By on August 19, 2016

U-Box on trailer in driveway

Last week, I wrote about our dramas and dilemmas with U-Haul’s newest product/service, U-Box, which we decided employ for our move from Nova Scotia to Ontario.

I tweeted out the link and made sure to mention the U-Haul Customer Service Twitter account.

This is what happened.

As I mentioned in the original piece, which you can read here, our experience with U-Haul was fraught with failure almost from the beginning. However, two egregious parts of the ordeal stuck out above all others:

  1. Customer service was pitiful, at least at the beginning. The red-headed fellow I mentioned in the beginning of that story felt horrible after I pointed out his indiscretion, and he ended up being our biggest champion in the store from that point forward.
  2. In the end, even with the discounted truck rental, we ended up paying more than what we would have if the U-Box had been shipped as promised. The difference: $136. Not a massive amount, but still enough to justify a complaint. I don’t know many people who can throw $136 into the wind and not go running after it because it isn’t worth the effort.

I tweeted the link at U-Haul because I assumed it didn’t monitor the web for all mentions of its name (though, it probably does). With that assumption, I goaded the moving company in public. It didn’t take long to receive a reply from the wonderful people manning the @UHaul_Cares account.

I sent the U-Haul Customer Service team my contract number via Twitter’s direct message system. U-Haul, in turn, told me to expect a call from “management.”

The next business day, I received a phone call from the general manager of the location from which I rented the U-Box and the subsequent truck. I had my hands full at the time, so I called back the day after.

The conversation went thusly, paraphrasing:

GM: We are sorry for the customer service you experienced, and we’ve made changes at the location so this never happens again.

MS: Thank you. However, the solution provided to me — the discounted truck — actually ended up being $136 more than the initial cost of the U-Box.

GM: We can offer you a refund of $130.

And so they did. The GM put through a refund in the amount of $130, which brought the total cost of the move down to almost equal that of the U-Box.

But should I have to pay full price for the cost of a product or service that I did not receive?

Hell no.

Sure, U-Haul offered to bring down the price of the more expensive truck that I had to drive for 18 hours to Ontario. However, I didn’t want to drive 18 hours in a truck with 100,000 miles on the clock; I wanted to put my stuff in a box, have someone else deliver it, and split driving duties in my own car with my significant other during the journey to Ontario.

So, back to the @UHaul_Cares account I went, not paraphrasing:

MS: The GM has given me a refund of $130 to make up the difference in cost between the U-Box and U-Haul truck. She also offered an apology multiple times and told me some corrective action has been taken at the store.

UH: Thanks for the update and glad you were able to reach them.

MS: Not entirely satisfied, but not entirely dissatisfied either. The solution offered equates to only paying what I was supposed to pay in the first place, which hardly seems like an apology. It comes off as just doing the bare minimum to keep a repeat customer.

UH: I apologize, if you would like we can re-open the file and management will review and contact you back again.

MS: That’s up to U-Haul. I appreciate the effort made by you folks in corporate. The local store didn’t ask if I was satisfied; simply made the offer and did the refund while giving an apology. If U-Haul wants me to tell others I had a positive experience, then U-Haul will have to do more than what it has done. If U-Haul doesn’t want that, it needn’t do more than it has done.

UH: I have updated the file and management will review and contact you back.

I made no demands. I expected nothing. I simply stated the corrective action felt like a half measure, and that I was not completely satisfied. At this point, it was up to U-Haul to make it right and do what they thought was necessary.

The next day, the same general manager called from the original rental location. She apologized again. I could tell she wanted to be done with this case as much as I did, and I actually felt bad for her at this point. Yet, this is money we’re talking about — specifically, my money.

In the end, U-Haul offered an additional $150 refund for, what I call, consumer pain and suffering.

I am happy.

Would another person who doesn’t have the ability to blast out a personal experience to thousands of people have the same luck? I’m not sure, but I hope so. At least you now know that U-Haul will attempt to keep a customer. After all, the chances of you living in the same place for the rest of your life is pretty slim. We are a fairly mobile species at this point, and U-Haul is still the Kleenex of moving companies. U-Haul’s alternatives are also quite expensive, and sometimes you have to go with the cheaper option while grinning and bearing with it.

