This Person Had Their Rental Car Seized By Cops, And Avis Made It Worse

This Person Had Their Rental Car Seized By Cops, And Avis Made It Worse

Image: Thomas Barwick (Getty Images)

I can’t think of much worse than booking a rental car on a vacation and coming outside to see it gone without a trace. Where do you go? What do you do? You probably had some important stuff in there. You’re in an unfamiliar town with only rideshares to get around. That’s nightmare fuel. One person apparently had that exact thing happen to them when their Avis rental car was seized by police on account of an incorrect stolen vehicle report.

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It’s possible nobody will ever get to the bottom of the story—and according to The New York Times report, Avis just straight up lied about it anyway—but allegedly a previous renter reported their rental car stolen, then must have found it parked on a different street and returned it as if nothing happened. When the rental car agency rented the car to another client shortly thereafter, it was never taken off the stolen car list, and when police tracked down the license plate, they hauled it back to the impound lot.

The customer, now out the money to rent the car, was forced to take a $100 Uber to the airport. According to their report of the incident, they called Avis to get the charges reversed and were basically told to pound sand. The company allegedly fought a credit card chargeback, never issued an apology, and when confronted about the issue claimed they never knew the car was reported stolen. The police report later says when the stolen vehicle was called into Avis, a representative of the agency confirmed the car was stolen and they wanted it back.

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“We regret that the refund did not occur more expeditiously. Avis only reports to authorities as a last resort and has comprehensive safeguards in place to prevent erroneous or premature theft notifications,” the statement continued, then it noted that the car rented to Lorraine “was reported stolen by a previous renter without our prior knowledge, which caused our customer’s rental car to be towed.”

There is a whole lot of he-said-she-said going on here. I’m inclined to trust the renter over the agency or the police, but it’s entirely possible nobody will ever know the true reality. The customer did eventually get their money back, but goodness what an annoying process that must have been. NYT’s Seth Kugel has filed a Freedom Of Information Act request to get the dueling police reports released, but that could take months.

Rental cars are supposed to take some of the stress away from your trip. You just show up at the airport and there’s a car there waiting for you. But if you can’t rely on that car to be there when you get up the next morning, what’s the actual value?