U-Haul Complaint - Incompetent customer service
SPRINGDALE, ARKANSAS -- Following is a letter I sent to U-Haul (summary at end):
My Ridiculous Experience With U-Haul
I will never do business with U-Haul again and I will advise all my friends, family, and anyone who asks to avoid this company at all costs. U-Haul has the worst reputation on the internet of the major moving and storage companies and I was able to experience this first-hand. Unfortunately, U-Haul also has the only nation-wide small moving trailer option. I will BUY a small trailer if I ever need one and then sell it when I'm done before I'll rent from U-Haul again.
My pre-move activities with U-Haul and my eventual move went fairly well, save for the one-inch-wide hole in the ceiling of the single-axle trailer I had to duct tape over before my move. The hole could have let rain pour in causing serious damage to my belongings had I not spotted it. Of course U-Haul's disclaimer says the trucks and trailers are water-resistant, not waterproof and that U-Haul is not responsible for any damage caused to my stuff by leaks. Luckily, my two-day trek from South Florida to the Midwest was blue skies all the way.
As part of my cross-country move, I was given a free month of storage in a 5x8 storage unit at my destination.
June 7, 2006: I arrived at the Springdale, Arkansas U-Haul center. I was offered my choice of various 5x8 or 5x10 standard or climate-controlled storage units. I chose a 5x10 climate-controlled unit. I don't remember if I had to pay the difference in price or if U-Haul upgraded me for free - either way, everything was fine so-far, monetarily. However, the climate-control was currently on the fritz so there was no air-conditioning or circulation inside the storage facility. I would guess that the warehouse, including my second-level storage unit, was at around 85 - 95 degrees. Note: At this time, the published price of the 5x10 climate-controlled unit was $29.95 plus tax.
The trouble started on the second month of my storage unit rental.
July 3, 2006: I called the Springdale U-Haul facility to find out what the total of my next payment would be and when it was due. I was told that the price was $38.27 ($34.95 plus $3.32 tax) - not $29.95 plus tax. I disputed this and said that the price on the flyer that I had picked up off their counter from the big stack of flyers showed $29.95 plus tax. I was then told that the $29.95 was an "introductory" price and that now it was $34.95 plus tax. I said there was nothing on the flyer that indicated "introductory" prices; that the flyer appeared to be a standard storage unit price/location chart. "Introductory" price?! I didn't buy it but I didn't argue any further since it wasn't a huge price difference and moving/storage companies change their prices constantly. Unfortunately, I didn't think to check for the "non-introductory-price" flyers the next time I went to the facility. I was told the payment was due on July 8, which I paid by electronic check. This paid me up through August 7.
Shortly thereafter, I received a letter from the Springdale U-Haul facility notifying me that my storage unit rate would increase to $39.95 plus tax, effective July 28.
July 27, 2006: I again contacted U-Haul to find out what my total would be for the next month (August). I believe the name of the person I spoke with was "Chris." Chris told me the price would be $34.95 plus $3.32 tax. I argued that this was the "old" price and that I had received a notice from them stating that the new price was supposed to be $39.95 plus tax. Chris INSISTED "the computer says you owe $38.27 by August 8" and that he new nothing about a price increase notice. He said I should pay the $38.27. I paid that amount by electronic check.
The next time I went to access my storage unit, my access card had been disabled. I went to the counter and spoke with a young black girl (didn't get her name) who said I still owed $5.48 on my last bill and now also a $15 late fee (late notices were on their way to me in the mail; I just had not received them yet). I explained to her that I had received a rate increase notice but when I called to find out the total payment due, I was told to pay the "old" price. She reactivated my card so I could get into my unit but said I would have to talk to a manager about the price discrepancy and the late fee. ($5.48 is the difference in price of the "new" amount, $39.95 + $3.80 tax, and the "old" amount, $34.95 + $3.32 tax.)
Mid-August: I received a notice from Springdale U-Haul stating that they still had not received my payment as of August 8 and that a late fee of $15 had been assessed. Apparently my electronic check (which is mailed from my bank if the intended recipient does not have the capability to receive an electronic funds transfer) had not arrived on time. Ok, my fault.
A few days later, I received another notice stating that U-Haul had received the payment but it was $5.48 short.
