If you had the option to buy a full tank of petrol at A$1.51 per litre for 7 days time would you take it? (For those outside of Australia, the current price is around $1.68) Looks like a no-brainer in this environment.
The question is: who would offer such a deal? Hertz car rentals that’s who. That is the offer we were given when we rented a car in Sydney today. We could either fill the car up before we returned it or take the deal. As I would normally pay a premium not to have to worry about filling up, we would do this anyway. But a discount! What a gift.
So this isn’t the norm so what is going on here. My first theory was that most cars were returned with some fuel; maybe a quarter of a tank. That is a valuable commodity to Hertz who pocket that amount multiplied by $1.51. And at prices this high, it is worthwhile pushing people towards that option. (That is, 20 litres in the tank is worth twice as much to Hertz now and, even at high petrol prices, is not likely to change very much).
Of course, that theory is potentially questionable as I read a form with a red circle and highlighting around one passage: “if you have opted for fuel pre-purchase do not re-fuel prior to returning your vehicle.” One would have thought that goes without saying and to the extent that it doesn’t, why would Hertz want to remind you of it? So I guess there might be something more going on here.