I have owned my own small business since 1984. During that time, I have rented trucks an average of 4-5 times per year, usually cube vans in the 12-14 ft category. Early on, I rented from U-Haul. However, abysmal customer service and equipment in such poor condition that it often seemed on the verge of breakdown caused me to shop for the same service elsewhere and I found that competitors offered better equipment at better rates. Therefore, I have rented from U-Haul only once or twice since those earlier experiences.
Occasionally I need a pickup rather than a larger or enclosed van and that has often presented a problem as, until recently, not many companies offered pickups for rent. I began to notice late model pickups at some of your locations so when a need for one arose this past weekend I decided to give U-Haul another try, hoping of course that my earlier customer service experiences would not be repeated. Subsequently, I rented a Ford F150 from the center at 5315 Summer Ave, Memphis TN. My rental contract number was 01289724.
Well, I must say that I could not find a single fault with the truck. It was in excellent condition (of course, it was nearly new) and was perfect for the task. The customer service I received, on the other hand, showed me that my bad memories of U-Haul were not unique to that time or those earlier locations.
I called the aforementioned location around 3PM on Saturday, June 24 to reserve the truck for the following day. I will say that the person who took the reservation was pleasant. She made sure that I was aware that the rental price would be $19.95 plus .59 per mile, the truck would not be available until after 11AM, and that I must return it by 4:30PM or incur additional charges. She was so concerned about me being aware of all of these facts that she repeated each of them no less than three times. Now, while I was aware that the rental charge per shift is charged in full even if the equipment is not available for the full shift, and find it one of U-Hauls worse policies, as it happened the hours that I needed the truck coincided perfectly with the time frame she had given, and, frankly, $19.95 is not a bad price, so the rental plus mileage charge was fine by me. So far, so good. Then I got to the store to rent the truck.
A person whom I believe identified herself as Rhonda first waited on me. Unfortunately, I did not write her name down so cannot verify that was her name. She was only one of three young women behind the counter. She was the only one wearing glasses. I placed my driver license, credit card, and insurance card on the counter and Rhonda handed the insurance card back to me saying that the additional insurance coverage was not optional when renting the pickup and that the $10 for that would be added to my total fees.
Let me say here that I pay higher premiums so my insurance will cover truck rentals, so I am not fond of paying anything extra that is as completely unnecessary as this additional insurance. Still, given the convenience factor of using the pickup, I likely would have reserved it anyway, even had the person taking that reservation informed me about this the day before. However, she did not inform me, and that is the first point of my complaint. U-Haul is well known for surprising people with extra fees that are not divulged until the customer is at the counter to pick up the equipment, no doubt figuring probably correctly that once the customer is there they will likely go ahead and rent, anyway. Numerous blogs on the Internet complaining about U-Haul testify to this (and you will not find nearly as many complaints on the Internet for your three closest competitors combined hmmtell you something?).
Sure enough, as I had made my plans around getting the pickup and could not be sure I could find a suitable replacement at that time, I decided to let you stick it to me, as you are so famous for. But the fun was only beginning. As I am not fond of surprise fees, I told Rhonda that it did not make me happy. Her response was to stare directly ahead at her computer screen and not utter one syllable in response.
I then pressed further by saying why did the person that took my reservation not tell me? Again, no response though I could tell she was continuing with the rental process. I continued by saying that I found this to be crappy customer service. At that, she stopped and told me that she could see if one of the other locations had a 14-ft van available (why that particular size vehicle, I do not know).
I told her that would not work for me, that I rented a pickup because that was what I needed. She shrugged and went back to what she was doing. I asked if it was your habit to not divulge all of the prices when taking a reservation. She replied that she has no habits. I told her I was using the collective your, meaning, is it the companys habit, to which she again offered to find a 14-ft van for me.
I told her, again, that I did not want nor could I use anything other than a pickup and asked if that was the best she could do for my dissatisfaction. She asked what she was supposed to do. I told her that it was customary at least to say she was sorry that I was unhappy. Her response to that was to say that she didnt do it.
I told her I was aware of that, but she should at least apologize on the companys behalf, to which she replied that she would not apologize for something she didnt do and went on again! to suggest I locate a 14-ft van. Of course, by this time I was finding it really difficult to keep my temper, and I said emphatically that I did not want nor could I use anything other than a pickup.
At that time, she called over to Shelly Jackson and said, You take care of him. I dont want anything to do with him. Shelly Jackson came to take over and Rhonda began servicing another customer, to whom I overheard her say Im not gonna apologize for something I didnt do.
Shellys approach was to continue filling out the form and not say one word. Not knowing how much of the conversation she had heard between Rhonda and me, I told her what had happened. No response. I spoke to her five or six times and not once did she look away from her computer or acknowledge that I had spoken.
At one point I asked if she intended to totally ignore me. Apparently she did, because she still did not respond. Finally, I asked if she was a robot and she asked what I meant by that. I said that I had said several things while she was at the counter and she had not responded once, to which she replied, What was I supposed to say? I repeated what I had said to Rhonda earlier, that it is customary to at least show some concern when a customer has a problem.
Her response was again to not respond. I asked then if a manager was available and she said there was not. I asked when one might be and she told me the manager would not be in until the next day. I asked if I was expected to believe that no one of supervisory capacity would be at the store the entire day and she told me that was correct.
I asked for the managers name and she handed me the business card for the store manager, Ken Crawford, then shoved the paperwork in front of me to sign. After doing so, I left the counter with not another word from any of them, not a thank you, sorry, go to h---, nothing.
At least, the person prepping the vehicle was pleasant.
As I said, I have owned my own business for 24 years and go out my way to make sure that the customer is happy. I also make sure that all who work for me are guided by the same principal; if they are not, then I fire them and hire someone who is. Once I even had to fire a friend who treated a customer rudely. I cannot comprehend a business model that would allow otherwise let alone foster it, as your company appears to do.
Still, I am well aware that in all likelihood nothing will come of this complaint. Employees that should be severely reprimanded will probably not be. After all, U-Haul is famous for egregious practices when it comes to surprise fees and abominable customer service and always has been. Your business model relies on the one-time customer or those who do not have or are unaware of other rental alternatives, and you cannot prove otherwise if my own experiences as well as the numerous Internet postings are any example (which they are).
In other words, you are not at all concerned with repeat business so do not care about the satisfaction or fair treatment of those who rent from you. Through the years, I have been an outspoken critic of your service and know for a fact that I have steered more than one person away from renting from you, and believe me when I tell you that I shall be ever more vocal in criticism of U-Haul the future.
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