Renting a car is a pretty standard experience for most people. Usually, you show up, pick up the car, then drop it off again when you leave. Sure, there’s a wilder side to it, but those are usually edge-case scenarios. However, Tarikh Campbell certainly saw the wilder side of it when Avis literally stole his rental car. In doing so, Avis set off a storm of negative PR after Campbell took to Twitter to discuss the incident. The worst part? As far as I can tell, the rental company has literally zero justification for doing so.
Is Avis rentals co-producing the new Grand Theft Auto?
So, let’s start at the beginning. Tarikh Campbell probably whipped out his phone and googled “rental car Newark Liberty International Airport” just like the rest of us. Then, he picked up his 2020 Toyota Camry rental car from Avis and went on his merry way. Frankly, that should be it. I shouldn’t have to keep typing (and I’d like to not because it’s 6:30). However, that isn’t exactly what happened.
While visiting family, Campbell also went to see some friends. Around 10:30, he went out and saw the car wasn’t there. He called the police, who stated that the car had not been towed nor impounded by them. I’m sure you see where this is going. Eventually, Tarikh was told by Avis that if the car wasn’t returned he’d be liable. Of course, all along Avis had his rental, without his knowledge or consent.
What do you do when you can’t call Avis customer service?
Still trying to track down the missing car, and now back home, Campbell had the brilliant idea to check his EZPASS transponder that he’d left in the car. It showed that the car got on the turnpike at 10:30 and then exited at the airport about ten minutes later. Thankfully, Tarikh’s aunt had a home security camera that caught what happened (you can see the footage here). A red tow truck pulls up, then loads up the car and leaves, all in about 12 minutes, per Tarikh.
So, Avis took his Toyota rental car and just… dipped out. No explanation, no nothing. In fact, had his story not gone viral, that’s likely how things would have stayed. Campbell would have been liable for the extra costs after the rental car was returned, likely by the mysterious tow truck. It’s a ridiculous situation no one should have been in, to say the least.
Rental companies have the means to repo cars without warning
Eventually, after the internet caught wind of the story, Avis realized things weren’t going to get easier for them, so they issued an apology to Tarikh. Hilariously, the brand even offered him a credit on his next rental (which I’m sure he won’t be using). The charges were also refunded, thankfully.
Unfortunately, there really isn’t much consumers can do about this. Should a rental car agent decide to illegitimately repo your rental, they have the means to do so without your knowledge. Be it a clerical error or something more malicious, it’s a cautionary tale we should all heed as we go about our travels as pandemic restrictions begin to ease.
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