LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — An issue that has plagued Hertz users across the country has impacted a woman in Kentucky. Trinity Johnson says the company falsely accused her of stealing one of their cars, threatening to alert police so she could be arrested.
"I realized something was wrong the last week of January when Hertz called me and told me that I was 13 days past my rental coverage."
She says State Farm, her insurance company, told her that her coverage had been extended and Hertz was being paid. She needed a rental cover after being involved in a crash where she says she was injured.
Last Saturday, she woke up to a text on her phone saying that if a vehicle recovery service was unable to find her car that Hertz would report the vehicle as stolen "and a warrant for your arrest could be issued," according to a copy of the text.
A Hertz employee then told her over the phone that if the car was not returned, police would show up at her house that day.
"I was a nervous wreck," Johnson said. "I was worried the police were going to barge in while I was cooking my kids' breakfast."
Johnson decided to return the car to ensure she would not be arrested, she said. Days later, Hertz charged her nearly 600 dollars.
Johnson is not alone. 230 people across the country are now part of a lawsuit that accuses Hertz of taking action, which led to them being wrongfully arrested, jailed, or prosecuted. Lawyer Francis Alexander Malofiy, who is leading the legal effort said the company has caused a lot of damage.
Malofiy said he believes Hertz's actions are intentional.
"It's really simple to do an investigation to find a lost car, costs a lot of money, it costs a lot of money," Malofiy said. "Hertz is transferring that burden to taxpayers, to police officers, and prosecutors."
Hertz did not immediately respond to Johnson's claims, saying they needed time to investigate. They did respond to the lawsuit.
"Hertz cares deeply about our customers, and we successfully provide rental vehicles for tens of millions of travelers each year. Unfortunately, in the legal matters being discussed, the attorneys have a track record of making baseless claims that blatantly misrepresent the facts. The vast majority of these cases involve renters who were many weeks or even months overdue returning vehicles and who stopped communicating with us well beyond the scheduled due date. Situations where vehicles are reported to the authorities are very rare and happen only after exhaustive attempts to reach the customer."
As part of Hertz's investigation into what took place, they called Johnson Wednesday afternoon. A Hertz employee told Johnson they were unable to find a history of her rental reservation, she said.
This story was originally published by Ricky Sayer of WLEX in Lexington, Kentucky.