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A law professor said she plans to sue the Hertz Corporation, claiming the rental car company violated the terms of their contract and extorted her over a Thanksgiving reservation gone wrong.
Kate Klonick, an assistant professor at St. John’s University School of Law and an attorney in the state of New York, related her nightmarish experience in a Twitter thread that has now gone viral.
The story begins with Klonick reserving a car the Sunday before Thanksgiving for a quoted price of $414 including taxes, and it all went south from there. She arrived at a Brooklyn, New York location on time and ready to roll but ended up waiting in line for over two hours. Instead of seeing to the needs of every customer, the employees closed up shop for the night and told the remaining customers they could not help them.
Desperate travelers waved 20 dollar bills in the air to try and entice the agents to stay on and work, but to no avail.
I had a Very Bad experience with @Hertz over Thanksgiving.
This is what happened & the letter I wrote. We are totally fine, & our Thanksgiving ended up wonderful, but I suspect this is a fraudulent business practice, & I want to give it visibility for those who don’t or can’t. pic.twitter.com/cr9haMSeXd
— Kate Klonick (@Klonick) November 30, 2021
The agents allegedly told Klonick and her husband to kick rocks but said they could rent a car at another location for $1,800. They declined the generous offer.
Following that, the Klonicks made two more attempts to rent a car. First, they went to the LaGuardia Airport location where they found they could rent a vehicle “in excess of $1,800” for the week. That idea wouldn’t fly, so the Klonicks made a reservation at the Williamsburg Hertz location in the neighborhood of Brooklyn. The price for that mystery car, again, was $1,800. They reportedly negotiated the price back down to the original $414, but upon arrival, there was no car to drive.
Detailing the experience, Klonick tweeted that Hertz “ended up making us pay $500+ over quoted price for a bad car.”
“Honestly did not write this up and post this letter for myself. I really did it because this was not just poor customer service or bad logistics. It was extortion,” she added.
In her letter to the company, she is seeking damages in the amount of $528.07 “for the difference in price between the original violated contract and the amount paid to remedy the violated contract.”
She is also requesting reimbursement in the amount of$133.51 for the many Uber trips she and her husband had to take to the various Hertz locations around the bridge and tunnel sector of New York City. For good measure, she is additionally seeking $87.32 for a “Very Nice Bottle of Champagne.”
The law professor is demanding that Hertz respond by December 15, otherwise she plans to take the company to small claims court for restitution.
“We are investigating the situation to better understand what occurred so we can take any necessary corrective actions,” Hertz told Fox Business in a statement.
The company attempted damage control, arguing that “in the event we’re unable to provide the reserved vehicle class at the confirmed time, it’s our policy to make every reasonable effort to assist the customer.”
This includes “providing a comparable vehicle at the same rate if available, moving a vehicle from another location in close proximity, delivering a vehicle to the customer, paying for a taxi or sourcing a vehicle from a competitor if at an airport. When these options are available, we would extend the same rate,” Hertz said.
They claim they apologized to Klonick and refunded the difference, but she says her credit card statement only reflects the final charge and indicates no reimbursement at all.
“Small claims court here I come,” she tweeted.
Hertz will probably save face and settle out of court, but it sure would be fun to see them squirm under the judicial wrath of Marilyn Milian.
More on Klonick’s story, which has over 9,700 retweets to date along with many commiserations:
The final page. Also, heads up to Contracts law profs if they want a fun little issue spotter. pic.twitter.com/0KGQIXeiMB
— Kate Klonick (@Klonick) November 30, 2021
Curious as a non-attorney (and, yes, this is off the point of your letter): Is “barred attorney” a phrase that lawyers use? I’d not seen it before. I would think that more lay people would guess it means “barred from practicing” than “passed the bar exam.” Is it jargon?
— Bill Dedman, investigative reporter and author (@BillDedman) December 1, 2021
you are an investigative reporter and author and this is the first time you’ve seen this phrase?
— Lumache (@Lumache4) December 1, 2021
Yes! This is Florida – we had Gold reservation that was not honored
Look at the line and the woman in wheelchair at the end! Unbelievable! pic.twitter.com/CsJvpElJ2n
— Suzanne Galvin (@SuzannePGalvin) December 1, 2021
Hertz laid off 16,000 out of 38,000 employees during the pandemic, gave its executives over $16 million in bonuses, then declared bankruptcy. I believe they currently have about 24,000 employees – but the current CEO recently announced plans to buy 100,000 Teslas for their fleet
— Geri Kucinski (@KucinskiGeri) December 1, 2021
Can’t wait to see how they explain themselves. They also have QUITE the racket going re toll fees. After waiting in a nightmare line last summer, didn’t read the fine print allowing them to charge me $15 “admin fee” per toll charge. $120 later I learned the hard way.
— Amanda (@MrsFrufra) November 30, 2021
Obviously, the first thing that came to mind is the Seinfeld episode. https://t.co/YmynCbqjeX
— Vax it up. 🇺🇸 (@Disasterdude_VT) November 30, 2021
Nope. This is the one I thought of.https://t.co/BINp94AWa0
— TC Knaub (@TCKnaub) December 1, 2021
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