After cutting 10,000 jobs in North America to try to deal with the coronavirus crisis which immobilized a large part of its 700,000 vehicles, Hertz declared bankruptcy on Friday May 22 in the United States and Canada . Already weakened and crumbling under a debt valued at around 17.4 billion euros, the hundred-year-old car rental company said that it was even 20,000 people in total who were dismissed.
For the moment, this bankruptcy does not concern the European subsidiaries. Nevertheless ... While the long holidays are looming on the horizon, despite many uncertainties, in particular on the sustainability of the limit of 100 km for travel, the juillettists are entitled to wonder if it will be reasonable to hire a vehicle from Hertz. Or even with another rental company, in France as in the rest of Europe.
“Safeguards to limit breakage”
"The car rental sector does not have a guarantee fund, as are tour operators, warns Raphaël Bartlomé, legal manager at the consumer defense association UFC-Que Choisir. In the event of bankruptcy, the client must complete a declaration of debt and send it to the liquidator. This is what all those who had bought a ticket from the airline Aigle Azur, for example, had to do in September 2019. ”Problem: the liquidator settling the debts by order of arrival of the creditors, the individual customer n has very little chance of being reimbursed.
To protect yourself, two solutions. The first consists, when you can, in taking a "package": car rental plus train or hotel ticket. In the event of the bankruptcy of the tour operator who issued it to you, you can have the whole thing reimbursed by the guarantee fund. Including the rental of the car. Another solution: use a bank card whose insurance covers this kind of setback. Please note, these are often high-end cards, such as Visa Premier.
What is the risk, however, that a rental company will go bankrupt in France after the Covid-19 crisis? Impossible to say with certainty but "the government has put in place safeguards which should make it possible to limit the breakage", estimates Raphaël Bartlomé. An ordinance of March 25, published as part of the state of health emergency, thus authorizes the hirers not to reimburse their customers in the event of cancellation of contract. In return, they can issue them an 18-month credit note. If it has not been used beyond this limit, the individual can request a refund. What give a little oxygen to the treasuries by spreading out the expenses. Other measures: partial unemployment and state guaranteed loans (PGE). Europcar, in particular, asked to benefit from it (200 million euros).