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.




Edit Your Comment

  1. Commented about it before and I’ll comment about it again, if U-Haul had been in Consumerist’s worst company in America tournament last year, it would have won hands down.

  2. scoobydoo says:

    Wow… The reservation system should be the most important part of their sales process. If they can’t even get that right then they are doomed… I was going to check them out for a rental this summer, but thanks to this article I’ll head elsewhere instead. Thanks for saving me the headache.

  3. Falconfire says:

    I have had nothing but bad luck with Uhaul.

    Honestly, dont use them. Get buddys with trucks. Its just easier for you.

  4. Antediluvian says:

    I’ve had decent luck w/ Hertz-Penske and smaller rental sites where you call them directly and ask questions.

    It also really helps to move on a date that’s not likely busy. Around Boston (or any college town), we know never try to move on Labor Day or Memorial Day weekends. The streets will be packed w/ confused drivers and there won’t be a truck available on the Eastern seaboard.

    I crammed all my college stuff into my car. I’m surprised Shane didn’t opt for that on returning, since he was only 2 hrs north (there might be a good reason, I’m just asking).

    Screw U-Haul and just make multiple trips.

  5. Gena says:

    I had a similar experience with UHaul a few years ago. The truck I reserved for 2 p.m. wasn’t returned by the previous renter on time, so I was pretty much screwed. And UHaul didn’t seem to care one bit, because they were getting my money for my busted rental, and the money from the previous renter’s overage fees. I ended up having to move all of my stuff in a open, stake bed truck, instead of a box truck – that wasn’t fun!

  6. phelander says:

    One and only time I rented from U-Haul, got a CRAPTASTIC manual shift truck and found out AFTER I parked on the hill at my new place that the POS had no PARKING BRAKE. Upon calling U-Haul, I was told…”Put a brick up under the tire” FU-haul. I never paid for the truck and was never charged. I should have let it roll into a ditch. FU-haul up their stoopid asses.

  7. Ran Kailie says:

    The problem is U-Haul reserves stuff based on it arriving back at the estimated time. So if the person with an item doesn’t return it when they originally agreed the person who reserved it is out of luck, and U-Haul does nothing to fix these situations, not even an apology.

    I had an absimal time with them once over a trailer that was MIA and never again, not only was the guy at the store uncaring or unhelpful, but corporate pretty much told me, yeah you’re screwed.

    They did find me a truck that day about 50 miles away, but it was barely in running condition and I wasn’t comfortable driving it the distance I needed to take it.

    I ended up renting a truck from Enterprise instead with much better results.

  8. thrillhouse says:

    Baffling how this company stays in business. I’ve never heard a good U-haul story. All of their equipment appears to be in the neighborhood of 1500-1800 years old. What makes people drive by these places and say, “Wow! I’d like to pack up all of my worldly belongings and into one of those piles of junk and drive down the highway.” ??

    I’ve heard pleanty of horror stories about their reservarions, prices, service. I just can’t figure out what gets people in the door in the first place.

    I moved with Penske 5 years ago and the process was stellar from start to finish, not to mention cheaper than anyone else. And the truck was just a few months old.

  9. bravo says:

    some guy setup a website:
    detailing how ass crappy uhaul is

  10. I have the best luck when I call the local place myself and deal with the folks. Actually, I deal with a gas station which has uhaul trucks and they are the best for helping you out because they know exactly what they have/don’t have and will work with you. I’ve never called a uhaul reservation system and I doubt I will.

    Also, the Ryder services are good, but at the end it all depends on where their fleet is.

  11. Phil says:

    Most of U-Haul’s services are pretty useless. We rented a truck last summer to move from one apartment from another. The truck broke down, and we waited four hours for U-Haul to send out a repairman, who completely failed to repair the truck. It eventually ‘fixed itself,’ but by then it was way too late to move.

    The best part? U-Haul charged us for an extra day, despite their truck breaking down.

    Next time we’re just calling in friends with pickups. It’ll do.

  12. john_nyc says:

    There could probably be a website dedicated to stories of how U-Haul has failed its customers.

    However, my story is about how U-Haul did me a solid.

    The last time I moved (about 2.5 years ago) I rented a van and handtruck from them. When I went to the location that morning to pick up the equipment, they didn’t have any record of my reservation, even though I had all the confirmation info and I had called the 800 # the day before to confirm. They did, however, have a van they could rent me, but no handtruck. They had some sort of problem with their credit card machine so they had to take a manual imprint of my card.

    Anyway, my friend and I get into the van and strapped to the back was a handtruck. Ok, so we got the handtruck for free and we could have kept it and sold it on ebay, if we so desired.

