Israeli claims he was refused car rental in NYC due to nationality

The senior vice president at Teva pharmaceutical said he frequently rented from Avis and never encountered a problem before.

November 23, 2015 14:52
2 minute read.
Avis logo

Avis logo. (photo credit: screenshot)

An Israeli businessman said that he was turned away from an Avis car rental facility in New York after an employee informed him that Israeli documents were not recognized by the company, The New York Observer reported Sunday.

Dov Bergwerk, a senior vice president at the Israeli pharmaceutical conglomerate Teva, arrived at the West 76th Street and Broadway Avis branch expecting to receive his rental vehicle, which he had done numerous times in the past, but was rebuffed once he presented his Israeli driver's license.

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He was informed that Israeli identification was not recognized by the car-rental giant, despite having been a customer with the company for over a decade. 

After arguing with both the employee and then a branch manger at the facility, Bergwerk called the company's customer service hot-line which confirmed that the company does in fact accept Israeli identification, including passports.

However, according to the Observer, the branch manager still refused to service Bergwerk, not because of identification issues, but due to "the way [the branch manager] was treated in front of other customers."

Asked by the Observer if Bergwerk felt he was being treated differently because he was Israeli, Bergwerk responded by saying: "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," Bergwerk added. "I tried to demonstrate that the license had all the required info but she and the manager had no interest. Similarly, the fact that I have had many rentals at Avis and at this location was dismissed as having been ‘done by new employees.'”

In response to the incident, Avis released a statement.

“On Friday, a customer seeking to rent a car from Avis Car Rental in Manhattan was not allowed to do so because he failed to provide the required documentation," the statement reads.

"Visitors to the US from other countries must provide both a valid drivers license from their country of residence as well as either a valid International Drivers License or passport in order to rent from Avis. We are aggressively investigating the customer’s allegations regarding the handling of this matter, as we do not tolerate any form of discrimination," Avis added.

The statement ended by saying, "So far, our ongoing investigation suggests that this customer is unfairly maligning us with unfounded allegations.”

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