Overcharged, Man Secures U-Haul Refund

Terry got overcharged for his U-Haul rental but by using three of the most basic tools in the consumerist toolkit, persistence, politeness, and escalation, he was able to get the amount refunded (plus an executive assistant contact number and name to boot).

Two weekends ago I was in a situation where I needed to move some furniture out of storage and into my new apartment. Between my own experiences and the reports on Consumerist.com I was hesitant to rent from U-Haul, despite their convenient location. I looked into renting a full size van from Enterprise or a truck from Home Depot or Lowes but since I was moving on a Sunday and under 25 years old neither worked out
for me.

The rental itself wasn’t half bad — I skipped paying the online reservation free knowing that the reservation wouldn’t be guaranteed anyway and instead called ahead to the local store (number acquired via Google Maps). I managed to snag a 14′ truck after waiting a few hours (3:30pm Sunday) and agreed to return it after-hours (~6pm).

When I get back to work on Monday I logged in to my bank website and saw a charge of $75 on my card followed by a credit of $19.82 — total charges at nearly $56. Confused, I called the local number and was transferred to a regional CSR (call was after-hours). The CSR was quite nice, offering to fax me a copy of the receipt and look into a double charge (for two rental periods). Of course, he followed up with neither of those promises.

Fast-forward to today, Monday, a week later. All I want is a copy of the bill and to contest the second $19.95 charge. Poking around on their website I find a form to request a copy of your bill. I fill out all of the information and at the end am asked if I agree to a $10 “research fee”. Ridiculous!

So I call 1-800-GOUHAUL and try my hand again at raising them on the phone. That number, of course, is their national number, and we all know how well integrated U-Haul corporate is with their individual retail locations. Needless to say, they transferred me to a busy tone. Next I call the local U-Haul location and get hung up on. Twice. “Thank you for calling U-Haul, please hold — click.”

After a call back to the national number I finally get the number of the regional call center. I get a nice rep named Phoebe on the line and explain that this is my 5th or 6th call on this issue. As luck would have it she is the executive assistant to the regional manager. (Executive support FTW!) She takes down my contact information, gives me a direct number to her office (skipping the IVR) and immediately emails me a copy of the bill as well as a confirmation of refund for the second billing period. Whoa!

I guess the lessons to be learned here are many:

1) Never reserve a truck online. Always call the local number. Make sure you’re speaking with a local person — often the local number will ring over to a regional sales office.

2) Always check your credit card for the amount charged, particularly if using the key drop after business hours. Keep gas receipts to prove that you filled up and take pictures of the dolly and blankets in the back to prove you didn’t use them.

3) If you need to contest your bill and are not near the local store, call the regional number. You can usually get this from the national CSRs. If you’re looking for Western NY it’s 888-761-9232. Pheobe G. was the rep who helped me — her title is Executive Assistant so she’ll likely be able to get straighten out your problem. Please don’t abuse this number!

4) U-Haul isn’t evil, just mismanaged. If you are persistent you will eventually get someone on the line who genuinely cares about your issue.

Hope others find this information helpful. Thanks Consumerist!

Terry VH

(Photo: PetroleumJelliffe)


Edit Your Comment

  1. rbb says:

    What do you mean by #2: “…take pictures of the dolly and blankets in the back to prove you didn’t use them.”

    Why wouldn’t you use them if they put them in the truck? Or are these the U-Haul equivalent of a hotel mini-bar?

  2. Exek says:

    @RBB yes Hotel mini-bar

  3. ncboxer says:

    How do they know if you used the dolly or blankets?

  4. srhbks says:

    The dolly and blankets are usually “locked” with some kind of plastic ties. If you break the ties, they know that you used the blankets and the dolly.

  5. Aeroracere says:

    zipties with their logo, i think…

  6. ncboxer says:

    So I guess the moral of the story is that if you aren’t going to use the dolly or blankets, tell them to get their crap out of the truck because you are paying for an empty truck (not that this would necessarily work).

    I’ve rented from U-Haul and have never seen the dolly or blankets already on truck- they are always available inside the rental place for a fee.

  7. scoobydoo says:

    It took a week to get a copy of the bill, and you claim they are not evil?

    Sorry, but any company that needs that much effort for something this simple IS evil.

  8. enm4r says:

    @ncboxer: I’ve rented from U-Haul and have never seen the dolly or blankets already on truck- they are always available inside the rental place for a fee.

    I think they now put them in all/nearly all of the trucks. I’m sure they make a ton of money on it, I had to break the ties just to move the stuff because it was in the way. Fortunately, the Uhaul seemed not to care/notice, because i put the ties back on and taped them in the back with orange electrical tape to match the ties. I wasn’t going to pay $15 because they decided to fill my truck and take up space I needed.

  9. acambras says:

    I bet the zip-tie minibar thing (vs. renting them in the office) works in their favor.

    Picture this:
    Gallant is moving, and Goofus is helping him. Although he should know that U-Haul sucks, Gallant has rented a truck. He has opted not to rent the “extras” – he doesn’t know that they’re ziptied in the back of the truck.

    GALLANT: Hey Goofus, thanks for helping me move.
    GOOFUS: No problem, Dude. Hardest part was finding some scissors so I could get that dolly and those blankets out of the back. They came in really handy.
    GALLANT: (realizing he’ll now be charged for use of the dolly and blankets) *^$&*$%!

  10. The Bigger Unit says:

    So…you don’t use the dolly and blankets because they are tie-sealed; you bring the truck back with the stuff still tie-sealed, and they still accuse you of using the dang things, requiring photographic evidence to support the contrary?! What a company.

  11. tvh2k says:

    I think the biggest problem is that there’s no consistency between U-Haul locations (mostly due to the fact that they’re franchised). At some locations you’ll find honest, prompt service. At others you’ll get old, broken equipment and sleazy employees who try to nickel-and-dime you.

  12. Jerkamie says:

    A rental van from u-haul is $19.95 + millage and the insurance if you accepted it $56 might have been the right amount you were charged.

  13. NoLongerInUse says:

    I’ve had nothing but great results using Penske online. Use a AAA card if you have it for another discount. When I moved across country, I booked plenty in advance and then watched the price dropped. When it did, I made a phone call and got best rate. I wound up saving over 1300 that way.

    I also used a home depot truck last week to move something. I did have to go to two Home Depots to get it (wound up at the Inglewood, CA one). Service was friendly, no mileage charges, and it cost me less than $30.

  14. homebrewer302 says:

    As a consumer knowing U-haul’s history with customer service and equipment, it seems to me that the $10-$20 more that you might pay at say Penske or Budget would be worth it to know that you have reliable equipment and won’t have to worry about being nickle and dimed. I personally always rent with Penske just so I don’t have to worry about my rental. Not only that, but when I call the a location I can actually understand what the person on the other end is saying…

  15. dandmb50 says:

    @rbb: I was recently visiting my sister in Michigan and drove by a Uhaul location. I took a look at the trucks sitting on the lot. Falling apart, terrible shape and probably unsafe. But here in Ontario, Canada all the trucks are almost brand new. Why you say? Because we won’t put up with it anymore. All kinds of trucks from Uhaul have been spot checked and litterly taken off the road because they were unsafe. Floorboards missing, trucks that couldn’t back-up and many other safety violations. Take a tip, don’t put up with it in your area and make them buy new trucks.