Family Vacation Ruined
MESA, ARIZONA -- I recently rented a 24' trailer from Cruise America's Los Angeles (Carson) location in September 2010 with the intention of traveling to a campground near Kernville, California, which is approximately 200 miles from my starting location. I along with 14 members of my family departed for Kernville the following day at approximately 9:30 AM. At approximately between 11:30 AM-12:00 PM and 130 miles into the trip, one of my family members who had rented a 19' RV from Cruise America (due to my recommendation) and had been following behind, noticed smoke coming from the rear of the trailer I was hauling. I immediately pulled to the side of the highway to investigate the source of the smoke. The smoke appeared to be coming from the rotor drum, so we decided to exit the highway into the nearest town which was Mojave, CA.
As I was returning to enter my vehicle from examining the source of the smoke, I noticed the electrical connector from my vehicle to the trailer had come off from the end attached to my vehicle sometime between the time we left and reached the Mojave desert, which prompted additional concerns because I was aware that meant I had no brake lights or turn signals. The connector end that had come off was severely damaged due to having been dragged in transit. This was only the first of many problems/issues I would have with Cruise America (If the connector can easily come off, it should have been secured using other means when the trailer was hitched to my vehicle at the time of pick up). As I made my way to a gas station to assess the situation, one of the trailer wheels completely came off...tire, rim, lug nuts, and rotor drum all intact! I immediately contacted Cruise America's Traveler's Assistance phone number and spoke to a representative who advised me that he would contact a local towing company to assess the severity of the situation. Due to the obvious damage to the vehicle, I requested for traveler's assistance representative to begin looking into the nearest replacement for the trailer as I was certain that it would require several hours repair the damage even if it could be repaired. He advised me that it was Cruise America's policy to have it assessed by a mechanic or tow truck operator before taking further action.
To my recollection, the towing company arrived approximately 20-30 minutes later and determined that the damage was a mechanical issue and was in no way my fault. In addition, the towing company advised me that even if they were able to fix the rotor drum and tire that had come off, they could not allow me to continue on with the trailer for concern for my family as the other portions of the trailer may have also been damaged or compromised (example of great customer service shown by the towing company, NOT Cruise America). As a result, the towing company relayed this information to Cruise America.
By then it was approximately 12:30-1:00 PM and Cruise America's traveler's assistance representative followed up by contacting me with the following 2 options: (1) Drive back 120+ miles to pick up a replacement back in Los Angeles (Carson) OR (2) Wait for a replacement trailer to be brought to my location in Mojave, CA which would take at least 5 hours. The representative advised since it would take much longer for a replacement to be brought out to me because the replacement would have to be prepared prior to delivery, I should consider option 1. However, I advised the representative that I had 14 members of my family (which included my 8 month pregnant wife and several children which are under the age of 4) sitting in 90+ degree heat in a gas station parking lot so leaving them behind to pick up the replacement trailer only to return after dark was not an option I could consider and waiting for a replacement to be delivered 4-5 hours with rush hour traffic crossing through Los Angeles was also unacceptable. I advised the representative that in addition to having my family stranded in a parking lot in a remote desert location, most of us had taken the day off or vacation and that we had paid reservations for the campground so all the time we were spending waiting for Cruise America to make the situation right was essentially costing us money. At one point during the course of my conversation with the Cruise America representative, the representative would not acknowledge me or respond. When I asked if he was still on the phone listening, the representative advised me that he was listening but was not acknowledging me as to not escalate the situation. This may beCruise America's standard procedure, but it seemed very insensitive and actually made me more outraged. As a result, I immediately requested to speak with a manager or supervisor, at which point the representative advised me that he was the manager on duty and those were the only 2 options I had. I advised the representative about my dissatisfaction with the way I was being treated and the 2 options that were being given to me. I then advised the representative that I would call him back after consulting the other members of my family regarding the options that were given to me. My family members were obviously outraged, disgusted, and appalled as any reasonable human being would be with the options I was given. During my discussion with the other members of my family, it was pointed out that the nearest Cruise America hub was in Bakersfield, CA so I once again contacted the representative to inquire if a replacement could be provided through the Bakersfield hub. The representative advised me that the Bakersfield hub did not have the same exact trailer as the one I rented so unless I was willing to take a pop-up trailer which was smaller and a down grade, there was nothing he could offer me. I proceeded to inquire about the possibility of replacing the damaged trailer for an RV instead, at which point the representative advised me that he could only replace the damaged trailer for the exact same trailer unless it was a lesser trailer such as the pop-up trailer. Again I advised him that I felt there was a severe lack of customer service and urgent concern for my family's well being, so I wanted to speak with his superior about this matter. The representative advised me that he was not authorized to escalate the call to his superior unless the situation called for it. I told him I thought my situation was sufficient to escalate the call and he advised me that he would call me back after consulting his superior. The Cruise America representative called me back 10-20 minutes later and advised me that his superior offered a 3rd option, which was to terminate the contract/rental agreement on the spot. I was speechless for a moment, but mustered up enough to tell him I would again consult my family and call him back.
