About a month ago I made a reservation to rent a Budget Truck tomorrow for $128. Last Wednesday I noticed that Budget has 10 reviews in our area, all of which are 1 star, mostly complaining that Budget canceled their reservation at the last minute (other shady business practices too, apparently). So I called them that day and was assured by the rep that there's a priority system, and that since I booked so far in advance I'm practically guaranteed a truck. Plus, if there's an issue their inventory department sorts everything out smoothly even on the same day as the reservation and gets me in a similar or better truck nearby for the same price or at a discount. Cool.
Sure enough, I got the call on Friday afternoon that my reservation was canceled. I spoke to 4 reps as well as the inventory department, and was told that absolutely nothing could be done, and that the closest truck was 45 miles away and had to be picked up on Saturday (they refused to allow me to pick it up on Sunday). Also, they said that the Wednesday rep lied and there's no such priority system. They said that my reservation is considered just a preference thoguh they would provide alternatives if my reservation wasn't available, and that a reservation only guarantees me the quoted rate. My questions of what the point is of a moving truck company you can't rely on went unanswered.
I mean it's not like people meticulously plan move days in advance and have many things depend on the truck being available as promised. I did get an answer when I asked whether she would personally use Budget Truck considering this policy, and she blintly answered, "no". Great. When I told her I couldn't pick up the truck on a Saturday and so I needed an alternative on Sunday (even if it's 45 miles away), she obnoxiously repeated over and over again, "So we're offering you an alternative and you're refusing to take it?" My requests for managers were rebuffed, and the only thing I could do was escalate my request with the inventory department. I was promised a call within 2 hours.
Of course that callback never came. It's like 4PM on Friday, I can't call them on Saturday, and my move is Sunday morning. So I called Sarah from the car and asked her to quickly make a reservation with Penske or UHaul. I then figured I had nothing to lose so I called several Budget customer service numbers several times. One of them was a generic Budget line not just for existing truck reservations, as opposed to my other numbers. After indicating in the automated menu I wanted Budget truck rentals and not car rentals, the first option was to make a reservation. I figured what the hell.
A very nice rep took my details and nicely told me that there was no 16' truck in Silver Spring. Good, right? At least the other reps weren't lying. So I told him any size truck in any city near Silver Spring would do, and guess what? The closest available truck was NOT 45 miles away, but nearby in Rockville, MD. And it was the same size truck as my original reservation. So on a whim I decided to play dumb about my history with them and reserve the truck for $330, despite his warnings that my reservation could not be canceled and I could not get a refund under any circumstance.
Remember, these are the same reservation parameters as I had originally made a month ago for $200 cheaper, except my pickup city is 10 minutes away. After giving him my credit card details and hanging up, I called my original customer service number back and said, "Please save me and you both the trouble of me fighting you via my credit card company and cancel my month-ago reservation and provide for me the $128 rate for my new Rockville reservation I just made 3 minutes ago. After all, in the words of one of your colleagues, 'my reservation only guaranteed me my rate.'"
So she did it, and now I'm set. Until the Rockville place calls me in the morning to tell me I lost my reservation again.
The takeaway: Budget apparently shuts out at the last minute the customers who get a good rate, swearing that there is nothing else reasonably nearby. Except they're lying, and are only willing to tell the truth if you pay more. If that's not shady (or perhaps illegal) business practices, I don't know what is.