Budget Rents Man A Truck, Then Closes Early And Charges $50 "No Show" Fee

Zach tried to rent a truck from Budget last month, and not only did he not get the truck, but he didn’t get the compensatory gift card they offered by way of apology. In fact, pretty much the only real thing he got from Budget was a $50 fee on his credit card for being a “no show”—even though he arrived at the location a half hour before closing only to find it locked up. Oh, and the location was 150 miles from his home.

Dear Consumerist,
I just got off a red faced phone conversation with Budget Truck Rental’s head of corporate customer service “Wayne” and I thought I would share the conversation. I rented a truck from Budget to pickup 3/9 so I could move some furniture. I live in Kentucky and rented the truck 150 miles away in Indianapolis.
When I showed up to pickup my truck, at 1:30, the store was closed even though the posted hours stated they were to be open for another half hour. So I was stranded without a truck 150 miles away from home. Still hoping to salvage the day I called the Budget 1800 number to try to find another truck.
Budget’s customer service said they were terribly sorry for my inconvenience and said they would find me another truck right away and give me a discount. Two hours later they were unable to locate a single Budget truck in a 50 mile radius and said that they would still send me compensation for my trouble. They discussed giving me a $75 MasterCard gift card since I was already going to be out one of these anyway since I rented the truck during a MasterCard promotion.
Two weeks go by and still no “compensation” but I do get a $50 fee show up on my credit card statement from Budget. I called Budget to see what this was about and they said it was a no show fee since I never picked up my truck… lets rewind here I didn’t pick up my truck? After a half hour of debating I get up to corporate and finally get my $50 refunded but they said they never promised any compensation and that my online truck rental in no way guarantees a truck but only a rate.
So not only did I not get any compensation but they also erroneously charged me $50 dollars and I got to be out 300 miles worth of driving. So moral of the story if you are rent from Budget you may get royally screwed.


Edit Your Comment

  1. P41 says:

    Cue Seinfeld…
    Rep: I know what a reservation’s for.
    Seinfeld: I don’t think you do. If you did, I’d have a car.

  2. aristan says:

    If the reservation doesn’t actually reserve anything, how can he be charged $50 for missing a reservation that was never reserved?

    I have reservations about ever doing business with Budget again.

  3. Wynner3 says:

    This is why I stick with my local rental places. They are cheaper and nicer. If for some reason they aren’t there, I go to U-Haul. I have never had a problem with U-Haul.

  4. elgringoguapo says:

    I have heard Budget is terrible for rentals. This story seals the deal for me, I am sticking with U-Haul they rewired by light connections for free when I ripped them. Took the guy 45 minutes in and he did it outside in the summer on one hell of a hot day, that’s why I go U-Haul.

  5. macmedic says:

    U-Haul sucks worse than any of them!
    They rent crappy trucks that are barely street legal.
    They once stranded my 70+ year old inlaws in the middle of the Arizona desert for almost 8 hours and they were only about 50 miles from UHaul Headquarters!

  6. scoosdad says:

    @Wynner3: Kind of impossible for the original poster to have done that (stick with local places):

    I live in Kentucky and rented the truck 150 miles away in Indianapolis.

    When you do long distance stuff like that you’re virtually at the mercy of one of the large nationwide chains. Sounds like this was going to be a 150 mile one way rental anyway so a local outfit wouldn’t have helped.

    And if you’ve never had a problem with U-Haul, you’re in a very very small minority.

  7. BalknChain says:

    I had a lousy time with U-Haul. We reserved a 26 footer to move and we showed up and they had nothing! They called one in a neighboring town and we ended up with two 14 footers from the that location. It made our move twice as much work. They told us they can’t guarantee a truck (that you reserve!) will be there since they rely on other renters to return them on time. Lousy experience.

  8. goodkitty says:

    I had something similar happen with a U-Lose.. I mean U-Haul dealer. He was nice enough to get me a different truck that still did the job and let me in on two secret tricks that probably apply to Budget also:

    1) If you reserve a truck, you are expected to be there to pick it up on the day of the reservation before 11AM-ish. If you do not, then they automatically consider you a no-show for the day and have no further obligations to you.

    2) If you reserve a truck over the Internet, then it is considered a ‘suggestion’ as to where and when you can rent a truck, and a real reservation is never actually made. You must contact the location you want to rent from directly and negotiate with them directly if you want a real reservation that actually counts.

