Ryder Refunds Customer $120 For Forcing Him Into U-Haul's Arms

Jesse, who wrote to us last week to complain about Ryder’s broken guarantee, has contacted us again with a follow up. We also spoke with Ryder directly to ask how their “Guaranteed Availability” promise actually works, so that future customers know what to expect.

First, here’s Jesse’s update:

I got a call from the district manager last week after I called their main corporate number and lodged an electronic complaint on the website.

He apologized for the experience that I had with Ryder, and assured me that that’s not how they like to do business. He asked me for my invoice from U-haul, which I sent him via e-mail.

I just got a voicemail from him this morning asking for my mailing address so he can send me a check for the $120 I asked for in my complaint.

That’s a pretty amazing response, but we were still left confused about what, exactly, other customers should do if something like this happens with Ryder in the future. (We imagine they’re not going to offer $120 refunds every single time.)

We contacted David Bruce, the vice president of Corporate Communications at Ryder, for some insight. He was glad to hear that the area managers took care of the problem without Ryder Corporate stepping in, and that the customer was ultimately satisfied with the resolution.

Here’s what the Ryder guarantee actually entails, according to Bruce:

If you give us 24 hours lead time, and we say, “Okay you can have a truck,” if the truck isn’t there available for you, or a smaller one at a reduced rate, or a larger truck at the same rate that was agreed upon, then we give you a certificate that would be redeemable for a free rental at the next available time.

That works well for a commercial user where you may not be so tied to a particular time frame. Part of the outcome of this incident is [for us] to maybe go back and look at that, because it was developed at a time when we weren’t even allowed to market to consumers.

Wait, Ryder isn’t in the consumer moving van business? Bruce pointed out that when Ryder sold off its “yellow truck” business in 1996, they were contractually obligated not to market their rentals to consumers, and that the guarantee we’ve been asking about—and in fact pretty much their entire business model—is built around commercial rentals. Ryder is set up to mostly deal with commercial customers, not consumers with a set moving day, and that’s likely why Jesse fell through the cracks.

I don’t want consumers to think that we’re a direct, comparable offering to a U-Haul where you pick one up in one location and then go to college and drop it off wherever you go to college or that kind of thing. Basically when you’re renting from Ryder you’re renting from a company that’s 90-some-odd percent commercial transportation and logistics, that happens to have a good inventory of vehicles.

Not to make excuses for [what happened to Jesse], but we wouldn’t want people to waste their time trying to rent a one way vehicle, so consequently you won’t see a lot of marketing of Ryder for moving purposes. It’s mostly people who go to our website thinking that we offer that, so we give them an avenue to do that and very much appreciate their business. But maybe we need to go back and look at how to improve on the experience.”

“Ryder’s ‘Guaranteed Availability’ Does Not Guarantee Availability”

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