Uhaul Complaint - Unauthorized charges to credit card!
BELLEROSE, NEW YORK -- This is very lengthy but if you are considering doing business w/Uhaul, please read.Instead of retyping my ordeal I am pasting below the actual complaint I sent to their website:
I have a storage room at UHAUL for which I pay about $215 a month, I have had it since July '03. My storage fee is due on the 5th of every month and if it is not paid, they charge a $15 late fee. Then 15 days later they charge another $15 late fee and start sending threatening letters about how they will seize your property if they do not receive their payment. I knew of all this since day one and since I am one to usually be late with my bills, I almost always got stuck with the $15 late fee for being a day or so late and on 2 or 3 occasions paid the $30 late fee for being 15 days late.When I signed the initial contract with them to rent the storage room I was asked if I would like to have the monthly fee automatically deducted from my credit card and if so I should fill out the necessary credit card info and authorization which was a small box located on the contract.I declined this option, preferring to pay cash.Then, I proceeded to pay my rent fee every month (usually late but never more than 15 days) and always paid the late fee as well.I always went in person to pay my rent even though they sent me a letter in the mail every time I was late(the letter would come a day or so after the due date) and this letter always offered for me to "sign up for the monthly storage fee to be automatically deducted from my credit card and we will waive the $15 late fee" and it requested for me to provide my credit card info and signature and send it back to them.This option never appealed to me and I always chose to pay in cash in person.At this point, I should add that the employees in this location have horrible attitudes towards their customers and are lazy, impolite and downright rude. On every occasion that I arrived to pay my bill whether there were NO customers in there or 1 or 2, there were ALWAYS several employees standing around doing nothing and they never greet me or even look up to acknowledge me.I always spend about 15-25 minutes in there paying my bill(which shuld only take a minute) and I get to listen to the employees speak among themselves about what they are going to "have for lunch" or "who did their nails" or how their "scalp is itchy because of the oil they use in their hair", etc. etc., etc.I have NEVER in my life experienced such a lack of customer service in any business establishment in my entire life.Anyhow, to get to the issue at hand. On one occasion several months ago I paid by credit card because I was short on cash. I was again offered to have my credit card kept on record so that they can automatically bill me every month and I declined this stating that I was just using it "this time" and I would usually be paying cash as I preferred to. I did NOT sign anything authorizing them to automatically deduct any future payments from my credit card, nor did I receive the $15 late fee being waived since I did not sign up for this method, I merely used it on that occasion. I only signed the receipt for that particular transaction as I would for any routine credit card purchase.Since that date, I always paid cash as usual for the next few months and usually "late" including the late fee. Since the same employees are always working there when I go, they pretty much know who I am and that I always come in and pay cash somewhere between the 5th and the 20th of the month(rent being due on the 5th).I always get the same letters from them every month, the first letter stating I am late and I am being charged $15 dollars and if I do not pay within 15 days and additional $15 will be added and very rarely I get a telephone (maybe 3 times in 7 months)message that is usually not understandable except for the fact that I hear the word "UHAUL" along with a lot of jibberish and I assume they are calling to inform me my rent is late.I have never paid my rent later than the 20th of the month (which is 15 days late)but I am almost always late and I always pay in cash, in person. Then, in the month of 12/03, I did not pay my rent on time on the 5th(as I hardly ever do) and I received the letter on the 6th or 7th informing me of the $15 late fee, as I always do, and I had planned on dropping by with my payment later on that week as I always do. Suddenly, on about 12/10/03, my credit card was charged $230 (the rent fee plus the first $15 late fee)!!!It was charged without my permission!!I did not authorize for them to charge my credit card and I was outrage dthat they even had kept my credit card number on record and used it without my consent and without my signature and my rent was not even 15 days due yet!!Prior, to this it had gone up to 15 days past due and I was charged a $30 late fee (total of $245) and paid in person by cash and I could not understand why they would take it upon themselves to just charge my credit card out of the blue. On top of this, the letter I received stating I was late and I was being charged a $15 late fee also offered me the option of the automatic credit card deduction(as it always did) if I signed the form and provided the info and mailed it back and it also offered to waive the late fee if I chose to do so(as it always did). But the point is, I DID NOT CHOOSE TO DO SO, I did not sign anything or authorize anything and they just charged my credit card INCLUDING the $15 late fee. This made me exceed my credit card limit causing me to incur additional penalty fees with my credit card company.I immediately called UHAUL and provided the associate with my name and storage room number and asked her why they charged my credit card without my permission.Her response was "I didn't charge your credit card", I asked her "what do you mean?,I was charged $230 by