Hertz Shoots Cars to Catch Damage

Auto rental company Hertz has launched a new “service” for tracking dings and dents on their fleets of rental cars. They’ve been testing the new system of taking “before” and “after” photos of cars as they are rented, in place of the usual “make an X here” form for where you see damage to the car before you leave the lot:

The photo system is part of a broader plan to use technology to increase efficiency and improve customer service, [Hertz Chairman and CEO] Frissora said. The equipment produces a high-resolution, digital photograph of the rental car, and will compare before and after pictures for differences, Frissora said.

Hertz employees currently walk around the vehicle and mark any damage on a form, which the customer signs. “There will be no discussion because the document would clearly show any incremental damage,” Frissora said. “This keeps customers from being placed in a confrontational position and saves time.” The Park Ridge, New Jersey-based company’s customers would sign a waiver acknowledging the process and be billed for any damage, Frissora said. Hertz is testing the technology at a location at an airport in the northeastern U.S., he said.

The idea that photographic technology is going to be used for faster rental car service is cool. However, the bit about the “no discussion” part seems a little ripe for disagreements. It’s also worth noting that Hertz plans to gain from this new system. Hertz says it’s been letting too many dents and dings slide, for a loss of $170 million, and that the photo system will catch these dings, leading to greater earnings. Of course, those “earnings” will be coming directly from customers whose rental cars have suffered in their care, so drive carefully now.

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