A furious Hertz is suing over a massive web design failure.

The car rental giant filed a lawsuit last week against management consulting firm Accenture, which it hired in August 2016 to help redesign its website and mobile apps. But the firm was unable or unwilling to meet basic requirements of the contract, and did not make a single deadline, the suit states.

Hertz fired the firm in May 2018, by which time the car rental company had paid $32 million for its services. Hertz is now asking the firm to pay back this money, as well as millions more to cover the cost of repairing the project.

The rental giant initially began planning for the digital upgrades almost three years ago, with the goal of improving customer experience across its rental brands worldwide. It came up with a list of goals and a detailed roadmap to achieve them, then it completely handed over the reins to Accenture, according to the suit.

But Hertz alleges there were major delays in the completion date of the project, when the new site was scheduled to go live for the first time: The management firm missed the original December 2017 date, then missed the January 2018 postponed date, then again missed the August 2018 postponed date, at which point it had already been taken off the project.

The firm then tried to charge for the delays:

“Accenture promised that Hertz would not be responsible for the added cost associated with the delays in go-live, but Accenture later sought to charge Hertz for those costs,” the lawsuit states.

Accenture, for its part, believes the lawsuit is “without merit,” according to comments it made to The Register Tuesday. It said that it could not discuss pending lawsuits further.

Goals Not Met

Worse than the delays, however, is that Accenture refused to comply with some of the main terms of the contract, according to the suit. While the car rental company had requested a web structure that could be applied across all of its rental brands – including global brands, and economy brands like Dollar and Thrifty — the management firm only built the site for Hertz North America.

This meant that Hertz Europe, for example, as well as Dollar and Thrifty, were excluded from the digital upgrade.

“Hertz raised this issue directly with Accenture. In response, Accenture’s project
leader replied that ‘we felt that creating a generic base and extending Hertz from that would have been less useful and less productive,’” the lawsuit states.

The firm also did not make the website responsive for tablet, instead only making it responsive for desktop and mobile, although it had promised to do all three, Hertz alleges. When web pages are responsive, it means they adapt to fit different screen sizes, making it easy to read across different devices.

When Hertz complained, Accenture agreed to make it responsive for tablet as well, but only if Hertz paid them hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so, according to the suit.

The firm did not even manage to get the Visual Style Guide right. Hertz specifically asked for a style guide that was not in PDF format — so that it could be updated over time — but the firm continued to produce guides that were PDFs, according to Hertz.

Again, the management company eventually said it would make the style guide in a non-PDF format, but only if Hertz paid it hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Faulty Coding

On top of all of this, the firm seemed unable to deliver reliable and working code, according to the suit. Once Hertz hired a replacement for the project, it got rid of the firm’s original code and started over.

“An assessment of that code revealed that Accenture’s code was so badly written that it could not be remediated. Accenture’s replacement discarded it entirely,” the lawsuit states.

The firm even convinced Hertz to buy a license for RAPID, a program it said would help streamline the development of a new content management system. However, once Hertz bought the license, the firm admitted it did not know how to use RAPID.

Hertz is demanding a jury trial, and seeks to be repaid for all the costs it incurred during Accenture’s period of service, as well as future web design costs. The car rental company said it is working closely with Accenture’s replacement, and plans to roll out its updated platforms shortly.

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Photo Credit: A yellow Hertz sign behind a car. The filed a lawsuit against Accenture April 19, 2019. David Welch / Bloomberg