    After a successfully executed move, we go back to return the van (and the free handtruck). The location was closed and no one was there. It was a full 2 hours before the place was supposed to close and well before I told them I’d have it back. So, I call the 800 number and they tell me that the location should be open. After convincing them that it wasn’t they told me to lock the van and put the key through the mailslot. I was kinda of scared about doing this, because I had images have having to pay for a van that was never returned.

    Anyway, on Monday I call and they did have the van. I asked about how much they were going to charge my card and they told me they’d get back to me.

    Over the next 2 weeks I called them 5 times to try to get them to charge me (I really just wanted to know how much they were going to charge). Each time they said they’d get back to me. A couple of the times I got the same guy (I made note of the names) and he told me that he’d never spoken to me before.

    Two and half years later I still haven’t been charged. The moral of the story? U-Haul is great when they don’t charge you.

  13. kerry says:

    U-Haul is a disaster. I used them once with only minor problems but got enough of a taste to know never to trust them again. Last time moving equipment was needed we went with Budget. While their cost may seem higher at first, you deal directly with the location you’ll be renting from, there are no hidden costs, what they quote you is what you pay, and their fine for late truck return is so high that people take it seriously and bring the equipment back on time.
    I’ve also heard good things about Penske for long-distance moves. They have sort of crappy office hours and not many locations, though.

  14. coraspartan says:

    Ted’s Famous Kickin Chicken is right: UHaul would win hands down. I have never had a good experience with UHaul; they have all been nightmares. One time when I was moving out of my college apartment I made a reservation, went to get the truck, was told they didn’t have a truck for me (with no apologies whatsoever), then they went on to CHARGE MY CREDIT CARD for the truck I never received! After months of wrangling with them I finally received my money back. Now, thanks to the Consumerist, I would know better–I would just call my credit card company and use the magic phrase “chargeback”!

    Since that experience I always use Ryder and have never had a problem. Why people would ever use UHaul is beyond me.

  15. Sideline Reporter says:

    UHAUL IS THE WORST – use ryder or budget.

  16. PikaPikaChick says:

    I had the same experience with U-Haul, almost to the letter. I called the reservation line, a few nights in advance. I called again the day before to confirm my reservation. I called the actual branch location to confirm. Got there, guess what? No truck. Nobody at the store seemed concerned or surprised. They were actually leaning toward the hostile side, trying to blame me for trying to rent a truck at the end of the month when it’s busy. Every single person I’ve ever talked to who has used U-Haul has had a terrible experience. Worst company ever.

  17. CaptainRoin says:

    Budget wasn’t quite as bad as U-Haul. But still be careful, they’re shady too.

  18. MDT says:

    In my experience U-Haul doesn’t actually reserve anything. They’ll tell you that they have a truck for you and sortof pretend you’ve made some kind of reservation. But when you actually schlep down there, what you see is what you get – and if what you see is no truck, well…you know the rest. This has happened to me on more than once. The only reason it hasn’t happened again is that I stopped using U-Haul. I’ve had better luck with Penske.

  19. The Unicorn says:

    Though it’s been said, many times, many ways — no one should ever do business from UHaul. Their “customer service” is so abysmal, & their reservations so unreliable, that you’d probably be better off going up to random strangers with a stack of $100 bills saying, “Hey man, do you think I could, like, rent your truck for a while?”

  20. evasive says:

    If you want to see how heartless UHaul is, get an estimate on how much it is to get a one-way truck to New Orleans. You’ll pay an exorbitant price.

    ‘But then came the shocker from U-Haul. To rent a moving truck for the drive to New Orleans would cost these Katrina evacuees an estimated $1,439 one way.

    After pondering the quote for a few minutes, an astounded Ajay Mallery picked up the phone and called U-Haul back. How much would it cost to drive the same truck from Dallas to Phoenix, he asked. “They told me $640,” he said, less than half the price, despite the trip to Phoenix being twice as long as the drive to New Orleans.

    He tried other cities — among them Detroit and Chicago, which are about 500 miles apart, the same distance as Dallas and New Orleans. The cost for a U-Haul rental? About $250. “I thought, ‘This is ridiculous,’ ” Mallery said. ‘

    People want to come home but can’t afford to because of this. What a heartless corporation.

  21. Hellblazer says:

    Use Ryder. Use Budget. Use Penske. Make multiple trips. Beg a favor out of a buddy with a truck. Load it on a pack mule and walk. ANYTHING is better than using U-Haul.

