Hundreds of Hertz rental customers report being falsely accused of stealing their vehicles.
Hundreds of claimants from multiple states have filed legal cases against Hertz alleging “egregious business malpractices,” after they were falsely arrested and accused of stealing their rental cars. According to ongoing civil litigation in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, the complaints stem from customers who were sometimes even jailed after the company wrongly flagged their rentals as stolen.
In one case, Philadelphia resident Hanna ‘John’ Ayoub was arrested in June, charged with a felony, and jailed for three months for “driving a “stolen vehicle,” even after he presented payment receipts as well as his rental agreement. Ayoub, a general contractor, needed to rent a truck for a project in Delaware in April 2019, so he entered into a long-term contract with Hertz, paying $300 a week.
“How do you have a receipt in your pocket and still get arrested for stealing car?” he said. “By the third week, just after the extension, when they said everything was good and charged me for it, I received a call the following day saying that I am not authorized to use the vehicle anymore, even though I had been charged.”
At the ended of May 2019, Hertz issued an invoice to Ayoub $2,309.44, but at the same time, the company filed a theft report. Less than a week later, he was arrested.
“They said that they had no record of the extension on the vehicle despite speaking to them a day before and receiving confirmation,” Ayoub said. “Everything just turned into a nightmare from that point onward.”
He was eventually able to drop the felony charges against him after obtaining, through his attorney, bank statements and call recordings of his conversations with the company. However, by the time that was taken care of, Ayoub felt all was already lost.
“I lost everything, my life, my reputation, everything,” he said. “I have not been able to work. I take on odd jobs. I live with my parents. I don’t even have a vehicle right now.”
Lead attorney in the case, Francis Alexander Malofiy said, after posting deadlines for other customers to come forward, hundreds of similar stories were brought to light. These claimants have said that Hertz “used an unreliable computer system and filed false police reports which lead to them being falsely arrested and sometimes jailed for months.”
“While imprisoned under false pretenses some of the claimants suffered heart attacks, panic attacks, seizures, and strokes as some lost custody of their children or lost their homes,” Malofiy said.
Another contactor in Houston, Texas, James Tolen, was falsely arrested for allegedly driving a “stolen” vehicle he had rented. Tolen wasn’t sure why he was pulled over just before Christmas, on December 23, last year. He said officer demanded on a loudspeaker for him to “exit the vehicle, lift his shirt, and back up toward them.” Tolen added, “‘When I turned around, I see both the officers trained their guns on me.”
He showed his rental agreement to the officers after being handcuffed. “I was like, ‘That’s impossible. I rent from Hertz. I’m a contractor,’” he said. Apparently, the truck he was driving was reported stolen three months prior. An officer called Hertz and Tolen overheard him say, “This guy could have lost his life.” He was allowed to drive the vehicle home.
Meanwhile, during the coronavirus pandemic, Hertz filed for bankruptcy, and the complaints were put on hold. Malofiy said this is upsetting for the claimants and an attempt to “try to hide a corporate disaster. They’ve been aware of this for years, and instead of doing the right thing and addressing it, they’re trying to sweep this under the rug, even through bankruptcy.”