  9. laserjobs says:

    I always rent the U-haul 6×12 trailer. No mileage charges and easy to tow.

  10. BrockBrockman says:

    I think the whole truck rental thing is more like picking a good mechanic, or a good dentist. Find a recommended one in your locality, vet them, and if they work out, keep them – whether they are from U-Haul, Budget or Enterprise.

  11. Hello_Newman says:

    All he’s got to do is call his credit card company and do a chargeback. He never signed an authorization for it, and they knowingly prevented him from picking it up to get the fee by closing early. Then Budget is out the obligatory $25 chargeback fee instead of him being screwed.

  12. icntdrv says:

    I remember the time I reserved a U-Haul Car Dolly over the phone. I rented it same day as pickup and was told over the phone that the trailer was there.

    When I arrived at the location, I was told that they could not rent me one of their car dollies because one had a broken inertia brake and the other had a flat tire. I went outside and noticed that the trailers were identical and had identical tire and lug spacing so I suggested they trade out the tires or at least let me do so. They responded “We don’t do that” and “Our insurance would kill us if we let you do that.”

    I was out of luck and options, so I was forced to rent a full sized car-hauler trailer at FULL PRICE (2X the price of a dolly) and the inertia brakes didn’t work on that either! I kept that observation to myself since I didn’t need any other delays and the truck I was towing with was more than large enough to stop the trailer and car on its own.

    It saddens me to hear that Budget’s service isn’t any better. I have vowed never to rent from U-Haul again and had hoped Budget would serve a good replacement. I guess that leaves Ryder, Penske, and the lesser Enterprise and Hertz fleets.

  13. StevieD says:

    who in hades rents from a place 150 miles from their location?

    Really? Come on, think about it, there is gotta be a place closer to you, and if there ain’t, then you have an obligation to be on time.

  14. nsv says:

    I’ve had several bad experiences with U-Haul. One of those left me on the side of I-95 for hours. So the last time I moved I decided I’d go with Budget.

    Two locations, three days, and four trucks later, I was finally on the road. (Unfortunately, truck #3 was sound enough that I actually had it half loaded before the rain started and it started to leak. Heavily.) On the bright side, someone from corporate was visiting on the first day, and guided me through all four trucks and then the return process.

    I even kept the truck an extra week, no charge, because I arrived late, had started work, and only had a couple of hours each evening to unload.

    My suggestion would be to go with … um… actually, forget it, don’t move.

  15. nsv says:

    @StevieD: Probably someone who is moving items from 150 miles away to their location, and who doesn’t want to pay for an extra 150 miles and fuel.

  16. chutch says:

    @StevieD: Also notice, they said they didn’t have one within 50 miles of where he was at (Indianapolis). And, he showed up 30 minutes before closing. On time.

  17. BalknChain says:

    @nsv: I envied the people we bought our last house from. They had packers and movers in the form of an Atlas Van Line. Moving a house full of stuff does stink. Then you look at it all asking yourself how/when it multiplied.

  18. robotprom says:

    Penske FTW!

  19. cmdrsass says:

    @robotprom: In every previous story about Uhaul, the solution has been “Budget FTW”. I’m confused.

  20. MyPetFly says:

    Yeah, Penske. I’ve never had a problem with them. The closest to a problem was on a cross country move. I reserved a car dolly, but they were out so they gave me a full car trailer for the same price. No complaints from me!

  21. @StevieD: Did you even bother to RTFA?

  22. formica says:

    I had a similar problem with budget and they sent me to another location to get the truck (since the first location didn’t have the right equipment) and charged me a $50 no show fee. I called and it turned out that the second location created a new reservation without canceling the first reservation which automatically charged me a no show fee. Budget got rid of the charge without a problem. I’ve rented from Budget 2 additional times after that, and have been happy. Penske is good but is sometimes expensive. U-haul is horrible, they’ll take a reservation and when it comes to the day before your reservation they’ll tell you to drive 120 miles to pick up a truck

  23. This may not have helped the poster due to distance requirements, but:


    This is a great company. My wife and I have used them twice, and had a great experience each time.

