Uhaul To Start Charging $1-$5 "Environmental Fee"

Uhaul is going to start charging customers a $1-$5 fee to defray the cost of throwing away the various nasty junks associated with its rental business, according to an anonymous store manager. It will be called an “Environmental Fee.” Ok, whatever, but we like the rebuttal supplied in the Q & A for Uhaul managers in case a customer complaints: “Do you want clean air and water thirty or fifty years from now? If so, pitch in.” Nice, avoid raising upfront prices and get customers to cover your operating expenses through the power of guilt. Full text of the announcement, inside…

ENVIRONMENTAL FEE
Effective the week of March 4, 2008, Web BEST will begin charging an “Environmental Fee”. This will be charged on all truck rentals. It is $1 per day on an In-Town with max of $5 and it is $5 per rental on a One-Way. This money will be set aside and spent on waste disposal and related activities.

Most auto part, tire stores and auto repair facilities have charged a similar fee for several years. Both Penske and Budget charge similar fees. The customer expects U-Haul as the industry leader to deal responsibly with these matters and we are.

Q: What is the environmental fee for?
A: To help defray a portion of the costs associated with the disposal and treatment of waste fluids, batteries, tires and many other environmentally hazardous wastes. In addition the fee will also be used to offset costs associated with the research, development and new technology U-Haul continues to add to it`s equipment and facilities.

Q: What if a customer complains about the fee?
A: You are in charge of your customer service, if you feel it is necessary to refund the customer, by all means, please refund them. As with any charge, you can reverse this fee. Before you do, ask yourself and your customer. “Do you want clean air and water thirty or fifty years from now? If so, pitch in.”

Saving the environment is nice. We like trees. Ponds with ducks swimming in them are great. But we hate companies who tack normal costs of doing business on as “fees.” It’s disingenuous and makes comparison shopping harder.

(Photo: Beatrice M)

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  1. Antediluvian says:

    Oh my God, this is priceless. What a treasure trove of fabulous quotes.

    “The customer expects U-Haul as the industry leader to deal responsibly with these matters and we are.”
    Industry leader? BS. You’re only “popular” because you’re common, not because you’re good. Also, we expect you to dispose of waste products “responsibly” BECAUSE IT’S THE LAW, and also a good idea, NOT because you’re the self-proclaimed “industry leader.”

    “In addition the fee will also be used to offset costs associated with the research, development and new technology U-Haul continues to add to it’s equipment and facilities.”
    Read: We’ll spend it on whatever the fuck we please.

    “As with any charge, you [local manager] can reverse this fee.”
    THIS is very interesting, and should be memorized for all those unfortunate folks who have no choice but to rent from this outfit.

  2. soulman901 says:

    Ah yes I love these BS Fee’s.
    Maybe the pitch should be
    “Do you love Bull sh*t? We know that the only way to protect such Bull sh*t is for you to pay our, Save the Bull Sh*t fee. In 35 Years from now, you kids and your grandchildren can all continue to enjoy the same ol Bull Sh*t that comes from us because hey, we’ll be around and you probably won’t be. So to ensure they can enjoy the same level of Bull Sh*t you have to put up with, you will need to pay our new Bull Sh*t fee, only $14.99″

  3. euleria says:

    See, we don’t need the Kyoto protocol after all! Cleaning up U-Haul’s environmental impact will ensure we have “clean air and water thirty or fifty years from now”.

    (Actually, having driven some of their trucks, this is more plausible than it seems.)

  4. FLConsumer says:

    Give me a break — raise the cost of the rental and be done with it.

  5. coan_net says:

    I thought the cost of renting the Uhaul was to pay for the maintaince and upkeep of the truck. Why add certain fees – if the cost went up, then just raise the price…. but I guess then they would have to repaint all the trucks that have the price painted on them.

  6. vermontwriter says:

    Why not? I pay an “environmental fee” for my trash/recycling company and my electricity company. Both claim it covers the rising price of gas. Rather than pay additional gas charges, our town decided there will be no more bus service for the high schoolers starting next year, therefore parents must take kids to high school themselves. Meanwhile, the same school tuition is increasing by $2,000 this year. Businesses (and I consider school a business now) will get extra money any way they see fit.

  7. econobiker says:

    Same as “Govermental regulatory recovery fees” charged by phone companies…

  8. ptkdude says:

    If UHaul really cared about the environment, they would fix the emissions systems on their vehicles. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been smoked off the road after being behind a UHaul truck.

  9. Illusio26 says:

    I have never had a good experience with u-haul and will never rent from them again. Next time I move, I’ll find someone else. Uhaul blows.

  10. backbroken says:

    50 years from now EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE FREE*!!!

