hertz before and after Before and After: Hertz to start photographing your rental car
Renting a car with Hertz? You may soon notice them photographing your car, right before you ride off the lot, and upon return. Hertz has been testing the feature, and is rolling it out more widely.

The photo system is part of a broader plan to use technology to increase efficiency and improve customer service, [Hertz Chairman and CEO] Frissora said. The equipment produces a high-resolution, digital photograph of the rental car, and will compare before and after pictures for differences, Frissora said. Hertz employees currently walk around the vehicle and mark any damage on a form, which the customer signs.

“There will be no discussion because the document would clearly show any incremental damage,” Frissora said. “This keeps customers from being placed in a confrontational position and saves time.”

The Park Ridge, New Jersey-based company’s customers would sign a waiver acknowledging the process and be billed for any damage, Frissora said. Hertz is testing the technology at a location at an airport in the northeastern U.S., he said.

“There will be no discussion” seems a little brusque, but I get the point. Why debate the condition of the car when there’s photographic evidence?

Here’s hoping that the camera won’t lie. E-mailing a copy to the customer — both at the start and the finish of the rental — might be a low-cost way to ensure that the company is being an honest broker.

Dishonest rental locations have commonly tried to milk extra bucks out of customers by billing them for previously-existing damage to the vehicle. (For the paranoid, it’s always been a good idea to take photos of your rental car before you drive it off the lot, though I admit it’s something I’ve never done…)

But interestingly, the company suggests that it’s the one who’s going to come out ahead. Hertz says it’s been letting too many dents and dings slide, for a loss of $170 million, and that the photo system will catch these dings, leading to greater earnings.

Which worries me. Yes, the system SHOULD be win-win, by keeping both the agency and the customer honest. But $170 million is a lot of dings and scratches. Will the system start calling birdpoop dents?

Photos or no photos, don’t let your guard down.

pixel Before and After: Hertz to start photographing your rental car
Categorized in: car rental, Hertz, rental cars

16 Responses to “Before and After: Hertz to start photographing your rental car”

  1. Steve Kalman Says:

    IT isn’t cost recovery, it is additional profits. The rates already reflect this overhead cost. By also billing the customer, they’ll be double dipping.

    I am curious to see if they bill at their cost for repair (in-house body shop) or for the retail repair center cost. Also, will they let a few dings accumulate on a single fender before the internal fixit people get the car (much lower overhead) and still bill each customer for a stand-alone repair?

    I see class-action lawsuits in their future, as well as bad publicity. Unless all the other carriers start doing the same, this won’t last.

    By the way, I do a walk-around and when I find a ding that they might bill me for, I pull up near the checkout gate and take a series of photos, starting with one that shows the exit, then zooming in on the ding. Never had to use it, but a picture of a ding without some sort of timestamp is useless as proof that it was pre-existing.

  2. Nick Says:

    Will they send you a copy of the pre-rental photo? I rent from Hertz around San Francisco a lot, and all but the very newest cars have minor dings and scratches especially on the bumpers, largely because of parking habits in San Francisco. I don’t typically go around and mark the sheets pre-rental unless I see something relatively major, and I’ve never had a problem with the system to date. So I don’t really see how they can make this work in many places without chasing away customers.

  3. ittaa2009 (Israel Travel Agents) Says:

    Twitter Comment

    RT @upgradetravel: New post: Before and After: Hertz to start photographing your rental car [link to post]

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  4. mark Says:

    Enterprise is (or at least was in recent years)
    hitting customers with monster bills for trivial damage
    . Same thing happened to me: an almost imperceptible (0.25 in.) ding in the rear bumper, which may or may not have been there when I took the car out of their dimly lit underground garage, ends up as a $400 bill. (I complained all the way to the regional VP, who took off the charge “as a courtesy.” Courtesy, my a**.) Ever since then, I annotate the hell out of the prior damage form before I take a car out from any agency. (The exception: Enterprise, with whom I will never do business again, even — especially — if it’s a loaner paid for by an insurance company. That’s how I ended there last time.)

    N.B. National and Alamo, both acquired by Enterprise 2 years ago, do not seem to have adopted their parent company’s evil practices. I’ve rented from both since the acquisition & had no problems.

  5. flightwisdom (Flight Wisdom) Says:

    Twitter Comment

    @upgradetravel Great way for Hertz to make it fair.

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  6. tapioaijala (Tapio Äijälä) Says:

    Twitter Comment

    Hertz to start photographing your rental car to detect any incremental damage: [link to post]

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  7. Jeff G Says:

    I wonder if they’ll cross-reference this practice with their CDW sales pitches?

  8. KT Says:

    Just another reason not to rent from Hertz.

  9. Flyaway Cafe’s Travel Favorites 8-23-09 : Fly Away Cafe - Travel Tips and Destination Suggestions from a Flight Attendant Says:

    [...] Upgrade Travel Better writes about Hertz’s decision to start photographing rental cars in order to avoid conflict about whether there’s been additional damage.  Sounds like a good idea to me. [...]

  10. GoSaraBeth (Sara Beth Garner) Says:

    Twitter Comment

    RT @whereivebeen: Renting a car with Hertz? [link to post] Soon they may take pics of your car before and after you use it!

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  11. whereivebeen (whereivebeen) Says:

    Twitter Comment

    Renting a car with Hertz? [link to post] You may soon notice them taking pics of your car before and after you use it! #traveltuesday

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  12. PJPamela (Pamela Johnston) Says:

    Twitter Comment

    RT @whereivebeen: Renting w Hertz? [link to post] U may soon see them taking pics of your car b4 & after u use it! #traveltuesday

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  13. whereivebeen (whereivebeen) Says:

    Twitter Comment

    @PJPamela Thank you so much for the Retweet!

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  14. selectitaly (Select Italy) Says:

    Twitter Comment

    Hertz will take picture of your cars? Don’t forget to smile! [link to post]

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  15. Hertz waives surcharges for younger drivers | Upgrade: Travel Better Says:

    [...] – If you’re under 25, how do you rent a car without huge surcharges? – Before and After: Hertz to start photographing your rental car – Lousy domestic US car rental rates? Check the European providers Categorized in: travel No [...]

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