  24. Uh oh... Cleveland says:

    Tips for a successful move:
    1. Give all your stuff to charity
    2. Fly by private jet to your new home
    3. Buy new stuff

    Seriously, I’ve used Penske in DC, Chicago, and Cleveland. Never a hint of a problem whatsoever.

  25. TPS Reporter says:

    “You know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to hold the reservation”.

  26. laserjobs says:

    @TakingItSeriously: I agree ABF is great. I used them once to move stuff out of the country and it was painless.

  27. bvita says:

    I used to rent a truck an average of once a month from one of the big three. Some rentals were local, some were one-way. Here’s some points that I learned.

    1. Call U-Haul first (never rent from them)and get their best rate. Ask for any discounts – AAA – one way – whatever. Take their rate and knock off 15%-20% and tell them Ryder is offerring you that. Get a quote.

    2. Call Ryder – follow instructions above using the U-Haul rate – get a quote.

    3. Call Penske (if in the market) – as above quoting Ryder’s rates.

    4. Throw out the U-Haul quote immediately, no matter how good. They are skank. Their trucks are junk and they love to play games. Frequently the trucks aren’t there when you arrive.

    5. Decide which of the two remaining quotes, Ryder/Penske is best for you. Penske’s trucks are generally in better shape and cleaner but they’re not in all markets.

    6. Make the reservation based on the quote provided. Don’t be afraid to mention that the “other guys” offerred something slightly better (sometimes they match, sometimes they don’t). YOU WILL NEED THE TRUCK INSURANCE – DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE THAT YOUR AUTO INSURANCE WILL COVER YOU. IT WILL NOT COVER A COMMERCIAL TRUCK (it does generally cover rental cars, however). If you rent commercially frequently, ask your insurance agent for a rider (no pun intended) to cover it on your business policies. We have what I call the “Ryder rider” that covers rental vehicles up to $75K and it adds about $200 to my commercial policy.

    7. About an hour after you have made the reservation through the “800” line, call the local dealer where you’ll be picking up the truck and confirm the details (pick up time, etc).

    8. The day before the rental, call the local dealer again and confirm all details including pickup time.

    If you follow these steps you will find your rental experience much more pleasant and less aggravating.

  28. bvita says:

    Old habits die hard – Ryder is now Budget. I still haven’t made the change :-)

  29. rellog says:

    I agree bout the Uhaul sucks statements. I rented from them a truck that had bad breaks. Not wanting to drive it for fear of safety, I returned the vehicle after driving only a few blocks. I fought tooth and nail with them, and finally after several hours wound up getting a safe truck. I also reported them to my state’s DOT and swore never to use UHaul again…

  30. PermanentStar says:

    I have used U-haul twice. Once it was a rough experience, the second time, nothing went wrong.

    The first time, it was a little bit more complicated, because I was moving from Michigan to Virginia. We checked pricing, and u-haul had the best pricing for the move (it was still about $2500 for the damn truck alone, but I’d anticipated that much.) We reserved a truck, which we were told would be local, and would be available before noon, but they would call us to let us know where to pick up the truck. Okay, no big deal, I can handle that.

    So, moving day comes, and my family is already kind of tense, because I was 18 and moving out to VA on my own, etc, etc. No call from U-haul, so, I call them. I give them all the pertinent information, and they tell me that my truck is in Fucking Owasso (which is 70 miles from where we live). I tell the lady on the phone as nicely as I can, that Fucking Owasso is 70 miles from our house, and we were advised the truck would be available locally. She explained to me that U-haul considers anything within 50 miles of your home local. I remind her, as nicely as I can, that 70 miles away, is not under 50 miles away, so even by their screwed up definition of local, it was not local. I was basically told, do you want the truck or not. I told them I do, and she told me where to go.

    Mom was pissed, because the drive to and from fucking Owasso was going to add another 2 and a half hours or so to today before we can even load anything, and she called and talked to the U-haul people, then a few other family members did, and all that they could do, was tell us that if we were able to return the truck to Alexandria, VA that they would take $500 off of the bill. Well, Alexandria is about 4 hours from where I was moving to, but even with gas for two cars to bring it up there, we came out a little ahead…not much but a little, so we told them, fine, we will.

