car company was even ‘fining’ drivers for going over the speed limit and billing it to their credit card.

  16. james says:

    The reason for the car on the sand should be obvious – see the post directly above, where it is explained that Toyota had defective steering rods, and failed to notify the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Steering rod failures mean cars don’t go where you steer them.

    Sheesh you guys, connect the dots, willya?

  17. wackydan says:

    A jeep is a jeep…. But a Hertz will go ANYWHERE. That saying has been around since the 60’s and passed from business traveller to business traveller.

    I can say that many a Hertz rental have found their way off road when rented by yours truly. :)

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      Ah, the fundamental rule of rental cars – if you go over a speed bump, and don’t hear the undercarriage scrape, you could have done that faster.

  18. Donathius says:

    I’m usually more amused when I see a car commercial that doesn’t show anything strange or extreme. Just someone driving down a city street (a person, not a hamster) and there’s a disclaimer at the bottom of the screen that says “Professional driver. Closed course. Do not attempt.”

    I saw that on a Toyota commercial and thought to myself…Toyota is telling me not to attempt to drive my car safely?

  19. TinaBringMeTheAx says:

    I have been a member of Connect by Hertz for over a year and can attest to the fact their website is aggressively user hostile. They have been promising, again for over a year, that they are working to improve it and for over a year, it has been the same crappy website.

    No wonder almost all their cars are almost always available when Zipcar is sold out.

  20. infecto says:

    Waste of time.

  21. Big Mama Pain says:

    It is a PICTURE!!! OOOO, Consumerist, you really got Hertz by the short and curlies. Thanks for looking out for us because I might have just driven my rental car right in the ocean if I saw a picture of someone else doing it!

  22. gman863 says:

    Renting a car by the hour? This reminds me of a time our family went to visit the grandparents and attempted to check into a motel.

    Even with us kids in tow, the desk clerk asked my mon and dad if they wanted the room for one hour or two hours.

    My sister and I stayed at grandma’s; my parents ended up finding a slightly less seedy motel an hour away.

  23. g051051 says:

    It says “may include”, not “including”. If you were on a beach like the ad shows, there’d be no problem. They’re just covering their bases in the agreement.

  24. Black Bellamy says:

    One day my hunting truck broke down and since it was opening day I couldn’t sit it out. I rented a Highlander and left pieces of plastic molding all over the dirt road. Let me tell you, the Highlander is NOT an off-road vehicle :)

  25. operator207 says:

    Is this kind of like the commercials where they are showing a minivan with mom driving the kids to school, or to the mall, and in fine print at the bottom is says something like “closed course, driven by professional driver, do not attempt.” In the commercials I am referring to, there isn’t anything other than the above, no stunts, or minivan racing going on either.

  26. Lundah says:

    So, wait a minute, it’s against the rental agreement to drive on an unpaved road? What about in the rural areas of the country where dirt and gravel roads are still common?