I normally have had great experiences with U-Haul in the more than 15 years I've used its service; however, I'm currently disputing a $122 charge for inflated fees and recommending to anyone within earshot not to use this particular dealer if they must use U-Haul.
I reserved a 17-foot truck online for pickup on Saturday, June 7 and return on Sunday, June 8 (24-hour rental). Cost: $29.95 + $7 dolly-rental fee + $1 service fee = $37.95 (+ $0.99/mile). I went to pick up the vehicle. First off, the attendant wasn't very helpful, but I figured it was a quick rental -- I lived within 2 miles from the dealer and was moving only 19 miles away.
Then, the problems (nee, red flags) began: He wouldn't even conduct any business until I gave him my credit card. His computer was down, which may cause the quoted price not to match the actual rental price. After he recorded my credit-card information and gave me the contract, he said I would have to have the truck returned by 2 p.m. that same day.
It was 9:30 a.m. and I was moving an apartment's worth of items. When I balked and firmly told him my reservation was for 24 hours, he said the weekend hours are different (for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, he said) -- but that this particular dealership usually "credited" customers, because it was a company-wide thing (meaning, U-Haul), but they wanted to give customers a break. Lucky me.
Every time I asked him for a firm quote on what the price probably would be -- he couldn't give me one. And when I saw the printout for $102.00, he assured me it was just an estimate assuming I went more than 50 miles and some additional "fees," but that it wouldn't be that high. An aside: the truck shook when I went over 50 miles per hour.
Well, in the middle of moving, approximately 2 hours after I drove away from the rental dealership, I get a call from the attendant asking if I'll have the truck back by 5 p.m. (at this time it was still 3/5 full). When I said not likely, and reminded him I reserved it for 24 hours, he said the owner may be in, but that if I can get it back by 8 p.m., that would be great.
So, essentially, I was being asked to expedite my cross-town moving, because my 24-hour rental was only good for 12 hours. Well, I returned the truck with a full tank at about 9 p.m. My total trip was about 40 miles -- and I'm being generous -- from the lot out and back. When I asked the owner about returning my contract or inspection, he brushed me off quickly (he was in a hurry to leave) and said, "It's OK; I've got your credit card information, and that's all I need." Indeed.
Well, the next day, a transaction hold for $122.10 appeared on my credit card for the U-Haul rental. When I called, the attendant who helped me the first day answered, stammered as he tried to think of an excuse and told me that I had traveled 63 miles. I told him that was impossible, because it's only 19.2 miles from my old home to my new home -- and only 2 miles from their dealership to my old home (where I loaded the truck).
So, at most, that would be 46 miles tops, round trip. Well, when I asked for an explanation and a clear breakdown of charges, he asked if I could hold on for a minute -- then hung up on me. So, of course I called back and was exceedingly polite -- this time, the owner answered and said I was being charged for 3 days, no, wait (he said), 2 days, because it was different for Saturday and Sunday.
They can't even get their lies straight. I told him I reserved a truck for 24 hours, and I'm not paying for 3 days -- especially since I was rushed into using it for only 12 hours. He finally relented and said he'd take off 1 day. When I asked him for an estimate, he said $122.10. When I replied, "You mean, AFTER the deduction?" He became very condescending and said, "No, it's $122 now, it will be -- oh (huffing), hold on a second and let me see... $92.15." I thanked him and he hung up on me, too. Great customer service.
Then I called my bank and let them know I plan to dispute any charge that comes through from U-Haul. Sadly, since it's already an authorized hold, I have to wait until it posts before taking any action. Second, I called U-Haul's national number. They almost laughed when I told them about the 6- to 12-hour 24-hour rental, and said all the dealerships should give exactly what the online/phone reservation indicates.
I was transferred a couple times; nevertheless, my complaint currently is pending with their customer service department. Let this be a warning to everyone thinking about using any business anywhere. ALWAYS keep your paperwork. Luckily, I did. And, always appreciate your instinct.
If you start to get the feeling that you're dealing with a shoddy or fraudulent business and your "sensors" start going and red flags start popping up, follow your instincts! When we first walked in, I got a funny feeling, but as a woman, I displayed that oft-defeating "oh, well" attitude when I should just have said, "Never mind, but thank you" and walked out the door.
It's not like I couldn't have found another truck somewhere else. I understand this issue is not so much with U-Haul as it is with one of the company's contractors. However, if I don't receive some form of recompense for all my trouble, the nationwide company will find itself in my sights. Still, this is more as a warning for others.
While I busy myself calling my bank and U-Haul to make sure I'm not paying exorbitant fees because some unethical, independent contractor thinks he's found a patsy, hopefully anyone reading this will think twice when the pickup place is listed as Mitchell's Pit Stop on Chapman Avenue in Orange, CA. It's not worth the hassle. Trust me...and wish me luck in getting my money back, should I have to.
garden grove, California
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