    I’ve lived in a coll

  22. DeeJayQueue says:

    U-Haul seems to prey on the fact that most of the time when people decide to use their service, time is a critical factor. When people move or make arrangements to do so, most often it has to happen That Day or else there’s major headaches. This gives U-Haul the upper hand because desperation quickly sets in when they realize that there aren’t any options available in such a short time, and that it’s just more convenient to suck it up and pay for a junker than to find something else last-minute.
    This is the only reason I can think of that they’re still in business… people still use them because they think they have no choice, or they only make 1 reservation at 1 place and then they get screwed.

    I’ve had plenty of horror stories with them, too many to go on record here with, but suffice to say that I’ll go steal a panel truck and spend the time and fines in jail before I patronize U-Haul again.

  23. Panhandler says:

    Never call the national 800 number. Call a local joint, preferably a “primary” U-Haul place (or whatever they’re called.) I called one yesterday morning and reserved a trailer for a noon pickup. Picked it up at 1pm, no troubles. Drove it about 320 miles round-trip, returned it this morning, no muss, no fuss. $25.75 insured. Thanks U-Haul. (Also, I have had sucky experiences… but almost always because of the National 800 number. This is also true of Penske.)

    Never call the national 800 number.

  24. Hellblazer says:

    Use Ryder. Use Budget. Use Penske. Make multiple trips. Beg a favor out of a buddy with a truck. Load it on a pack mule and walk. ANYTHING is better than using U-Haul.

    I’ve lived in a college town since I graduated high school in ’92. I’ve worked at said college for the past decade. So I usually have friends who are of college age, and I’m a pretty big guy. As a result, I’ve literally helped more people than I can remember move into and out of varied and sundry dorms, apartments, condos, and houses.

    I have never seen anyone have a good experience with U-Haul.


    The typical moving-day experience is to start the day with breakfast and bitching about how much trouble it was to get the truck from U-Haul. Then comes loading the truck, and the trip from the old place to the new. That’s where the bitching about what a piece of dren the truck is comes in. Because the trucks are invariably HUGE pieces of dren. Then comes unloading and a take-out dinner, over which oaths are sworn to never use U-Haul again. It’s actually comforting, in a way. If you are by some string of bad luck left with no other option but to deal with U-Haul, at least you know what to expect.

  25. kad9k says:

    I’m also 0-for-2 with U-Haul. Just this weekend, we reserved a cargo van, only to show up and be told there were none available. Two years ago, when I moved from Chicago to Nashville, I reserved a 17-inch truck, and when I got there, they only had a 14-inch — which wasn’t big enough to fit all my stuff. Luckily I had an understanding landlord, who let me leave some things behind for a few weeks. If not, I don’t know what I would have done.

    That said, I had a terrible experience with Budget, too. I made a reservation weeks ahead of time and when I called to confirm the day before my move, they had no record of it and no truck for me. The CSR told me, “Ma’am, we can never guarantee you a truck.” I told her they should adopt that as their new slogan.

  26. kad9k says:

    Whoops, I meant 14- and 17-FOOT trucks, of course. That really would be something to complain about!

  27. Optimistic Prime says:

    Use the internets when reserving from them, then you at least have it in writing what the terms are. It’s really hard to argue with their own printing. I had a great experience with their trucks as well. This thing was about 30 years old and falling apart. When I returned it I told the manager about the dash light not illuminating and the starting switch not working so well, and he only said they’ve never had that problem before. I call complete BS on that. I also bet some poor SOB used it last weekend to move with the same set of problems I had with it.

  28. The Unicorn says:

    Also, john_nyc’s story (while awesome) is just one more example of how patently disorganized they are.

  29. ElizabethD says:

    I agree with Panhandler, above. I’ve rented a pick-up truck twice from the nearest U-Haul center for local moves in the past five years, and I called them directly (i.e., at the actual store; local phone number) to make the reservations on very short notice. Both times I got a decent vehicle, and I had a blast driving that truck.

    Sounds like the national/centralized reservation system is crap, though.

  30. Blackneto says:

    Never had a problem with renting from U-Haul myself, everything has proceeded as contracted, but i’ve been in line behind people that have.
    the local rental place here is a complete joke. Customers standing in line to return things or pickup and they dilly dally.
    I’ve had problems with the equipment and it was resolved.
    I did get the run around once while doing the inspection before leaving with the truck. I was marking down every blemish on the form. the clerk was getting ansty, “cmon man you don’t need all that” I just stared him down and kept writing. there was no way i was going to have them blame me for something that i’d noticed was already there.

