To Whom It May Concern:

On 1/30/2006 I rented a 17 ft. U-Haul van for a local move. I took possession of the vehicle at approximately 7:30am the morning of 1/30 and began use of it during that day. That evening (after dark) I was driving the loaded vehicle to my warehouse in Earth City, MO when I began to notice problems with the electrical system of the vehicle. There was a snapping/clicking sound originating within the dashboard and the dashboard lights as well as the vehicle’s headlights were dimming noticeably. I was able to drive the truck to my warehouse location where I parked it and proceeded to unload it for about four hours.

At about 1:00am on 1/31/2006, with the truck unloaded, I was ready to leave the warehouse. When I went to start the truck the first problem I noted was that the “Engine Warming / Wait To Start” light (for diesel engine trucks) did not illuminate when the ignition key was turned part way on. (Normally, this light will illuminate briefly then go out indicating it is now OK for the driver to start the truck.) Noting this, I proceeded to start the truck anyway and not entirely to my surprise it would not start.

At this time I called U-Haul’s 1-800 emergency call center for assistance. The telephone was answered by someone who was speaking so fast (reading from pre-written literature apparently) that some 20 minutes was exhausted attempting to explain the basic situation/problem. Eventually, I was transferred to the next support level. This level was answered by a heavily accented individual whom, again, I could barely understand. After discussing the truck’s malfunction with this person, I was placed on hold for further instructions - at which time I was hung up on by U-Haul’s telephone system. I then had to call back and go through this entire process again. Despite being physically exhausted from the move and extremely annoyed at this point I would like to emphasize that I was never rude or derogatory toward the U-Haul customer service representatives.

After more discussion and waiting for return telephone calls from the U-Haul customer service technician (elapsing another 40 - 60 minutes) I was eventually advised that U-Haul could dispatch a mechanic from St. Louis (St. Louis, MO is right next to Earth City, MO) but that I would have to wait with the truck for a minimum of 2 ½ hours. By this time (~2:30am in the morning) I advised the U-Haul representative that I could not wait with the truck that long. Despite exhaustion, I had to walk three miles to the nearest gas station to make a telephone call to arrange a taxi ride to my home (at a cost of $20). [Although I had a cell phone in my possession, I did not have a telephone number for a cab company to arrange the ride home and no other nearby businesses were open at the late hour.] I eventually arrived home at about 3:30am on 1/31.

After four hours of sleep I called the U-Haul rental center (around 7:30am on 1/31) to explain the situation to them. The general manager was extremely belligerent and hostile and would not listen to my explanation of the problem that occurred with the truck. He notified me that he did not care what the problem was and that I had to return to U-Haul to get the key to the truck, return to the truck’s location (my warehouse), and wait there for a mechanic to arrive so that I could return the truck. I asked him how I was supposed to return the truck to his location if it would not start and a mechanic could not resolve the issue on the spot. He replied with a “smart-ass” remark then stated “well, we’ll have to tow it.” The general manager repeatedly threatened me with abandonment service charges if I did not comply with his instructions. Since I was going to my warehouse anyway to work, there was no reason for me to not comply so I informed him that I would do as he instructed.

After showering and eating breakfast I returned to the U-Haul location to pick up the truck’s key. At this time I was informed by the general manager that he had already sent someone over to the truck’s location to pick up the truck and I was handed a receipt for abandonment service charges in addition to charges for the full day’s use of the truck.

The general manager would not listen to any of my concerns regarding the mechanical problems with the truck. In fact, he would not discuss the matter directly with me at all - instead sending another hapless employee out to inform me of the service charges. I later overheard that employee discussing my concerns with the U-Haul facility mechanic, wherein I overheard the U-Haul mechanic admit to same employee that he had not even looked over the truck’s electrical system. Apparently, he had simply driven the truck back to U-Haul (not with the headlights on, I might add) and concluded that everything was “OK”. I have no doubt that this particular U-Haul truck will be breaking down again in the near future for another unsuspecting U-Haul customer.

Apparently it may take a lengthy history of break-downs before U-Haul addresses the problems with this vehicle. In the meantime, I will not add over $250 in service charges to U-Haul’s coffers because they are unable or unwilling to adequately maintain their fleet.

I am disputing $336.88 in U-Haul charges.

The first is $68.00 for the day’s use of the truck. I consider this services not rendered due to the truck’s mechanical problems and my inability to use is during the entire rental time window.

The remaining amount ($268.88) is for the abandonment service charge. I never abandoned the vehicle. I did leave the vehicle for about four hours, locked and in a safe location (parked at my warehouse), so that I could go home and get a few hours’ sleep. I do not consider this abandonment! Furthermore, I made a good faith effort to resolve this problem by contacting U-Haul both immediately after the problem occurred and again the following morning.

It seems that the U-Haul general manager’s annoyance over the fact that the truck was not returned on time, and his desire to charge an excessive “abandonment” service charge, overrode his interest in working with me to alleviate a problem that was in no way my fault to begin with. This entire experience will rank in my top 5 most negative experiences in dealing with another business. I will most certainly never due business with U-Haul again, and everyone that I know will be notified of my experience with them.

I would also note that I contacted the U-Haul regional customer service center on 1/31 to attempt a resolution to this problem, only to have them inform me that they could not help me and would refer the matter back to the general manager at the location where I rented the truck.

UPDATE: if you post a complaint to U-Haul's message boards, the post will be deleted and your IP address banned.

Here are some interesting links:

Consumer Complaint Site & Message Board

Canadian TV News Expose on U-Haul

U-Haul Complaints at RipOffReport.Com