Penske Appears to Understand the Importance of Good Customer Service
HOUSTON, TEXAS -- I actually had some difficulty believing the customer service I was provided by the folks at Penske truck rental. I have moved numerous times, so my choice of moving truck rental companies was based primarily on cost rather than on an expectation that the move would be anything but a tedious, unpleasant experience with a truck rental company that was primarily, if not exclusively, focused on making money and not on trying to make stressful moving less stressful. My choice of Penske was based primarily on cost, but in the future I would choose Penske regardless of cost competitiveness, because of the superb customer service I was provided.
I rented a Penske truck to move my daughter's household belongings from Houston, TX to Seattle, WA, a 2400 mile trip. Because my daughter lived in a small apartment and her belongings weren't very extensive, I requested a 16' truck. Penske told me that their 16' trucks didn't have either cruise control or CD players. I knew I wasn't going to drive 2400 miles without cruise control, so I had to take a 22' truck instead. The 22' truck had a diesel engine and an automatic transmission.
The trip from Houston to just outside Cheyenne, WY went fine until I stopped for a bite to eat and was unable to restart the truck. I was on a tight schedule with an unloading crew scheduled to unload the truck on the following Saturday in Seattle. The unloading crew didn't work on Sunday, so if I missed them on Saturday, we wouldn't have been able to have the truck unloaded until Monday which would have meant two nights in a Seattle hotel (and they are all pricey). I called Penske road service and they said they would send out assistance as soon as possible. It took an hour for the diesel mechanic to arrive, but once he arrived he identified the problem very quickly - a faulty starter. He managed to get the starter to crank the engine but said he did so only by hitting it with his wrench and that it might not restart if it was turned off again. He called Penske and told them the situation. The mechanic said he thought it might well have been a one time quirk and that it might start just fine but that he couldn't promise. He said the safest option would be to stay overnight in Cheyenne (it was after 6:00 p.m. when this happened) so that he could order the part and install it the next day. This wasn't a good option for me at all because it would have meant missing our date with the unloading crew. After listening to my tale of woe the mechanic said that if he was in my situation he would take a chance and go ahead and drive the truck. He said his experience as an independent vendor with Penske is that they will do anything necessary to get their trucks and customers back on the road. I was torn because I was pressed for time but also was nervous about the possibility of turning the engine off in some distant location and having to wait even longer to get a Penske repair service to address the problem. After speaking with the Penske folks and telling them of my situation, Penske said they would obviously abide by my wishes and pay for either option I chose, but they suggested that I go ahead and drive to Laramie where I had hotel reservations and that if the truck didn't start right up when I turned it off in the Laramie hotel parking lot Penske would send a repair person immediately and would alert their Laramie vendor that they might need to meet me in Laramie at my hotel. I decided to take the latter option.
I didn't have to turn the truck engine off before Laramie and made it to my hotel without further incident. When I arrived in Laramie and stopped in the parking lot, I cranked up the truck and it started right up. However, I still didn't have a lot of confidence it would start up again when I was ready to depart the following day. I while later a Penske representative called me on my mobile phone to inquire as to whether I had made it to Laramie. I assured them I had, and they said they would be ready to provide me with support as quickly as possible if the truck didn't start the next day. That was only of modest comfort because I feared that if the truck didn't start the Penske service people would have to remove and replace the starter once they had located one (the truck was an International the parts for which aren't always that easy to locate). I had no idea how long that would take.
About an hour later, it was about 10:00 p.m. by then, a Penske representative called me again on my mobile phone and said they had decided that they didn't want to take any chances that my trip might be delayed, so they had already located a starter for the truck and that Penske was sending a team with the part to Laramie from Aurora, CO to replace the starter during the night. The Penske representative said that since I would understandably be in bed by the time the mechanics arrived from Colorado they asked that I leave the truck key with the front desk attendant so they could do the repair without disturbing me. I was very surprised and delighted that Penske was going to make such an effort and, of course, left the truck key with the front desk and went to bed.
I was awakened in my hotel room by a phone call from Penske at 1:30 a.m. The Penske representative explained to me that the mechanics had arrived from Aurora and had started up the truck over 20 times and that it never failed to start. As a result, the mechanics called into Penske and suggested that the starter didn't need to be changed (they agreed with the Cheyenne diesel mechanic that it must have been a fluke of some sort). The Penske representative said that I should feel confident that the truck would start as necessary and that I should proceed with my trip. The Penske representative again promised to quickly respond if I had any more problems with it. I, of course, thanked Penske for going above and beyond anything I could have expected. The next morning the truck cranked as predicted and continued to do so all the way to Seattle. I arrived in time for the unloading crew to do their thing and the move-in went without a hitch.
I write product, service, and other reviews frequently and do not hesitate to complain or criticize when either is due and deserved. Likewise, I try to be as diligent in writing complimentary reviews when they are due and deserved. Penske certainly deserves some major kudos for going out of their way to keep me on the road.