NEW YORK – The Avis car rental agency refused to provide an Israeli businessman with a rental vehicle because of his Israeli identity, according to a report by the New York Observer Sunday.
Dov Bergwerk, a senior executive at Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva, said that on Friday he and his wife arrived at the Avis branch on West 76th Street and Broadway in New York City and were planning to join friends for dinner in Westchester.
Bergwerk told the Observer he has rented from Avis dozens of times before — but when he handed the agent his driver’s license, reservation number and Wizard loyalty card, the unforeseen trouble started.
According to the Observer, a reservation agent named Angelline said it was company policy not to recognize Israeli documents. Stunned, Bergwerk explained that he had rented from Avis on numerous occasions, including from that very office only two days earlier.
The branch manager, named Shamoura, sided with her reservation agent and refused to honour the reservation or recognize Bergwerk’s documents. Both the reservation agent and the branch manager refused to provide their last names, according to the Observer.
Bergwerk called Avis’ main number, where a representative confirmed that the Israeli license was an acceptable form of identification and also mentioned that he could show his passport to ameliorate any concerns the onsite employees had.
Bergwerk told the Observer that “while no direct reference was made to being anti-Israel, that was my impression almost from the initial moment I presented my license and credit card as I have done over 15 years of business and leisure travel without ever being challenged. The agent stated that the Israeli license did not have the required info in English. I tried to demonstrate that the license had all the required info, but she and the manager had no interest.”
Avis said in a statement, “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….So far, our ongoing investigation suggests that this customer is unfairly maligning us with unfounded allegations.”