U-Haul Complaint - 17 foot death trap makes money for U-Haul
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA -- My roommates and I recently rented a truck from your company this past weekend to move from New Orleans to Fort Worth,
Texas. I wish I could report that it was an enjoyable, hassle-free experience, but in reality, it was quite the opposite.
The problems began almost immediately.
To begin with, the truck was supposed to have been available for pickup at the St. Claude Avenue location in New Orleans. A
night before we were supposed to leave, I was informed that I would have to travel to Mandeville – 45 minutes from where I live,
and across the Causeway no less – to get the vehicle. I had reserved this truck two weeks in advance; this change in plans was
After calling to complain about the truck location, one finally became available at the St. Claude location, so that issue was settled
and we proceeded as planned.
My friend and I picked up the truck Saturday morning, June 26. Although it was filthy inside, it was the only truck available so
it had to suffice – I could not put my plans, and my roommates’ plans – on hold for a failure on your part to make sure the truck
was sufficiently cleaned for our rental. To delay even so much as two to three hours would have left us unable to secure our
apartment in Fort Worth. Again, another letdown, but we had to make do.
Upon loading the vehicle with my possessions, we were about to leave when yet another problem arose – the key provided
didn’t open the doors. Who rents a vehicle that doesn’t have an operational key to open the locks? Do you expect me to travel
10 hours and not be able to secure my possessions? Unacceptable.
I called the U-Haul hotline and was informed that a service tech would be out to fix the problem within 45 minutes. As two hours
approached, and our schedule became more and more delayed because of your ineptitude, I could finally get a feel for what kind
of organization I was dealing with.
The service tech finally arrived, delayed as he was. But instead of fixing the key issue, his only suggestion was that we use
the small triangle window as our “key:” push it open to reach in and unlock the door should we lock it. It would have been hilarious
had it not actually happened, but as it was, it was downright ridiculous. What kind of solution is this? Is this company policy when
faced with non-matching keys? Who puts a truck out on the road that doesn’t have a working set of keys anyway? Is there any
oversight to the condition of the trucks? This one obviously had its locks changed in the past as was evident by the new installation
on the passenger side, and who knows what happened to the driver’s side lock – the entire door had been changed out because
the paint didn’t match and door didn’t fit in its frame.
Regardless, as has been mentioned previously – there was a timeline to meet and this was the only opportunity we had to meet
the requirements of getting into the apartment in time and returning to work as scheduled, so we had to accept this problem and
make the best of it. So we did, albeit under duress.
After the key problem was “solved” – and I use that word ever so sparingly – we had to fill up for fuel, as the truck was provided
to us with the tank reading “empty.” We filled the truck up in New Orleans, however once we set out, we realized the gauge didn’t
work, because even though the truck was full, it only read 3/4 of a tank. This would serve as a huge detriment throughout the trip
– the gauge apparently was broken, as it would read anywhere from empty to 3/4 full at any given time in the trip. Not knowing
how much gas we had, much less how much it was using, forced us to stop on instinct so as to not run the truck out of diesel.
Operational gauges are a requirement of any vehicle, much less one rented for profit by a national company.
As we set out to the roommates’ apartment to pick up their belongings, we realized more problems of the vehicle, such as why
the air vents were aimed away from the passengers – the “air conditioning” promised by your ads on the side of the truck blew
nothing but hot air. And lots of it.
The AM/FM radio, promised as well on the side of the vehicle, would work when it wanted to. Which wasn’t often. And with the
roar of the engine – plus the fact the windows had to stay down because of the intense heat and lack of aforementioned a/c, it
was basically worthless even when operational.
We were also glad that we had two people in the cab at all times to see each side, considering the mirrors were worthless due
to the fact that they were broken and despite all attempts to angle them at the proper places to see the traffic and maintain safety,
it was a losing effort.
Upon leaving in the early morning for Fort Worth, we realized at our first stop that the problems would continue.
After fueling the truck, we tried to start it to leave. It cranked twice before going completely dead. Had it not been for the
kindness of a diesel-driving stranger in rural Lafayette at 5:30 am, we would probably have been totally screwed as far as our time
constraints. As it was, the delay took 45 minutes to correct, and then we were advised – correctly, looking back – that we had to
leave the truck running the rest of the way for fear of it not starting again.
