“Do not rent from U Haul,” the young policeman told me. “They are a bad company. Believe me, you do not want to rent from them again.”
One dirty un-airconditioned 14-foot van (we had reserved a 17-foot van but they didn’t have one) was waiting for me at 282 Lynnway in Lynn, MA, 20 miles from my house. This was the truck that U Haul had “reserved” for us, taking a credit card number hostage after we reserved a truck online. As the contract made clear, they expected our bill to reflect not only the truck’s rental fee but a mileage charge for 40 miles round-trip just to get the truck to the stuff we hoped to move.
The truck had only 1/4 tank of gas in it. It clanked and clattered as I drove it away. It groaned and grumbled whenever I pushed the speed up beyond 30 mph.
It totally quit when I got just 4 miles from the place where I rented it, blocking a lane of traffic on Revere’s busy VFW Parkway. I was able to pull about 6 inches of the truck’s nose into a store’s driveway before it stopped moving entirely. I will leave you to imagine the comments of other drivers, having to maneuver around my dead truck in traffic already bumper-to-bumper on a 94 degree hot and humid Saturday.
I called 911 to ask for help getting the road clear. They said they would send me a tow truck. I then called the U Haul “emergency service” number and spent 10 fruitless minutes listening to recorded messages, asking me to procure a pencil and paper and be ready with the name of a nearby cross-street in case they ever decided to answer.
The policeman came first, with a tow truck too small for my 14 foot van. We waited some more in the heat, and a second van came. The second tow truck towed my van to Action Towing in Revere, MA. The people who work for Action Towing are great–thanks so much, Bill and others, for all your kindness. They also got me a taxi back to the U Haul office in Lynn (which did not want the truck returned to them–that’s why it was towed to Revere, MA to await a visit of somebody from “the 800 number.)
While I was enjoying the kindness of strangers in Revere and Lynn, Frank easily found a U Haul truck in Cambridge, MA–something that corporate U Haul neglected to mention when kidnapping our credit card number to “reserve” a truck that promised them 40 extra miles of mileage charge. I got back to the Lynnway, explained the situation to U Haul folks there, and drove my car home again to help with the very last of the moving.
By 8 p.m. Saturday, we had returned the 14-foot Cambridge van to the U Haul office on Main St. where we got it. By 9:30 a.m. Sunday, we started getting text messages from U Haul that their Cambridge truck had not yet been returned. Phone calls and email to U Haul about this went unanswered. Finally I drove my car down to the Cambridge office, waited in line to speak to an agent, and was reassured that the email was “just a formality” reflecting the fact that the Cambridge office had been a bit slow checking in all the vehicles returned that morning. Estimate of my time wasted on this “formality”? At least two hours.
The rest of Sunday we had a vacation from U Haul. This morning (Monday), we started getting text messages that their truck from Lynnway had not yet been returned. I called the 781 phone number from the text message–“Just a formality” they assured me. Then I got more text messages asking me to call them “urgently” about the missing Lynn truck. I called them back–still “just a formality” but maybe I should now call their 800 number. I called their 800 number and had a long (and recorded) conversation with somebody there,. I explained that they were now the third office of U Haul to get the information that their non-functioning truck was waiting at Action Towing in Revere, because somebody else at their 800 number had told Action Towing that they couldn’t pick the truck up themselves until Monday.
After 10 minutes on the phone with the 800 number, they suggested I should now call folks in Lynn and re-give them all the information that I had given them in person on Saturday when I returned there by taxi to get my car. I explained that the people in Lynn had told me that the truck was no longer any business of theirs and I needed to talk to the 800 number–to the very people who now were asking me to call the people in Lynn.
That was this morning. At 1 p.m. and then again at 5 p.m. I got more text messages from U Haul asking me what I’d done with the truck I rented in Lynn, asking me to call the 781 number. I called the 781 number again–“Just a formality” they said, so I shouldn’t worry.
I’m so glad to hear that I shouldn’t worry, aren’t you?
“U Haul?” said the young policeman. “Don’t ever rent from them. Believe me, I see a lot of things in this job. You do not ever want to rent a truck from U Haul.”
The good-old U Haul that helped us move stuff for 20+ years has been replaced by some corporate monster that I’ll never deal with again.