We just got a great story from David H. concerning a run-in he had with some incompetent assholes at U-Haul. After taking his reservation and promising to let him know the day before when he could pick up his truck, David — like many people who incredulously discover that reservations don’t actually mean that a company will reserve anything for you — discovered that he didn’t have a truck on moving day. Worse, when he finally did get him a truck, it looked like Evel Kneivel had used it to jump over the moon. But the best part of his story is that when David complained, the manager looked him straight in the eye, told David that he “was the kind of customer I hate” then kicked him out of the store, slapping a canceled order fee on his credit card on top of it!
The reason this email is so good isn’t just David’s amazing story of customer dissatisfaction, nor even the U-Haul manager’s incredibly insulting lack of respect, but that David did what you all should be doing when you write us up a cogent, reasonable complaint: he sent it off to the Better Business Bureau and the U-Haul front office. He didn’t get an apology, the manager wasn’t fired, but David did get the charge reversed.
This is a really great read. David’s letter to U-Haul and the BBB after the jump:
PO Box 21502 September 19, 2003
Phoenix, AZ 85036
On July 21st, 2003, I visited the U-Haul website and made a reservation for a 26′ truck and appliance dolly for a house move on July 30, 2003. Given the choice between a one-way or a roundtrip rental I selected one-way, even though the moving distance was only about 10 miles. In reality I simply didn’t realize one-way was intended for much longer distances.
I received an email from the U-Haul website, also on the 21st, verifying my reservation and informing me that the Buena Park, CA office was now in charge of my reservation and they would be calling me within 24 hours to confirm. This mail also informed me that they (the Buena Park office) would call me by 5PM on the day prior to the pickup date.
Also on the 21st I receive an email from U-Haul’s Traffic Control Manager in Fullerton, CA, confirming that they were now in charge of my reservation and that someone would call me before 5PM on the day before the reservation to schedule a pick up time and location. It also confirmed my pickup city as Buena Park, CA and destination city as Anaheim, CA.
With all this handled so promptly and efficiently I expected no problems and went about preparing for my move. The evening of July 29th I realized I had still not heard from them as far as when and where to pick up the truck, so I emailed the Traffic Control Manager I had previously been emailed by, asking them to let me know as soon as possible.
The morning of the 30th I phoned the number provided in the email hoping to get the information for my pickup since I had helpers en route. I was told that they didn’t have a truck for me because my reservation was for one way and that I could wait for one which may or may not be available today. They also didn’t have any round trip trucks available that suited my need. I mentioned that I had made a reservation a week prior and couldn’t understand why they couldn’t have told me this in the call they were supposed to have given me by 5PM the previous day. The man apologized for not making the call but said there was nothing he could do about getting me a truck that size for that day. He said that he could provide one until 6PM but it had to be back by 6PM as they had reservations for it. This was really not going to be enough time so I asked if there was anything else available at all.
After much back and forth I agreed to rent a smaller truck. I again provided all the required rental information and three-quarters of the way through the process he tells me “oh!…nope, they just rented that truck out here, sorry.”
So now we’re back to the truck I can have until 6PM. Having no choice but to move THAT DAY and with helpers already sitting at my residence waiting for me, I agreed to take that truck. I drove to their lot in Fullerton and went in to pickup the keys. I watched as the counter guy, Enrique, pulled a key from the wall with a red Do Not Rent paper tag on it and began processing it, charging me the full advertised price for a day rental despite the early return time demanded. I was given a form with which to mark dents or damage on the vehicle and told to go outside and they’d bring it around. What pulled up outside was the most beat-up, dented, and abused truck I’ve ever seen. Large portions of the front fender sheet metal were literally ripped up and crumpled. The headlights had no proper metal plate around them but were instead seated wrapped in foil and duct tape. One massive dent had been sprayed with stripes and a number. I question whether the vehicle was even street legal.
I asked the guy who brought it around (and seemed to be eyeing the dashboard gauges suspiciously) how I should mark the diagram since the truck was pretty much one huge dent. “Oh don’t worry,” he tells me. “Everybody here knows THIS truck! Just mark ‘lots of dents and scrapes’ on the diagram.” I did so, got in the cab. As much of the interior was damaged as the exterior. He assured me it was fine and sent me on my way. As I pulled out of the lot the thing slipped out of gear and flatly refused to go back into one. I was blocking traffic wrestling with getting this truck in gear until finally I managed it. I’ve driven moving vans before, even manual diesel trucks like this one. This truck was not operating properly. It was raining for the first day in ages that day and I had zero confidence in this vehicle.
I pulled the truck right back into the lot and went inside where Enrique and the manager were finishing up with a customer who then left the store. Here’s a recap of our conversation:
Me: “Nah, this isn’t going to work out, that truck’s a piece of crap.”
Manager: “OK, I’ll just reverse the charges on your card” as he takes my paperwork.
Manager: “What exactly is it that you want?” as he continues
Me: “I’d like a truck that’s not a piece of crap.”
Manager: “You know, you’re the kind of customer I hate…”
Me: “What, the kind that makes a reservation a week in advance and doesn’t even get a promised phone call the day before to confirm the pickup?”
Manager: “We did call you yesterday, I was here and I heard Enrique talking to you on the phone yesterday!”
Manager: “That’s it, I want you out of my store now. And I’ll be charging your card $50 for cancelling the reservation.”
Me: “No, you will not.”
Manager: “Yes I will!”
Me: “Fine, I’ll call credit card company.”
At which time I walked out the door and went to a competing van rental facility who not only had a well-maintained truck all ready to go with return anytime before the following morning but were also courteous and helpful. Myself and all of my associates learned a very valuable lesson that day about U-Haul. I’ve never in my life been treated as abysmally as I was by this manager. And he’s right, I’m the sort of customer he hates…one who shall never bring business to him again. This man should be fired. I have contacted my credit card company and refuse to pay any sort of “cancellation” fee brought forth by U-Haul on this matter.