Customer That U-Haul Hates Sics BBB On Their Ass

We just got a great story from David H. concerning a run-in he had with some incompetent assholes at U-Haul. After taking his reservation and promising to let him know the day before when he could pick up his truck, David — like many people who incredulously discover that reservations don’t actually mean that a company will reserve anything for you — discovered that he didn’t have a truck on moving day. Worse, when he finally did get him a truck, it looked like Evel Kneivel had used it to jump over the moon. But the best part of his story is that when David complained, the manager looked him straight in the eye, told David that he “was the kind of customer I hate” then kicked him out of the store, slapping a canceled order fee on his credit card on top of it!

The reason this email is so good isn’t just David’s amazing story of customer dissatisfaction, nor even the U-Haul manager’s incredibly insulting lack of respect, but that David did what you all should be doing when you write us up a cogent, reasonable complaint: he sent it off to the Better Business Bureau and the U-Haul front office. He didn’t get an apology, the manager wasn’t fired, but David did get the charge reversed.

This is a really great read. David’s letter to U-Haul and the BBB after the jump:

U-Haul International
Customer Service
PO Box 21502 September 19, 2003
Phoenix, AZ 85036

Dear Sirs;

On July 21st, 2003, I visited the U-Haul website and made a reservation for a 26′ truck and appliance dolly for a house move on July 30, 2003. Given the choice between a one-way or a roundtrip rental I selected one-way, even though the moving distance was only about 10 miles. In reality I simply didn’t realize one-way was intended for much longer distances.

I received an email from the U-Haul website, also on the 21st, verifying my reservation and informing me that the Buena Park, CA office was now in charge of my reservation and they would be calling me within 24 hours to confirm. This mail also informed me that they (the Buena Park office) would call me by 5PM on the day prior to the pickup date.

Also on the 21st I receive an email from U-Haul’s Traffic Control Manager in Fullerton, CA, confirming that they were now in charge of my reservation and that someone would call me before 5PM on the day before the reservation to schedule a pick up time and location. It also confirmed my pickup city as Buena Park, CA and destination city as Anaheim, CA.

With all this handled so promptly and efficiently I expected no problems and went about preparing for my move. The evening of July 29th I realized I had still not heard from them as far as when and where to pick up the truck, so I emailed the Traffic Control Manager I had previously been emailed by, asking them to let me know as soon as possible.

The morning of the 30th I phoned the number provided in the email hoping to get the information for my pickup since I had helpers en route. I was told that they didn’t have a truck for me because my reservation was for one way and that I could wait for one which may or may not be available today. They also didn’t have any round trip trucks available that suited my need. I mentioned that I had made a reservation a week prior and couldn’t understand why they couldn’t have told me this in the call they were supposed to have given me by 5PM the previous day. The man apologized for not making the call but said there was nothing he could do about getting me a truck that size for that day. He said that he could provide one until 6PM but it had to be back by 6PM as they had reservations for it. This was really not going to be enough time so I asked if there was anything else available at all.

After much back and forth I agreed to rent a smaller truck. I again provided all the required rental information and three-quarters of the way through the process he tells me “oh!…nope, they just rented that truck out here, sorry.”

So now we’re back to the truck I can have until 6PM. Having no choice but to move THAT DAY and with helpers already sitting at my residence waiting for me, I agreed to take that truck. I drove to their lot in Fullerton and went in to pickup the keys. I watched as the counter guy, Enrique, pulled a key from the wall with a red Do Not Rent paper tag on it and began processing it, charging me the full advertised price for a day rental despite the early return time demanded. I was given a form with which to mark dents or damage on the vehicle and told to go outside and they’d bring it around. What pulled up outside was the most beat-up, dented, and abused truck I’ve ever seen. Large portions of the front fender sheet metal were literally ripped up and crumpled. The headlights had no proper metal plate around them but were instead seated wrapped in foil and duct tape. One massive dent had been sprayed with stripes and a number. I question whether the vehicle was even street legal.


I asked the guy who brought it around (and seemed to be eyeing the dashboard gauges suspiciously) how I should mark the diagram since the truck was pretty much one huge dent. “Oh don’t worry,” he tells me. “Everybody here knows THIS truck! Just mark ‘lots of dents and scrapes’ on the diagram.” I did so, got in the cab. As much of the interior was damaged as the exterior. He assured me it was fine and sent me on my way. As I pulled out of the lot the thing slipped out of gear and flatly refused to go back into one. I was blocking traffic wrestling with getting this truck in gear until finally I managed it. I’ve driven moving vans before, even manual diesel trucks like this one. This truck was not operating properly. It was raining for the first day in ages that day and I had zero confidence in this vehicle.