    *-Some fees may apply.

  11. Nytmare says:

    Looks like Penske has been charging their customers a $1-$5 Environmental Fee for a while now. So much for U-Haul’s claim of being “the industry leader”.

    And no, mandatory add-on fees are not acceptable.

  12. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    I want clean air and water right now!! Not thirty years from now. Your stimulus plan is not working, you have failed. Please refund my dollar.

  13. unklegwar says:

    How much extra for brakes that work? How about AC? Who uses UHaul? It’s gotta be one of the worst maintained rental fleets out there.

  14. ColdNorth says:

    Ever since state governments started tacking on “fees” instead of raising taxes, businesses have gotten the message. Consumers, just like taxpayers, seem to just shurg their shoulders whenever there is a fee. But try to raise the price (or a tax) and look out!

    Some things in life cost money. Until people realize that the choice they have to make is between fewer services for a lower price or greater services for a higher price, we’ll never escape from this dishonesty.

    Fees are the new “fine print” of our modern lives.

  15. Anonymous says:

    They tried to charge me for this fee when I rented a truck for a few hours last month. I asked the manager what it was for and he didn’t know. He also wasn’t sure how much it would be, said it would vary. I asked him to find out before I signed the rental agreement.

    So, he made a big show of calling “corporate.” He put the phone on speaker so we could all hear him surf through the IVR, left it there on hold for what seemed like 10 minutes.

    The cynic in me assumed he was trying to get me to relent and just say agree to the fee in frustration. I didn’t and it end with him getting tired of waiting, hanging up and waiving the fee.

    “I don’t know” is not an acceptable answer to a question about a fee. Either you can tell me what it’s for or I’ll wait for you to find out.

  16. SaveMeJeebus says:

    Part of the fee is probably to redecorate the CEOs office from that dingy faux-wood paneling to something a little more ecofriendly.

  17. cmdr.sass says:

    Eventually, companies will just add a “profit” line item, followed by several dozen categories of fees. That’s what this boils down to anyway.

  18. Snarkysnake says:

    @ColdNorth:

    “Fees are the new “fine print” of our modern lives.”

    Well said. This is one reaon that the governments inflation numbers belong in the fiction section of the library.They don’t take into account these fees on everything as being a part of the real out the door price.That is why when youe read that the “headline” inflation number is some implausibly low amount,you know that the books are being ccoked to make the current regime look better than they would otherwise.Inflation , real inflation that we see in our everyday lives, is much,much higher than we believe and this is one of the things that make it so.

  19. soulman901 says:

    @mexmexmex2000
    But, but you took money from his pocket that was going to feed his starving children that are dressed in rags because he is a manager of a UHAUL.

    But seriously, that is the way I pretty much go. If the Fee looks like it’s bogus and has nothing to do with the sale then I will have them take it off. You should see the arguments I get into with the McDonald Kiddies. 87 Cents is Three Quarters, 1 Dime and 2 Pennies, not Three Nickles, a Canadian Nickle and three shillings.

  20. shadow735 says:

    Its not rocket science people, if you rent a Uhaul and leave your crap and trash in it expect a fee, if you return it clean then ask for the fee to be refunded.
    I am pretty sure people leave their throw away crap and whatever else they feel inclined to honor Uhaul with.
    Some people are pigs and have no common sense or respect.
    Seriously if you rented out your vehicle and some numb nuts left his trash and crap in it for you to throw away you would be pissed.
    Clean up after yourselves and I bet they will take off that fee.

  21. AcidReign says:

        I think U-haul has decided to start charging us renters for all the soot belched out of ancient trucks with no pollution controls and rusted mufflers. So nice and environmentally conscious!

  22. samurailynn says:

    @shadow735: I agree that it probably has to do with people leaving crap in the trucks, but even if people start cleaning the trucks out before returning them they won’t just stop charging it. Instead, they will now think of it as even more profit.

    I hate that other people can’t just clean stuff up before returning it. I always make sure that rented items are in excellent condition when returning them. It’s frustrating that companies end up raising prices because they can’t recover the cost of their time cleaning up stuff other people returned in bad condition.

  23. FLConsumer says:

    @cmdr.sass: I actually do work with a few companies which are 100% up-front about their profits. They list all material @ wholesale prices, all labor @ realistic prices, then have a line item for “Overhead and Profit”. I don’t have a problem with it being done that way, but they’re not fudging their costs either.

  24. Kounji says:

    As long as part of that fee isn’t considered profit. Fee’s are lame honestly. @FLConsumer: Seriously dude if you saw how much people ask for discounts in the East Bay of California you honestly wouldn’t like that being customer service. People play the haggle game like they invented it. Id they knew how much profit they made they would absolutely talk you down.