UHAUL" She replied (emphasis on the I) " "I" didn't charge your credit card" very rudely. I said "well, maybe YOU aren't the actual person who charged me but when I see YOU, I mean you people who work at UHAUL". She said "well, I didn't do it", I asked her "who did?" she said "you will have to speak to a manager", so I requested the manager and was then told she was not there and i should call back tomorrow after 10:30 AM. The next day I went in person around 12 noon and requested the manager who happened to be not there again, I told the employee that I was instructed to call after 10:30 and it is now 12pm, so how come she is not here. I was told she was in but she left already. I then explained the situation to a male employee who asked me if I authorized them to charge my credit card, I said "no", he checked his computer and verified that I was not on their "automatic credit card deduction program" and gave me the business card of the manager.I also took a comment/complaint postcard to fill out and asked him for the location # so I can put it on the card and he told me that I should call the manager and she will give me the information(he wouldn't even give me the location # to write on the comment card!). The next day I tried to call in the afternoon and she was not there again, I pled my case to another employee on the phone stating that I wanted to ensure this does not happen again and I cannot keep calling every day if the manager is never going to be there. I was then put on hold for an extended amount of time until I hung up. I waited a day and called again the next day and I still could not contact the manager and the employees would not take a message for her, they just kept telling me I would have to call her back. After that I found myself to be very busy with the holiday's and then I was involved in an auto accident and the matter slipped my mind since I had other things to deal with and I was pretty sure that at least it would not happen again since I was clear to the employee's I spoke with that I did not authorize this to be done and my overall intention after that was to try to move my items from that storage location before 1/5/04 and to write a complaint to the BBB. Well, like I said, with the holiday's and the accident, before I knew it , it was January and the incident was far from my mind. That is, until 1/08/04 when I received my monthly UHAUL letter stating that my rent was due on 1/5/04 and a late fee of $15 has been charged to my account and an additional $15 will be incurred if it becomes "14" days late (notice I stressed the 14 days becasue it used to say 15 days and they suddenly changed it, I will comment on that later). It stated that my balance was $230 and again it offered to waive the $15 late fee if I sign up for the automatic credit card payment plan. When I received this letter, it reminded me of the previous month's occurence and I made a note for myself to write a complaint to the BBB and also to go down to UHAUL next week to pay my bill before it becomes 14 days late and I figured maybe I would catch the manager at that time to speak with her. Well, could you imagine that on 1/10/04 they charged my credit card AGAIN!!!! They charged me $230 AGAIN (the storage and the $15 late fee) as they did the month before without my permission and again the rent was not even 14 days late yet, I had just received their letter 2 days before!! Now, this credit card that they were charging (that I had used once in the past for ONE payment) is actually not even my OWN credit card account. It is a card in my name that my father had gotten for me to use for emergencies only and it is actually HIS account, he receives all the statements, I just have an extra card with my name on it. That is really the main reason I never chose the credit card billing option and also the reason I only used it once when I really did not have the money to pay my rent. So, he was the one getting stuck with the penalties for going over the card limit(which happened again!) when they chose to charge this card without anybody's prior consent! Like, I said, I only have the card for emergencies and I never use it without asking him first since he knows the balance and the amount available to use. For the $230 they charged on the card in December I had to pay him instead of paying UHAUL so that he could pay the balance on the card but he incurred the penalty and now this month, he had to cancel the credit card completely since he was very concerned about them charging the credit card again without us knowing and him having to get stuck with all the fees. So again, I jus t visited him today to pay him the $230 that I would have paid to UHAUL directly (today is 1/12/04) had they not chosen to charge the credit card for a second time without our consent.This also caused a rift between me and my dad since he thought I took care of the issue last month, which I tried to but never was able to contact the manager but thought I was very clear that this card should never be charged without my consent to every employee that I did speak with. On the day the card was charged I tried to contact the manager with no success as usual so then my father called UHAUL and amazingly he was able to reach the manager. I now think that she was purposely avoiding me since I gave my name each time I called but when he called(he has a different last name), she was caught off guard and did not realize that he was calling for the same issue as I was. All she told him was that she would make sure not to charge the card in the future and proceeded to tell him that if I do not pay my rent in time that they would seize my property that is in storage and auction it off and sell it!!! Can you believe the nerve? My dad is an older man and instead of demading an explanation from her on "why?" and "how?" they charged our credit card without our consent and signature, he let