Insane: Avis Snatches Rental Car From Driver In The Middle Of Night

Tarikh Campbell rented a car at the Newark airport Avis. He parked the white Toyota Camry at his home in Teaneck, New Jersey. But at 10:30 p.m. on the night before he was supposed to return the car and fly home, he noticed it was missing. It appears as though Avis stole it.

  • He called the police. They hadn’t towed it. They suggested he call Avis, hoping they could locate the vehicle with GPS.

  • After an hour long hold, Avis told him they couldn’t track it and to call the police back to file a report.

  • Then in the morning he took a Lyft to the airport, reported the situation to Avis there and provided a copy of the police report.

Back in Boston, Campbell checked the Easy Pass record since his trnasponder had been left in the rental car. The vehicle was… returned to Newark airport.

His aunt, who lives down the block, has a camera recording the street. He says he has footage of the car being taken by a tow truck (that the police say wasn’t done on their behalf). And he believes only GPS tracking would have found the car. Shortly after he made it home to Boston the car showed as returned in the Avis app.

Now the question, it seems, is why would Avis send a tow truck to repossess a car during a rental? And how do you get someone to acknowledge it (as well as erase the late return fees!)? And isn’t the strangest thing about this story that it happened with Avis, rather than Hertz?

My only thought is that the car was (1) previously returned late, and turned over to Avis’ contractor to find and repossess, (2) returned by that renter, while (3) Avis never turned off the order to bring it back. If that’s what happened the renter is pretty clearly owed compensation,

  • It’s not just the late fees that should be wiped, but the whole rental
  • Their Lyft to the airport reimbursed
  • And a very strong goodwill offer made on top, several hundred dollars in free rental credits at least.

I’ve reached out to Avis for comment and will update this post if they respond. What do you think?

(HT: @mipo777)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Avis is just a mess right now. I rent from them often for work, and they are our preferred vendor. I rented once at Memphis Airport for 3 days. When I returned it, there was no agent on-site. I left my keys in the drop box. I tried to return the car on my app, but it did not work. I don’t think they work everywhere, only those airport that are equipped. They didn’t send me a bill until a month later, and they charged me a month of rental for over $1300. I was lucky that my corporate travel agency had to deal with them, not me. I called their customer service line that would take 45-60 minutes before someone would answer. They basically lost my rental car for a month??? In their lot????

  2. Interesting story. But, stopped caring when I saw the pronouns and “black and proud” announcement on his twitter. Drama queen.

  3. He is told they can’t track it then how did the tow truck find it?
    Oh, and Gary, they owe him a transponder…..

  4. Just like what an anonymous teenage Wikipedia administrator whose name is unknown to Wikipedia would do! Wacky!

  5. What I think? These companies have gotten too big they M&A and now they don’t give a shit about customer service

  6. No be clear…some twitter bio: PM at @MSNewEngland. Black & Proud. @MIT Graduate. Dance Instructor. Frmr Marketer. Frmr Chemical Engineer.

    MIT, Chemical Engineer, Marketing, Microsoft, Dance Instructor

  7. “And isn’t the strangest thing about this story that it happened with Avis, rather than Hertz?”


  8. It is simple just pass a law or regulation that creates criminal liability for a company and personnel that falsely report a car stolen, and penalties of 2x the overcharge for cars that have been returned. Problem solved.

    Without consequences there is no incentive to change behavior. Exhibit A – tarmac delay rule.

  9. Avis owes the guy big time. They should do everything @Gary suggested and give the customer top tier status through 2022 so maybe he can see that they don’t always suck. If he doesn’t use it then it costs Avis nothing.

  10. @Bratty: If you have a problem with that comment, then YOU are the racist. I’m sure if we replaced the word “black” with “white”, you’d be fine with it.

  11. People need to be prepared for increasing insanity as the world relies on computers more and more. And be prepared for huge problems reaching a human CS rep when you have an issue. Every time I see another reference to ‘driverless cars or, God forbid, long-haul trucks’, I realize that someone must be buying in to this increasing technology power play and actually believing that it’s some kind of a benefit to mankind. People really are becoming dumber by the year.

    Since we’re off again on the racist aspects, might as well get the word Trump in here somehow.

  12. @huey judy
    Judy, you’re absolutely correct. Chump is a complete racist a-hole, among other divisive things!!!!

  13. @Gary: So many unfortunate racist comments. This blog needs someone like me to be the decider-in-chief as to what gets cut. If you readers don’t like it, tough Sh**.

    Oh, wait, I just banned myself.

  14. I’m constantly impressed at how terrible rental car companies can make life for too tier travelers. I rent 30 plus times a year, Hertz gets my business right now because of my past 5 rentals with National every time they have claimed damage. I request the departure video and they suddenly go away…but what a pain. I gave up on Avis a couple of years back for the same shenanigans.

  15. Some ppl cannot walk away, everyone has a cause and want 15 minutes of fame. So it goes.

    Avis needs to be sued, period. I would have had a heart attack if I “lost” my rental. There is no excuse for this nonsense .

  16. While I have no doubt that the pandemic is partially to blame for this pathetic mess, I have an anecdote to show just how bad Avis was EVEN BEFORE: In the fall of 2019, I took 2 trips in which I rented for Avis (corporate requirement in this case; National is my go-to):

    1) Washington National airport pick-up – vehicle had an expired registration. As it was the agency’s error, I thought about leaving it as it was but cooler heads prevailed when I realized that the reason for my trip was to spend most of the week at Fort Belvoir and the MPs would toss me for trying to enter the base with an expired tag. I returned it to the airport. The clerk who swapped the vehicle was kind but hardly nonplussed about the error.

    2) LAX, driving to the Port Hueneme area – no other sedan choices on a Wednesday night, beyond, a Mustang despite elite status. With National as my go-to, my elite status comes from my Chase Sapphire Reserve Ultimate Visa card. Avis offers the “Choose your vehicle” option in app. During the shuttle ride from Baggage Claim, I logged on only to find that I could have a giant SUV or van. While the Mustang was nice, National ALWAYS has plenty of sedans for elite customers, regardless or airport or time of day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *