I'm writing this story as a warning to anyone who intends to do any moving in the future. My story is long, but it is worthy of telling because of the implications for anyone who is planning on moving and has not yet chosen which moving company they shall use. Before I begin, I must ask you this pivotal question: when it comes time to move your worldly possessions across town or across country, will you get off your wallet and let a company take all of the responsibility from start to finish in order to avoid a headache? Or will you rent from U-Haul and try to save a few bucks by moving your own stuff? I chose the migraine.
Now perhaps the moral of the story should be to heed the warnings of others. However, that would imply that I am mostly at fault. While I do admit that I was told not to rent from U-Haul by former disgruntled customers and I did anyways, I was still utterly shocked and dismayed by the horrendous service I received from U-Haul. It was absolutely absurd! It just boggles my mind. Thus, I have decided the moral of the story will be, "Do not rent from U-Haul." Here is my story...
My friend Nick, his girlfriend Marge, my girlfriend Shaine, and I moved from Winnipeg to Calgary at the end of August to go to school. Being university students, we don't have a lot of money so we decided to try to save a few bucks by renting a 17 foot truck from U-Haul. We reserved this truck in late July and we were promised by U-Haul that we would have a truck on August 30 no later than 12:00 noon. August 30 comes and we call U-Haul at 9:00 am to see if the truck is ready. It is not. As a matter of fact, U-Haul claims to have double-booked our truck and it is possible that we will not have a truck until 7:00 pm!! Wow. So after several calls to U-Haul they finally get the hint that we will not stop harassing them until we get a truck.
So, they say they will have a truck ready for us at 4:00 pm. However, when they said they would have a truck ready for us, what they actually should have said was that they would have a friggin' warehouse on wheels ready for us. They gave us a standard transmission, 26 foot, diesel truck in lieu of the 17 foot truck we originally reserved. For some reason I wasn't totally convinced that I should be driving this vehicle with a class 5 license. I looked like an ant behind the wheel of a Tonka truck.
The surly U-Haul worker at the service counter seemed almost too apathetic to be human (a trait that we have found to be quite common amongst U-Haul workers). She did not seem to care that we were already upset customers and we hadn't even left the compound yet. She simply shrugged off our complaints and suggested that someone else might be better able to resolve our problems. Her defense was that she only takes down reservations. "Yes!" I exclaimed. "You guys are certainly skilled in 'taking' the reservation; you're just not very good at 'holding' the reservation. Which, by the way, is probably the most important aspect of the reservation." Her reply to my Seinfeldian observation? She slid the key to our truck across the counter. Next please.
Whatever. We were finally on our way so we were partially happy. Unfortunately, by this time it had started to rain and we were forced to move our scant belongings into a truck that was about 9 feet too long. (Funny, it wasn't raining during the day -- when we should have had our truck ... a 17 foot truck that is). Note to the reader: at this point, I'm not even registering on the bitterness meter -- read on.
So the next morning we get on our way. Everything is going smoothly. We move out of Manitoba without any problems. The truck is driving fairly nicely until we stop for fuel in Morse, Saskatchewan. We go to start it and it nothing happens. So I go up to a truck driver in the parking lot and ask him for some assistance. As it turns out he used to work for U-Haul so he is happy to oblige. It also turns out that there is no love loss between him and U-Haul. He explains how he left his job with the company over personal disputes with management.
While Nick is on a payphone with the 1-800 U-Haul breakdown hotline (a resource which we quickly found to consist of people who know nothing putting us on hold, transferring us to other people who know nothing, who then transfer us to someone who puts us on a never-ending hold intended to frustrate the caller, thus compelling the caller to hang up and not bother the people who know nothing) the Trucker tells me that our starter is shot and we must jump start the U-Haul. After getting the okay from a U-Haul phone person, we pop in the clutch, get the truck going, and decide that our only option at this point is to never shut off the engine ever again.
