How Your $19.95 U-Haul Rental Could End Up Costing You $1200

If you’ve ever thought U-Haul’s ads touting rates as low as $19.95/day plus mileage sounded too good to be true, you may be right. In fact, for some screwed-over customers, their final bill could end up being much, much, much larger than originally expected.

The Boston Globe has the story of a man who says he’d gone online and reserved a U-Haul truck for 24 hours. He also says he confirmed the reservation twice by phone. But when he arrived at the U-Haul depot, he was suddenly told that he’d only be able to have the truck for 12 hours — and that he’d be charged $50 for every 30 minutes he held onto the truck beyond those 12 hours.

Problem is, the customer needed the truck for the full 24 hours, as he wouldn’t have access to the final destination until well after the 12-hour period had expired. Thus, if he wanted the truck for the full day, that would mean an additional $1,200 in penalty charges.

After his attempts to speak to a manager were rebuffed, the man called U-Haul HQ where he says the woman on the phone said she could not help him.

The Boston Globe reporter wondered if this customer’s situation was just a fluke, but after he looked online, he began to suspect a bigger problem:

On Friday, I counted a half-dozen complaints similar to [the customer’s]. It was hard to get an accurate number of such complaints, because some of them were deleted from the website as the day wore on.

The customer in this story says he believes some folks at U-Haul are deliberately overbooking trucks in order to collect fees.

“U-Haul isn’t making its money charging $19.95 a day and 89 cents a mile,” he tells the Globe. “They are whacking people with these fees … I sat there for a half-hour on Wednesday, and everybody who came in to drop off or pick up a truck got hit for extra charges.”

The Globe finally spoke to the manager of the U-Haul in question who claims the customer never confirmed his reservation in advance and that U-Haul does not overbook trucks. He also, in spite of the language used on UHaul.com, says online reservations are not actual reservations, just requests for a pick-up time and that, “Everything is subject to availability… It says it right on the website.”

Regardless of whether or not U-Haul or any U-Haul locations are deliberately overbooking, be aware that such availability issues could end up costing you a pile of cash or forcing you into making alternative plans.

You haul, and you may get ripped off as well [Boston Globe]

Thanks to Lis for the tip!