U-Haul To Pay California Customers $50 For Failing To Honor A Guaranteed Reservation

U-Haul has settled a class-action suit by agreeing to pay customers $50 each time they fail to honor a confirmed reservation. The settlement comes after an appeals court agreed that the rental giant had “engaged in fraudulent practices.”

San Francisco lawyer Thomas A. Cohen, an attorney for the class, called the settlement “a terrific resolution” and said plaintiffs had a right to return to court to bring a contempt motion if U-Haul was “somehow using words in a way . . . confusing to a customer.”

The case involved U-Haul’s practice of accepting all advance reservations booked online or with telephone reservation agents. Under the company policy, customers were to be told their reservation was “confirmed” and that they would be called the day before their move with instructions on where and when to pick up their equipment. According to the suit, many customers were forced to wait hours or days and travel long distances for the pickup.

In his ruling, Stevens said U-Haul had used “the words ‘confirmed reservation’ in order to lock up customers as soon as possible and minimize the chances that customers are going to shop around.”

U-Haul will now call customers the day before a scheduled move and confirm the pickup time and location. If U-Haul then fails to honor the confirmed reservation, the customer gets $50. We hear that using a moving company other than U-Haul saves vastly more than a Grant‘s worth of grief and suffering.

U-Haul settles California class action [L.A. Times]
(Photo: PetroleumJelliffe)

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  1. RottNDude says:

    I’ll never use U-Haul again after renting a 16 ft. Ryder City Van. They use turbodiesel automatic Isuzu trucks with lift gates and have superior visibility and comfort. My last U-Haul had torn seats, an AM radio, and air conditioning that barely worked.

  2. Infe says:

    In my experience U-Haul is always the cheapest moving truck. Never had a problem like this, but I would still probably travel farther to pick up a U-Haul than some other overpriced rental truck.

    The only problem I really have with them or others is, can’t I just rent a pickup truck or something? I really hate driving those giant monstrosities, and sometimes I just want to get something that won’t fit in either of our cars. Sometimes, I do understand why people buy trucks and SUVs.

  3. yg17 says:

    @Infe: I don’t think U-Haul does pickups. If you just want one of those, you’re probably better off with a car rental place.

    For very short trips, I believe Lowes and Home Depot rent out pickups. But it’s like 20 bucks an hour, not bad if you’re just buying something and need to get it home and won’t need the truck for more than an hour or two.

  4. Tracy Ham and Eggs says:

    @yg17: I rented one from enterprise once, it was $40 for unlimited mileage. Not bad to pick up some couches from storage, take some stuff to the dump, ect.

  5. guroth says:

    I always hear about people having horrendous problems with u-haul, but the 4 or 5 times I have used them I have never had a problem.

    Oh and 5 seconds of effort reveals that u-haul does indeed rent pick-up trucks. [www.uhaul.com]

  6. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    U-haul’s operations are contradictory, at best. Last time I used them, sure, I got a brand new truck. Their biggest one. But they don’t use diesel engines anymore in any of their trucks. Instead, they use an 8.1 liter Vortec that gets about 5 mpg. A diesel would get 10.

    Also, to pick it up in my hometown would have cost me $1,200. For me to pick one up in a city 150 miles away only cost me $200. So basically, they told me that it would cost them $1,000 to drive one of their trucks 150 miles to me. Guess what: I drove the 150 miles to pick it up, and saved myself about $800 (the $1,000 I saved minus fuel).

    I would have gladly gone with a competitor, if one had existed in my rural area.

  7. RumorsDaily says:

    I’ve had good experiences with Budget and only abysmal experiences with U-Haul. At one point I called the corporate offices to complain about the location I had supposedly made a reservation with not having my vehicle in stock and their response was “Well I don’t care about that.”

    At that point there was clearly nowhere else the conversation was going to go. They cleared up their attitude towards me very succinctly. No more U-Haul for me.

  8. t0fu says:

    All of U-haul’s trucks are like 30 years old with 400,000 miles on them.

    They are cheapest for a reason. Go with somebody with a decent truck.

  9. XTC46 says:

    @yg17: in my area uhaul has small pickups, small cargo vans, big moving vans and trucks, covered and uncovered trailers to attach to your truck and car trailers.

    I like uhaul, in my area they have always been really reliable, and the equipment is in good shape.

  10. XTC46 says:

    @t0fu: not true. I have never rented a truck from uhaul that was more than 3 or 4 years old, and they have always been in good condition.