  25. scoosdad says:

    @shadow735 and samurailynn: Did you RTFA? In the highlighted gray box, here, I’ll do it again for you:

    Q: What is the environmental fee for?

    A: To help defray a portion of the costs associated with the disposal and treatment of waste fluids, batteries, tires and many other environmentally hazardous wastes.

    This has nothing to do with people leaving their trash behind in the trucks. It is so U-Haul doesn’t have to pay directly out of their pockets their cost of disposing their own truck batteries, tires, and waste fluids (read: motor oil) that results from operating the fleet. In other words, the cost of doing business.

    If people are lazy and leave junk behind in the truck, by all means, hit ‘em with a cleaning fee. I’m pretty sure that’s in place already. At least it was the last time I rented from these guys, which was a bazillion years ago.

  26. ColdNorth says:

    @FLConsumer: This sounds like the construction industry to me. It is a great way to handle transactions.

    Unfortunately, many people (even some who occasionally post on this blog) seem to think that “profit” is an evil thing. They will also toss in the “excessive profit” catchphrase to underscore just how greedy those big bad companies are. Now, I’m not sure what level of profit makes a company evil. Is anything over 1% too much? How about 5%? Perhaps 10% is the limit?

    Companies exist to make money. Yes, yes… I know. BIG NEW FLASH. But let’s stop beating them up for doing what they are supposed to do, ok?

    The REAL problem is when companies lie about their prices, fail to honor a commitment, treat their customers badly or attempt to play hard-ball just because someone is trying to weigh their options.

    This fee is clearly an underhanded tool to boost a price that is set artificially low to lure in customers and then sock them once it is too late to do anything about it.

    This kind of deceptive profit is just a clever, legal method of theft by swindle.

  27. deerbourne says:

    I was presented with an option to pay $5 dollars towards their ‘Green’ program. The manager told me it was to help them pay to upgrade the fleet to green vehicles.

    I wonder if this is the same charge or yet another business expense they should be paying for.

  28. ColdNorth says:

    @Kounji: Negotiating the price (or profit) is no excuse for such dishonest methods as an “environmental impact fee”. If the buyer feels that a profit is excessive, then it is within that person’s right to balk. It is also within the seller’s right to walk away from a potential client who is unwilling to pay the asking price.

    The point is that this transparency means that both parties make a fully-informed decision about what a product or service is worth to them. Thus, no hard feelings by either side once a bargain is struck.

    The problem is that everyone is “in on the game” these days. There is a kind of balance of terror between the seller (who sees the need to hide their real price) and the buyer (who will try to seek any and all loopholes just to “beat the system”). It is this game of spy vs. spy that has built up the stinking cesspit of double-talk, double-dealing and problems “taken seriously” by too-smart companies and their B-School cabal that supports enough travesties to keep Ben, Meaghan, and Carey and in their fly Brooklyn flats.

  29. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @vermontwriter:

    Private schools *are* businesses. You’re deluding yourself if you think otherwise.

  30. BustedWheel says:

    Just an FYI. I used to work at Penske 3 years ago, and they had the same enviornmental fee back then. The difference is that no one except god himself could remove it from an invoice or refund it. For a while it was possible to get rid of it, but they took care of that.
    The most interesting aspect of it was that they reported it as revenue (at least on a local level) and made a huge deal about how much money they made with it.

  31. BustedWheel says:

    @shadow735:
    That’s not what the enviornmental fee is. If you leave stuff in the truck, expect to pay an additional “clean out” fee. At Penske it was anywhere from $25-$50 depending on if we had to use a hose or not.
    Most of the time they will hit you with $30 fee, back the truck up to the dumpster and have it enpty before you get to your car.

  32. humphrmi says:

    Why doesn’t U-Haul tack on a “Truck Usage Fee” to their rentals?

    Oh lord, I’ve just given some dweeb at U-Haul corporate a new idea…

  33. Blackneto says:

    bleah.

    just tell me how much. don’t make it look pretty.

  34. DeafLEGO says:

    You can all thank Al Gore for this shit. Every company is finding a way to screw us consumers into saving the damn enviroment.

  35. 3drage says:

    Unfortunately, I had a feeling that companies were going to start jumping on the environmental bandwagon in order to make money. It’s pretty sad when people make money off of an idea that is supposed to help everyone. They won’t actually use this money to make things better, just grow their profits. I’ll rent my trucks from another company, thanks.

  36. StevieD says:

    @FLConsumer:

    A voice of common sense.

