Hertz Ain’t Sirius

For the second time in recent months, Hertz provided me with a complimentary convertible upgrade – including Sirius satellite radio. I don’t know which direction the marketing dollars flow, but these installs serve neither company well. The basic unit is tacked on and while it’s hard-wired (dangling) for both power and antenna, they chose to stop there. The first 15 miles with this receiver, I assumed it was broken, as repeatedly pressing the auxiliary satellite radio buttons on the head unit did nothing. Eventually, I realized Sirius was transmitting over FM to 88.5. Maybe the Sirius brochure indicates that, but I wasn’t provided one on my first trip. And if folks have to read a manual to operate the device, forget it – they won’t bother with an after-market Sirius car install after a rental. And now that I have the brochure with channel lineup, I can spend days pressing the up/down keys until I land on the good stations. Here’s a tip: When offering a couple hundred options, you must also offer a numeric keypad. Sure, there’s a Shift button there that does something – but again, I’m not interested in reading a manual. Maybe I’m looking a gift horse in the mouth, but I rented the car for transportation and this is Siriusly too much work.

18 thoughts on “Hertz Ain’t Sirius”

  1. You’ve got to work on mastering idioms (or maybe it’s spelling) before tossing around that sort of accusation. ;) Seriously, dissenting opinions and debate are cool here. Insults are not.

    I do agree it’s not rocket science. However, it’s most definitely not a great consumer experience – once a newbie figures out how to tune the thing, they’ll be greeted with low quality audio and regular dropouts (which I didn’t even get into above). If the point is to market satellite radio to new customers, they will fail.

  2. Once again, great idea (have people that normally wouldn’t have Sirius try it out)
    poor execution (cheapest, crappiest device–who could picture that in their own car?, if you can’t figure it out quickly, how about your grandmother?)

    So from a great idea, to doing the exact opposite of what they intended to do. They have put a bad taste in your mouth for Sirius–good job!

  3. what kind of car did you get? going to orlando in november, i may rent a mustang from hertz for a few days… i would looove to get the shelby GTH but its a little too much $$

    anyways, i have little faith in car companies and their “add-ons” so instead of paying for never-lost or sirius, i take my tomtom and my ipod w/ monster radio adapter. great thing is your guaranteed they will work in any car with a radio and lighter socket

  4. jon, both were Toyota Solaras (one from OAK, one from SFO) and I haven’t even taken the top down. On a work trip to Miami a few years ago, we had a lower-end Mustang convertible which was fun. Before that, I ended up in a Chrysler Sebring convertible in Vancouver – the last place I’d want to take the top down. But I was on vacation, so we took it down and let the rain in.

  5. I’m guessing “Aux” was for a line-in jack, not satellite. (I love the proliferation of line-in jacks, by the way. The last two cars I rented, a BMW 328 and an Infiniti G35, both had jacks, and there was much iPod love.)

    The integration seems to be much smoother with some of their Infinitis, Jags, etc., since their radios are satellite-capable. (Why isn’t everything these days?) But yeah, getting a dangling unit is teh suck.

  6. I had NO problem what so ever learning the device. My 5 year old even found the Disney Channel.
    I found it impossible to listen to regular radio afterwards. Thank goodness for Sirius..

  7. There is a numeric keyboard on the right hand sight of the Sirius unit, you just need to flip the cover open.

    Like anything else with new technology, you might have to read the owners manual.

    I can’t believe how lazy some people are…

  8. I have Sirius in my Charger – it was in the car on the lot, so I didn’t have much choice. :-) I do love it, and I listen to it all the time – such much so that I don’t think I have *ever* used the CD or tape… no, wait… I took a road trip to DC with a friend and he brought a bunch of CDs. We listened to Henry Rollins spoken word stuff all the way down, and on the way back switched to Antony Bourdain’s first book on tape, er, CD. But other than that, I don’t use them since Sirius is commercial free and high quality. These days I’m pretty much locked on 24 Lithium – 90s alternative and grunge.

    But that installation is FUGLY. It would have definitely given me a bad impression of Sirius if it were my first encounter. And that’s obviously a cheap-ass head unit too. All-around a very shitty way to try to promote Sirius.

    And if it a transmitting over FM, you’re going to lose a lot of audio quality too – so what’s the point? That’s like copying a DVD to VHS and then showing someone the VHS as an example of how great DVD looks.


  9. I probably should have added that I’m familiar with both XM and Sirius offerings and currently have two XM subscriptions – a portable radio (Helix) and built into my Accord Coupe. The display, general ascetics, and controls are much more polished than this thing. My point here, that some seem to have missed, is that this unit/install is a marketing black eye for both Hertz and satellite radio.

    Dear Mr “Rent A Car Guy” – That’s a great tip I just confirmed and will put to use. Perhaps a little dot or arrow of some sort on the unit would be helpful for consumers (in addition to hardwiring the audio). However… As I said above, I welcome discussion but I do not welcome insults. So I’ll disclose for you that you’re posting from the Hertz corporate network. It’s generally not an appropriate business practice to call your customers lazy. A more productive course of action might be to alert the powers that be that a technology aficionado and frequent business traveler, who’s already spent over $2500 on car rentals this year, is unimpressed with the satellite radio offering.

  10. its a rental car. do you expect people to read the manual on what D and R mean? and turn signals? no, you don’t… dave’s point is that not everyone who rents a car is technically savvy, thats why it shouldn’t take more than 1 button to get sirius on…its the same level of expectation you would have in your own car.

    “So I’ll disclose for you that you’re posting from the Hertz corporate network. It’s generally not an appropriate business practice to call your customers lazy.”


  11. While stuck in traffic on the way to the airport earlier, I took a look at the brochure. I’m definitely beating a dead horse here, but these are the channel changing directions under a Shift heading: To enter the desired channel: press the SFT Key, then the channel number, then press the SFT Key again. There’s no picture of the numeric keypad and no indication that one exists other than that reference above. If I had been a passenger in the car futzing with the device, I probably would have noticed the door. And probably would have tripped on the dangling cable getting in or out of the car. ;)

  12. The first time I tried out XM was in a Pontiac G6 rental from National. It was integrated into the factory stereo and worked really well. It’s a big reason I’m an XM subscriber now.

    This Sirius install look clunky and would definitely not impress me however.

  13. Dave, FWIW, I’ve been given free Sirius upgrades (Hertz #1 club gold member) a couple times and both times the units were in dash units and I’ve also had the Hertz/Sirius brochure in car. They were both Chrysler products (Sebring out of LAS and a Wrangler out of LAX) and accessible from the SAT button. I’ve never rented convertibles as you have so maybe Hertz has some weird policy of not using the indash unit with them. One benefit of the Audiovox unit you have pictured is that you can see artist/song at the same time unlike the factory Chrysler units I’ve used.

  14. last year with hertz I got a nice suv that had xm built into the radio. I’m booking a new vacation and saw xm as a $50 add on. no way if its going to be something like that.

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