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Help! An Employee of Budget Kept My Phone and I Can Prove It.

In this article titled “Help! An Employee of Budget Kept My Phone and I Can Prove It,” the author addresses the troubling experiences of two travelers who had their phones taken by employees of rental car agencies, Budget and Alamo. Despite providing strong evidence, neither agency took immediate action to recover the phones, leaving the customers feeling frustrated and undervalued. The author investigates the responses of Budget and Alamo, highlighting the need for transparency and accountability in such situations. Both companies eventually reimbursed the customers for the cost of new phones, but the article raises important questions about the agencies’ internal processes and protocols for handling lost items.

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Help! An Employee of Budget Kept My Phone and I Can Prove It.

Lost Phone Incident

Misplacing the phone at Budget’s location

In July, a traveler named John from Jacksonville, Florida, misplaced his iPhone while returning a rental car at Budget’s location at Boston Logan International Airport. Despite searching for the phone, he was unable to find it.

Tracking the phone using Apple’s Find My application

After realizing that his phone was missing, John began tracking it using Apple’s Find My application. The tracking showed that the phone was traveling through western Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and eventually returned to an apartment building in Lynn, Massachusetts, and the Budget office at Logan.

Phone traveling to an apartment building in Lynn, Mass.

The tracking information revealed that the lost phone was being taken back and forth between an apartment building in Lynn, Massachusetts, and the Budget office at Logan. This raised suspicion that an employee of Budget might be involved in the incident.

Reporting the incident to Budget and airport police

John reported the incident to both Budget and the airport police. However, the police informed him that they could only take action if Budget provided them with the names of the employees living at the address where the phone was being tracked. Unfortunately, Budget refused to cooperate and refused to provide the names of their employees.

Budget’s Response

Refusal to provide names of employees living at the address

Budget’s refusal to provide the names of their employees living at the apartment building in Lynn, Massachusetts, raised questions about their accountability and willingness to assist in resolving the issue.

Customer service protocols not followed

Emails obtained by John revealed that Budget had acknowledged their failure to follow customer service protocols in his case. This raised concerns about the company’s internal processes and the potential for employee misconduct.

Apology and reimbursement for the cost of the phone

After several attempts to contact the company, Budget finally responded by apologizing to John and reimbursing him for the cost of his phone.

No explanation for failure to report theft to police or disciplinary actions against employees

Despite the apology and reimbursement, Budget failed to provide a satisfactory explanation for their failure to report the theft to the police or any disciplinary actions taken against their employees. This lack of transparency and accountability further undermined their credibility.

Similar Incident at Alamo

Another traveler named John experiencing a similar incident

Coincidentally, another traveler named John had a similar experience at Alamo, where he misplaced his iPhone while returning a rental car at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Not immediately noticing the phone was missing at the agency

Similar to the previous incident, Alamo John did not immediately notice that his phone was missing when he returned the rental car to the agency. It was only later, when he downloaded his iCloud data into an old iPhone, that he discovered someone had saved a number into his contacts.

Discovering a saved number in the contacts

Upon discovering the saved number in his contacts, Alamo John called it and spoke to a man who revealed he was related to an Alamo employee. This raised suspicion that an employee might be involved in the disappearance of the phone.

Repeatedly told by Alamo that the phone was not found

Despite reporting the incident to Alamo, the company repeatedly told Alamo John that they had not found his phone. This lack of transparency and communication caused further frustration and distrust.

Response from Alamo

Apology and reimbursement for the cost of a new iPhone

After being contacted by the writer of the article, both Budget and Alamo promptly reached out to their respective customers to apologize and reimburse them for the cost of new iPhones.

Conflicting information regarding the phone

In the case of Alamo, there was conflicting information provided by the company. While an auto detailer claimed to have found and turned in the phone, it was later revealed that the phone had been misplaced.

Unclear when the phone was found and lost again

There was no clear explanation from Alamo regarding when the phone was found and subsequently lost again. This lack of information raised doubts about the company’s handling of lost items.

Rental car agency emphasizing the large number of items left in vehicles daily

Alamo emphasized the high number of items left behind in their rental cars on a daily basis. This statement suggested that losing property during the rental process was not an uncommon occurrence and highlighted the need for improved procedures.

Budget’s Processes and Protocols

Information revealed in emails from Avis Budget employee

Emails provided by John revealed some information about Budget’s processes. A senior manager for customer advocacy named Justin Bryce apologized to John and acknowledged that there was doubt regarding whether it was an ABG employee who took his phone.

Doubt regarding whether an ABG employee took the phone

The emails suggested that there was doubt as to whether an Avis Budget Group (ABG) employee was responsible for the theft of John’s phone. This uncertainty further complicated the issue.