There’s one thing I’ve learned from this though: if you aren’t satisfied, say so. Most companies will bend over backwards to keep a customer satisfied, or at least placated. When money is on the line, there’s no room for feelings. If you’ve been wronged, say so, and make the person or company who’s wronged you pay for its lack of service or its unsatisfactory product.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

55 Comments on “Our U-Haul U-Box Saga Finally Comes to a Satisfactory End...”


  • avatar
    319583076

    Sayre’s Law in action…

  • avatar
    Balto

    Putting a company’s mistakes on public display definitely makes them scramble to fix things, especially if they realize other people care about your opinion. I had a friend who had a pair of skis fail in a particularly spectacular fashion, both skis snapped at the binding on the landing of a not particularly large jump. He contacted the company, they said “tough luck”, and then he posted about it on facebook where many of his somewhat famous freeskier friends reposted it. the post ended up spreading around the ski community until the company publicly apologized, ended up giving his money back, as well as several free pairs of skis and a bunch of merchandise (not that he wanted them after what had happened, I think he sold them) on the condition that he remove the post.

    So yeah, they’ll bend over backwards if they think they might actually be hurt by someone’s bad experience, not surprised at all that uhaul made things right.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Online complaining about car companies and their dealers doesn’t seem to have any effect at all.

      • 0 avatar
        BobinPgh

        The most unusual incident of customer runaround I heard of was when my BIL who does a lot of bike riding ordered a pair of Italian bike shorts. He thought he ordered the right size but could not get them over his derrierre. Called customer service who told him the shorts were made “with a European cut for a European fit and European look” and why not give the shorts to a friend? Also, that Americans should “take the next larger size” which they did not tell before. He then called the manufacturer, who refunded the money and took the shorts back but it was a big runaround and cost a lot in postage. Sounds like U Haul pulled something like this and I agree, consumers have to speak up.

        • 0 avatar
          shaker

          “pair of Italian bike shorts”

          Beware of testicular cancer… :-(

          • 0 avatar
            BobinPgh

            Actually, he never found out, he could not get the shorts even halfway up so he never really found out if they fit there. These shorts cost more than $100 so he couldn’t just ‘eat it”. I know U Haul cannot use the excuse “give it to a friend” or that is a “European box with a European look.”

      • 0 avatar
        Balto

        That is for sure. I think the friends in high places helps a lot in both cases, if Mark was a random guy posting to his stay at home dad blog I doubt uhaul would have been quite as accommodating.

        Someone should test this, find some other joe using uhaul to move across canada, when they inevitably screw up have him complain in a similar manner but without the influence of TTAC and see if the results are the same.

        • 0 avatar
          smartascii

          To a certain extent, you’re right that the number of followers helps. But when you start a Twitter discussion with @UhaulCares, everyone who ever searches for Uhaul (or follows them, or follow someone who follows them) has a chance to see it. So even if you just started your Twitter/Facebook/whatever account today, they’ll still take you seriously. I had a similar experience with Advance Auto Parts, when I bought $800 worth of brake calipers, discs, and pads online for local pickup, only to be told that they had placed a 24-hour hold on the order *after* I got to the store. A call to customer service told me, sorry, but it’s fraud protection, and no one can do anything about it. A tweet to them had the whole thing fixed in under half an hour, and I’m not anyone/anything special in real or virtual life.

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        “Online complaining about car companies and their dealers doesn’t seem to have any effect at all.”

        Maybe there’s a “too big to fail” aspect there. It’s one of the few remaining ‘manufacturing’ (suppliers included) employers in the USA.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          # of Sales / Customer Base * Distance of units = level of care.

          In this case, U-Haul knows people move more often and use their services more while also offering nearly identical services to the next provider. People tend to go years between purchasing cars and dealerships are cartel-like in that they aren’t competing Uhaul to Pods, they’re competing Alpha Ford to Omega Ford, thus customer service separates them but given the years between purchases it creates a level of insulation.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I wish that ALL of the auto manufacturers had an adequate online presence, and not just Twitter/FB.

        I can’t E-Mail Honda a complaint or suggestion; I have to call, or have the dealer run interference, and these days, swamped with swapping-out steering-wheel Claymores, they don’t have time for bathroom breaks, much less drop-ins to confirm needed trim repairs, unless the service manager happens to be around, and it’s during late-evening service hours.

    • 0 avatar
      operagost

      I’m not sure that would work now. You have about a 50% chance the company threatens to sue for libel.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I’m glad it ended well. $150 for pain and suffering ??? Considering you, and your significant other , needed to completely change your plans. You went from a nice little 18 hour cruise, to an 18 hour ordeal. Combined with all the aggravation ?? $150 is okay, but it would take $200 to make me feel better.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Mister Mark putting his gilded soapbox to good use! Calling companies out publicly via Twitter seems to work, I’ve seen many other instances.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I feel that U-Haul dropped the ball on this event and deserved the critical writeup ~ it wasn’t overblown in any manner .
    .
    The flip side is ; remembering to say ” Thank You ! ” all those times when things go as planned .
    .
    Last year I blew the engine in my vintage rally car in Tonapah , Arizona where there is nothing but a truck stop .
    .
    After casting about locally I wound up in Phoenix where I had to rent a box van (Ford E Series) and a trailer because ” we don’t rent pickups to go to California ” .(?!) .

