Is this bait and switch and what can I do about it?
February 6, 2015 9:22 AM   Subscribe

After clicking on a paid Google Ad that leads me directly to I can't get the % off they claim available... more inside

It says 25% off. Not "up to" etc. This was enough of a savings to make me be willing to change travel plans to get that discount rate. There were no restrictions that affect me that I could see except for "participating Iceland locations only". I call the hertz rep and I ask which locations are the 25% off because I'll go to that location to rent (this is a 2600.00 USD rental so it's worth it to me to save the money). She gives me a few different reasons why I can't get 25% off. It probably says "up to 25% off" and she claims you usually can't get the best rates. I said I am willing to take any of the restrictions to get said rate; certain type of car, any of their locations, etc.

I persist and she refers me to "support" and they tell me it's probably just an updated ad and you can never click from the internet, you have to go and put "" in and go from there. I send her the URL where the discount claim is.

Sorry this is rambling... I sat here and drank too much coffee for the hour I waited while they "checked".

The fine print is below and here is the screenshot of the page.

This offer is valid at participating locations in Iceland on Affordable Rates on all car groups (manual and automatic transmission). This offer is subject to availability and other restrictions may apply. Reservations must be made on at least 8 hours prior to vehicle pickup. Minimum rental period is one day. Normal Hertz Affordable Rate rules and restrictions apply. Minimum rental age is 25 (exceptions apply). Hertz standard rental qualifications, rental period and return restrictions apply. Hertz standard driver and credit qualifications for the rental locations apply. Taxes, tax reimbursement, governmental surcharges, and optional services, such as refueling, may be extra. This offer has no cash value and may not be combined with any other offer, discount, coupon or promotion. Offer does not apply to travel industry rate rentals, wholesale tour packages, insurance/dealer replacement, or any other promotional rate or group travel rentals. All taxes are the responsibility of the purchaser. Offer void where prohibited, taxed, or restricted by law.
posted by beccaj to Law & Government (10 answers total)
This is not bait and switch. It may be an advertising error, or some other error. But unless you booked it, and you have it in writing, they could choose to NOT offer the deal at the last minute.

Why would you change your plans before securing the deal? That doesn't make any sense.

Do you have a copy of the 25% off ad? That would be material.

That being the case, I might be tempted to escalate to a Presidential Complaint.

The President/CEO is John Tague

Try calling the number below and asking to speak to someone in the office of the president, Mr. Tague. They have a little cadre of people who handle, "Presidential Complaints." You may be able to get them to honor the discount. (I think this is the right number, if it's not, ask them if they can provide you with the correct number.)

999 Vanderbilt Beach Rd Ste 3,
Naples, FL 34108
(239) 552-5800

Being professional and courteous will get you pretty far. Don't tell them you made changes to your existing plans based on an internet banner ad, rather than a confirmation. That's really on you, not them. You can say, "I'd love to rent from you and I would hope you would honor this rate because I made arrangement based upon the availability of this rate." Hopefully, in the spirit of customer service, they will.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:45 AM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I mean I was willing to change my hotel plans I was staying at the night I arrive and leave if I had to pick up my car in another city (I just had to ok with fellow travelers and booked hotels before I went and booked car). I didn't tell Hertz anything about plans. I just asked them how to get the discount. I was very polite (I was a customer service rep for 10 years for Verizon so I know what it's like to get flak when it's not "your" policy and I trained people on customer contact standards years, and was the contact for "Presidential Appeals" often for Verizon Business).

My point in mentioning that here is that I was willing what ever it took to get the rate.

I linked to the page where it claims 25% off Iceland rentals.
posted by beccaj at 9:57 AM on February 6, 2015

And thanks for the number!
posted by beccaj at 9:57 AM on February 6, 2015

If you still want to get a discount with Hertz, the knowledgeable folks in FlyerTalk's Hertz forum can probably suss something out.
posted by evoque at 10:11 AM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's "subject to availability", which basically lets them off the hook for a lot of things. Maybe they offered this rate for the first 5 people, and it's not available anymore. Bait and Switch is a pretty specific thing, and an expired advertisement with what looks like appropriate caveat language isn't it. They didn't even actually show you a price, let alone sell you something and then try to trade it out for an inferior product.

There may be other ways to get a discount, but they have not hurt you here and there is no recourse. Companies are not held to honest mistakes in advertising, and it looks like the link you saw to that page being live was just a mistake.
posted by brainmouse at 10:30 AM on February 6, 2015

I thought the bait is that they offer 25% off. "Click here and book" When you book it it is instead 10% off, and when you ask how to get the 25% off they suggest your booking doesn't qualify, but can't say why. I ask how to qualify and they don't know.

That seems deceptive. I have been looking at that ad for 2 months online. It's not a one-day thing.
posted by beccaj at 10:54 AM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

The cure for feeling that they were advertising in bad faith is to arrange through a different company.

Orbitz has myriad companies that offer rentals in Reykjavik. How long is this rental? I'm seeing $657 per month.

There are equally good prices on Hotwire.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:01 PM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

I need a automatic 4x4 in June for 11 days. There are some pretty sketchy companies but the rate with Hertz (with discount) was definitely the best rate.
Even if I don't get that rate I think they should take the ad down.
posted by beccaj at 3:19 PM on February 6, 2015

I'd avoid the Hertz counter, per this interesting tidbit on Trip Advisor.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:05 PM on February 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

I will say, to save $1,600, it would be WELL worth your while to learn to drive stick. It's actually very easy, it's for sure more fun and you can get a Subaru Legacy AWD from Sadcar.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:25 AM on February 8, 2015

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