Unsafe Equipment and Poor Service
On Monday, July 18, 2005, I rented a 16’ truck and car carrier #361659 at Allen Tire & Battery in New Britain, CT, and returned both items Friday, July 22, 2005, at All Safe Mini Stor It in Waukesha, WI. Our total bill was $1,429.53 (Customer Reference # 0042400009023) paid by credit card. We are extremely unhappy with the condition of the car carrier we received.
We arrived at Allen Tire & Battery on Monday and spoke with William Zenboi. In order to rent us the truck we were looking for, he needed to close that particular truck rental in the system. This told us that it was not inspected after the previous rental and before ours. He also rented us the only car carrier he had on property. Upon arriving at our Storage Unit with the truck and car carrier, we noticed that the strap that is placed around the front driver side tire was rotten three-fourths of the way through.
At 5:55 A.M. on Tuesday, July 19, , my fiancé and I began our long drive from New Britain, CT to Waukesha, WI. Within four minutes of merging onto I-84W in Hartford, CT, the passenger-side front tire of the car carrier blew out. In the emergency lane of the highway, I dialed Budget’s Roadside Assistance and spoke with Aaron who informed me that he would return my call as soon as he was able to locate a service to change our tire. After a half hour, Aaron did return our call and told me that service was located and would be at our location within the hour. We waited patiently for one hour and 15 minutes for a service technician to help us while rush-hour traffic continued to build. As frustration set in, I dialed Budget Roadside Assistance a second time and spoke with Jay who placed me on hold for 10 minutes. When he came back on the line, he informed me that the service technician had gotten stuck in traffic and would be there within 20 minutes. After 30 minutes, my fiancé called Roadside Assistance yet again and also spoke with Jay who informed us that the service technician should be there “any minute.” We questioned Jay about the location of the service technician, and he informed us that the technician was coming from East Hartford – only 10 minutes from our location. As we began to tell Jay that sitting on the side of a MAJOR highway in a MAJOR city for two and one-half hours is unacceptable, the service gentleman pulled up behind us. When we questioned him about the amount of time it took him to reach us, he informed us that he was not stuck in traffic but had only received the call 10 minutes prior to his arrival.
Upon changing our blown-out tire, the service technician informed us that the tire – along with at least two of the other three tires – had severe rot damage. Unfortunately, he only had one tire with him to replace the blown-out one.
It is unacceptable that we were both lied to and had to wait in the emergency lane of a MAJOR highway in a MAJOR city during very dangerous rush hour traffic for two and one half hours. It is also unacceptable that we were given a car carrier with tires in that condition. According to the Budget Truck Web site:
"Budget Strives For A Well-Maintained Fleet:
Budget Truck Rental prides itself on its established safety and inspection process. Before any rental, Budget Truck rental locations are expected to complete a full 10-point inspection of the truck, which includes checking for the proper fluids, tire pressures and other necessary elements for a smooth rental."
It also needs to be mentioned that upon return of the truck and car carrier, we informed the gentleman at All Safe Mini Stor It in Waukesha, WI, that the car carrier’s tires and straps were in need of attention before the next rental. He acknowledged our comment with an “uh-huh.”
This is only the beginning of a list of issues that we had with Budget Truck Rental.
On Wednesday, June 29, 2005, we rented the first of two 16’ trucks and car carriers at Southern Transfer Service in Orlando, FL, and returned the truck and car carrier #108755 on Thursday, July 7, 2005, at Allen Tire & Battery in New Britain, CT. Our total bill for our first trip was $840.35 (Customer Reference #1707116502430) paid by Discover credit card. Upon returning to our house to pack up the truck, we found we were unable to disconnect the car carrier from the truck. We phoned Roadside Assistance and waited two hours for a technician to arrive. He informed us that all he had to do was stand on the bumper of the truck and “bounce the car carrier off the ball,” which could have been explained to us on the telephone.
