U-Haul's New "U-Prison" Proves Unpopular With Customers

U-Haul apparently knows about Ryder’s initiative to outdo it on suckage, so they’ve introduced a whole new class of customer abuse: false imprisonment. Best of all, the employee who was sent to let Jessica and her friend out of U-Haul Prison told them that if they hadn’t wanted to get locked in after 5pm, they should have paid for 24 hour access. (They were taking advantage of a complimentary offer from the company.)

Here’s the letter Jessica’s friend is sending to U-Haul. We want to caution them that technically they may just be out on furlough, and could easily end up back in U-Haul Prison if they’re not careful.

I am writing to alert you to a dangerous policy/practice at your West Allis, Wisconsin storage facility (924 S 108th St, Milwaukee, WI) which results in customers being trapped in the gated storage area.

Yesterday myself and a friend who was helping me move arrived at your facility just before about 4 pm to utilize some free storage that was included with the price of the rental truck. I was given a code to get past the security gate and we went in and unloaded the truck.

At about 5:40 p.m. we attempted to leave. The security gate requires a code to open the door to exit. The code I was given did not work. Without a working code there is no way to exit the facility, even by foot, without climbing a fence, which I am unable to do. The only method of contacting the outside world which is provided by Uhaul inside the gated storage area is the intercom which connects to the office, which is closed at 5 p.m. on a Sunday.

Fortunately for me, my friend had brought her cell phone with her and we were able to call the phone number for the office, which was forwarded to the national office. The woman who answered the phone said that this (being locked in) a storage area has happened to others before and she contacted someone else, who contacted someone else, and eventually (about a half hour after we realized we were locked in) a worker came back and opened the gate.

A half hour may not seem that long, but any amount of time a human is held without knowing when they will be freed is an anxious and unpleasant time.

We asked the worker what happened to us and why were we locked in. Tanya was rude and said that she told us that the facility closed at 5 and if we wanted access when the facility is closed we should have bought the 24 hour access. She also told us that she couldn’t be expected to look in all of the units to make sure that everyone has left. (She wouldn’t have needed to look in the storage locker to see us, she could have seen the giant truck in the middle of the isle.)

Nothing on the paperwork I was given warned of being locked in if I stayed past the office hours, and even if it had, it is unsafe and unacceptable to imprison people. Any solution to this issue that requires a code to exit will not be sufficient either since it is possible to misplace a code. The door to exit must not be locked from the inside.

After we were released from the facility we went straight to the nearest police station to report this.

As I will eventually need to return to the storage facility to retrieve my belongings I will want to know when this problem is fixed. I had other problems with my service with Uhaul this past weekend but this issue is paramount.

Frankly, we’re just thankful U-Haul doesn’t rent out freezer space.

(Photo: Stuti ~)