HOUSTON – One of the largest car rental companies in the world now faces a lawsuit after dozens of customers claim they were detained by police or even jailed after accusations of driving a stolen car.
The attorney representing those customers said Hertz has a practice of filing stolen car reports, despite having other evidence.
“There were 165 claims, and we know that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said attorney Francis Malofiy.
In a statement to KPRC 2 Investigates, Hertz said:
“The vast majority of these cases involve renters who were many weeks or even months overdue. Situations, where vehicles are reported to the authorities, are very rare.”
Yet, KPRC 2 Investigates has identified at least seven cases involving Houstonians with similar stories. In those cases, court records show those rental drivers are accused of driving stolen vehicles.
In 2014, a Houstonian on vacation with family in Georgia was arrested for driving a stolen rental vehicle. However, a judge later dropped the case after finding Hertz “falsely reported the incident” after misplacing their vehicle, according to court records.
In 2019, a Harris County judge dismissed another case against a customer because charges were filed after the vehicle was returned to police.
Driving home late after work on Christmas Eve, James Tolen was pulled over by Houston police for driving a rental pickup truck that had been reported stolen.
“Two of them had their guns drawn on me and another one was pulling up,” said Tolen, who was ultimately released after police got a Hertz representative on the phone.
Tolen’s fiancé, Krystal Carter, had rented the vehicle from Hertz in October 2020.
“To say that I’m disappointed in Hertz would be the understatement of a lifetime,” said Carter, a President’s Circle member with Hertz.
An HPD police report shows that Hertz reported the vehicle stolen three months before Carter and Tolen rented it.
Malofyi, who represents Tolen, said Hertz didn’t tell police that they knew where the truck was or that they were renting it out again.
Hertz did not respond to questions about Tolen’s case or any other Houston-based case.
Hertz cares deeply about our customers, and we successfully provide rental vehicles for tens of millions of travelers each year. Unfortunately, in the legal matters being discussed, the attorneys have a track record of making baseless claims that blatantly misrepresent the facts. The vast majority of these cases involve renters who were many weeks or even months overdue returning vehicles and who stopped communicating with us well beyond the scheduled due date. Situations where vehicles are reported to the authorities are very rare and happen only after exhaustive attempts to reach the customer.Hertz
Just days ago, Harris County dismissed the case against Zanders Pace, who had an auto theft arrest warrant for two years.
Pace said while he was driving his Hertz rental sedan, he clipped a car while on 288. Pace had taken the damaged rental car to a repair shop.
“I contacted my insurance, they contacted Hertz. Everybody knew I was in an accident,” said Pace.
Underwriters for Hertz prodded the local office via email to pick up the rental car. Instead, Hertz processed Zanders payment and 28 days later filed a police report.
“I haven’t even stolen a piece of bubblegum in my lifetime, but that’s something that degrades you when someone calls you a thief,” said Pace.