  11. CurbRunner says:

    U-Haul is shit and always has been.
    I live in California and everybody I know here, including myself, that has used U-Haul had this guaranteed reservation scam pulled on them. Their nonexistent vehicle maintenance program is shit too. Bad tire tread ware, marginal brakes, uncleaned trucks and overheating engines have been just a part of my experience with them.
    The $50 settlement falls way short of what a failed reservation can really cost a customer with rescheduling problems relating to lost time, work, etc.

  12. headon says:

    @XTC46: no, tofu is right. Your not.

  13. bugsbenny36 says:

    I live in CA too, by me the trucks are great, they have all the vehicles they advertise all the time, granted there are a few scratches on the outside. My problem with U-haul is that annoying hand cart and padding blankets, I’ve rented from Budget and if you don’t want them, they take them out of the truck, not so with U-haul; they leave them in hoping you will break the seal and have to pay more.
    My problem with all of them is the $ they charge per mile, why can’t they just charge per day? (Which, incidentally they do, but then they charge per mile!)

  14. sith33 says:

    I like UHaul for the pickup trucks and cargo vans (in Minnesota), but have had awful experiences using them for longer moves. Last time, got a 16′ truck in Austin to drive back to Minnesota. No turn signals, only 1 headlight, half the taillights didn’t work, pulled hard to the left, and then a tire blew out in northern texas. Took 4 hours for them to send someone out to fix it. Bleh.

  15. JollyJumjuck says:

    Jerry Seinfeld: “I don’t understand. I made a reservation, do you have my reservation?”

    Agent: Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars.

    Seinfeld: “But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.”

    Agent: “I know why we have reservations.”

    Jerry: “I don’t think you do. If you did, I’d have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to *hold* the reservation and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. *Anybody* can just take them.”

  16. clevershark says:

    Rent U-Haul if you want to experience what it’s like to drive a truck that’s at least 10 years old and whose components are barely connected together. Oh, and don’t assume that there will actually be a ramp in the truck to help you take stuff up to the box either, because often there just won’t be. But they’re cheap (and you get what you pay for and not a penny more). What you *will* find are a few things taking up space in the truck, like a cart conveniently placed right next to the box lid and which, should it be moved in any way, will cost you an additional $30. Seriously, if all you need is a small box van (18′), you’re better off literally anywhere else.

    I was helping my brother move one day (in Montreal, in February) and I had to go (along with the rental guy) from truck to truck until we found one that actually started. The one that started was the last one on his lot.

  17. rlee says:

    @headon: So, let’s see… tofu makes a categorical statement. XTC46 provides examples from personal experience which disprove it. And you tell XTC46 “your [sic] not” right? That doesn’t follow.

  18. Infe says:

    Hah! Silly me, they do rent pick-up trucks. Will have to check that out!

  19. lemur says:

    @clevershark: During the past 4 years, I’ve had to do several small moves. At first we went with U-Haul but we quickly discovered that “reservation” means squat to them. One time the local office simply did not get our reservation but it turned out they were able to rent us something. But every time, even when the local office got our reservation, we ended up with something bigger than what we had reserved. They would give us something bigger for the same price we had been initially quoted so they considered it a free upgrade. But for us it was a real pain in the ass. If a cargo van or a 10′ truck is going to be big enough, there’s no benefit whatsoever from getting a 24′ truck.

    And then, as others have mentioned, the state of U-Haul’s trucks is usually fairly bad.

    We switched to Enterprise and never looked back. Every time we have rented a cargo van from Enterprise, we got a well maintained cargo van. They’ve never lost our reservations, never try to pull any kind of switcheroo on us. Great all around.

  20. lemur says:

    @clevershark: I did not make that clear in my previous comment but basically I was agreeing with your statement: “if all you need is a small box van (18′), you’re better off literally anywhere else.”

  21. leonbev says:

    I’ve found that U-Haul is very good at TAKING reservations, but not KEEPING them. On two separate occasions I wasn’t able to get the 24 foot truck I reserved and ended having to get a 17 footer and making two trips instead.

    If you do “reserve” a truck from U-Haul, I recommend getting there 30 minutes BEFORE the store opens, especially on weekends near the end of the month when everyone is moving out! If you get there an hour late, don’t expect to get a truck at all from them.

  22. Infe says:

    I care that I get to the destination with my stuff, but beyond that I don’t care how old the truck is…why would you care about that? But the last two U-hauls I’ve rented have been brand new. Seems like a waste of a brand new vehicle to me, but I guess somebody’s gotta buy em new.