  31. Jim Kosmicki says:

    unfortunately my brother in law works for them (has for 20 years), and I really like him, but his company sucks. The problem is most likely with the 800 number. U-Haul isn’t really a national organization — it’s a very, very loose collection of individual franchises. I would say don’t even call the local franchise — go in person and get the quote in writing (with their signature). I’ve even required the manager to countersign at times. (sometimes there is no alternative truck rental available in small towns).

  32. tmweber says:

    When my girlfriend moved near me, her U Haul rental was unavailable at any location within 50 miles. This was Milwaukee by the way, not rural at all. It only worked out because her parents were able to pick one up in Madison (70 miles away).

  33. Worst company ever.

    For $225 you can borrow your mom’s best friend’s minivan, and she’ll probably make you cookies for the trip.

  34. billhelm says:

    U-Haul: where a reservation is not actually EVER a reservation.

  35. misskaz says:

    I was told by a UHaul representative that a reservation is not reserving a truck, just the rate at which you will get the truck if they actually have one for you.

    Based on this post, I’m not even sure that is true anymore.

    Thankfully I can afford to hire movers for my upcoming move and got a great recommendation for a local company from a friend of mine.

  36. Sounds like Elizabeth and Panhandler have the same experience as me – deal local, talk to people you know, and you are better off.

    As for the New Orleans thing, it’s a supply/demand curve, though a bit harsher. I remember people leaving CA after the 89 earthquake – vans were twice as much leaving CA as going to CA.

    You are always better off doing a round trip than a one way, with anybody.

  37. E-Bell says:

    Yep, the national reservation system doesn’t work.

    Why? Because all the locations are locally operated. There is no system in place to figure out what kind of equipment will be present at any location at any particular time.

    So, if you want a 14-foot truck on Friday, the reservation system will tell you it’s there but when you pull up to your local U-Haul place, they’re out. All they have is the huge honkin’ 25-footer that no average person should be driving without training.

    Want the truck you reserved? Sorry.

  38. kerry says:

    @kad9k –
    My local Budget doesn’t let anyone make reservations on the phone. You have to go to the store in person and sign about a dozen forms and provide about a dozen forms of contract information before they’ll reserve you a truck. Maybe it depends on the franchise, but I was pretty happy with how locked-down the reservation was. There was even a cancellation fee.

  39. Fuzzy_duffel_bag says:

    When I moved to NYC, we used teh internets to reserve, and when we went to pick up the truck at our local (Providence, RI) UHaul, they did not have the truck, and did not have us in the system. We only got the truck we needed (26 footer) because the guy at the counter felt like calling another UHaul place 20 minutes away to see if they had one and would they hold it for us. The paperwork from the UHaul website didn’t seem to count for anything.

  40. Kornkob says:

    I have never seen anyone have a good experience with U-Haul.
    *raises hand* I have never had a problem renting from U-Haul. I’ve never used online reservations/national phone number or moved on student moving days (I live in a Big 10 University town) either so maybe that accounts for my successes.

    However that could be that our local UHauls are better than most. One issue with franchises is that they can have a wide variance in customer experiences. Perhaps the local ones are owned by people who care.

    That being said, I can hire a pro moving company that sends 2 men and a truck for about $65 an hour. Last time I moved I had a 3 bedroom duplex packed and ready to go. Moved halfway across town and barely lifted a finger on moving day.

    And it wasn’t frustration with a rental company that drove me to hire movers. It was the fact that we had acquired several big items that I didn’t want to have to move: washer/dryer, lazyboy sofa, 200lb cast iron smoker/grill, 200+ books.

    Not that there wasn’t work for me on moving day but I was a lot more comfortable and ready to get unpacked the next day, instead of collapsing on the floor in exhaustion at the end of moving day and barely having the energy to get things unpacked the next day.

    That and I didn’t have to call in every favor I had to get help from friends.

    Best $600 I ever spent.

  41. SuperJdynamite says:

    I had a nearly identical situation with a college UHaul rental. After making a reservation, when I went to pick up a truck, they told me that in reality it was first come, first served.

    Also, despite the fact that a price was clearly painted on the side of the truck, the final bill was nowhere near that price.

  42. aka Cat says:

    Moonshine Mike: Dealing with the ‘local place’ doesn’t work when U-Haul decides to revoke the vendor’s contract and take all their trucks the day before your reservation.

    The best part is, the main office has the trucks but you don’t have even a phony reservation to give you a spot in line, since it was with the vendor and not U-Haul.