    The van was nearly new and a bit battered but it was clean and the AC worked .
    .
    They backed it up to a trailer that was mangled , I don’t care about looks , the _YARD_GUY_ said ‘ on no , this one won’t do ‘ and found me another , hooked it up , checked the lights and off we went .
    .
    We stopped in Quartzite to P. and refill the water jugs , when we came out one trailer tire was flat . I called the 800 # for service and in about half an hour a nice young man showed up and slapped a brandy new tire and wheel on the trailer , we were good to go .
    .
    He flat refused to take a tip and it was 120° F out , I nearly had to pull my gun to get him to take a $5 bill .
    .
    So , not every U-Haul story has a bad ending .
    .
    They sure are expen$ive tho’ .
    .
    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      Balto

      Definitely agree, For the most part I think u haul does the job well.

      I’ve never had an issue in 5-6 times renting trucks and vans. Most of them have been local or short distance moves though. I think the U box is really where the fault lied, seems like they rolled out a new product to be up with the competition without fully briefing staff on how to deal with it.

    • 0 avatar

      I get the feeling U-Haul has actually been trying to make improvements lately. I rented a truck from them for a move ~13 years ago and it was clearly on it’s last legs. I’ve rented trailers from them a couple times in the last couple years and it’s gone smoothly, and from what I saw of the trucks they had around, they’ve put some money into upgrading their fleet.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Can’t remember where I saw it, but the other day, I saw a U-Haul box truck with an E-250 van chassis with the second-to-last E-series design cues. When did Ford go to the Tonka-looking front and square-ish dash? (I could see the dash was the ovoid affair into which Ford put a passenger airbag.)

        So my guess is that this unit was ten years old, at least.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      That annoyed me too. A few years ago, I found an LX parts car for my Taurus (GL) about three hours away. I found three F-150s on U-Haul’s lot, so I tried to rent one with a tow dolly.

      Nope! They are not to be used for towing, and are “in-town” only. I explained that I would return it to the same location, and the car I was towing would not exceed the truck’s limits. No, no, oh and no. You must rent a box truck to tow with.

      I rented a dolly and used a friend’s Ram 1500.

      The worst/funniest part? The parts car didn’t run because the idiot had loosened the cable running to the Power Distribution Box. After I got it home, I discovered this and the car cranked on the first try after I reconnected it. Evidently, it had been sitting for years because it wouldn’t start after an alternator replacement.

      I parted it out anyway (it had issues and was worth more dead than alive to me) but at least I verified that it did run, so I sold it for exactly what I paid for it after stripping it of nearly everything but the engine/trans (and suspension/steering systems which were in a sorry state). It left with three doughnut spares and one full size steel wheel/bald tire, being towed by a 1990s F-150.

      Somewhere, there is an 88-94 Continental running around with it’s 3.8L boat anchor engine.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Is it just me, or does that “U-BOX” look one Interstate pothole away from being the “road debris” that worries us of late?

  • avatar

    The public call out sometimes it works some times it doesn’t. The better you put forth your case the better it works. I worked for a fortune 500 company and we had a meeting about social media attacks on the company. Sometimes they told us they would respond and other times they would not it all depended. Once they told us the had a fellow who was a little annoyed and began posting on social media and web forums how bad we were he averaged over 100 posts a day they estimated these created 5,000 impressions a day. They ended up figuring out who it was but decided his story was false so they ignored him. They found so did most other people because he complained so much most people started posting back that he was an idiot. Eventually he stopped one day they said they checked it out and he had posted thru a period of unemployment then stopped once he got a job.

    I will tell you if you can figure out how to contact people higher up in an organization that often works as well. Thou not always, I had a boss (president of a mid size company) who basically felt customers were all liars and a necessary evil. He would often be aggressive and on the offense with customers and was more likely to show you the door then help you out unless you had a really good argument.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Getting to someone higher can cause something to be done – because that higher person doesn’t want a customer to be so angry as to bother -them- with an issue. That’s a failing in the communication structure.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah it’s funny when some one who never has to directly deal with a customer gets a call what they might do to get that customer out of their hair.

