New York, NY - Avis: Employees Appear To Have Acted Correctly In Denying Israeli Man Service
New York, NY - Avis is refuting claims made by a customer who said that employees at a Manhattan branch of the car rental firm refused to rent him a car because they refused to recognize his Israeli driver’s license.
According to a story that appeared yesterday in the Observer, Dov Bergwerk, a senior vice president and general corporate counsel at Israeli pharmaceutical company Teva, went with his wife to an Avis branch located on West 76th Street and Broadway on Manhattan’s Upper West Side this past Saturday night to pick up a vehicle that he had previously reserved. Bergwerk, who noted that he is a frequent Avis customer, handed the clerk his reservation, his Israeli license and his Avis loyalty card, but was allegedly told that company policy precluded accepting any Israeli documents.
According to Bergwerk, he had rented a car from the same location just two days earlier and he asked the reservation agent to access his Avis profile with his loyalty card, a request that she refused to honor. An argument broke out between the two and manager who attempted to mediate the dispute reportedly refused to honor the reservation. Bergwerk contacted Avis’ main customer service line, which confirmed that an Israeli license was an acceptable form of identification and told him that he could show the reservation agent his passport to further confirm his identity. But Bergwerk said when he put the manager on the phone with customer service she said that the reservation had been declined not because the identification presented had been all in Hebrew, but because Bergwerk had been argumentative.
Bergwerk said that from the moment he pulled out his Israeli license, he felt that he was targeted because of his nationality.
“I felt that something very ugly was going on, ” said Bergwerk. “Discriminated against. When you deny someone a service and they present the ability to pay for that service and they dismiss you like your money isn’t good here, it’s very demeaning.”
Both Bergwerk and his wife Ruth claim that the reservation agent and the manager refused to provide them with their last name or employee identification numbers, but the manager has been identified as Shamoura Welch-Robinson.
A statement today released by Avis on Facebook said that they are investigating the incident, noting that a customer had been prevented from renting a car because they provided insufficient identification but that based on initial inquiries it seems that its employees did nothing wrong.
“Visitors to the U.S. from other countries must provide both a valid driver’s license from their country of residence as well as either a valid international driver’s license or passport in order to rent from Avis. We are aggressively investigating the customer’s allegation regarding the handling of this matter, as we do not tolerate any form of discrimination. So far, our ongoing investigation suggests that this customer is unfairly maligning us with unfounded allegations.”
Welch-Robinson who has been with Avis since April 2014, is an operations manager with the company, and according to her LinkedIn page, her job includes “leading customer recovery efforts to prevent complaints.” Welch-Robinson also worked as a loss prevention detective at Bloomingdale’s until February 2015. Two months later she filed a lawsuit, along with another employee, against the store charging violations of the Equal Pay Act.
A petition filed on change.org
demanding that Avis fire the employees in question and apologize to Mr. Bergwerk met its goal of 1,000 signatures in just 17 hours.
Calls to Avis went unanswered.
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