Finally on the road after yet another delay, the trip was delayed again as we were traveling up Interstate 49. In addition to the
previous pitfalls of the vehicle, all the other gauges began to fail. Oil pressure – up, then down, then fine, then no pressure again.
Battery gauge – non responsive. Headlights and turn signals? Nonworking. Horn? You guessed it. This was a traveling road hazard
that your company set us out on the road with as “operational.” What a joke.
As it was, your failure to provide a functional vehicle was something we could not have planned on, so we had to continue for
fear of being stranded in rural Louisiana when we had to arrive in Fort Worth by 1 p.m.
It’s amazing we weren’t involved in a traffic accident of the worst kind, thanks to your negligence. In a driving rain with alreadyslow
windshield wipers, they stopped altogether as we were driving in some of the worst weather I’ve seen in a while. This equipment
failure occurred just a mile after a hard curve in the interstate – I hate to think what would have happened had the wipers stopped
working in that area of the road. And to make matters worse, with the nonworking air conditioning the windshield was one solid
pane of steam; my passenger had to continually wipe the fog from the driver’s side just to see even the slightest. We had to make
an emergency stop in the striped-triangle area of an exit just to gather our senses, then limp the vehicle off the interstate and into
a gas station to see what could be done.
After buying Rain-X to help the situation, the rain let off slightly — and surprisingly, the wipers came back on, however extremely
slow they were. The gauges and lights, however, remained inoperational.
We finally made it to our destination – hours late and stressed out from driving the rolling road hazard known as your U-Haul truck
- and got everything unloaded.
Then came time to return the vehicle to your office.
What better way to end the trip then – you guessed it – another breakdown. The truck wouldn’t start. Not even cranking. And it
left an oil stain – in a brand new development, I might add – the size of a large puddle on the freshly poured concrete.
Perhaps the only thing worse than this debacle of a rental vehicle was your customer service following the demise of the
aforementioned truck. Never before have I been given the runaround and treated so poorly in my entire life.
After summoning the hotline again as to how to get the truck out of my future driveway, I was insulted by your customer care
clerk as she attempted to blame the failure on me. I know what diesel fuel is and I certainly know how to start a diesel engine.
Talking down to me and insulting my intelligence was the last thing I needed from your organization.
After speaking with the “dispatcher,” and her insulting me, she promised a service tech would arrive within a half hour.
Two hours passed, during which I attempted to speak to someone “in charge” to resolve the myriad of issues this vehicle had.
No one would connect me with a supervisor. Countless roaming minutes on my and my friends’ phones were logged on hold, all
while waiting on the elusive person who could resolve the problems that plagued us from the moment we picked this truck up.
There is no reason this truck could not have been towed back to the rental center. It was in no shape to drive – legally nor
physically. But your staff insisted that once it was running I would be forced to drive it back to the rental station, endangering my
life and all I came in contact with en route.
Even though, after the two hour wait and hour-long repair got the truck started, it was still not legal or safe. The gauges didn’t
work. It was constantly near-dying, requiring me to keep the gas pedal revved. And who knows how much oil had drained out of
the truck during the travel period? Your insistence – no, absolute decree – that I physically drive the truck back to the center put
my life at risk yet again and could have been much better handled with a tow truck.
I scoff at your pledge that “safety is number one” – you proved your reckless disregard for my experience and general safety
when you forced me to drive the vehicle 10 miles to return it.
After returning in the morning, and yet again getting the runaround from everyone I spoke with – who knows how many hours I
wasted trying to talk to ANYONE in change – your manager in New Orleans completed the insult to injury.
To begin with, he lied that he had personally checked the truck out and personally driven it to the St. Claude location. Is it normal
protocol for a manager to lie to consumers? I guess at least for Willy at the St. Claude location, it is.
And it’s also OK for managers to joke about death, it seems. In discussing our near accident, the manager told me that U-Haul
would have covered the funeral expenses had we been killed. What kind of sick answer to our serious issues is that? That kind of
unprofessionalism warrants discipline of some sort, if not outright dismissal.
To put it bluntly, this has been one of the worst commercial dealings I’ve ever encountered in my life. The drive with the truck
was bad enough. But your lack of respect, utter incompetence and outright failure to find solutions to our issues, not to mention the
lies and disrespect to close the transaction, made a bad situation exponentially worse.
I expect an appropriate response, in a timely matter, to this letter.