New York fines Avis Budget for denying car rentals to people who lack credit cards

NEW YORK, Aug 15 (Reuters) – New York state on Tuesday fined Avis Budget Group (CAR.O) $275,000 for refusing to rent vehicles to customers who did not have credit cards.

Letitia James, the state’s attorney general, said the civil fine resolved charges that the operator of Avis Car Rental, Budget Rent a Car and Payless Car Rental violated a state law against requiring credit cards for vehicle rentals.

A probe begun late last year following a customer complaint found that 74 out of 106 Avis and Budget locations across New York insisted on credit cards, while 32 accepted debit cards.

Investigators also called dozens of locations and Avis Budget’s national call center, and were told repeatedly that a “major credit card” was required.

“This practice unfairly harms low-income consumers and communities of color who are less likely to own a credit card, and no one should be discriminated against because of their credit or banking status,” James said in a statement.

According to an assurance of discontinuance, Avis Budget did not contest the claim it violated state law, and indicated it had been unaware that some locations did not accept debit cards.

The Parsippany, New Jersey-based company also agreed to improve employee training and provide compliance reports.

An outside public relations firm for Avis Budget did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York Editing by Mark Potter