I pulled the truck right back into the lot and went inside where Enrique and the manager were finishing up with a customer who then left the store. Here’s a recap of our conversation:

Me: “Nah, this isn’t going to work out, that truck’s a piece of crap.”

Manager: “OK, I’ll just reverse the charges on your card” as he takes my paperwork.

Me: (waiting)

Manager: “What exactly is it that you want?” as he continues

Me: “I’d like a truck that’s not a piece of crap.”

Manager: “You know, you’re the kind of customer I hate…”

Me: “What, the kind that makes a reservation a week in advance and doesn’t even get a promised phone call the day before to confirm the pickup?”

Manager: “We did call you yesterday, I was here and I heard Enrique talking to you on the phone yesterday!”

Me: “Bullshit!”

Manager: “That’s it, I want you out of my store now. And I’ll be charging your card $50 for cancelling the reservation.”

Me: “No, you will not.”

Manager: “Yes I will!”

Me: “Fine, I’ll call credit card company.”

At which time I walked out the door and went to a competing van rental facility who not only had a well-maintained truck all ready to go with return anytime before the following morning but were also courteous and helpful. Myself and all of my associates learned a very valuable lesson that day about U-Haul. I’ve never in my life been treated as abysmally as I was by this manager. And he’s right, I’m the sort of customer he hates…one who shall never bring business to him again. This man should be fired. I have contacted my credit card company and refuse to pay any sort of “cancellation” fee brought forth by U-Haul on this matter.


Edit Your Comment

  1. I had a very similar experience with U-Haul in the past, although not quite to the point where the manager told me he hated me (and, frankly, I now feel sorta inadequate that I didn’t manage to get them annoyed enough at me to say something like that).

    I wrote up my own U-Haul saga here:

  2. Paul D says:

    He said that he could provide one until 6PM but it had to be back by 6PM as they had reservations for it.

    Wow. Amazing.

    Guy reserves truck.
    Guy doesn’t get truck he was promised.
    Guy is offered other truck.
    Guy is admonished to return other truck because someone has a reservation.

    Do we all see the disconnect here?

    I’ve been to some shaaaaaady U-Hauls before. Usually it’s some dingey mom & pop gas station that’s been there since the dawn of recorded time, that just happens to have a U-Haul franchise. And they’re using the most antiquated forms and receipt printers for the U-Haul paperwork. AND the trucks & trailers all look like they were manufactured during the Ford administration, and haven’t been maintained since then.

  3. Andrew W says:

    U-Haul in the Boston area is legendarily bad. I’d wager everyone around here has–or has a friend who has–a U-Haul horror story, almost always involving unavailability despite a reservation.

    The main problem, around here at least, is lack of legitimate competition. Budget Trucks is good for local but doesn’t actually have many trucks (and they recently closed down their great Cambridge location). Enterprise only has vans. So for a reasonably-priced option, U-Haul is the only game in town. Then factor in all the 64 schools’ worth of students in Boston and you have a company that has no reason to fear complaints. U-Haul regularly sends customers to inaccessible locations to pick up their vehicles, makes no apologies for screwing you on the date of your move, and doesn’t care to keep your business.

    My bet is that if U-Haul were in Consumerist’s “Worst Company in America” competition, it would have won by a landslide, given how many people have painful first-hand experiences with them.

  4. John Stracke says:

    I’m in the Boston area, too. We’re having floods this week. On the train home yesterday, I saw a U-Haul lot (somewhere around Winchester, I think) whose rear end was much lower than the front end, and was close to a stream. See where I’m going? The rear half of the lot was covered with water; none of the vans I saw were actually submerged, but some definitely will be if the rain keeps up, or if more vans got returned last night, so that they had to use the back of the lot. Wonder how many of those will be fully repaired?

  5. misskaz says:

    I have a U-Haul horror story as well. I won’t go into the details other than to say never, ever, ever, have U-Haul install a trailer hitch on your car/jeep/truck. They’ll quote you one price then charge you something radically higher after the work is done. Oh, and renting trailers with them is just as bad as the trucks – a reservation doesn’t actually mean reservation.

