I think the time is long past for me to make consumers aware, and hence beware, of U-Haul. As a previous employee of the company I can not caution people strongly enough to avoid using the services of this company. I was employed there at a point in life when I had no real option but to work for them in spite of my intense dislike of their practices. U-Haul will, and I repeat _WILL_ steal from you in any way they can. I'm going to point out some of the many ways they rip you off, and do it well within the allowance of the law and their own policies:
First: Don't believe or assume for a moment that you are really entitled to a "24 hour" rental. U-Haul trains it's customer service reps and managers to quickly and not so clearly explain that you can "have the equipment for the rental period available." You will be asked when you make a reservation or come in to get equipment "when do you need it?" and "how long do you need it for?" U-Haul trained us to try to rent equipment in "lots" of 2, 4 or 6 hours. Reps will do their best to get you to use a credit card to secure and rent rather than cash. This is so when you return the equipment 15 minutes or more past the allotted number of hours they can charge you "late fees." The late fee proscribed by U-Haul is another full 24 hour rental period. So, if you have the equipment for an allotted time of 4 hours, but bring it back an hour late, you will likely pay for another full day's rental. To avoid this, if you must use them, ask for the equipment for 24 hours. If they refuse to give it to you for that period, don't do it!
Second: As mentioned above, giving U-Haul your credit card information is a VERY BAD idea! We were instructed by our local and district managers to charge a full rental fee for every hour the vehicle was late. On more than one occasion we charged over $1,000.00 to people's credit cards/debit cards. Further, we had a manger who was using credit card numbers to "reserve and rent" "phantom rentals" which he used to pocket cash to replace tools and money he had stolen from our U-Haul store. (By the way I was a U-Haul corporate employee which means I worked for U-Haul directly, not for some little garage that rents U-Haul trucks as a franchise. The franchise owners are sometimes more honest and sometimes even worse than U-Haul corporate stores!)
Third: If you choose to have U-Haul install wiring and/or hitch equipment watch them VERY carefully. If they refuse to allow you into the hitch bay or garage area to supervise, refuse the work! If you aren't sure what to watch for, don't let them do it or have a mechanic supervise. At the very least, as soon as they have installed your equipment, take it to get it checked by a professional. As a time saving technique, U-Haul managers often advise employees to leave fasteners (eg: bolts, nuts and or washers) completely off the hitch. They also use wiring shortcuts called "crimp on splicers" which tend to eventually cut off your vehicle wiring completely or cause shorts. This can lead to failure of your brake lights and/or turn signals or worse.
Fourth: U-Haul storage is not a safe bet! They do NOT regularly check for rodents or theft. In fact, a manager at my store was caught, repeatedly, by myself and others, climbing over the top of indoor storage units, peeling back chicken wire (which is what they call "secure indoor container roofs") and stealing items from storage. He even managed to steal a snow blower. Leaks are often dealt with in the storage areas by placing buckets under them, or simply ignoring them. U-Haul then explains they are not responsible for water damage, as is shown in the fine print. If you're curious get one of their storage contracts and THOROUGHLY read the fine print. Also, U-Haul is notorious for auctioning storage items of active duty military members which is against federal laws. They do so by simply failing to contact those people, then faking "call logs" of collection calls. By claiming they tried, but could not reach the individual, they had no knowledge that the person(s) were military and proceeded to auction the stored goods for nonpayment. They have also been known to fudge payment dates to auction storage rooms early.
Finally: U-Haul makes mileage claims on many of it's vehicles. They also tell you in the fine print (only in the fine print) that they do NOT guarantee that mileage. If you insist on renting a U-Haul truck, expect that you really may get as little as 5 miles per gallon even on the smaller, more lightweight 14' and 10' trucks/vans. I actually drove a 14' DC model from another center to the center I worked at and it burned through two 20 gallon tanks of fuel in about a hundred miles. There really is no excuse other than shoddy maintenance.
Another point before I finish: U-Haul may tell you they have your equipment reserved and ready to go. What they won't tell you is that they don't actually have to have the equipment you specified when you get there. They are, under their policy, allowed to "make reasonable substitutes" to "satisfy the need of the customer." What this means is, if you reserve a 26' truck and you arrive the morning of "X day" to get it, and they don't have one, they may give you a 14' truck and a 5'x8' open trailer to move your 4 bedroom household from California to New York with. If you try to cancel the reservation upon arrival when you discover this, they can and likely will charge you between $150.00 to $500.00 for a "no notice cancellation." Their logic is in their policy which states you must give at least 24 hour notice prior to any reservation being canceled, and that substitution of equipment may not be grounds for canceling without notice.
I could go on for pages, but I hope this gives you the basic idea of what can happen to you if you deal with U-Haul. Please, if you find that you MUST deal with them, go into it with your eyes WIDE open. Be extremely cautious. Be downright paranoid. Insist on paying CASH for your vehicle/equipment deposit(s) and rental fee(s). Be certain to inspect vehicles and equipment carefully and mark ALL damage on your inspection sheet even if they try to rush you or tell you "oh, it's ok we know that scratch, dent (etc.) is there."
Good luck in your moving, and remember, caution is the watchword with U-Haul!
Rome, New York
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on U-Haul