Renting a car these days can result in some traumatic consequences. A surprise encounter with police, for example
Because of an apparent administrative mistake by rental company Avis, a California woman was stopped by police last month on a freeway near Torrence and accused of driving a stolen vehicle. She told officers she’d rented the Nissan Altima legitimately from Avis. The woman, Ramona Gutierrez, says she will file a lawsuit over the incident.
According to Gutierrez’s attorney, Hugo Ivan Salazar, police pulled guns on her during the stop. “Even though she explained that the car was legally rented, sheriff deputies cuffed and put her in the squad car,” Salazar said in a press release. “This experience has left her shaken and traumatized, and she is now seeking compensation for her injuries and emotional distress.”
Gutierrez said she’d rented the car so that she could drive for Uber while her own vehicle was in a repair shop. According to reports by KTLA5, Avis had previously reported the Nissan Altima as stolen. The car then reportedly re-entered circulation at the Avis lot, but the theft report was still out there. Gutierrez was eventually released by police.
In recent years, Avis competitor Hertz has faced lawsuits after hundreds of customers said they were falsely arrested for auto theft though they had legitimately rented vehicles.
In one four-year period, the company filed nearly 8,000 theft reports annually, advocates for the falsely arrested customers said in a federal court filing in Wilmington, Delaware. The advocates cited internal data from Hertz that a judge ordered the company to release.
In 2022 a New Hampshire man was arrested in Florida for allegedly having stolen a Hertz car, and he wound up in jail. It was “the most horrific experience of my life,” he told CBS News.
Hertz has said that these situations are “very rare” and “happen only after exhaustive attempts to reach the customer.”