her turn the conversation around on him and make it seem like I'm going to have my property seized and auctioned off since I keep paying my rent late and she got him all worried about that so he just thanked her for her time and then called me to warn me about not paying my rent on time! I then tried to call and she was gone for the day already (supposedly). My point is this: we never received an answer on why they charged the credit card in the first place, not once but twice and with the late fees(since the letter states if I choose to use the credit option they will waive the late fee), even though I did not choose this option, they still charged me and they still charged the late fee and then she had the nerver to make it sound like my property was going to be seized from me!!!I NEVER EVER once paid my rent more than 15 days late, and because I pay my rent late I am charged a late fee and I know this but I CHOOSE to pay that late fee because I CHOOSE to pay my rent late!! I am not worried about my proeprty being seized since I know that I will never NOT pay my rent!! I will always pay my rent as I always have for the past 6 months, whether I choose to pay the normal fee of $215 on the 5th of the month or pay $230 after the 5th or pay $245 on the 20th. I have never let it go THAT FAR!! How dare they use my credit card without my permission and scare my dad into thinking I'm not going to pay my rent in time and my stuff will be seized in order to turn the tables on him and make him lose sight of the issue at hand. So, that is my MAIN concern and the issue that is at hand. I want to add one more complaint to this form while I am here. A few paragraphs above I mentioned how this last letter I received from UHAUL stated that I would incur an additional $15 late fee if my rent was "14" days late instead of it saying "15" days late as it did in the past. This was an issue I had with UHAUL several months back, the first time I was ever charged for both late fees in one month bringing my late fee charge to $30 for that month. In that month, I went on the 20th of the month to pay my bill because I understood the letter I received to mean that as long as I paid my rent by the 20th (which was 15 days from the due date) that I would not incur the second late charge, I believed I would only incur that charge if I paid after the 20th. When I went in person to pay my bill and was being charged $245, I questioned why I was being charged the additional $15 since it was the 20th and the rent was not 15 days late yet, it would have been if I let it go past that day and that was the reason I went there on the 20th so that I did not incur the additional $15 late fee. I was used to paying the first $15 late fee many times in the past but had never had to pay $30 and I did not understand why I was being charged. The first employee I was dealing with (a woman) was very uninformative aand rude and said "the late fee was charged this morning and once it goes in the system, I cannot take it out, there's nothing I can do". I asked her for a manager at that time also and I was told I would have to call Arizona. At this point, I did not know your headquarters were in Arizona and I asked her why I would have to call Arizona. She said that if I wanted to speak to a manager, the manager is in Arizona and I would have to call there. We proceeded to argue a bit because I was getting very frustrated becasue I did not understand what "Arizona" had to do with my storage room in New York and the employee was not explaining anything to me. I said to her " I don't pay anyone in Arizone, I pay you and I would like for someone to help me here at this location". She did nothing. I went on stating that I had a contract with THEM in NY, I signed a contract in New York and I have no dealings with Arizona and what was she talking about? She got all confused and asked another employee to assist me. The other employee was no better, she at least explained that the headquarters are in Arizona and the late fee was charged through their main system and could not be changed by them once it is charged and I would have to contact Arizona for further assistance. At this point, I tried to plead my case to her, asking her if she understood where I was coming from (she did not). I slowly explained to her that if my rent is due on the 5th and I pay on the 5th it is $215.95, and if I pay any day after the 5th I incur a $15 late fee as I always do and I usually pay $230.95 when I receive the letter which states to me that I have an additional 15 more days before I will incure another $15 late fee. So, if it was the 20th of the month and I came there specifically on that day so as not to incur an additional late fee and not to let the rent become over 15 days late, then why am I still being charged the additional $15 late fee? She said she all she knows is that the charge went into the system early that morning and that she could do nothing to take it out and I have no choice but to pay and take it up with the people in Arizona. I told her that I refused to pay becasue it made no sense and it was ridiculous and there was obviously some mistake made and I did not believe I should be charged this additional late fee. I then showed her my letter and asked her why the letter said I would only be charged the additional $15 if the rent was 15 days late and if I am there on the 15th day then I am NOT late, I would only be late if I paid on the 21st or later, so I would like her to explain to me why I was sent a misleading letter by them. At this point she got defensive about how "She" personally did not send me the letter, and I had to explain to her that whether it was "her" or any other employee at Uhaul, somebody sent me a letter leading me to believe I would only be charged an additional fee after the 15 days and yet it turns out to be false. She said I should have paid it that morning. I