We continue on our merry way until we get about a half an hour outside of Swift Current when the truck starts to severly overheat. We pull over, keep the engine running, and call the 1-800 hotline again. More holding, more people who know nothing, and the inevitable perpetual hold. Suddenly, our hero -- the Trucker -- shows up again. He suggests a quick fix -- put water in the radiator. Once again, we get the okay from a U-Haul phone person, we do it and it works! Hooray. Before the Trucker bids us adieu this time he cheekily says, "I'll see you guys in a bit, eh!" Oh the irony. As you'll soon see it is so thick this situation is worthy of Webster's.
Nick and Marge were in the truck at this point and Shaine and I were following close behind in Shaine's car. Everything is fine once again until we hit Medicine Hat. We get to the first set of lights in Medicine Hat and we notice that Nick isn't slowing down for the red light. As the truck enters the intersection the light turns green and Nick and Marge go barrelling through, swerving around two semi-trucks and eventually coasting to a stop on the shoulder of the road several hundred metres from the set of lights. A very pale Nick and Marge emerge from the truck amazed that they are still alive. "The brakes failed!" decares a very shaken Nick. "The brakes stopped working!" cries a sobbing Marge. Now, I'm no mechanic, but I'm almost positive that that's not supposed to happen to a vehicle.
I certainly wouldn't classify the equipment that U-Haul rented us as "well serviced." Perhaps this is where myself and the U-Haul mechanic who serviced our truck disagree, but I rank the ability to stop very high on my priority list when travelling at high speeds in a truck. But that's just me.
For the next few minutes, the four of us stand bewildered on the side of the road, unsure of what to do but listen to the calming sounds of the elevator music while holding on U-Haul's 1-800 hotline number. "Help! I need somebody, not just anybody ..."
Here's where the irony comes in. Guess who shows up? Yes, our hero the Trucker! The same trucker who earlier had jokingly suggested that he would "see us soon." However, this time he cannot save us. Nothing can save us. The truck is completely dead. It has no power. The only thing that he can do is suggest an array of swear words and threats that might help us in getting some assistance from one of the mindless peons of the 1-800 hotline.
We stood on the side of the TransCanada Highway for about two hours before we talked to the vice-president of U-Haul traffic that we no one could look at the truck until the next day. He tells us to stay in a hotel in Medicine Hat and that he will call us back the next morning to get someone to look at the truck. (Note to reader: when a U-Haul employee says that he or she will call you back, they actually mean to say that they will definitely NOT call you back.)
So we stay in the Days Inn across the street. The next morning we receive no phone call. So I phone several independent U-Haul dealers in Medicine Hat until I find one who will actually help us. He comes down, takes one look at the U-Haul and says that we need a tow truck. He calls the vice-prez who was supposed to call us that morning and tells him to get a tow. So what does he do naturally? He calls another mechanic to come look at it. The next mechanic comes and says that the two batteries got so overheated that they melted together. Additionally, there are problems with the alternator and an array of other parts. He calls the vice-prez and tells him that we need a tow truck.
So finally, he concedes (so we thought) and the vice-prez tells us that a tow truck is on its way. Two hours later the tow truck is still not there. So I call the vice-prez and I ask him where the tow truck is. He says that he has decided not to get a tow truck and instead to try to fix the problem. Meanwhile, fights are breaking out between couples, there's a nervous breakdown, and our two little dogs are going stir crazy in a compact Honda. That's it. I lose it.
Now I'm not a fan of confrontation and I don't normally get angry, but I phone the vice-prez and rip into this guy for a solid five minutes. I explain to him that even if they did fix the truck, there was no way any of us were going to drive it. Not only did it almost kill us, but we were positive that it would break down again and quite frankly, I was sick of seeing our hero the Trucker. I tell him to get a tow truck. He tells me to call him back and he hangs up on me. So I tell Nick, who becomes furious and immediately calls him back. Nick tells him to get a tow truck. The tone in Nick's voice frightens me and several small children in the vicinity. A tow truck was on its way.
At this point I have fashioned a sign on the back of the truck so that U-Haul's slogan which once read "Moving made easier," now reads "Moving made HARDER."
