Hertz is in the midst of an ongoing bankruptcy court lawsuit over allegations by more than 100 customers that they have been falsely arrested and, in some cases, spent months in jail for driving cars they had legally rented. In court proceedings this week, Chris Shore, an attorney representing Hertz, described the situation with a striking lack of emotional intelligence. Whether or not this was a good courtroom strategy, it certainly wasn’t something a smart leader would want their company’s customers to hear.
The issue concerns claims by some tenants that Hertz reports stolen cars to law enforcement if a tenant extends a rental and the temporary hold placed on their debit or credit card is not enforced. Many reported that Hertz told them their rental had been extended and then they were arrested for driving their rental cars.
At this week’s hearing, Shore, a partner of White & Case, argued that “it’s a fraction of 1% of annual police reports that are filed that turn into real legal claims.” This number, of course, does not take into account clients who were falsely arrested but accepted a quick settlement from Hertz, resolved the matter in arbitration, or simply decided they did not have the funds or the money. endurance needed for a trial. Shore added, “We actually think the number of legitimate claims resulting from annual rentals is a tiny fraction, tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny.”
How many false arrests are acceptable?
Saying “tiny” once would have been bad enough, but Shore has said it six times in a row. It sounded like he thought it was good for Hertz to get innocent people to spend months in jail, provided that didn’t happen too often. Justin Nelson, a tenants’ attorney, replied, “Unsurprisingly, Mr. Shore and I disagree on whether this is a small issue or a big one.
Did the repetition of the word “tiny” help Hertz’s case with the presiding judge? Not clear. The results of the hearing were mixed, but the judge allowed the trial to proceed, when Hertz must begin providing documents and files to lawyers for the tenants.
Whether or not it worked on the judge, it couldn’t help Hertz with people who rent cars. Most would probably prefer a car rental company where their chances of going to jail are zero, rather than minimal.