Upon attempting to reserve a second truck and car carrier in Connecticut, we called Budget Reservations at 10 A.M. on Sunday, July 17. We were informed that there was one location that had both the 16’ truck and car carrier. We were told we could pick them up at 2 P.M. and that this location closed at 6 P.M. Upon our arrival at Storage USA Rocky Hill in Rocky Hill, CT, we were told that they had only received the truck reservation information ten minutes prior to our arrival, that our reservation was for pickup at 2:30 P.M., and that the location closed at 3 P.M. We were also told that they only had a 15’ truck and no car carrier. The gentleman at Storage USA Rocky Hill phoned the District Office to inquire about the reservation. After several minutes, he handed the phone to my fiancé who was told there were no other open locations, that it was our fault for making the reservation on a Sunday afternoon, and that if we desired we could take the truck currently available at that location and pick up a car carrier at another location the next morning. We explained to the woman on the phone that this was not acceptable. We were told the equipment was available; therefore, it was not our fault for making the reservation on a Sunday. We also explained that because we were told our reservation was made, we went ahead and made arrangements to pack that afternoon and leave the following morning. This had now caused us to lose an entire day and a half. We asked what she could offer us for the trouble, and she informed my fiancé that we were not “at the negotiating stage yet.” This is not an acceptable way to treat a customer that is going to spend over $1,500 on your equipment.
In the end, we canceled the reservation and waited until the following morning to return to another location, Allen Tire & Battery in New Britain, CT, because we had dealt with the gentleman earlier and he had informed us he could offer us a better deal.
I would also like to mention that on the Budget Truck Rental web site and on the reservation system printed papers it says that Budget Truck Rental rents 16’ trucks; however, on my receipts and on various posters hung throughout Budget Truck Rental facilities, it states that the trucks are 15’. If I have reserved a 16’ truck, I expect to receive a 16’ truck – not 15’.
As outlined in this note, I am extremely disappointed with our experiences with Budget Truck Rental – both the equipment and Budget associates. Upon our arrival at our final destination in Waukesha, WI, we phoned customer service and spoke with Tammy who informed us she could only offer a 10% refund on the car carrier based on Budget’s guidelines. When we stated this was not acceptable, she had us speak with Sean, her supervisor, who informed us he could only offer a 20% refund on the car carrier. When I told him that this was also unacceptable, he informed me that was all he could do. He said he would make a note in our file that the customer declined his offer and proceeded to give me Budget Truck Rental's Executive Offices address to which I wrote a three-page letter - dated August 2, 2005 - with the information just described here.
To resolve my complaints, I requested a refund of the cost of the second car carrier, a total of $344.50 ($325 for the car carrier and $19.50 for the 6% tax), based on the fact that the equipment was in such a state of disrepair as to jeopardize the safety of my fiancé and myself, along with other drivers on state and federal highways. Also, I feel I am entitled to an additional refund of 10% of the total bill for both trips ($2,269.88), which is $226.99, as compensation for our inconvenience, wasted personal time, excessive cell phone usage, and the numerous misleading statements made by their associates.
I enclosed all receipts and paperwork from both truck and car carrier rentals and photos of the rot-ridden tires and straps. I requested return information by September 1, 2005 before filing a complaint with and seeking help from the Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection, Connecticut and Florida Departments of Consumer Protection, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Better Business Bureau.
On Wednesday, August 24, 2005 at approximately 5 p.m., I received a phone call from J.P. (Employee ID # 57681) at Budget Truck Rental (Phone # 800-462-8343). He informed me that he was unable to give me any information even though I had written the letter and all the charges were placed on my credit card. He would only speak with my fiancé because his name was on the truck rental reservation information. Unfortunately, my fiancé was not home from work at that time but did attempt to return J. P.'s phone call 15 minutes later. We were told J. P. had already left the office. On Thursday, August 25, my fiancé called J. P. during his lunch hour. J.P. explained to him that he was the Case Manager handling our case and had come to a settlement amount of $167.50. When we informed him that this amount was considerably less than we requested and felt we deserved, he stated that was all he could do. When we asked for his supervisor, he said he was the last person we could possibly deal with - no one was above him. We informed him that we felt we deserved a better offer and would proceed to file our complaints with the above mentioned organizations. As a courtesy gesture towards Budget Truck Rental, my fiancé placed one more phone call to J. P. during his lunch hour on Friday, August 26 to be sure that was the best they could offer. J. P. again stated that was all he could do.