NBC10 Boston Responds helps Mass. resident get his money back after car rental goes awry

Paul Blumenfeld and his wife took a trip to Florida in March, and everything was going smoothly until they arrived at the car rental counter

NBC Universal, Inc.

How long is too long to wait for a rental car? An Arlington, Massachusetts, man is grappling with that question after a recent rental went awry.

Paul Blumenfeld and his wife took a trip to Florida in March. Things were going smoothly until they arrived at the car rental counter at Tampa International Airport.



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“At least 200 people in line, two or three people working behind the counter,” Blumenfeld said. “The line was not moving. Everybody in line was miserable. People were all on their phones looking for alternatives.”

He had reserved a car with Dollar Car Rental through a third-party booking site. He got in line and tried to call Dollar and the booking site to cancel his reservation but couldn’t get through to anyone.

“I kind of... yelled to a customer service rep at the counter, one of the two reps and said, 'This line's too long. How do I cancel my reservation?'” Blumenfeld recalled. “And they said, 'You have to wait in line or you'll lose your deposit if you paid a deposit.'"

He eventually decided to cut his losses and leave.

“After a half an hour of not getting anywhere and barely moving, you know, quick math said we were going to be there easily three hours before we got in the car,” Blumenfeld said. “Their competitor had me in the car and out of the airport on the road in under, like, 15-20 minutes.”

He found that a lot of people had similar experiences, with many of them posting pictures and videos on social media of long lines at Dollar Car Rental counters across the country. Some complained of three to four hour wait times.

After the trip, Blumenfeld contacted the company to complain and tried unsuccessfully to get his deposit money back.

“In every conversation I had with customer service reps at Dollar... I asked them what would be a reasonable amount of time to put the customer in a vehicle,” he said. “I felt that they weren't honoring their side of the deal, because they said they didn't owe any money, because the dealer said I didn't take the car."

"But I said, 'You know, there must be some expectation of having your car delivered to you in a reasonable amount of time.'"

When he didn’t get a clear answer, he reached out to NBC10 Boston Responds for help and to shed light on the situation. We contacted Hertz, the parent company of Dollar Car Rental. 

Hertz did not answer our specific questions about how long customers should have to wait, what recourse they have if they are stuck in a long line, or what is being done to address the problem.

But a Hertz spokesperson told us: "Customer service is our top priority at Dollar and we always strive to get customers on the road as quickly as possible. Should a customer experience a delay in picking up a reserved vehicle or other service issue, we aim to provide a timely and satisfactory resolution."

Hertz did contact Blumenthal directly with an apology and a refund of his $231 deposit.

“I hope the rental car companies are listening and, you know, do something to fix it,” he said. “It's not like the discount is that much deeper that it makes it worth it... I think you'd gladly, you know, spend the extra hundred bucks for five days or something like that and not have to wait in line for three hours.”

If you want to up your chances of avoiding a line, research car rental company’s rewards programs. Some of them offer skip-the-line benefits.

Be sure to join the membership programs for the companies you rent from and make sure you put in your rewards number when you make the reservation.

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