    I’ve been told that the worst are the one -way moves, and here’s why. There is no inventory control in the U-Haul network as far as I can tell. If a local storefront has a piece of crap van, are they going to give it to the local mover, meaning they’ll get it back in its craptacular glory? Or, are they going to give it to the one-way mover, shuffling the problem truck off on the destination store. If you picked the latter, you’re right. So the people driving the longest distances are the ones that get the broken down equipment. Neat, huh? And if you are trying to leave a town that lots of people leave but not so many move to (like my experience in Charleston WV), it will be mighty tough to even find a truck to do a one-way move.

    I’m at the point where it just isn’t worth it. In the future, I’ll pay a few hundred bucks to a local moving company and have some big burly guys move my stuff for me.

  6. billhelm says:

    Uhaul sucks. I had one of these experiences there and will never use them again. Even if I have to pay slightly more, at least at budget truck rental, I’ve always found that a reservation is a reservation.

    At Uhaul, reservation means “if we have one available, you might get it”. This has been my uhaul experience again and again.

  7. Diane Ensey says:

    I’ve had the very same problem with U-Haul as well – to the point that I won’t even purchase cartons or packing supplies from them anymore. Didn’t they get sued some time back for refusing to rent to minorities?

  8. Das Ubergeek says:

    U-Haul’s not any great shakes in Los Angeles, either. I’ve gotten that “you have to have the truck back before 4 PM because it’s reserved for someone else” crap too, and you know what? I just keep the truck until I’m good and done with it. What are they going to do if I return it at 8 PM when I’m actually done moving, call the police? In this city the police are too busy investigating the 600 murders and 40,000 GTAs we have every year to bother with some whiny guy at a U-Haul franchise.

    The only time anything happened (other than a glare and some harsh words on both parts) was when a U-Haul place in Santa Monica tried to charge me overage hours. I called the credit card company and had them charge it back, U-Haul called and fumed at me and threatened to revoke my U-Haul rental privileges, and I pointed out that since there’s not actually a COMPUTER involved in any of this, it’s not like they’re going to know when I walk in and ask for a truck, so quit making empty threats.

  9. ikes says:

    Never ever ever ever rent from Uhaul.
    I rented a Penske truck for a one-way cross-country move and it all went smoothly. I made the reservation online months ahead of time. I checked the rates in the following weeks and noticed they had goen down. I called Pennske and the cheerfully reduced my reserved price to match the current price.

    The guys at the place in Queens i picked the truck up from (which had less than 5000 miles on it) were nice and friendly, as were the people manning the counter in San Diego. The truck was clean, and like i said, fairly new. No problems whatsoever.

  10. SecureLocation says:

    Oh, man, I’d rather carry my furniture on my back than ever call UHaul again. They rented me a piece of shit truck for a 400 mile move that slowed down to 20 mph at every incline and finally broke down in the Poconos. I got no satisfaction at all from them.

  11. ikes says:

    On the other hand, i used Uhaul for an in-city move last year. I had a reservation, but when i showed up they had no record of it.

    Of course all the trucks were taken (even though we were the first ones through the door), but the mangager guy (who i admit was nice through all of this) found us a truck. It was supposed to be rented that morning, but the person hadn’t shown up yet.

    The truck itself was from the 70s, complete with fake wood paneling in the cab. Driving down the freeway, i could turn the wheel a quarter turn each way and the truck would not move. awesome! Thankfully the move was only about 6 miles. Noone died.

  12. TedSez says:

    I’ve never tried to do business with UHaul, but I’ve been reading about their horrible business practices on the Web for years. They’re legendary for having abusive managers, not honoring reservations and providing ancient, poorly maintained trucks that are a danger to their drivers and everyone else on the road.

    Just Google “Uhaul complaints” and you’ll enter a black hole of consumer woe that will leave you crossing yourself or throwing garlic whenever you pass by one of their dreaded outposts.

  13. Rick Dobbs says:

    I’ve moved in OC a few times and this is pretty much par for the course.

    But c’mon man! Don’t say “competing truck company.” Tell us who the hell you rented from!

  14. Elvisisdead says:

    I’ve used U-Haul probably a dozen times over the years, and I’m not sure that a U-Haul reservation actually means anything. Ever. Every time I’ve rented one, it has no correlation to the inventory of the location at all.

    The funny thing is that it seems as if the people around DC know that it’s a first-come, first-served kind of thing. The last time, 3 years ago, when I pulled up at 6AM, it was like people camping out for concert tickets. They did the same, “can you have it back this afternoon” thing to me, as well.