  43. silverlining says:

    The last (and really last) time I rented from U-Haul, we got a truck with no rear brake lights, which I didn’t figure out until half way through the move (lesson: check out the obvious safety features on the truck, with a friend, before you take it off the lot). Folks who are familiar with driving on snow/ice know it’s pretty important to let folks behind you know when you’re braking, to avoid a rear-ending.

    Anyway, I reported the problem to the office. After much wrangling and arguing that I shouldn’t have to drive an essentially illegal vehicle back to their offices and risk an accident, they came to pick up the truck… after instructing me to leave the keys under the matt, on the curb. Like I’m going to be responsible for someone stealing the truck.

    Anyway, they end up picking up the truck a day later, and then charge me for the extra day. I didn’t realize this until I received a collections call from them, when I explained the situation. Never heard from them again.

    Never, ever renting from U-Haul again.

  44. acambras says:

    That whole New Orleans thing sounds like price-gouging to me. After Katrina, Attorneys General in several states cracked down on some gas stations for price gouging.

    Of course with U-Haul being so loosely (dis)organized, I don’t know what jurisdiction could/would handle this matter? Federal Trade Commission?

  45. BubbaPhat says:

    I am a former U-Haul Reservations Rep. The Reservations line is for one thing and one thing only. They want your Credit Card number. they want that deposit. and if they fail to provide then they can keep that. I no longer use them for anything. There are far better company’s that will provide comprable service for a much lower cost.

  46. antmuzic says:

    U-haul – the U is for useless in most cases. Although I’ve seen that the quality varies by the franchise. The best ones seem to be the ones that are connected to successful gas stations/repair shops. All of the “moving store” type places I’ve been to are crap.

    And it’s been 7 years or so – but to the Manager of the Salt Lake store at 21st south and I-15, I think your name was Marcus – YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE!

  47. drbrn_grl says:

    Even dealing with the local branch doesn’t always work. My dad tried to rent a truck several years ago when I was moving out of the house. Called the local office and made a reservation. The next day he arrived and the place was closed. There was someone wandering around inside and my dad said he had a reservation. They basically didn’t know anything and didn’t care. The only other time I used U-Haul there was a giant hole in the floor on the passenger side. I remember watching the road roll by underneath me as my dad was driving.

    U-Haul seems to have taken a page from that classic Seinfeld episode: You know how to take the reservation, but you don’t know how to keep the reservation.

  48. Magister says:

    U-Haul sucks, but the reason that they seem to hate NOLA is actually pretty reasonable. They have too many trucks coming in. None are going out. They have no place to park them in NOLA. They have no real organized way to get the trucks back out to Houston or whatever other town.

    Most of America hates NOLA, but in this case, U-Haul actually has a good case.

  49. bourgeoisie says:

    To clarify a few things:

    When I moved, I was moving with my roommate, so there was too much stuff (couches, beds, desks, etc) to just pack it in a car or minivan.

    We moved into an apartment, not dorms, and we intentionally avoided the big move-up weekend, so it wasn’t necessarily a matter of “it just being busy” either.

    The email address I gave U-Haul is routed directly to my cell phone, though showing the first rep the confirmation email FROM U-Haul made no difference. They just kind of roll over and play dead—“sorry I don’t know what happened but your truck will actually be $480.”

    I guess the biggest thing for me, was that they treated me with complete disrespect. They have us by the balls because U-Haul is the most common rental place, so people continue to use it even though they know it’s terrible.

    There is nothing in this world that could convince me to give one red cent of my hard earned money to that company.

  50. bourgeoisie says:

    PS. I’m Shane.

  51. JT says:

    I’ve had to use UHaul more then a few times. Every time my reservation is there as requested, I feel as though I just got very lucky. It just feels like UHauls management strategy (or lack there of) is to wait for something to go wrong and go into damage control.

  52. davere says:

    I finally had to break my silence and make a first post on here.

    While in San Diego, I told a friend I’d help him move. We called u-haul and made a reservation, we got a date, time, price, reservation number, etc.

    On the date of the move, we drove to u-haul but we couldn’t find it. We drove up and down and it was no where to be found. There was a Budget truck rental in the area (which was closed), but no u-haul store.

    So we called the customer service number only to be informed that the location where we were supposed to pick up the rental had closed a few days earlier.

    No one had called us to let us know this. They told us that our only option was to get a smaller (13′ instead of 24′) truck, late in the evening (around 9 pm), a far drive from our area, and with no discounts of any kind.

    We tried to speak with other “managers” but no one was willing to work with us. We were even willing to take them on their deal if they at last took some money off the cost of the rental or mileage costs, but they wouldn’t budge.

    I’ve been involved in 4 other moves since, and not once have I ever given u-haul my business.

