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Hundreds of customers are suing The Hertz Corporation after being arrested over false claims that their rental cars were stolen. In June, it was reported that more than 200 customers had filed lawsuits against the company. Clients are suing for emotional and mental harm after false accusations that led to their arrest and, in some cases, jail time.
In early June, a judge ruled that 89 cases could go to state court. Many customers have managed to have the fee waived after proving that they rented the cars legally. However, none of these clients should have ever been in this position, so what happened?
Imagine picking up and paying for a rental car around 7 p.m., leaving for the evening, and then getting arrested around 11 p.m. for allegedly stealing that same rental car. A former federal agent in Oklahoma at a gas station found himself in this exact situation. After detaining the man, officers held him for an hour before discovering that he had indeed rented the vehicle.
Before allowing him to leave, officers said that if he was arrested, he would likely find himself arrested again. In effect, the plate would still register the vehicle as stolen. And as crazy as this man’s story is, it has a happy ending compared to some. When the car returned the next day, Hertz refunded it.
More than six months in prison
Julius Burnside, another falsely accused client, ended up spending seven months in jail after his arrest. Burnside couldn’t believe what was happening to him. “Are you telling me I have a warrant for something I paid for?” he said. After Burnside’s initial arrest, he left prison soon after. But, he failed to show up for a court date, which led to another arrest. Ultimately, Burnside spent seven months in jail before a Georgia court considered the evidence and dismissed his case. All for something he never did in the first place.
A crime for nothing
A recent body video has emerged showing the arrest of a woman in Pennsylvania after another case where a Hertz rental car was reported stolen when it was not. In this case, the vehicle was from Dollar Rent A Car, owned by Hertz. Saleema Lovelace begs the agents to look at her phone, showing her the car rental confirmation and receipt. The woman is visibly upset, begging officers to look at her evidence so she can pick up her daughter from school. Lovelace had paid his balance for the vehicle in full the day before the arrest. Yet she was charged with a felony for receiving stolen property.
Why does this happen?
The exact cause of these life changing errors is not confirmed. However, an outdated computer system can be the main problem. When cars are not returned in time or are standing still for a long time, they are registered in the local authority system as stolen. After that, they don’t have the option to go back and quickly change the state of the vehicle.
For example, if someone accidentally returned late with their rental vehicle and paid to extend their rental, the car may already be in the system as stolen. Or, if a vehicle is returned late by one customer and then quickly rented by another customer, it could still be in the system as a stolen vehicle. This is only speculation, but it corresponds to what happened.
How does this affect travelers?
Clearly, Hertz has lost the trust of many. Even if they are innocent, those falsely imprisoned and accused of crimes can have their lives completely uprooted. The false accused will almost certainly never do business with Hertz (or Dollar Rent A Car) again.
Travelers who rent a car (especially from Hertz or its affiliates) must document every step of the process. Take video of all documents, the vehicle itself, and even interactions with staff if necessary. This may seem overkill. But for people caught up in lawsuits with Hertz, every precaution would have been worth taking.
This article originally appeared on Travel Off Path. For the latest breaking news that will affect your upcoming trip, please visit: Traveloffpath.com
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