Promise to cover the costs of a replacement iPhone

Justin Bryce promised to cover the costs of a replacement iPhone for John, indicating that Budget recognized their responsibility in some capacity.

Acknowledgment of failure to follow customer service protocols

Mr. Bryce also acknowledged that Budget had failed to follow customer service protocols in John’s case. This admission raised concerns about the company’s adherence to proper procedures and their commitment to quality service.

Preventing Future Incidents

Lack of explanation from Budget and Alamo

Both Budget and Alamo failed to provide clear explanations for the incidents and the actions taken afterward. This lack of information makes it difficult for customers to trust these companies and raises concerns about the effectiveness of their procedures.

Importance of police cooperation when theft is reported

The incidents highlighted the importance of cooperation between rental car agencies and the police when theft is reported. Without proper involvement from law enforcement, it becomes challenging to hold individuals accountable for their actions.

Procedures for missing items at rental car agencies

The incidents underscored the need for rental car agencies to have well-defined procedures for handling missing items. These procedures should include reporting mechanisms, tracking systems, and transparent communication with customers.

Need for better communication and transparency

To prevent future incidents, rental car agencies should prioritize effective communication and transparency with customers. This includes promptly providing information about lost items, cooperating with law enforcement when necessary, and addressing customer concerns in a timely manner.

Lessons Learned

Frustration and inconvenience caused by lost phones

The incidents highlighted the frustration and inconvenience caused by losing valuable items like phones. It can disrupt travel plans and lead to significant inconvenience for travelers.

Need for travelers to be vigilant and keep track of belongings

To avoid incidents like these, travelers need to be vigilant and keep track of their belongings, especially when returning rental cars. Checking for personal items before leaving the rental agency can help prevent loss or theft.

Importance of utilizing tracking apps and reporting incidents

Utilizing tracking apps, such as Apple’s Find My application, can help travelers locate their lost or stolen devices. Additionally, promptly reporting incidents to the rental car agency and law enforcement can increase the chances of recovery.

Awareness of potential theft and actions to take

Travelers should be aware that theft can occur in any setting, including rental car agencies. It is important to be vigilant, report suspicious activity, and take appropriate actions to protect personal belongings.

Budget and Alamo’s Responsibility

Companies’ obligation to protect customer belongings

As rental car agencies, both Budget and Alamo have a responsibility to safeguard their customers’ belongings. This includes taking necessary precautions to prevent theft, promptly reporting incidents, and cooperating with law enforcement.

Apologies and reimbursements may not be enough

While the companies provided apologies and reimbursements for the lost phones, this may not be enough to restore trust and repair the inconvenience caused to the customers. Additional steps are necessary to address the root causes of these incidents.

Expectation for companies to investigate and address incidents thoroughly

Customers expect rental car agencies to thoroughly investigate and address incidents of theft or loss. This includes conducting internal investigations, taking appropriate disciplinary actions against employees involved, and implementing corrective measures to prevent future incidents.

Rebuilding trust with customers

Both Budget and Alamo need to take proactive steps to rebuild trust with their customers. This may include implementing improved security measures, enhancing communication and transparency, and demonstrating a commitment to customer satisfaction.

Industry-Wide Action

Call for rental car agencies to improve security measures

The incidents highlighted the need for rental car agencies to enhance their security measures. This may involve implementing surveillance systems, conducting background checks on employees, and improving protocols for handling lost items.

Standardized protocols for reporting theft and tracking lost items

There should be industry-wide standards and protocols for reporting theft incidents and tracking lost items. This will ensure consistent and effective responses from rental car agencies and enhance customer confidence.

Training employees to handle lost and found items

Rental car agencies should provide comprehensive training to their employees on how to handle lost and found items. This includes proper procedures for cataloging, reporting, and returning lost items to their rightful owners.

Enhanced communication with customers

Improving communication with customers is crucial in preventing future incidents and addressing customer concerns. Rental car agencies should establish clear channels of communication, provide timely updates on lost items, and respond promptly to customer inquiries.


In conclusion, the lost phone incidents at Budget and Alamo highlight the importance of customer satisfaction, trust, and accountability in the rental car industry. The incidents revealed shortcomings in the companies’ processes and protocols, as well as a lack of transparency and communication. Lessons learned include the need for travelers to be vigilant, utilize tracking apps, and report incidents promptly. Both Budget and Alamo have a responsibility to protect customer belongings and should take proactive steps to prevent future incidents. There is a call for industry-wide action to improve security measures, establish standardized protocols, and enhance communication with customers. Ultimately, the goal is to rebuild trust with customers and ensure a positive rental car experience for all.

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