Hertz has apologized to a Puerto Rican customer after one of its employees refused to rent him a car he had paid for in advance because he did not show her his passport.
Humberto Marchand said that he traveled to New Orleans last Wednesday and presented his Puerto Rican driver’s license at the Hertz counter at the Louie Armstrong International Airport. The employee asked for his passport even though, like all Puerto Ricans, Marchand is a US citizen and does not need to have a passport to rent a car within the United States.
Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States, and anyone born on the island is by law a US citizen.
Marchand said the employee, who has not been publicly identified, treated him like a foreigner and told him that he could not rent a vehicle without presenting a passport.
“I was surprised and definitely frustrated because it was very late at night, so I decided to make a formal complaint” said Marchand in an interview with CNN.
In a statement to CNN, Hertz (HTZ) said that the company accepts Puerto Rican driver’s licenses from customers renting in the United States without requiring a valid passport.
“We sincerely regret that our policy was not followed and have apologized to Mr. Marchand and refunded his rental,” a company spokesperson said. “We are reinforcing our policies with employees to ensure that they are understood and followed consistently across our locations.”
A video recorded by Marchand and posted on his Twitter account shows the employee asking him to leave while he repeatedly reminds her that his Puerto Rican driver’s license is just as valid as those issued in Louisiana or any other US state. The employee then threatened to call the police, to which Marchand responded, “yes, please call the police.”
“I told her that she was making a mistake based on ignorance and I recorded to make my point clear that I had been denied as a US citizen because my license is from Puerto Rico. It’s a real ID license which by law should be a uniform form of ID within the United Sates,” said Marchand. “She sustained her position and decided to call the police”
Marchand says a Kenner Police Department officer responded to the scene and also asked him to leave. As he walked away, he said he heard the police officer threaten to call the border patrol.
A spokesperson for the Kenner Police Department told CNN that they have reviewed the officer’s body cam footage and that nowhere in the video did the officer mention the border patrol, ICE or any other immigration authorities.
“There is the specific portion on the footage where the officer says something, not related to any of those things mentioned earlier, and clearly Mr. Marchand misunderstands the officer,” Capt. Michael Cunningham told CNN.
Cunningham also said that the police department will release a statement about this incident and the body camera footage but did not specify when it will be released.
“I became very nervous because once you call the police you don’t want the matter to escalate to the point that the officer thinks he has to use some sort of force. So, I kept a very calm and assertive, but respectful, posture,” said Marchand.
It is not clear if Hertz took any disciplinary action against the employee, however, the company said that this employee, like all their employees, has been reminded of their longstanding policy related to Puerto Rican driver’s licenses.
Marchand said he also plans to file a complaint against the Kenner Police Department to ensure that their officers are trained to validate Real IDs and to review any inappropriate comments about being referred to border authorities that he claims were made by the officer.
- CNN’s Rafy Rivera in Puerto Rico and Florencia Trucco in Atlanta contributed to this report.