  23. gmanj says:

    Interesting in that I’ve never had a problem with UHaul but had this exact problem with Ryder. And what a nightmare that was, after spending lots of money so I could actually move into my house when I was supposed to do so, I fought with Ryder for about 2 months before they coughed up some $ to compensate me for this fraud.

  24. algormortis says:

    The thing with U-Haul is the franchising.

    There’s good locations and there’s awful locations. There’s no punishment for the awful and little encouragement for the good, and as a result you get a lot of awful.

    Ryder, Budget, and Enterprise all rent nice big vans that hold just as much, without the categorical screwing that U-Haul, and to a lesser degree, Penske, have to offer.

  25. JiminyChristmas says:

    After two consecutive bad Uhaul experiences they lost my business forever. On one occasion they did not *hold* my reservation. I knew I was screwed as soon as I approached the Uhaul lot…because there was not one single truck in sight. I consider myself lucky because 2 hours and a 40-minute drive later was able to get a truck at a different lot.

    On the next occasion I was given a truck that had so much play in the steering that I felt like Jed Clampett driving out of Bugtussle. Of course, they had no other trucks and my friends/movers were converging at my house in 45 minutes. It’s because of situations like those that Uhaul assumes they have you over a barrel.

    I’ve since used Budget and Penske with no problems.

  26. spinachdip says:

    As long as we’re talking about U-Haul alternatives, with a Zipcar membership, pickup trucks are $11/h or $77/day (YMMV, of course), gas and insurance included. Granted, it only makes sense for in-town moves, but worth considering.

  27. humphrmi says:

    This isn’t rental related, but a U-Haul horror story all the same. In the old days (say, 25 years ago) U-Haul was far and away the best place to get towing equipment installed on your car or truck – hitches, electronics, brakes, etc. Where most competitors sold strap-on devices that could pull your bumper off, or if they did “hard install” them they mounted them to things other than the frame, U-Haul did a bang-up job of installing hitches to the frame and doing it right. So whenever I bought a new (or used) car, I turned down any towing packages and went to U-Haul.

    My last car, in 2004, was a Dodge Grand Caravan. Went to U-Haul as normal. They installed the hitch OK, but when they were installing the electronic hook-up, they called me back to the service bay and showed me that they couldn’t get any voltage in the rear tail light. I had just barely driven the car off the dealership lot, and the rear tails were working fine when I brought the car in. They insisted that they tail light assembly was faulty, and they could not install the splitters for the trailer hook-up. They took no responsibility for the problem and claimed the car was that way when I brought it in. I was fuming, and took my car directly to a Dodge dealer to have checked out.

    After about an hour, the Dodge dealer found the problem. The U-Haul installer had inserted a pin voltage tester into the connector for the tail light assembly, and the pin had pushed the connector back, reducing its connection to the tail-light, resulting in a broken connection. Fortunately the fix was simple and didn’t cost me anything. The Dodge dealer happily documented what caused the problem.

    I called the U-Haul back and gave them the riot act, even threatened to take them to court for the cost of repairing their damage to my tail light assembly (they didn’t know there was none), so they basically refunded the work they had already done. Until I had evidence on paper of their stupidity, they steadfastly denied causing the problem and refused to budge.

    I’ve since resolved to never utilize U-Haul again. Too bad, they used to hire pros and do a great job. Now they’re just monkeys who don’t know crap.

  28. caj11 says:

    Uhaul saved my butt while I was in Hilo, Hawaii (also known as the Big Island) recently and there were absolutely ZERO rental cars available at the airport or through off-airport car rental agencies, like Harpers (I tried to plan ahead…I had been calling and checking every day for a couple of weeks before with no luck but I still hoped something might be available when I arrived as people do cancel at the last minute). I was, however, able to rent a small pickup truck at the Uhaul location in Hilo, not the ideal rental vehicle but it worked fine and was easy to drive. They were also very nice and professional. Uhaul locations very radically due to the fact that the majority of them aren’t company owned, and they aren’t franchises either. Rather, the locations that rent them are “independent dealers” that store and rent out the trucks, collecting a measly 10% commission of whatever they get in rent. I say measly because my final rental bill was about $400 and the dealer had to do a lot more (I think) than $40 worth of work between cleaning out the truck, doing the pre-rental check-up, printing out my contract, explaining everything to me, then checking over the truck when I brought it back, printing out my bill and cursing the Uhaul computer system that didn’t print out my bill correctly. The guy said they always have problems with Uhaul’s computer system and frequently question whether the hassle was worth the 10% commission, as the bulk of their business came from a separate self-storage facility on their property and they kept the Uhaul trucks in the extra lot space. Seems like Uhaul has contracted away most of its grunt work for very little money, yet manages to be a sort of “absentee landlord” that isn’t there for your to get angry at when things go wrong, and the people at the rental facilities can simply just shrug when there’s a problem. Here’s an idea: most Home Depots rent pickup trucks (their OWN pickup trucks), they might be a better alternative when you need a pickup truck locally although I have yet to use them.

