Now that it’s summer, many people are doing the moving thing. For some, this might mean renting a truck or trailer from U-Haul, like reader Ryan. He reserved a truck from U-Haul online well in advance of his move, but when he went in for pickup was told none were available. Ryan called corporate, who called the store and convinced the surly manager to give Ryan a truck. Three days after Ryan returned the truck, he got this voicemail from from U-Haul: “This is Alexandria U-Haul Rentals. Your rental truck was due three days ago and you haven’t returned it. If you don’t return our truck today I will call the police.” See how Ryan handled the situation, inside.
Today I read yet another despicable story about the ineptitude of U-Haul and its local representatives. I had a similar experience during my last move.
Like many others, I chose to use a rented truck and perform the move myself. I made an online reservation about 3 weeks in advance, and surprisingly was scheduled for a truck pickup at a store more than 20 miles away (even though there are at least 3 U-Haul reservation centers within 5 miles of my old home). This was annoying right off the bat since I was obviously going to be paying for this imposed mileage. I accepted the possibility that these other centers had no trucks available and decided to move forward.
On the day of the pickup, I arrived at the store with a printout of my reservation and stood in line at the counter. Upon being called forward and presenting my reservation, I was bluntly told that no trucks were available, reservation or no. I made it clear that this was unacceptable, but the “manager” to whom I was speaking simply waved me away and began helping the next customer.
I stepped out into the parking lot and called U-Haul corporate to get this resolved. I spoke to a very helpful woman (whose name I unfortunately can’t recall) and explained the situation. She said that she would call the store and get me a truck.
About five minutes later, I received a call back and told that there was a truck available for me now. I walked back in and immediately received a stare of disdain from the manager with whom I dealt previously. It was obvious that he wasn’t too happy with the situation, but at this point I really couldn’t care less!
He slid the paperwork across the counter for me to complete, and began telling me how much of an inconvenience I was causing. “Corporate called me and is making me give you a one-way truck,” he said. My reservation was local; that is, picking up and returning to the same location. Apparently, he had a separate inventory of trucks intended for renters who pickup up in one location and return to another, and the corporate response to my complaint was to require him to rent me one of those trucks for my local use. What’s the big deal?
So, fast-forward to the day after my move is completed. I drove the truck to the rental center, pulled into the parking lot, and stepped out. I walked into the office, but no employees were inside. Walking back out, I saw — sadly — the same manager from before, standing outside. I call over to him that I am returning a truck, and his response is, “Just leave the keys in the drop box and leave the truck where it is.” Sounds good to me; I drop off the keys wrapped in a copy of my contract, and I head home.
Three days later, I’m at work. During my lunch break, I decide to check my home voicemail and am surprised to hear an angry message from U-Haul: “This is Alexandria U-Haul Rentals. Your rental truck was due three days ago and you haven’t returned it. If you don’t return our truck today I will call the police.” *click*
Imagine my surprise.
I immediately start by calling the rental center and explaining exactly what happened. The gentleman on the other end explains that the manager (humph) personally walked the entire lot and my truck was not there. I explain that the manager personally saw me there on the day of my return and instructed me to place the keys in the dropbox. I am told that there is nothing he can do, and he hangs up.
I then placed a call to U-Haul corporate again, and get escalated to corporate security. I explain the situation again, and the agent I’m working with agrees to call and speak to the store, and get back to me. Remarkably, I receive a call from him about 20 minutes later… but nothing has been resolved. I tell the agent that although I didn’t know the name of the manager I saw that day, I could describe him. “6 feet tall, brownish-blond hair, shoulder-length. Very slight build, and a smoker.” The response: “Huh. Sounds like Tom, the assistant manager. Let me call the store again, and I’ll get back to you.”
Less than 10 minutes later, the agent calls back again. “I spoke with Tom. He walked the lot again and found your truck. Sorry for the inconvenience.”
What a surprise. Suffice it to say that U-Haul won’t be getting any of my business in the future.
It’s a good day when reader complaints can be resolved without police involvement. U-Haul recently settled a class action suit over their broken reservation system, so honoring his original reservation saved them $50. Unfortunately, the manager’s malice or incompetence cost them more in the long run. If you get stuck with a U-Haul problem and the normal channels aren’t working, don’t forget CEO Joe Shoen gave out his number on Inside Edition, and says he wants to help.