  15. rick020200 says:

    I just recently rented a trailer from a local U-haul mega-center (not a mom-and-pop gas station franchise). While I was renting and returning the trailer, I witnessed all of the following with other customers:
    –A customer who’s “reserved” trailer wasn’t there.
    –A customer who got lost on the way to the location because the person who answered the phone didn’t have the “give directions” skill.
    –A customer who had a hitch installed, was told at noon it was ready, only to show up and find it not even started.
    –A customer who was so fed up with the long line at 11AM returned at 3PM only to find it worse.

    My personal rental experience this time:
    –Waited on hold 10 minutes the first time I called to “reserve” a trailer. Called back and was handled in 2 minutes.
    –Rented trailer without much difficulty. Returned it 4 hours later.
    –Stood in line 45 minutes to perform the return, behind only 4 other people. The line was 15 people deep before I left, and they had only one person working the counter.

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a pleasant experience at a U-haul. There has got to be some business opportunity there to steal business away from a company that is so universally hated.

  16. trixare4kids says:

    Jumping on the “H-Haul” sucks band wagon, I had an experience with them in the San Francisco Bay Area a number of years ago that almost gave me a nervous breakdown on moving day.

    Without a doubt, it will go down as the most stressful day of my life, thanks to them. I have not and will not ever, ever rent or buy anything from them again. I’ll carry the stuff on my back before renting one of their trucks.

    The “reservation” system sucks/is a total joke and after 3 hours of around and around they gave us a smaller truck which ended up breaking down with all our stuff inside. That was just the beginning of my saga which included trying to get it repaired – after waiting 3 hours by the side of the freeway in a dangerous spot for help, moving everything from one truck to the other when they finally had another one for us the next day, having to get friends to help us because we didn’t have any more money to pay the guys who were helping us move.

    Not only that, they had the gall to try and charge us for two days of truck rental! Thank god my boyfriend was there or I swear I would be writing this from prison, having been convicted of murder by reaching across the counter and strangling this guy. Total nightmare.

    Since that horrible, horrible day which I am still trying to put out of my mind, I have always just hired local movers with their own trucks and have had no problems. I even have recommendations if anyone needs them.

  17. misskaz says:

    Wow, if the comments in this thread are any indication, Andrew W. is right that U-Haul would win the Worst Company in America contest.

    They told me once when my reservation wasn’t honored that “When you make a reservation, you are reserving a rate, not a truck.”

  18. ADM says:

    When I first saw the headline on this post, I thought, “This must’ve been in Boston.” As others have indicated, the UHaul franchises up there are probably among the worse businesses in the country. For those looking for an alternative, check out Planet Self Storage, which is next to (or in?) the building with the “whales” mural on Traveler Street. I rented Ryders from then many times, and they were always professional and prepared, and the trucks were always in good working order.

    [sorry is this is double-posted]

  19. Drinker Nisti says:

    Nothing like U-Haul to bring out the hate…

    2 moves ago, the only truck available to us was practically brand-spanking new– had less than 1000 miles on it. What joy, right? However, a previous renter must’ve failed to notice a vertical clearance limit on an underpass, ’cause the top of the truck was nearly sheared off. No chance of rain that day, so we took it… Nothing to compare with the typical U-Haul horror story, but it was funny.

    For our last move, we hired local movers (after consulting the BBB), and it was the best $$$ we have _ever_ spent.

  20. the shipbuilder says:

    I forwarded this URL to, and they promptly apologized for the negative comments. Clearly they’re Getting Right On That One.

    Dear [the shipbuilder]:

    Please accept our apologies for any negative comments you have viewed on the World Wide Web.

    U-Haul has been a leader in the do-it-yourself industry for over 50 years. Our commitment to providing our customers with a good product and excellent customer service has enabled us to help millions of families move themselves.

    There may be times, as with any company, that a customer is not happy with our product or service. We personally address those concerns in order to come to an amicable resolution, keep a happy repeat customer and learn how we can improve.

    We value our customers and will continue our commitment to provide the best service that has made U-Haul number one in the moving industry. We hope you will give us the opportunity to serve you in the near future.

    Janet Stats
    U-Haul Customer Service

  21. TedSez says:

    Ms. Stats must have read the post on “How To Deal With the Haters” above.

    Unfortunately, U-Haul’s employees aren’t quite as diplomatic as she is. If you check any of the “U-Haul complaints” sites, you’ll find that various company workers have taken the time to respond to most of the renters’ horror stories with a harangue about how the entire situation must have been caused by the customer’s idiocy.

    If the awful experiences reported by thousands of people wasn’t enough to scare me away from this company, the employees’ posts would be. Just imagine that your days-late truck just broke down in the middle of the freeway with all your stuff inside and the only person you have to turn to for help is one of these nasty, customer-hating managers. No, thanks.