A half an hour later the tow truck shows up (in the pouring rain). The U-Haul is towed the rest of the way to Nick's apartment in Calgary. As soon as it arrives at Nick's apartment, the tow truck driver claims that he doesn't have the authority to tow it to my apartment. He says that U-Haul told him to tow it to the first apartment, but not the second. So he leaves us there, stranded. Once again we try the hotline and they tell us that they will phone us back (or in U-Haul lingo, they will NOT phone us back). So we have to call our own tow truck to take the truck with my stuff in it from Nick's apartment to my place.
When we finally got the truck to my apartment ($100 and two hours later) it was 11:00 at night. We got that hunk of junk unloaded and the truck sat there for the next three days in a fire lane before U-Haul finally got the urge to come tow it away. What a disaster, eh? From start to freakin' finish it was a colossal mess.
Everything from the customer service to the equipment was complete crap. Now, you're probably thinking, once you explain to U-Haul what has happened they are bound to give you a reimbursement for your troubles. Possibly even a few hundred extra dollars to avoid a lawsuit. After all, people almost died right?
Well, first of all, it was a runaround trying to find out how to begin these negotiations. Finally we were directed to JIM NORBERRY of Winnipeg's U-Haul outlet on Regent. Now JIM NORBERRY might sound very courteous and friendly on the phone, but as it turns out, JIM NORBERRY probably has no soul. (JIM, by the way, can be reached at 1-800-387-9771). He offered to reimburse our out-of-pocket expenses (hotel, tow truck) and nothing more. Oh wait, I'm sorry, he did offer us $100 worth of U-Haul GIFT CERTIFICATES. Can you believe that? What an insult. Why would we be so eager to move again, let alone with U-Haul? That's like being offered a coupon for 'buy one, get one free s**t Sandwich.' So JIM NORBERRY made his final offer. It is completely obscene. We've tried phoning other U-Haul rep's but they all say we have to deal with JIM NORBERRY and there is nothing else we can do.
As a last resort I emailed the U-Haul website via a customer complaint form. I received an email back from a U-Haul representative named Sparcle Taylor who explained that a man named REAL FAUCHER, Marketing Company President for U-Haul in Winnipeg, would get in contact with me to discuss the matter. Taylor also explained that Mr. Faucher "has responsibility for the final resolution of (my) concern."
One week later Mr. Faucher had not yet contacted me. So, I gave him a call at which time he claimed that he had not looked over my information that Taylor had sent him. He said that he would get in contact with me as soon as he got to it. One week later Mr. Faucher still hadn't contacted me so I phoned him back. At that point, a very indifferent Faucher told me that there would be no other offer made by U-Haul to compensate us for our troubles. He stated that we would not get any more money from U-Haul. He did not offer so much as an apology or his own personal sympathy. In short, Faucher did not care one bit about what we had gone through and he's expecting us to just take it lying down.
According to Sparcle Taylor, we are out of resources in dealing with this matter. Thus, this is my only redemption -- to tell my story and urge others not to deal with U-Haul in the future. I think they are complete cowards. It is one thing to provide awful service, it is another to fail to take responsibility for that service. JIM NORBERRY's excuse for not offering a full reimbursement was that our move was completed in the end. But that does not make up for the fact that we were put through hell for several days.
They rented us a piece of s**t truck that not only was a terrible inconvenience, it almost killed us. And the saddest part of this whole ordeal is that I don't believe that anyone from U-Haul ever said that they were sorry for what happened to us. Sparcle Taylor offered us an apology, only after I wrote in my email that no one from U-Haul had said sorry. When an organization makes a mistake, any reasonable individual expects it to hold itself accountable and to rectify the situation.
U-Haul is an anomoly in that it won't take full responsibility. Why deal with them when you can deal with someone who will provide high quality, guaranteed service? There are many companies out there who value their customers. U-Haul is not one of them. So do me a favour, in the future, don't even give U-Haul the time of day. If you asked for the time from them, they'd probably put you on hold.
Calgary, Alberta Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on U-Haul