  53. Ass_Cobra says:

    Quick U-Haul story, basically in the vein of what everyone else has said:

    My parents were moving, I was going back to college, they had a bunch of furniture they didn’t feel like moving, my roomates and I needed a bunch of furniture so it seemed like a win-win. Rented a U-Haul, loaded it up drove it about 30 miles, steam is pouring out and it’s overheating. Let it cool down a minute, take a look and the radiator cap is missing. No big deal, better than a busted radiator, because as you know once your truck is loaded, the last thing you need is to switch trucks. My dad calls U-Haul explains the situation and asks what they want him to do. They say sit tight, they’ll have roadside assistance there as soon as possible. Okay, he asks for an estimate they say 45 minutes. We wait, no one shows up for an hour. We call to get a status update. 4-6 hours.

    Really, 4-6 hours? Knowing that it’s just a matter of getting coolant and a radiator cap, he offers to just drive to the nearest gas station, get coolant and a new cap himself and give U-Haul the receipt for reimbursement. The guy flys into a tirade about how stupid an idea that is, we’re running the risk of damaging the engine, U-Haul is not responsible, blah blah blah, etc. etc. Anyway, guy is told to pound sand, we drive to the nearest gas station (3 miles) without destroying the 1978 Ford engine powering this beast. Top off, get the new cap and move.

    Had there been the time to let the engine cool down after our drive back I’m sure my old man would have reposessed the radiator cap that U-Haul refused to reimburse him for.

  54. jitrobug says:

    oh, I’m late to this party.

    about a year ago I got customer service so bad from uhaul that they threatened to call the police and arrest me, and later sent me $100 in coupons that I’ll never use.

    They sent me off without finishing the paperwork, then called me to make me drive back to finish it, I refused to pay for the mileage, since it was their mistake. They threatened to have the police come put me in handcuffs, so I just walked out. Of course, I got charged the $50 cancellation fee. I complained online and somebody local called me back and eventually accused me of stealing the truck after going back and forth for 20 minutes.

    I sent another email, saying that if it’s always going to come down to uhaul accusing me of theft, I’d at least like it in writing so I can share it with friends.

    I got a an email back from the regional traffic manager and a letter from “the Marketing Company President” with the $100 in “VIP certificates”

    I’ve never used them.

    After I left their lot, I had a really great experience with Penske.

  55. UHaul sucks big time… I wrote about my bad experiences two years ago on my blog and it’s collected more than 80 comments of people who hate the franchise. It’s unbelievable that they’re still doing business.

  56. The Walking Eye says:

    I’ve moved or helped my family move at least 5 times over the last 4-6 years. We’ve always used U-Haul and never had a problem. I’ve always made sure to call the local company that’s providing the truck to confirm equipment and price.

    My only complaint w/ their online reservation system is that you don’t enter an address, so you may have to drive across town to pick up a truck.

  57. The Walking Eye says:

    Sorry for a quick second post, but in addition to the above I’d like to give a good service experience I’ve had w/ them.

    I moved from IN to TN and went about 50 miles over the allotment given at the time of pick-up. I mentioned this to the rep in TN and he just added miles and didn’t charge me extra. He easily could have just said, “Tough, pony up the extra money.”

  58. VentMan says:

    Isn’t this already known by everyone. I recall two or three other “Uhaul sucks ass” vents in the past few months alone.

  59. Kornkob says:

    Ventman, you’re going to really hate Consumerist if your standard for worthy posts is ‘something that noboy’s heard before’. Consumerist reports on issues that are ongoing on a pretty regular basis. Look at the ‘nazi t-shirt’ issue. They’ve reported on that so often the poor dead horse has no intact bones.

    I believe the idea is: Consumerist will report things more than once if it shows an ongoing behavior. Or Ben finds personally interesting. Or if it annoys someone. Or if they don’t have 18 posts yet. But mostly if it amuses Ben.


  60. weave says:

    59 comments. Wow, pretty bad. Same here…

    Made a res for a truck that was just a mile from where had to move a load from a storage locker to an apartment. Was like $29.95 plus mileage — which would be almost nil.

    Got to the designated place and the owner not only had no trucks but claimed he never got notified of the reservation. Showing him a reservation printout didn’t help. Then he just went about his business and tried to ignore us.

    So we insisted he help us “make it right” so he disappeared for 10 minutes and came back and said he found us a truck 25 miles on other side of the city. After bitching about how we’d get nailed for mileage due to not being our fault, he said they’d credit us for the mileage difference.

    So we drive out to the other u-haul place and, of course, no one there knew anything about us and claimed they never got a call and oh, by the way, they don’t have a truck either.