  22. hardcle says:

    One more U-Haul story..

    Back in 2000, I needed to empty a storage space I had in Chicago and bring its contents back to my home in Kansas City. Months in advance I “reserve” a small truck and a dolly at a location around the corner from the storage facility.

    When I call them the day before I am to pickup the truck they tell me I can’t get it at my preferred location and I’ll have to go to another store across town.

    When I arrive, they don’t have the size truck I wanted. Will I take a larger one? I dislike driving big trucks, but I am eager to get on my way and since they won’t charge me any more I say OK. My dolly? They don’t have any, so I have to drive to yet another location to get one of those.

    At this point, I have wasted much of the day I had expected to spend driving back to KC. Once I get the truck loaded up, it’s late in the afternoon, but I don’t want to pay for another night at a motel, so I decide to drive on. Once I get out of city traffic, I turn on the radio for some company on my long drive home. Silence. The radio doesn’t work! Have you ever tried to drive across Iowa at night, by yourself, without even a radio for company? An experience I don’t care to repeat.

    When I get home, I call and complain. All they were willing to offer me was additional time on my rental. I don’t need it, but I take it out of spite.

  23. Tom says:

    After using U-haul in several different geographic locations, I am firmly convinced that the motto above the doorway to hell has been changed from “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” to “Look on the bright side: at least we aren’t U-Haul.”

    When the customer rep told misskaz, “When you make a reservation, you are reserving a rate, not a truck”, they were lying, since I have, on three different occasions, been charged the higher rate for a larger and more expensive truck than the one that I reserved. They promised to refund the difference, but did not. I believe that they assume that most people, being in the middle of relocating and therefore having other things on their mind, won’t quibble over the difference. I have also been charged for pre-existing damage to a truck, and on the last move (which, I swear, will be the last with them!), every available flat surface in my new apartment was covered with drying papers, because the truck roof leaked in rain. I probably would have been better off with a stump-broke mule.

    I think that when Obi-Wan Kenobi said, “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy”, he wasn’t talking about the spaceport in general. After all, he was in the process of relocating…

  24. Kornkob says:

    *shrug* Until I started making enough money to afford to pay movers to schelp my crap when I move, I always rented UHauls and have never had trouble getting a truck on time and in good repair.

    Course it is possible that the franchises in Madison, WI are just better run.

  25. Plasmafire says:

    Waukesha, WI where I am always seems to have fresh from the factory trucks, no problems whatsoever, maybe we wreck them in our area and the dealership sells them to other UHauls all over the country.

  26. eldergias says:

    Yup, last move I did they didn’t have my reserved truck. Nor the trucks or dollies for the other customers in the place. When they told me they didn’t have a truck for me I told them that they were wrong and that you would in fact give me a truck (not in terms quite that nice however). They gave me a “not ready for customer” truck. It wasn’t cleaned, and it only had 1/4 a tank of gas. I took a picture of the dashboard and when I returned they tried to charge me for not having 3/4 a tank of gas (because I filled it back up to 1/4). I showed them the picture and told them there was no way I was paying for extra gas. I needed the truck so I took it, other people there were screwed having hired professional movers and they didn’t have a truck. I will NEVER use U-haul again, I don’t care what their rates are. They could claim they pay me $1,000 and give our free hookers and they would still never see me again. One of my roommates didn’t have the balls to fight U-haul over their reservation so he didn’t get his truck and lived out of a suitcase for a while. Next time I’m going with Ryder or Hertz and getting a Van.

  27. seawall says:

    Thank God for time to soothe the wounds. I am reminded of two times in Philly when I tried to reserve trucks and nearly had a breakdown because the trucks weren’t there.

    Last night I went to UHaul to get propane (random, I know) for my grill. I stood in line for a total of 45 minutes (once to get service, once to pay) while the single worker processed one person and sent two guys out of the store to buy their own gas or pay $5/gallon + a $40 penalty for not returning it full. When they finally filled my tank, the guy told me to consider myself lucky because he wasn’t going to do any more tanks that day. How nice of him. Arse.

  28. Snakeophelia says:

    Wow, I’ve rented one UHaul truck in SC, three in NC, and four trucks and one van in Philadelphia, over the last 15 years. And I’ve gotten what I asked for, at the price I asked for, at the time I reserved, every time. I will agree, however, that UHaul centers tend to be dirty and understaffed, and I’m not impressed with their customer service or their attitude.