August 22, 2006: I again went to get some things from my storage unit and found it LOCKED by U-Haul. I went to the counter and explained the unit price discrepancy to Michelle, the store manager. She apparently believed me (barely) about calling and being given the wrong price for August but said they did not have an employee named "Chris" (hence my "barely" comment). I said I was not 100% positive about the employee's name as the conversation was a while ago and I didn't write his name down. Michelle agreed to waive the late fee but said I owed $43.75! - not the remaining balance of $5.48. At this point I was quite annoyed and it probably showed. I believe this made her a little nervous and consequently, a little confused. I continued to try to explain that I only owed $5.48 because I had already paid $38.27 of the August bill ($43.75 - $38.27 = $5.48). This was all shown clearly in the second late notice I had received. We went back and forth about this for a few minutes and our discussion became a little more heated. Finally, frustrated that she wasn't "getting it," I asked how much I needed to pay to bring my account up to date and get into my storage unit (I'd just bring the notice in later and show her the math!). She said $43.75. I paid it with two $20s and a $10; she gave me back $6.25 in change. She had me sign the receipt upon which I also wrote "will dispute" and asked for a copy. We then went to unlock my storage unit. She fumbled with the lock for a minute or so but apparently did not have the right key. Hearing what sounded like someone else walking around in the warehouse, she yelled "CHRIS! ARE YOU IN HERE?" (she needed his help with the lock) WHAT? Didn't she say there was no "Chris" employed there? I said nothing.
August 25, 2006: I removed all my belongings from my U-Haul storage unit.
August 28, 2006: I took my late notice (the one showing I still owed $5.48) and my 8/22 receipt back to U-Haul to clear things up and get back the $38.27 owed to me. I had intended to talk to David Pitchford, the manager whose name was on all the notices I had received. Michelle informed me however, that she was now the manager and Mr. Pitchford no longer worked there. Chris, with his nametag on his shirt, was standing right next to her. I showed Michelle the late notice along with my math in red ink showing that they owed me $38.27. She barely glanced at it before stating that she owed me $5.48 that I had "overpaid." Huh? Now it seems I had made the mistake. She went on to explain that I was paid up through September (through October 7 actually). This was an interesting development. Things started to get heated again. I immediately said, "I did NOT pay for September and never had any intention of paying for September. I came in on 8/22 to pay the amount I still owed for August and that was it. You charged me $43.75 when I only owed $5.48. I want the $38.27 you owe me." She said she could not refund any money until I vacated the unit. Now I was really steamed. I asked, "Why not?! Even if I were going to pay for September, the payment is not due until Sept. 8." She said that was the policy or gave some other non-answer - I don't remember. I said then let's do it; I'm vacating the unit right now. That surprised her. She wasn't expecting me to have already moved all my stuff out. She had one of the employees check the unit with me to be sure all my possessions were out. She then refunded me $43.75!
Final result: I came out $5.48 ahead because Michelle screwed up while trying to cover-up her mistake.
I suspect Michelle discovered her mistake at the end of the day on August 22 after finding her cash register didn't match her receipts or she might have just gone back over my account more carefully after I left. However she figured it out, instead of owning up to her mistake, she tried to act like it was my mistake. At first, I believe Michelle was just confused, but after discovering her mistake, she lied to conceal it. This was despicable behavior, especially for a manager.
On move-in day, the U-Haul facility's AC was not working so I had to move my stuff into a very hot and humid warehouse that had no air-circulation whatsoever. I had the storage unit for approximately three months and the price increased twice. I placed two phone calls to find out the total price and date due for each of the additional months - call 1: I was given a price that was higher than the one shown on the current price chart and the explanation for the discrepancy was suspicious; call 2: I was given completely false information which resulted in me under-paying my bill and incurring a late fee. I was notified by mail that I had under-paid my August bill and still owed $5.48. When I went to pay this amount, Michelle, the manager, said I instead owed $43.75. I paid this with the caveat that I would dispute it later as I needed to get into my storage unit immediately. Michelle later discovered her mistake and tried to cover it up by telling me I had paid up through September (even though this did not add up because she was still short the $5.48). She arbitrarily refused to refund the money owed to me until I vacated the storage unit. I ended the contract immediately and due to her shenanigans, Michelle mistakenly refunded me $43.75 instead of the $38.27 I was owed.
As you can see, my problem was not so much with the facilities, or equipment at U-Haul, it was with a particular employee. How can I do business with a moving/storage company if I have to worry about having my possessions impounded or sold at auction due to bad accounting or dishonest/unethical employees?