    So at this point, after I wanted to kill someone, he *found* a truck for us but when I asked about credit for mileage he reminded me I’m damn lucky they had any at all and not to push my luck — seriously.

    Never again….

    Times like this makes me wish I was criminally minded, because I swear I wanted to fire bomb that first place.

  61. hurmpees says:

    Last time I moved I rented a U-Haul from a local outfit (used the online reservation system) They did not have the size truck I needed when I got there but gave me a larger one at no cost (after waiting for an hour and a half), I did have to get some gas in it for them (she gave me $20 out of her register and had me run the truck to the gas station down the street to fill up stressing the importance of bringing her a receipt)This was after getting lung cancer from breathing all of her second hand smoke.

    Pretty professional outfit, hope to god I will never have to move again!!

  62. Stepehn Colbert says:

    I’ve never rented from U-Haul, but it seems that if you entered into a contract with them through an online reservation, I’d print out the reservation itself, for the type of truck I agreed to pay for, then after using what they’d provided for me, I’d mark it off of my credit card, citing that I had not gotten what I’d paid for, and I never agreed to that package, which is %100 true. I have a feeling that if everyone reacted in this manner, U-Haul would be up shit creek without a paddle. If they decided to take you to court, I’d counter-sue, re-state what I’d written on my “charge-back” citation, and add punitive damages for my time, Professional liability, and product liability – (consult your lawyer).

  63. William C Bonner says:

    UHaul: Adventures in Moving.

    I don’t know anyone who wants an adventure in moving.

    I stopped renting trucks from them quite a while back, because of nightmare scenarios. I have had good luck with Penske a coupe of times.

    I like going to UHaul when I need to buy moving supplies though.

  64. chickymama says:

    I never make a reservation online. I always check for location places and then go into the local office to make the reservation. Everytime our trailer has been there. One piece of information the csr told me was that they jack their prices up during the summertime as that is when they are the most busiest. They do this around May. Which would explain why I paid over $200.00 more for a one way move from Oregon to Alaska in June then when we moved back two years later in April and with a bigger trailer.

  65. airshowfan says:

    Clearly I need to check this site more than once a day so that my comments don’t end up all the way down here.

    UHaul is like something out of a Seinfeld bit: I don’t think they understand why they have reservations. They know how to TAKE a reservation, but they don’t know how to HOLD a reservation. And that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the HOLDing. Anyone can just TAKE them.

    And yes, I myself have had a similar experience with a truck not being there when it was supposed to be there. It took several phone calls and much frustration (over almost a whole day) to find a truck, although it was of a non-optimal size. I could spend a few hundred words telling the story so as to better communicate the frustration it caused, but really, it’s not that different from the other stories on this page.

    Moving is a big pain. Scheduling around a move, and then doing all the things one needs to do, is very hard and very stressful even when it all works smoothly. So the last thing anyone needs is for a company in the helping-you-move business to be so unreliable. I wonder how they stay in business. Well, they do a good job of making their trucks very noticeable on the road…

  66. airshowfan says:
  67. heypal says:

    U-Haul stinks. Who’s in charge? How can a customer escalate to get results when the organisation is made up of cells with no accountability to each other or to the customer? Who owns the corporation? How can they be made to understand that their bottom line will be hurt by this behavior? will it?

  68. chasdanner says:

    DO not ever use Uhaul. They are 100% unreliable at your time of most insane stress.(Moving) Last time I made a reservation they simply never called me to inform of where to pick up my truck and their customer service lines were never picked up around the 1st of the month. So I had to come up with other means the day of the move, and I HAD to move. Additionally they charged me $5 on my credit card for reasons unknown and I was unable to get it refunded. I have decided it was a $5 never use us again fee. I won’t. They may be cheap, but that doesn’t mean they need customers apparently. As if moving wasn’t terrible enough…

  69. Stepehn Colbert says:

    I suppose a faceless company makes up for it by having alotta balls.

  70. skeleem_skalarm says:

    I’ve always had problems with U-Haul; however, none as bad as Shane’s. In the past, the truck I reserved wasn’t there when I arrived to pick it up. This happened at least twice. One of those times, they wanted to send me to another city to get the truck. The last time I went with U-Haul (I know, I know, you’d think I’d have learned), they told me up front they would take the reservation (and my cc number), but they couldn’t make any guarantees about the truck’s actual availability. I told them to shove it. Even though U-Haul calls it a reservation, it’s actually not one. It’s just a lucky coincidence if you get the truck you actually reserved. I’ve since gone with Budget Rent-A-Truck twice, and the truck I reserved was waiting for me when I went to pick it up. Hooray for Budget (at least in Chillicothe, OH)!

