I was very disappointed in the performance of the U-haul truck I rented, but mostly upset with the level of professionalism held by a few U-haul employees I spoke with regarding the incident.
I rented a 24-ft truck from 2885 Clairmont Rd NE, Atlanta, GA on October 2, 2006. This was a U-haul location I had never used. The manager, John Seedberry, is the gentleman who assisted in hooking up the towing trailer after I had loaded the U-haul at my home. (At the time, I was not aware that he was the manager.) He asked how the truck had performed so far. I informed him that the day before, the battery had died and left me stranded outside my storage unit for a few hours. I also informed him that there was an unmarked light on the dash that flashed on and off, and I asked him what the light signified. He told me didn't know but he thought it was nothing to be concerned about. Although he was not impolite at the time, he seemed somewhat apathetic towards my questions, informed me he was not a mechanic, and told me to call the number at the top of my contract if I had any more mechanical issues.
Well, unfortunately, I DID have more issues. The morning of my scheduled move day, I started towards Tampa (a 9 hour drive from Atlanta) and quickly realized the U-haul air conditioning was not working. It was actually blowing very hot air. Of course, I was upset that this had not been checked, along with the battery, BEFORE the equipment was rented out. I called the roadside assistance number and was told that the nearest air conditioning mechanic was about 40 miles away! I then proceeded to drive to Griffin, GA to a Pure gas station that was to service the truck. (Unfortunately, it was a very hot day, and the service station did not have air conditioning either.)
It took the mechanics about 3 hours to have the air conditioning working properly. Other than time, trouble, and a great deal of stress because of the delay, this trip to the service center cost me 1/3 tank of fuel (accounting for the drive to the service center and the gas the mechanics used while working on the truck). Not to mention, I had to obtain emergency veterinary care, because the extreme heat of the U-haul had very negatively affected my elderly cat.
By the time the truck was ready, it was 3PM, and I was only an hour into my commute from Atlanta to Tampa. I turned around and headed back to my completely unfurnished home to stay another night with plans to leave in the morning.
So, *once again*, my trip was delayed because of mechanical troubles with the equipment. I was very inconvenienced by this delay. Specifically, my friends in St. Petersburg were going to help me unload on Sunday, but the delay associated with the poor condition of the truck caused me to arrive on Monday. Since my friends were working, I was forced to find and hire professional help in unloading the truck.
When I finally reached my destination and returned the truck to a U-haul center in St. Petersburg, FL, I was told that in order to have any money reimbursed, I had to call the Atlanta center I had rented the truck from. Over the course of the next 6 days, I left several messages for the manager, John, to call. The employees assured me they were giving John my messages, however, my call was never returned.
Luckily, upon calling the center on the afternoon of the sixth day, John answered the phone. So I was finally able to explain to him the troubles, delays, and money that the poor condition of the U-haul had cost me. I explained that I was disappointed the U-haul's battery and air conditioning were not checked before it was rented. I asked to have the rental cost reimbursed. He was somewhat on the defensive side, and said he did not feel my trouble was worth more than the standard 20% refund offered for mechanical issues, which was $131.
As I was telling him in more detail about my experience, he actually tried to argue with me on how far Dunwoody is from Griffin. I was very shocked and offended that the manager of a store would actually try to argue with a client, especially about such a minor, insignificant detail. I told him I would not discuss that point because it was irrelevant. He told me that no matter what, he could only reimburse 20% of the cost of the U-haul rental. I told him that this amount was insufficient, based on my trouble and money lost, and that it would not make me happy.
He then told me to call the District Manager of Atlanta, Sandra, if I was unsatisfied with his decision.
When I called Sandra, she informed me that John had already called her and given her a heads up that I would be calling and what my concerns were. Sandra told me that *John* is actually who has the final say as to what should be done, not her. She told me to call John back if I still wanted the 20% refund that he offered.
After both employees passing the buck, I called John back and told him to go ahead and reimburse 20%, but that I was still very unhappy and would be taking steps to make sure the situation was handled.
I then called an 800 number for U-haul customer service, where I was told that I needed to speak with Virley Williams, an executive assistant. Virley told me that she, also, had heard of the situation thru Sandra, and that she did not see any reason to reimburse more than $131. Having already heard of the circumstance, she was very unwilling to hear why I was unsatisfied with that decision. I asked to please hear my case so that she could fully understand my complaint. Unfortunately, I called her about 5PM, which must have been an inconvenient time for her, because as I told the story, I could tell she was very annoyed with being asked to handle the call.
At this point I was fed up' with the lack of professionalism I had experienced. She rudely and abruptly interrupted me several times to tell me her decision was final. Her tone was very degrading and uncouth. It was clear that her mind was already made up about the situation, and that she felt like she had better things to do than handle complaints from customers. I politely asked her to treat me with respect, that I was not angry with her at all. I explained that I simply did not get what I paid for, and that I was only asking for the situation to be resolved fairly. I told her that, based on the terrible experience the U-haul rental had caused me, I shouldn't owe a penny.
However, just to be able to get off the phone with such a bad-mannered person, I offered to settle for the 20% discount, plus gas reimbursement for 1/3 of a tank for my trip to the service center and the gas they used while servicing the truck, plus the $20 VIP coupon John told me they regularly give to customers who have experienced battery troubles.
She insisted that the equivalent of 1/3 of a tank was ten dollars, and that this amount would not be worth reimbursing! Before this claim, I didn't realize she had no knowledge about the trucks that her company rents, including even a ballpark figure as to how much gas a 24-foot U-haul holds. Her lack of product knowledge made me even more frustrated. (A tank of gas for the 24-foot truck costs around $80.) She also stated that there is no possible way to test the battery of a U-haul!
I informed her that testing the battery of a U-haul is a very simple procedure that takes about 15 seconds, and that they did it for me at the service station because of the troubles the battery had caused me before.
Over our conversation, Ms. Williams continued to be VERY unprofessional and seemed increasingly annoyed with the hassle of dealing with a complaint. Although she had offered to call the service station herself earlier in the conversation regarding reimbursement of fuel, she informed me she had changed her mind and was no longer willing to do so. She told me that if I wanted the gas reimbursement, I would have to obtain and fax to her a statement from the shop that fixed the air conditioning. However, she refused to provide me with the contact information for the shop that serviced that truck. She also would not give me the fax number I would have to send it to.
This is when I asked her for her full name and her position. Because of her sour attitude, I asked if there was someone else I could speak to about her conduct. She told me that the president, John Brink, was the only one in the company above her, and she gave me his email address. She proceeded to say that any complaints directed to him would immediately be forwarded on to her and that my concerns would probably not be listened to. I expressed to her that I was very disappointed in the level of customer service I was receiving. While I was in mid-sentence, she interrupted, We will just have to agree to disagree. Have a wonderful evening and hung up on me!
I wrote to the president, John Brick, and unfortunuately, he DID have Virley call me back about the complaint. This made no since, because SHE was a huge part of my complaint. What sense did it make for me to speak to her again?? She said they were still unwilling to reimburse me for my trouble or money lost. The only good that came out of this conversation was that the president ordered Virley to formally apologixe to me for her indecent conduct.
I plan to persure this complaint until I am awarded reimbursement of the truck rental charge, and for the appropriate measures to be taken towards the employees at fault.
ST PETERSBURG, Florida
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