In an earlier post I explained how Hertz were ‘encouraging’ customers to pay an extra fee for winter tyres when, in my opinion, the quoted price should include tyres that meet the legal standard for any weather common to the region.

I have just picked up my rental car from Hertz for the Christmas period, and once again Hertz have managed to amaze me.

I wasn’t sure what to expect so I’ve kept a keen eye on the weather and there is no snow forecast anywhere I’m likely to go. That might be the reason that, unlike in January, I had no calls this week suggesting I take the option to add almost 50% to the cost of my rental. Even so I went armed with a copy of the weather forecast, but I just wasn’t expecting what happened when I collected the car.

Initially, the woman behind the desk was about to give me the key to an Opel Astra 1.4 Petrol estate (station wagon). While I was dreading the small engine, it was in the size group I had requested so it was reasonable. The good news was that this car had winter tyres already fitted, but they weren’t going to charge me for them. Great, what you lose on the engine you gain on the tyres!

That was until the desk woman spotted something and called her supervisor. It seemed that in the event I opted not to take the (almost) 50% price hike, I would be given a different car. So I have ended up with a Ford Focus C-Max with a 1.6 Diesel engine (great for me), Sat Nav, and wait for it, no winter tyres. So what you gain on the engine you lose on the tyres. I did get a very clear warning that if it snowed I’d have to bring the car back to have the tyres changed. I did actually check the tyres because I thought it might have all-weather tyres (which meet the legal standard for winter tyres) and it seems not.

The only drawback is that the luggage compartment is, how shall I say it, not the largest. According to the car groups on the Hertz site, my requested car – a Focus Estate or equivalent – can hold 2 large suitcases and 2 small. The Astra Estate I was originally going to get holds 2 large suitcases and 1 small one, and the C-Max holds 1 large suitcase and 2 small ones. Yes, there was a reason I asked for an estate….

So, to sum up my Hertz experiences this year.

  • One rental in January where they provided a car the group below I had booked (and paid for), charged me extra for winter tyres which were then not balanced correctly giving me vibration at normal autobahn speeds. In fairness, when I complained,  the difference between the two car types and the cost of the winter tyres was refunded.
  • Two summer rentals, both of which had all-weather ‘M+S’ tyres suitable for winter driving. The first was a ‘compact estate’ (a Focus) which comfortably took 2 prams in the boot. The second was an ‘intermediate estate’ (an Opel Insigna) which wasn’t large enough to accommodate a pram (which fit in the Focus) if you also had a suitcase.
  • One December rental, which doesn’t have ‘M+S’ tyres, has poor luggage space despite me requesting an estate, but does have a better engine and sat nav.

In conclusion, from my somewhat limited statistical sample, 25% of Hertz rentals hit the spot. 50% rentals are adequate but lacking in luggage space, and 25% are just poor. If you are wondering why I stick with Hertz it is simply this – thanks to a company deal I  get discount which usually makes them competitive, and Club Gold membership with other perks that I like. I’m seriously wondering if those perks are worth it.