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Hertz Charges Tesla Model 3 Renter $277 Fee for Gas, Won’t Back Down [Update]

A loyal Hertz customer was hit with a nasty surcharge to “fill up the gas tank” of a Tesla Model 3.

byNico DeMattia|
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Joshua Lee, The Drive
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You might understand the shock that Hertz customer Joshua Lee felt when he saw the receipt for his rented Tesla Model 3. After returning the vehicle back to Hertz following a weekend vacation in Los Angeles, Lee noticed he was hit with additional charge of $277.39 on top of his initial reservation price. Why was he charged so much additional money? According to Hertz, that was the cost of refueling the electric Model 3. Unfortunately for Lee, the further he pried the company for information, the more Hertz doubled down, and the more confused he became.

Update May 9, 12:45 p.m. ET: After this story was published, Hertz informed The Drive that its Customer Care team would be "reaching out to Mr. Lee to apologize and will refund this erroneous charge."

When Lee made his reservation—the receipts for which were seen and confirmed by The Drive—he paid for the "Skip the Pump and Save Time" option, which allows customers to bring their rental cars back without refilling the gas tank. So even if he was driving a car that took gasoline, he shouldn't have been charged an additional refueling fee. OK—mistakes happen, and perhaps the person working at the counter accidentally checked the wrong box. However, when Lee submitted a billing question, Hertz doubled down on the refuel charge, despite the Tesla Model 3 not having a fuel tank to refill, and Lee having already paid for the "Skip the Pump" option.

You might ask, maybe Hertz was charging Lee for having to top the Model 3's battery upon its return? According to the final receipt, the customer gave the Model 3 back to Hertz with the battery 96% full, the exact same state of charge it was picked up with. And, even if Lee hadn't done that, the maximum fee should've been $35, per Hertz's EV recharging policy: "You can return your EV at any charge level and we’ll recharge it for $35—or just $25 for Gold Plus Rewards Members. Or, return it at the same level as pick-up and pay $0."

Joshua Lee

In other words, even if Hertz determined it necessary to hit Lee with a recharging fee, it shouldn't have been anywhere near $277. Making matters worse, here's how a Hertz customer service administrator responded when Lee submitted a question over email to dispute the extra charge:

"I am unable to provide an adjustment or refund since the service was provided and contract is closed. Your signed rental agreement will also be our basis that you are fully aware of the fuel option that was added on the contract. I hope I was able to clarify this with you. Thank you for allowing me to review and assist you with your concern."

Let's recap: Not only did Hertz acknowledge that Lee was charged for refueling an electric car, which isn't possible, but it's defended that claim on the basis that the agreed-upon "service was provided." How? Where did the fuel go? And you've got to ask, even though this shouldn't even matter: if we were talking about a gas-powered car, what make and model is knocking back $277 for a full tank? That's more than 46 gallons at LA's peak prices, less whatever markup Hertz would charge of course.

Joshua Lee

Lee told The Drive that the rest of his communication with Hertz was done over the phone; at the time of writing, his problem has yet to be solved and Hertz still refuses to refund the $277. (The Drive has reached out to Hertz for comment and will update this story with whatever we learn.) Lee is disputing the charge with his credit card company but, since Hertz is standing firm, he doubts that course of action will get anywhere.

Lee has been a longtime Hertz customer, so much so that he has President's Circle status. He also says the Model 3 is one of his favorite cars to rent, especially in California where it's cheaper to recharge than filling up a comparable gas car. So Hertz is no stranger to the Model 3, nor Lee. It shouldn't come as any surprise that after this experience, Lee told me this Hertz rental will be his last.

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