Avis broadsides Gena Ettinger when it adds her to the company’s Do Not Rent list. How does she get unbanned?
I recently tried to rent a car from Avis in Bangor, Maine. When I arrived at the counter, a representative said I couldn’t rent from the company because I was on the Do Not Rent list.
The attendant couldn’t tell me why I was on the list. But I noticed that Avis misspelled my name twice on the reservation.
The representative gave me an 800 number to call. An Avis employee recommended I send an email to the company so the company would remove my name from the Do Not Rent list.
Since I was traveling with my sister, we moved the reservation to her name, which solved the problem. But once on the road, I saw the receipt was almost double the original price for the rental car.
Avis is now asking me about my employment, and they still haven’t told me why I’m on the Do Not Rent list. My sister, who works in cybersecurity, believes there may have been a data breach or that Avis is confusing me with someone else.
I would like Avis to honor the original price of my rental car and remove my name from the Do Not Rent list. Can you help me? — Gena Ettinger, Roanoke, Texas
I’m sorry Avis banned you. The car rental company should have explained why it added you to the Do Not Rent list and how to get off. Instead, it gave you the runaround.
You can’t rent from the car rental company if you’re on a Do Not Rent list. Most customers wind up on the list because of unpaid bills, although there can be other reasons, such as wrecking a car or failing to pay for damages to a vehicle.
When Avis added your name to the Do Not Rent list, it meant the employees in Bangor could not give you the keys to a car under any circumstances. And unfortunately, this wasn’t a problem the local office could resolve on the spot. You had to contact corporate Avis to get this fixed.
Avis rented your sister a car at the going rate, which was twice the rate you had received online. That’s not unusual. Avis was not trying to take advantage of the situation by jacking up your price. But I think it could have honored her original rate as a one-time exception.
I might have appealed this to an executive at Avis. I list the Avis customer service managers’ names, numbers and email addresses of the Avis customer service managers on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. Also, I publish a free guide for removing yourself from the Do Not Rent list on my site.
You reached out to my advocacy team for help. I contacted Avis on your behalf. Separately, you sent an email to Avis’ CEO. The next morning, you received phone calls from the company’s head of corporate security.
“They were genuine, gracious, and I finally had the personal connection I had been waiting for for over a month,” you reported. During your conversations, they determined that you had been the victim of identity theft. Someone had rented an Avis car under your name, and then stolen it.
Avis removed your name from the Do Not Rent list and refunded your sister’s entire rental fee, including your insurance.
About this story
I was almost certain this was a case of mistaken identity when I started to advocate it. I’m reluctant to write about the same type of problem over and over — we have a huge stack of Do Not Rent list cases in our office — but this one covered new ground. The detail that concerned me the most was that someone had stolen Ettinger’s identity, and Avis would not help her. All her efforts to clear her name were running up against a brick wall. I’m grateful to my advocacy team for flagging this one and to Avis for fixing it. This story was researched, written and fact-checked by Christopher Elliott, edited by Andy Smith and his team and illustrated by Dustin Elliott.