    We didn’t get to start loading the truck till about 5, and didn’t leave for the trip till after 9…the trip is normally 12 hours, but driving that beast through the mountains made it 17 hours, and I missed the appointment with my future landlord by 4 hours…it was terrible, but I made it out alive, and was determined not to rent from them again, but had to when I moved apartments because they were the only ones who would rent a truck to a 19 year old with no credit to speak of.

    (sorry about the rant, guys.)

  31. JustaConsumer says:

    I do not use Budget, Alamo, or Dollar any longer. Having rented a lot of cars I can tell you they are not dependable. Budget has left me stranded before. Try Enterprise or National. I have had very good luck with them over the past several years.

  32. MrEvil says:

    I think the reason U-haul gets away with as much unsafe equipment as they do is they’ve lobbied AZ to reduce safety standards for vehicles registered in that state (does AZ even have safety inspection?). Last I remember, nearly all U-Haul trucks are licenced in AZ. Lots of trucking companies are based in OK for similar reasons, no safety inspections and permanent trailer plates.

    @icntdrv: Depends on some states. Texas requires operable trailer brakes if the trailer is over a certain weight (which a car on trailer easily goes over). You also run the risk of jack knifing during emergency braking, no matter how heavy your tow vehicle is. Towing a heavy trailer long distance without operable brakes is a BIG NO NO.

  33. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    I wonder if there’s any verbiage within the “contract” that says he is supposed to show up within a certain time frame? Just wondering.

    Sounds like some slacker at the store felt like going home early and Zach got screwed. Time for an EECB!!

  34. glater says:

    I won’t use Budget for a truck, period. Last time I moved I reserved a truck with them like a month in advance and scheduled my pickup for I think it was 12:30pm. I called one week and then one day before to be sure it was still available and everything was OK. I was on a tight schedule, and I get there and what do I find? A handwritten note taped to the door. “OUT TO LUNCH 12:15-1:15”. I was livid.

    I walked next door to Penske and asked if they had anything available. They were extremely courteous, as well as matching the price and then some. I called Budget’s central number and railed on them til they gave me back my deposit fee with an immediate credit back to my ccard; I then told them that I was at that very moment getting into a Penske from across the street, hung up, and began my cross-country move.

  35. mrpickleby says:

    This happened to my wife with Enterprise Rental. Said they’d be open until 6:30. She arrived at 6 only to find the doors locked and lights off. She left the keys with the car and they billed her for another day. I believe she was able to call them back and explain the situation and they refunded it, but it was a while ago.

  36. lockdog says:

    Highly recommend the Pods and other container style moving systems. They park the thing in your drive. You load, they pick it up and deliver it to your new location. It can take a little more time, but its a lot less hassles and you can do it at your own pace. No rush to spend all day loading a truck, then drive a few hundred miles in a rickety truck and then unload all because the rental is costing a fortune. I’ve used mini pods, and even called local trucking companies to have them drop of a 40′ shipping container. If I ever move to some real land, I’ll probably just by the container itself (they can be had for around $500 to $1000) and use it for storage permanently.

  37. jeffbone says:

    @icntdrv: Sounds like typical U-Haul incompetence, laziness, or both. Either that, or they were under their quota for that month, and wanted to force you into a higher-priced option.

    I’ve rented tow dollies from them on several occasions, and I have never seen one with surge brakes. In fact, their equipment description page for the tow dolly doesn’t list surge brakes as a feature.

  38. jeffbone says:

    I’ve rented tow dollies from U-Haul on several occasions, and have never seen one with surge brakes. Their equipment description page for the tow dolly doesn’t list surge brakes as a feature.

    Sounds like you encountered typical U-Haul laziness, incompetence, or both. Either that, or else they needed to make a sales quota and decided to force you into a higher-priced option.

  39. skeleem_skalarm says:

    Budget just charged me $204 for returning a truck one day (although they originally said two days) late during a blizzard! The CSR I spoke with on the phone, though, told me to email them from their site and it would get to a higher-up because all she could do is give me a one-day credit. She called both the location from where I rented the truck and the location I returned it to (about 95 miles apart) to check out my blizzard story, but nobody at either place could remember the dates of the blizzard, so I sent emailed Budget links to news pages and NOAA that reference the blizzard. We had record snowfall, as did the next city over, so I’m really going to be stinky about this if they keep the charge on, even if it is for just one day extra. Hell, the place wasn’t even open the day I was supposed to return it, due to the blizzard.