  29. caj11 says:

    Excuse me, I meant to say “Uhaul locations VARY radically”. Sorry for the inconvenience. :)

  30. uvamike says:

    I got a Garmin c340 for Christmas in 2006, and about 4 months after I bought it I needed to take it out of my car. Much to my dismay, I found that the rubber suction cup had stuck to the windshield. Expecting to have to buy a new one, I called Garmin to order one. I was surprised when the CSR admitted that it was a known problem and told me she would send a new one out that day. A couple days later I not only had a new mounting bracket, but also an extra power cable. I would definitely buy another Garmin unit and would highly recommend it to anyone who asked for my opinion on GPS units.

  31. timmus says:

    Don’t they have a loss & damage waiver for a rental? Do you all sign that or do you refuse it? Any problems?

  32. Buran says:

    @yg17: And that’s exactly why I drive what I drive. If I can’t fit my purchase in the back of my car with the seat folded down (5-door hatchback, for those who haven’t seen me write about the car before), and the store doesn’t deliver, I’ll drive to the local Home Depot or other truck renter, rent a truck, take my purchase home, drive the truck back to where I borrowed it, get in my car, and drive home.

    Saves gas, pollution, and maintenance.

  33. HOP says:

    signed up the night before needed at a convenience store ran by some kinda creep that kept stopping the sign up process cause he was selling lottery tickets….took us 45 min to finish the contract…..the next day when we went to pick up the unit, the guy on the day shift had no record if our transaction, and stated that we could not have a truck……..we had our copy of the deal tho and he finally let us have a truck…..

  34. joemama321 says:

    U-Haul screwed me once, on a “guaranteed reservation” in Wisconsin.

    Them: “Yeah, we don’t have the 12-footer you need for your crap from college. We can give you this manual transmission, 26 foot relic to drive into Chicago for the same price.”

    Me: “F off.”

    Here is the magic link: [www.pensketruckrental.com]

    Competitive pricing, pristine trucks and no B.S. when you show up. I’ve never seen a Penske on the side of the road but could retire if I had a dollar for every U-Haul I’ve seen broken down.

  35. econobiker says:

    Run Penske if you are able such as near a metro area – especially for weekend moves. Since Penske rents mostly commercial alot of times they love renting trucks over the weekend. And if you can actually drive a stick shift you have even more to choose from. I’ve rented penske trucks with electric lifts too and for the home mover these can make it easier too but expect dock height trucks- none of this low deck uhaul stuff. I’ve even moved a car in a penske box truck probably not approved but alot cheaper/easier than trailering it…

  36. Jon Mason says:

    Have attempted to rent both U-Haul and Budget trucks the last 2 times I moved. Both had the same experience: Make the reservation, turn up at my time for pick-up to be told “We don’t have any trucks.” Tell them I have a reservation, and get told “That doesn’t mean anything, we don’t have any trucks.” Call the corporate line and get told some bullshit about “Reservations don’t guarantee you a truck, just the rate if there is a truck available”. What the hell? Then get offered “We can find a truck within 50 miles and call you back in about 3 hours to tell you where it is.” Thanks. What use is that when I’m ready to move this morning?

    @ECONOBIKER – you are right – both these times, Penske saved my ass and so, lesson learned, will ONLY use them when I need to rent in future.

  37. picardia says:

    Algor is right — your U-Haul experience is going to depend on the individual location/franchise. You have some managers who care and go the extra mile, but you have plenty who don’t, and U-Haul corporate doesn’t do anything about the bad ones.

  38. TheWraithL98 says:

    i’m in pennsylvania, and i’ve gotten burned by the “guaranteed reservations”. those reservations mean absolutely nothing to the people behind the counter, generally you have to key in everything from scratch when you show up even.

    additionally, my brother got burned as well in maryland.

    if you’re lucky, you have to drive somewhere else to pick up your truck or trailer. if you’re not lucky, you show up the day of, and you’re completely SOL.

    so it’s not just a california problem, they’re just a horrible company all around

  39. lowlight69 says:

    i wont bother going into details about mu uhaul experiences, but i’ll just say, the day that they declare bankruptcy i’ll be dancing and cheering. after being screwed over by them in different states by different people with always the same result. uhaul is total s#!t

  40. MercuryPDX says:

    Add me to the list of people burned by Uhaul’s “Reservation” policy.

