Turo is the world's largest peer-to-peer car-sharing marketplace. With more than 14 million members (as of 2020), its platform allows private car owners in over fifty-six countries to rent out their vehicles via an online and mobile interface.
Now headquartered in San Francisco, Turo was founded in 2010 by Shelby Clark (originally as "RelayRides") in Boston. The model for its car-sharing platform borrowed heavily from AirBnB's "couch-sharing" platform--which, at that time, was only about two years old, and had not yet been tested at the massive scale we've since seen for these models. Although, today, we're well-acquainted with what has come to be known as the "sharing economy," back then, it was still an outlandish idea to invite strangers to sleep on your couch...or to let a stranger drive your car.
As Turo CEO Andre Haddad puts it, Turo's mission is "[t]o put the world’s one billion cars to better use." By that, Haddad means for car owners ("hosts," in Turo parlance) to earn money from their idle vehicles by connecting those vehicles with people looking for a car to rent. The Turo platform engineers that exchange.
That's exactly what Henry set out to do when he opened up a car rental agency in Las Vegas, Nevada this year. He formed an LLC and set himself up as a full-fledged rental agency on Turo's platform. Now he just needed a place to standardize the process of dropping off and picking up the rental cars for his clients.
Turo car rental agency responds to Regus advertisement
One day, Henry saw an ad on Craigslist for a Regus virtual office. He called the number, and Regus's salesperson answered. Henry explained to the salesperson that he was a Turo car rental agency and was primarily interested in finding a parking lot he could use for car drop-off and pick-up. Since Henry did not need an actual Regus office in the building, or any of Regus's other services, he wondered out loud to the salesperson whether Regus's virtual office service would give him what he needed.
Regus's salesperson told Henry that the virtual office service would grant him the right to use the building's parking lot for his particular purpose. So, Henry told her that he would like to sign up for Regus's virtual office service. Regus's salesperson then emailed Henry a pre-drafted agreement to sign, and Henry signed the agreement right away.
Misrepresentation by Regus's salesperson
The agreement's term was not scheduled to begin for another week. So, in the meantime, Henry went about preparing to begin using Regus's parking lot. To that end, Henry decided that it would be a good idea to call to introduce himself to the Regus building's local staff. When he did, the Regus community manager told him some troubling details:
- Contrary to what Regus's salesperson had told Henry, Regus's community manager told him that the virtual office agreement did not necessarily entitle Henry to use the Regus parking lot for his particular purpose.
- In fact, Regus's community manager told him that she expected the building's secuirty guards to have an issue with Henry's intended use of the parking lot.
- Accordingly, Regus's community manager told Henry that the building's secuirty guards could decide to tow Henry's rental cars, if they wished, and that nothing in Henry's virtual office agreement with Regus would protect Henry against that possibility.
- For this reason, Regus's community manager told Henry that his use of the parking lot would be "at [his] own risk."