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.