At this point, my family and I had enough of dealing with Cruise America so we tried to figure out every possible solution to get out of the predicament on our own but being in a remote desert town, there were not sufficient options available to us to do so. Not to mention that all the back and forth between myself and Cruise America's traveler's assistance department, it was now between 2:30-3:00 PM. Having been put in a helpless situation without any other options, I made an attempt to contact the representative that I had been dealing with to inquire if the trailer could at the very least be delivered to the campground in Kernville, CA instead of the gas station in Mojave, CA so we would not have to waste any more time at the gas stations and we could at least check in for our campground reservation. At that point, I spoke to a new Cruise America traveler's assistance representative. I pleaded with the new representative to deliver the replacement trailer to our campground, so at the very least we would not lose our reservation at the campground. The representative advised he would have to confirm if this could be done and if Cruise America was willing to accommodate my request. The representative called back and advised me that it would be delivered to the campground.
Shortly afterward, I received a call from the towing company assigned to deliver the replacement trailer wanting to verify the location of the damaged trailer and the delivery address of the campground at which point I was advised that the replacement would be delivered approximately between 9:30-10:00 PM. My family and I left the gas station location approximately at 3:30 PM. At that point we had spent 2-2.5 hours on the road before the incident and another 3.5-4 hours dealing with Cruise America's TA department pleading for a fair and reasonable solution. My family and I eventually made our way to the campgrounds approximately 5:00-5:30 PM.
After arriving at the campground, I contacted the Cruise America Los Angeles (Carson) hub to speak with one of the maintenance technicians to ensure that the correct electrical connector was supplied with the replacement trailer because at the time I originally picked up the first trailer the electrical connector had to be modified. Although I did not speak to a maintenance technician directly, a service representative relayed the request and received confirmation from a maintenance technician that the exact same connector that I was originally provided would be with the replacement trailer. Following the call to the Cruise America Los Angeles hub, I called the towing company several times to obtain delivery status updates as the hours passed. Although I was initially advised by the towing company that the replacement trailer was on the way and it would arrive approximately between 9:30-10:00 PM, 10:00 PM came and went. I again contacted the towing company and was advised that although the trailer was in route they could not reach the driver by cell phone or radio due to poor reception.
During this time while waiting for the replacement trailer to arrive, a good portion of my family could not rest easy or lay down because we only had folding chairs. My family could not shower either, because that if they had, they would be exposed to the cold fridge air of the night because we still had not received our trailer and had no other shelter. Keep in mind that we were no longer in the hot desert, but in the mountains where it gets extremely cold at night.
Eventually, the replacement trailer arrived between 11:30PM- 12:00AM at which point I checked to see if the trailer had the correct electrical connector I called about, but it did not. At that point, I realized I was looking at a trailer that would not have brake lights or turn signals again! Having lost an entire day the day before (Friday) dealing with the mechanical issue of the original trailer and Cruise America's traveler's assistance department, I found myself having to spend additional time (Saturday) seeking out and obtaining an adapter to make sure the electrical connector would work and I could safely operate the trailer with brake and signal lights when heading back home. I initially went into Kernville to find an adapter but was advised that I would have to travel 10 miles down the mountain to the next town, Lake Isabella to find one. The round trip to Lake Isabella just for an adapter took approximately 40 minutes and a traveling distance of approximately 20 miles down and back up the mountain.
On the day of our departure (Sunday), I was preparing to install the trailer hitch to my vehicle when I noticed the hitch pin/clip was missing. It was either taken by the tow truck driver who delivered the replacement trailer or was never included with the replacement trailer. As a result, I found myself scrambling once again to find and obtain another component, but a hitch pin/clip this time! The campground check out time was 11:00 AM, but it was already 10:00 AM when I realized the replacement trailer was missing the vital component. Fortunately, the campground staff was sympathetic to my situation (another example of great customer service shown this time by the campground staff, NOT Cruise America) and the events leading up to that moment so we were granted a late check out without penalty. I ultimately located a store that had a hitch pin/clip and was able to get the replacement trailer hitched to my vehicle.
By the time I arrived back home on Sunday evening, I and everyone else in my family were exhausted more from the terrible experience caused by the trailer incident which was compounded by Cruise America's unwillingness to provide a prompt and fair solution, more than the trip itself. When it was all said and done, we lost a full day of our trip which was time off/vacation time, we were made to spend several hours in 90+ degree heat in a gas station parking lot, we lost a full day of spending time at the campground which we paid for reservations, we received an incomplete replacement trailer which required for me to spend additional time to locate and obtain parts in order to haul the trailer safely, I spent additional time explaining the situation to additional Cruise America representatives upon returning the rental, and spent time composing a formal complaint to Cruise America, while reliving every moment of it again.
The right thing for Cruise America to do would have been to replace the damaged trailer with an RV from their Bakersfield hub and have it delivered to us immediately regardless of whether it would have been an upgrade. Although it may not have been a profitable rental, it would have surely generated repeat business from my members of my family as well as referrals. Instead, Cruise America now has over a dozen people telling others about this horrific experience and advising them if they are looking to rent an RV or trailer...not to rent it from Cruise America.