  71. Trackback says:

    I’m helping a relative move this weekend, and I am trying to convince her not to go with the cheap choice (U-Haul), but pay $40 more for a Penske rental for her local move.

  72. Byteme902 says:

    I used to be what is known as an Area Field Manager in the U-Haul system. What I did was to find existing businesses (self storage, gas stations, etc…) who may be interested in making a few extra dollars by renting U-Haul trucks and trailers as “Dealers” to the public. Our job was to support Dealers by providing equipment, training in the system, on the computer and to perform minor repairs on those vehicles.

    To be honest and fair to the U-Haul “system”… reservations, training and so-on… the system itself is quite good. It’s the execution, or the lack thereof, that causes most of the problems.

    At the root of the problem is Joe Shoen (Reference:
    “Birthright: Murder, Greed, and Power in the U-Haul Family Dynasty”) and his entourage of executive directors I like to refer to as “Hit Men”. Although U-Haul is publicly traded (UHAL), most of the exec’s and board members share the same last name. As in any business, the final word is money and regardless as to what his methods may have been, Joe has certainly brought U-Haul out of the ashes. The problem is that Joe “rules” U-Haul with an iron fist and everyone within the U-Haul system fears the wrath of Joe.

    Every entity in the U-Haul system has a profit goal and typically it is ten percent over whatever last years profits were. In the truck rental business, that is nearly unobtainable depending upon your location and what events occurred in your area may have been the year before. In major cities that can include the World series, the World Fair, the Olympics, whether or not you have colleges in your area, etc… which all have a major impact on the end line. This is why there is an outrageous attrition rate in the General Manager (U-Haul corporate owned store managers) positions and below.

    The Customer Service Representatives… usually the guys that bring your trucks to you and help you at the counter, give quotes, answer the phones… are part time workers that need to make a little extra money each month and really don’t care about what the “program” is. They come and go as often as some people change their underwear and are barely trained by the time they quit. Most don’t even know there even is a program. Although the hiring of part time people as customer service rep’s is “discouraged” in official U-Haul memo’s, it is done to keep the bottom line up, however bad the impact on customer service.

    The “Reservation System” U-Haul has in place is rather efficient, actually, if used properly. Overbooking is done because of the pressure to perform and bad customer service occurs because of the attrition rate.
    Salary (full time) employees are expected to work sixty plus hours per week and when you break their salary down, it will come out to approximately seven to eight dollars per hour; even after years of service. With one holiday a year (Christmas day), they hate being owned by the Company (which is the usual attitude) and it is reflected in their customer service.

    If anyone cares to contact me about how rates work or that sort of thing, they can contact me here.

    By the way… I quit working for U-Haul and have no interest in their business whatsoever. I presently work in a totally unrelated field now.

    Here are some tips for the customer:

    1. Rates change all the time. If you are moving near a holiday, make you reservation as far in advance as you can. The rate you will be given will reflect the current rate and not what it will be during the holiday (peak) season.

    2. If you are quoted a rate you like, make the reservation over the phone using your credit card or at the store using cash. MAKE SURE TO GET YOUR REFERENCE, or RESERVATION NUMBER (same thing). You can always cancel later, but make sure there is no cancellation fee (charged at the Managers discretion; usually $50 during summer months). Have them note that on your reservation and have them print and send your reservation to you in the mail.

    3. Call soon BEFORE (within a week)your reservation date and see if the rates have changed (act like a new customer). If the new rate is better, either the General Manager will honor the better rate, or you can cancel your current reservation and make a new one if they have what you need when you need it.

    4. Call or do business with the U-Haul Center nearest you. If you call the 800 number, you will be speaking to some lady sitting in Phoenix, AZ. Get the name and phone number of the “Marketing Company President” when you make your reservation.

    6. Get the name of the person you are speaking to and the Dealership or Center number (it’s a six digit number) and write it down.

    7. If you call the “1-800-gouhaul”, your conversation IS BEING RECORDED! This can work for or against you if you start making claims about what was said that aren’t true.

    8. Insist on the location where you want to pick up your truck/trailer. If you’re told that you can’t get it there, call the “Marketing Company President”.

    9. If your equipment is dirty or not in good mechanical condition, insist it be fixed or replaced.

    10. If you have ANY problems, and the Marketing Company President does not help you, call Joe Shoen in Phoenix – Office:(602)263-6805 Cell: (602)390-6525. Just have all the information in reference to your reservation available when you do call.