was dumbfounded!! What difference did it make, morning or afternoon, it is still the same day and still during their business hours. Since, I was not happy with their answer, they wrote down the Arizona phone number for me which was not toll free and told me to call Arizone. At that point, I requested that THEY call Arizona, since I should not have to also incur the long distance phone charges and also , I did not want to drive home and have to make another trip back to Uhaul after calling Arizona. So, she called the number and started speaking to someone on the phone but she was not clearly explaining the situation she was basically just saying " acustomer does not want to pay her late fee, etc. etc." but not explaining "why". I asked her if I could speak to whomever she was speaking to but she ignored me and I asked her at least 3 times making full eye contact with her while she proceeded to avoid my eyes and look down and say "um hum, uh huh, ok" and then hang up and tell me that they are not going to take the additional $15 off my account!! She did absolutely nothing for me and I'm starting to wonder now if she was even really on the phone with anybody!! Now, I was really aggravated and tried to get any one's attention who worked there who would here me out. I asked them if there was no manager on the premises, then who is in charge? I did not understand how nobody could be incharge and since these 2 employees were completely unhelpful, I wanted to speak to somebody who could help. Finally, a male employee who was at least more polite and more informative at answering my questions came to assist me. I aexplained to him that it made no sense that the other 2 employees said if I paid this morning I would not have incurred the late fee. I said that if the bill has to be paid by a certain time it should be stated in the letter I received, becasue an average person would believe that the payment can be made any time during business hours that day (like is true with any other company awaiting a payment on a certain day). After looking in his computer he said that I was charged the late fee at 7 or 8 am and that they were not even open at that time so I would have actually had to pay the day before (the 19th) in order to avoid the late fee. So that would have been 14 days not 15 and the letter was not accurate!! He explained to me that the letter was meant to be understood that on the 15th day the late fee would be charged and that I was understanding it differently. So finally, somebody made sense!! I understood him but still felt that the late fee should be taken off my account since the letter was misleading but since they could not help, I would pay the fee for now and send in a complaint to Arizona later. So that was that. I did send one of those postcards in explaining this issue but I never heard back from anyone and it was only during my last Uhaul visit when I took another comment card that I noticed that it requested the location #. Since I did not provide a location # on my previous comment card, maybe that is why I never heard from anyone. You may want to look finding that comment card sent several months back. Anyhow, it's quite ironic how the new letters you send out correctly state "14" days instead of incorrectly stating "15" days as they did in the past. This lead s me to believe that my comment was in fact looked into and I was in fact correct but instead of receiving the credit I was due, Uhaul just decided to correct their letters and ignore the fact that I was the one who brouught up this issue and ignore the fact that they owe me that $15 due to the misleading information on that letter. I am sure you agree that just by Uhaul changing the 15 days to 14 days is an acceptance of being wrong on your part but instead of attempting to resolve that issue with me, they just decided to start a whole new issue and start illegaly charging my credit card without my consent or approval or signature. My intent now is to take this up with the BBB but when I checked their complaint form on their website it instructed me to attempt to solve this first with Uhaul directly. This is my last attempt to give you a chance to right these wrongdoing's and offer me some sort of explanation. I am saving a copy of this letter I am sending you so that I can show it to the BBB should I have to contact them in the near future if you do not show some concern about this matter. I will also look into having the credit card company take legal action for the fraudulent use of the credit card if necessary if this matter goes unresolved.
*******For the record, the response I received to this was "please take this up with the original location of storage". To which I sent another lengthy response explaining(as I did previously)how I could not receive any help at that location and they referred me to the headquartes in Arizona(the website form I used for my complaint) and my next response from them was "please contact the regional office in Brooklyn" and I was given a telephone number to call. My response to that was "I refuse to be thrown around from one location to another and yet another and if they had any customer service ethics, they would forward my complaint to the proper person who handles it instead of wasting my time having to explain the same story over and over to Uhaul employees who seem unconcerned and offer me no explanation or resolutions and I stated that if the matter is not handled ASAP I will promptly pursue further action with the BBB and Attorney General, etc, etc." I am awaiting their response at the moment but I have been researching Uhaul via search engine and I have so far came across over 1000 web sites dedicated to spreading the word about Uhaul's unethical business practices. If anyone has a similar situation regarding the unauthorized credit card use, please respond with advice or explain how you handled it. Thank you.