When we arrived at San Francisco’s SFO airport the Hertz rental counter was crazy busy. After waiting in line for at least 30 minutes, our Hertz representative was courteous and attentive. She recommended we sign up for the Fuel Purchase Option (FPO) which she felt was the best refueling deal. We would purchase a full tank from Hertz at a price competitive with local fuel stations (currently around $4.49 a gallon) at rental. When we returned the car the fuel tank should be as close to empty as possible, since we’d already pre-purchased a full tank of gas. Despite Clark Howard's advice to never prepay for fuel, the thought of not having the hassle of refueling before our return flight was appealing. Yes we both agreed, sign us up for that. We were told our vehicle, which had been upgraded to a Jeep Liberty, would be ready in about an hour and we would be asked if we wanted the FPO option at that time.
After only 10 minutes, our vehicle was ready. We were handed our Hertz contract along with the keys to the Jeep Liberty and were whisked off to the stall where our rental awaited us. It was only after we had left the airport that I realized we were not asked about the FPO option. Perhaps that nice Hertz representative had automatically signed us up for it. Our rental contract said something about fuel and services at $9.29 a gallon. Something was not right, we would have to call and get clarification the next day.
Unfortunately Consumer Cellular, my cell phone carrier, does not have coverage in northern California. I thought for sure I had checked into this before we left, but after losing cell phone coverage shortly after leaving San Francisco I realized I had not. We decided to operate as if we had purchased the FPO option and talk to Hertz about the incorrect fuel price in our contract when we returned the car.
We filled up our Jeep Liberty's fuel tank the day before our vacation ended. We had one final day of sight-seeing in addition to the two hour drive from our inn in Cloverdale to the airport. We would attempt to return the vehicle with an empty fuel tank.
Traffic through downtown San Francisco on our return trip to the airport was terrible. Plus, our GPS did not recognize streets that were closed due to construction or those that did not allow for left turns between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm on weekdays. After many GPS recalculations, we arrived at SFO’s Hertz car return with no time to spare. My husband did a quick check-in as I grabbed our bags. We reviewed our final Hertz bill as we ran to our terminal. We were charged an additional $9.29 a gallon for 9.75 gallons of fuel totaling $104.66.
We barely made our flight. If we had stopped to refuel the rental car, we would have surely missed it.
Obviously the exorbitant refueling charge is mostly our fault for not understanding Hertz’s policy, but I feel Hertz should have verbally informed us of the refueling option stated in our contract when they gave it to us. With each trip we take my husband complains more about the “travel” part of traveling and how he doesn’t want the hassle any more. Hertz you are not helping my case.
How about you? Have you ever misunderstood a vehicle rental company’s refueling policy? Or do you follow Clark Howard's advice and always return your rental with a full tank of gas?
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