In the early fall we made a reservation with Hertz for a car rental in Fort Lauderdale, FL for a two-week period. This period fell during the holidays 12/22/2012 - 1/6/2013. We made our reservations with Hertz because they offered us the best price for the time period and because my husband works for Kaplan and they receive a discount. They were the cheapest available rental price for the time period, as other vendors upcharge for that rental time. The quote was for roughly $600 for a two-week period. We went on with our business until the time that we had to pick up the rental. We received no notification from Hertz that the price had changed.
We picked up the rental through their fast pick-up service which basically means we pick up the car and drive out and receive our receipt or contract copy at the gate as we leave. Once we left the airport I looked at the copy of the receipt and it said that the estimated price of our rental was now $1200 (double the quoted price). At this point we were in the car already. We had not had adequate notice of this change to get another car rental and if we had, because of the short notice, the car rental price for another car would likely had been expensive. However, there were rental agencies who, with their already inflated prices, would've been cheaper than the $1200 but we did not go with them because Hertz quoted us at $600.
We tried contacting Hertz, because they immediately put a hold on the $1200 in our checking account. But could not get anyone who would help us. My husband left phone messages - because of course no one would pick up the phone - but to no avail. At this point we needed to have a car for the duration of our stay and when we finally got a hold of someone they said that there was nothing that could be done until the rental period was over and that then we could talk to someone about getting our money back.
When we returned they charged up approximately $1200 for the rental. We made attempts to contact them once and again and when my husband finally reached them they said there was nothing that they could do because their "rates were subject to change without notice".
It is appalling to me that a company can double their price for a service, without prior notice and during the holiday season. This seems like price-gauging to me. They are taking advantage of the holidays - a time when car rentals are in demand - and using that to charge consumers twice as much as the service actually costs.
Not to mention their pay-by-plate service, which - if activated - charges you about $4 a day, even if you do not pass a toll on the give day. This makes it impossible to take any toll roads - which in most states is unavoidable. Even when we passed by the cash line, we got charged through pay by plate because the camera sensor picked up the plate. So not only did we pay for our tolls in cash, but we were charged for them again through the pay by plate and charged the daily fee, even though there were only a couple of instances that we passed through tolls.