    A local storage place gives free 24 hours use (just buy gas) of its truck to customers who have storage space. I found a friend who rents there, and had them get the truck.

  41. cac67 says:

    I don’t normally like to admit this, and dont admit it in person, but I used to manage a uhaul regional reservation office. It’s an incredibly stressful job. There’s been a lot of speculation here, so I’m going to give you some facts.

    1. The vast majority of the trucks are only a couple of years old at most. They just appear to be much older than that because they run the crap out of them. Maintenance is done at 5000 mile intervals, assuming a mobile mechanic gets there before it’s rented back out again.

    2. The company is divided into regional “marketing companies.” Each one has a president who is in overall charge, and a “traffic manager” who is responsible for ensuring all reservations are covered. The president gets a monthly bonus based on a lot of different factors, but only 1 thing can cause him to lose his entire bonus: dealer count. If he doesnt have enough dealers, he gets squat. The traffic manager answers to the president, so since dealers will quit if they’re not making any money you can bet that some of the times when you have to drive out to bfe because there’s no closer truck available, it really means you have to drive out to bfe because the president told the traffic manager to get a rental out there.

    3. A traffic manager has to be in the job for at least 6 mos before being sent in for the training for it. I came in from another department, had never worked in traffic, and inherited about 1000 reservations I had to cover with about 40 trucks, and no training. Sucked to be me that week.

    4. When you make a reservation, the only thing you’re reserving is the price. Everything else is subject to availability.

    5. The corporate management style is screaming and cursing at employees. I saw it from my boss to me and his other peons, his boss to him, and his bosses boss. And none of this is private, either. I had my desk in the same room as my staff, and they heard me getting cussed out on a daily basis.

    And of course, I had a massive turnover rate and always had newbies running some areas. Just no way to keep quality people in an environment like that.

    It’s been over 5 years, so some of this might have changed. I doubt it, though.

  42. Sasquatch says:

    My girlfriend reserved a U-Haul for our move on September 1st in
    Boston (the worst moving day in the country). We were called the night
    before to let us know that our reservation had been moved from the Hyde
    Park location to the Somerville location (both pretty out of the way
    for us). So, we trudged over to the Somerville location early in the
    morning to make sure we actually had a truck, and alas, we did not,
    despite making the reservation for the truck back in May. Not one
    single person in one store was able to help us, and their customer
    service line is staffed with nothing but barely-literate incompetents.
    Were it not for the generosity of some friends who donated their
    trucks, SUV’s, and time, we would have been royally screwed and unable
    to move out of our apartment (and thanks to our suddenly limited space,
    it took us 13 hours to move about 2 miles). I, for one, will never ever
    use U-Haul ever again and recount this story to people considering
    using them whenever I’m given the opportunity.

    @cac67: Thanks for letting us know just why this company is so criminally incompetent.

  43. consumerd says:

    Never had a problem with Uhaul in the Midwest where I live. I never rented the trucks, but I did rent the trailers and by far they are not bad at all.

    As far as trailers they do a pretty good job least I think.

  44. lcote says:

    I have moved numerous times, and unfortunately came to the decision to try out Uhual. While I could get into a 3 page long description of my harrowing experience with them, I will keep it short. I reserved a trailer for a move 3 weeks before I needed it. Was assured of my “reservation” (whatever that means to them) and wasnt told until the night before that the trailer is available…..2 hours away from where I was! Oh yeah, and they didnt have a dolly, and the trailer was downsized. Since i was unable to get any other vehicle, I had to make do with what I had. I drove the truck 2 hours out of my way to pick up the trailer, drove back 2 hours to where i needed it, and then realised that the thing wasnt even big enough to fit my mattresses! 400km later, through the mountain driving, i arrive at my destination after having thrown out a couple of pieces of furniture that wouldnt fit, and having my mattresses soaking wet in the back of my truck (even tarps couldnt protect them for long). I am glad to see that I am not the only person never doing business with this company again……

  45. mebaman says:

    My favorite Uhaul truck was one I rented in college that consistently started on the fourth turn of the key. I was about to call the company’s service number until my friends and I figured out that four turns would start the engine.

    Needless to say, I’ve used either Penske or Budget since then (depending on availability) and have never had a problem with either. Life’s too short to be stuck on an interstate with a blown engine or stuck on the Uhaul lot without a truck.