Hertz hits Tesla rental customer with $277 'refueling' fee - Updated

Returning a rental car with a full tank of fuel has become a fact of life for many travelers, but what happens if it’s an EV? The Drive recently reported that clerical errors at rental companies can be shockingly expensive, as one Hertz customer found after being hit with a surprise refueling surcharge of nearly $300 after returning a rented Tesla Model 3. We know what you're thinking: The Tesla needed to be recharged and Hertz simply mislabeled the fee, right? If only the truth were that reasonable.

Joshua Lee told The Drive he signed for the “Skip the Pump and Save Time” option, which should cover fuel costs without needing to fill up before the return. Instead, he saw a $277.39 charge to refuel the car. Adding salt to the wound, he returned the vehicle with a 96 percent charge, which he said was the same state of charge he got it with. Plus, Hertz’s recharging policy states that the maximum fee for charging is $35, a far cry from what the rental ended up costing Lee.

Hertz denied Lee’s request for a refund, with an agent telling him by email, "Your signed rental agreement will also be our basis that you are fully aware of the fuel option that was added on the contract.” That’s more than a little puzzling, as the “fuel option” shouldn’t have even come into play with an EV rental, and the company’s own policies state a much smaller fee to recharge a battery.

The rest of Lee’s communications with the company have been over the phone, but the company still refuses to refund his money, and the problem is ongoing. All of this happened despite Lee being a loyal Hertz customer and having achieved President’s Circle status with the company. That charge is ridiculous by any standard because Hertz could have literally washed the Model 3 in the most expensive gasoline California has to offer, and it still would have been cheaper than $277.

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