100 former Hertz customers are suing the rental car company in bankruptcy court because it turns out that Hertz routinely has their customers arrested and apparently for no reason. During the lawsuit, information came out that Hertz files more than 3,000 police reports a year, charging customers with grand theft auto. To make matters worse, the customer did nothing wrong in most of these situations. It turns out that if you call to extend your rental car the company will simultaneously charge your credit card while also calling the police and reporting the car stolen. The police reports are made during the small window when the car is due to be turned back in and the new charges to the credit card are pending. Even after Hertz captures the customers payment on the credit card, they are withdrawing the police reports. Instead, arrest warrants are being issued and people are being arrested, sometimes several years later, and spending time in jail for no reason. In one instance, a customer learned about their arrest warrant during the background check process while applying for a job.
Hertz argued they shouldn't have to turn this information over because it would put the company at a competitive disadvantage. Basically, Hertz argued if people knew what type of terrible company they were and that the routinely had their customers arrested for no reason then people might not want to rent cars from them, and it would hurt their business. Real lawyers actually argued this with a straight face.
The bigger question behind all of this is why are local police departments used to enforce the rights of private business? The purpose of the police, funded by taxpayers, is to serve and protect communities, not to act as the debt collection wing of major private corporations. The idea that legislatures write laws that allow major corporations to use the police to enforce their bottom line is unethical and unfair to both consumer and law enforcement alike. The Hertz case should start a larger conversation about banning private companies from using law enforcement in this manner. We typically see this in industries that serve low-income areas, such as rental car and rent-to-own companies. Why do lower income areas have to deal with the police when they make a normal consumer transaction? Why do companies need to integrate police enforcement into their business models to be successful? The answers are obvious. They do not and they should not, or they shouldn't be in business.