  37. ellis-wyatt says:

    Buy new tires or a new battery for your car and you pay an “environmental” fee/disposal fee for the old tires/battery. Buy a new refrigerator and pay a disposal fee for the old one. Haul old paint cans or solvent cans or other toxic stuff to the transfer station and you pay a disposal fee. This is nothing new under the sun. I’m surprised U-Haul didn’t think of it sooner.

    Expect more and more of this type of “environmental” fee as we become a more politically correct country. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a “carbon footprint” fee begin in the near future for anything/everything the enviros can dream one up for. Example – you go to McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, wherever and buy a burger. Where does hamburger come from – cattle. And what do beef cattle do – create methane gas, which means they have a “large” carbon footprint. You think I’m kidding, right? Sadly, I’m not. In fact, I’m surprised the enviros haven’t started this already. A single hamburger will cost you an extra nickel. A cheeseburger (because cheese is also a product of cattle) will cost you an extra dime. A Whopper or Big Mac will cost you an extra 15 cents, and so on.

    The “nutrition facts” info that’s on just about everything you buy in the grocery store these days will have a “carbon footprint” line on it and the product price will be raised according to the size of its footprint. They’ll start with food products but expand to everything else. Coming soon to a retail outlet near you!

  38. Toast442 says:

    After my last experience with U-Haul, Penske could double their prices and make me wax the truck before returning it and I’d still choose them before dealing with the decrepit fleet, scammy managers, and the so-called reservation system of U-Haul.

  39. Rando says:

    How about a safety hazard rebate? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost died inside a Uhaul per safety reasons.

  40. thegeneral07 says:

    Those just seem like costs of running a business, customers should not pay for this BS

  41. @ellis-wyatt: “Politically correct” ≠ wallowing in your own detritus.

    Debate if you will the wisdom of a special fee for disposing of items that have a larger relative hazard or difficulty of disposal, but please don’t try to turn this whole thing into an “us v. them” crapfest.

  42. ellis-wyatt says:

    @CaliforniaCajun: I call ‘em as I see ‘em – take it or leave it. I don’t care one way or the other whether the pc crowd likes it or not.

  43. Jamie says:

    I disagree, I admit. If they are being up front about it, and it really is used the way they claim (Since they say they are putting it aside, it would be great if they made the information public!), then for me it would be a selling point.

  44. TechnoDestructo says:

    I’ve never wanted to keep my old tires. Do tire shops charge an “environmental fee” if you aren’t having them dispose of the tires?

    @ellis-wyatt: I’m not bringing any old trucks to U-haul to be disposed of. Even though most U-haul trucks SHOULD be disposed of.

  45. gisgt says:

    This fee could almost be reasonable if I was going to U-haul for work on MY car but I really don’t care where THEY get their oil changes. I didn’t leave you any tires, oil, ect. to dispose of, so why should I pay? It’s not like they’re even doing this work in house and have to dispose of the stuff. Way to pass the buck! What’s next – a fee to cover the rent and utilities?
    BTW – auto part stores – no “enviromental fees” because you are not leaving anything to dispose of. Possibility of a “core deposit/charge” which is returned when you bring back the old one (same as a bottle deposit)

    @ TechnoDestructo – No, you do not have to pay the disposal fee at tire shops if you take your old tire with you. I’ve frequently done this for tires that still have some life in them – to use as spares, ect.

  46. Smitherd says:

    I can only hope that U-Haul uses $3 of every fee to fix its deadly trucks.

    Or, at the very least, spend $1 of every fee to inspect its deadly trucks.

  47. CJames26 says:

    Everyone is the rental business does this….

    FROM PENSKE’S WEBSITE:

    Penske is committed to doing its part to protect our environment. In the conduct of our truck rental business, we handle a number of materials, such as waste oils, solvents, and petroleum products, that may be harmful to the environment and therefore must be disposed of properly and in accordance with the law. Penske spends millions of dollars each year to comply with these requirements and to properly dispose of these materials; to help defray a portion of these costs, Penske charges an environmental fee of $1.50 per day (up to a maximum of $9.00 per rental) on household local rentals, $9.00 per rental for household one-way rentals, and $9.00 per rental for commercial rentals.

  48. CJames26 says:

    Everyone is the rental business is adding this fee.

    Directly from Penske’s website:

    Penske is committed to doing its part to protect our environment. In the conduct of our truck rental business, we handle a number of materials, such as waste oils, solvents, and petroleum products, that may be harmful to the environment and therefore must be disposed of properly and in accordance with the law. Penske spends millions of dollars each year to comply with these requirements and to properly dispose of these materials; to help defray a portion of these costs, Penske charges an environmental fee of $1.50 per day (up to a maximum of $9.00 per rental) on household local rentals, $9.00 per rental for household one-way rentals, and $9.00 per rental for commercial rentals.