U-Haul’s Reservation System is Useless

Reader Shane writes in with not one, but two, disastrous experiences with U-Haul’s reservation system. Personally, we understand his frustration, because despite 3 attempts we have never actually been able to rent a U-Haul truck. The price is always different than quoted, the truck is not there, or we are told we need to show Military ID or a car registration. Yeah, we don’t know either. Anyway, Shane was trying to rent a U-Haul so he could move his crap to college. He called U-Haul and was able to get an estimate and a reservation.

    I spoke with an incredibly helpful and polite female rep who helped me with my quote, which was in the neighborhood of $225 including unlimited miles at the time. I made careful notes while on the phone, referencing her name, my confirmation number, and all the other pertinent information for renting the truck.

    …Friday evening rolls around and when I arrive to pick up the truck, the rep behind the counter tells me my total is almost $480, so I ask for an explanation. He goes over the “quote” with me stating back the same details I had prearranged on the phone with the first rep for $225. After talking to that rep, who was the manager on duty at the time (I know, isn’t it convenient how there’s no other higher-ups to speak to as soon as you’re upset?) and making no headway, I decided to retire for the night and come back in the morning to speak with the branch/location manager directly. When I returned in the morning, it was clear that the previous night’s supervisor had filled in the manager on the situation, and that they had agreed on keeping a united front as far as my total of $480.

Shane’s dad agreed to pay the difference in the interest of getting Shane to college, and Shane vowed never to use U-Haul again. Until he needed to move home from college.

    Using the same process as before (including the confirmation call) I reserved a trailer for my father to pick up before driving up to get me and my things. When he arrived at the U-Haul branch, the rep behind the counter informed him that they in fact did NOT have the trailer I had reserved, and would not be able to help him.

Shane’s dad eventually had to drive about an hour out of his way to pick up an available trailer. Nice going U-Haul. Shane hates you with the fire of a thousand suns for your awful reservation system and your singularly hostile and unhelpful staff. —MEGHANN MARCO

Shane writes:

    Dear Consumerist,

    A little more than a year ago I had a very frustrating experience with U-Haul, which then repeated itself a few months later. I’ve been back and forth with myself whether or not it’s worth my energy to write this, but I’m finally inspired to share my story and tell the world what U-Haul thinks of it’s customers.

    August 2005 I called U-haul (1-800-GO-UHAUL) to make a reservation for a small truck because I was moving two hours north for college. I spoke with an incredibly helpful and polite female rep who helped me with my quote, which was in the neighborhood of $225 including unlimited miles at the time. I made careful notes while on the phone, referencing her name, my confirmation number, and all the other pertinent information for renting the truck. She explained that I would receive a confirmation email by default, and that I should also get a confirmation call from U-Haul the day before I was scheduled to pick the truck up, and that if I did not hear from them that I should call them. I waited for the call and didn’t receive it, which wasn’t a big problem because I had the information I needed so I placed a call to them to complete the confirmation. The rep on the other end helped me to confirm, verifying my information and the location the truck was to be picked up from.

    Friday evening rolls around and when I arrive to pick up the truck, the rep behind the counter tells me my total is almost $480, so I ask for an explanation. He goes over the “quote” with me stating back the same details I had prearranged on the phone with the first rep for $225. After talking to that rep, who was the manager on duty at the time (I know, isn’t it convenient how there’s no other higher-ups to speak to as soon as you’re upset?) and making no headway, I decided to retire for the night and come back in the morning to speak with the branch/location manager directly. When I returned in the morning, it was clear that the previous night’s supervisor had filled in the manager on the situation, and that they had agreed on keeping a united front as far as my total of $480.

    As an aside, I tend to be very patient to a point with service reps, but I do not like being bullied by corporations and don’t have a problem being pretty fierce when necessary—but let me be clear, I’m not that guy you see at WalMart arguing a $1 discount that wasn’t applied, I choose my battles carefully and only fight back when I feel I’ve been wronged.

    At this point my father stepped in (nearly getting himself on the wrong side of this battle w/ me) and told me he would pay for what I couldn’t afford just for the sake of completing the move. I grudgingly accepted and from that point forward the move was smooth.

    Fast forward to the end of the semester (hated it up there, decided to move home) and I’m in need of transport again so this time I rent a small enclosed trailer figuring “hey, there is absolutely no way they can screw this up, right?” I’ve never been more wrong.

    Using the same process as before (including the confirmation call) I reserved a trailer for my father to pick up before driving up to get me and my things. When he arrived at the U-Haul branch, the rep behind the counter informed him that they in fact did NOT have the trailer I had reserved, and would not be able to help him. Dad calls me to confirm he was at the correct location and that he had the right date, and I tell him that he’s correct, the trailer should be waiting for him there. Since this is the second time U-Haul has tried to screw me, I tell my dad to put me on the line with the rep, so he hands the rep his cell phone (aren’t dads just precious?) where I proceeded with my stern inquiry as to where my trailer was and why it wasn’t where they said it would be. The rep on the other end’s response was that he was really sorry that it wasn’t there. I asked where a similar trailer could be found nearby, because I live in a decently sized city with plenty of U-Haul locations, and he said he didn’t know and that I would need to call the corporate offices in order to get it straightened out. I thank him and hang up.

    I immediately dial the call center, because my dad is still waiting at the U-Haul location to find out what the story is. After explaining the situation to the rep on the phone, he immediately tells me there’s nothing he can do and that the reservation system is automated. Only after I ask him to start looking for other trailers nearby does he bother to do so. The next thing I know he’s telling me that my dad is going to either have to drive an hour one direction or 45 minutes the opposite direction in order to pickup a trailer. Bottom line my dad went to pick up the trailer, only after I made him swear to me that U-Haul would never get another dime of his, or my money.

    This is one of those experiences that is very hard to relay via written word because a lot of my frustration came from the way I was treated and spoken to throughout this ordeal. It was made clear to me from the beginning of this situation that U-Haul knows that it is the largest company of it’s kind, and believes that consumers will always come back, no matter how bad the experience was. I will never patronize U-Haul with my business again, and I have and will continue to actively campaign against this company.

    I just wanted to share my story in the hopes that someone may be able to avoid a similar problem in the future.

    Sincerely,

    Shane