If one made a reservation for a rental car, one reasonably expects to get a car at the time, place and with a price previously agreed upon --- but a New York City woman says that's the opposite of what happened to her right before an awaited Thanksgiving trip.
Kate Klonick, an associate law professor at St. John's University in Queens, and her partner planned what was supposed to be a relaxing trip to the Rochester area to visit her partner's mother who lives alone. She reserved a rental car with Hertz on Dean Street in Brooklyn. When she went to pick it up, Klonick and other customers were allegedly told by a worker that the rental office would soon close, and they wouldn't get their reservations.
Many of the more than 15 customers who were waiting for a car left after the office closed but Klonick stayed. After calling another Hertz location on Union Street, which also closed, Klonick called customer service as she was advised to do.
A few calls later after waiting on holds and being disconnected, she says she finally got through to someone who told her there would be a rental car for her at La Guardia Airport, but she'll have to pay more than four times her original quoted price.
"What I was hearing was, 'We have a car. You have a rental in which you're supposed to pay $415 for that car. Now we want you to get that car for $1,800. How does that sound to you?' I was like, absolutely not!" Klonick recalled in a video call interview with NBC New York.
She says a customer representative told her on the phone there was nothing they could do. Klonick, her partner, their ill dog and all their packed bags were left to just check other Hertz locations or go to LGA to figure it out --- they did both. After an Uber ride to the airport, they were again told to pay $1,800 and so they went home.
The next day, Klonick says customer service told her she can definitely get a car for the original price at the North Side Piers location. However, the barred attorney says she received the same "extortion" story.
"I knew what they were doing was against the actual law, but also very unethical from a business perspective," she said. While she knew she should have gotten a car for the quoted price, Klonick eventually ended up paying twice more for another rental car to make it to Thanksgiving dinner on time.
Klonick says her partner lost his sister on Thanksgiving six years ago and on top of that and the pandemic, it has been a difficult holiday for the entire family.
"I was sitting on top of the bag, quietly weeping into my mask. It really felt like this repeated extortion," she said. So she took her grievances to Twitter and shared her story.
The Twitter thread garnered a lot of attention, especially from those who shared similar nightmares with the rental company.
In a statement, Hertz said it has apologized for the convenience and issued a refund to Klonick. "We are investigating the situation to better understand what occurred so we can take any necessary corrective actions," a company spokesperson said.
While Klonick said, "Small claims court here I come" in one of her tweets, it's unclear whether she'll take any legal action because she says that doesn't care about the money at this point.
"This shouldn't be happening to people before Christmas," she added.