        Of course the best answer is to know someone. When I worked for insurance my coworker got into a argument with a customer about what he viewed to be a non covered claim. The customer threatened to call his friend the CEO of the insurance company. Now if you work in claims this kind of threat isn’t that uncommon and it never goes anywhere. Except this time the next day my coworker got an email from the personal assistant to the CEO which said kindly pay the claim Mr.CEO plays golf against Mr. Customer whenever he’s in Palm Springs so he’s sure the claim is valid.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Ha, I work in insurance – so I am aware of such exceptions. Normally ours occur on the sales side on who we’ll write a policy to. Little things we let slide here and there as “discretion” in underwriting. We’re not as bad as many other companies on that front. Our claims are pretty strict. Had a meeting with the claims manager just yesterday.

  • avatar
    Doc423

    U-Haul customer service…the “Comcast” of the trailer rental business.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “Our U-Haul U-Box Saga Finally Comes to a Satisfactory End” – we don’t care…

  • avatar
    FerrariLaFerrariFace

    Good on U-Haul for making this right, but two things stick out that still make me hesitant to ever rent from them again (past experience not withstanding):
    1. It took two attempts to square up the situation. The manager should have corrected the problem the first time. Not only did he not offer enough to satisfy the customer…
    2. …he didn’t even offer enough to cover the original difference in price! $130? Really? Would it have killed him to cover the other 6 freaking bucks?

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Mark, I’m glad you got your refunds, but after having read this tale of woe, I know I’d never use U-Box. The boxes themselves sound like a joke, if they fall apart and have to be screwed together. And their U-Box reservation and tracking system sounds like a complete clusterfark.

    It definitely hasn’t changed my overall impression of U-Haul, either. They’re a second rate enterprise, compared to Ryder, Penske, or Budget.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I’m glad all worked out for Mark and his better half.

    Mark achieved good results from a company that probably has little to offer to placate an unhappy customer.

    If you look at the argument Mark put forward it was quite objective in it’s criticism of U Haul, with a mix of subjectivity towards how he felt.

    Mark I’m glad it all sort of worked out, personally I would of been happier if none of this occurred.

    Enjoy your new abode, instead of renting, buy a home!

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    I am sure my comment will get deleted as a personal attack or something like that but, the truth is that you’ve used this site as your personal soap box. Your story, in truth, has nothing to do with cars. It’s just pollution on this site, both articles. Even for the fact that you drove a truck, not a car. But the kicker here is that you had the privilege of posting a sad YELP-worthy story on this site, got clicks for it, and paid for it, and then used this posted story to strong arm Uhaul. Of course not everyone gets to post their stories (and get paid for that) on popular websites. Now you will get clicks and money for this follow-up non-story.

    So what did we learn from your story? A bully may be rewarded. Congrats!

    • 0 avatar

      Before I even picked up the U-Box, I asked my fellow writers: Would you find a U-Box review interesting if angled as an alternative to driving a U-Haul truck? The general consensus was yes, so I wrote it. That said, if the experience had gone well, I would have gladly wrote that up too.

      The reasons for the follow-up are manifold.

      The first is to show that even though U-Haul screwed me over, it at least made an effort to make things right. If we tested a car that was broken, then the OEM fixed it, wouldn’t it be our duty to you and the OEM to review that same vehicle in working order?

      The other reason may seem sinister, but it isn’t. At the end of the last conversation, the U-Haul rep asked if I’d be writing a follow up. Now, I’d had already planned to do that, but there’s a reason why they’d mention it: I dragged their name through the mud — rightfully so — and they wanted to have the better part of the experience documented as well. That’s fair. Many companies will ask you to change a rating if they attend to a public complaint. This is no different.

      As for getting paid for the story, I’d make the same amount whether I wrote it up or not. It’s the blessing/curse of being a salaried employee.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        If a company d1cks me over, then comes clean, I feel it’s an obligation to say so, if I’ve muckraked them online.

        You’re being very gracious here, and I’m sure U-Haul appreciates it.

        If you’re not interested in the article, don’t click through!

  • avatar
    srh

    I find these stories deeply unpleasant. They imply that social media broadcasts help. For the 1% (by which I mean the well connected, not the wealthy) they may. But the inevitable conclusion tends to be that “Uhaul Cares”, which is absolute BS.

    If I’d tweeted the same thing, I’d have gotten silence back. If I’d blogged about my experience, I’d have gotten nothing. Yet Scott Adams can blog about a bad buying experience and have Ford falling all over itself to give him a Ford Raptor. Same with other celebrities.

    The guy whose guitar United destroyed got absolutely no useful response until his song about it went viral. I’ve seen the same thing with bike companies. Your frame broke and it shouldn’t have. Warranty denied. Oh, you have a friend who’s a pro rider? Warranty honored! With an apology! I’ve been trying to get internet connected at my new house for months. Century Link doesn’t bother to return calls or connect me. But if a writer at Ars Technica writes about his experience, his problem is resolved the same day.

    I don’t mean to sound bitter, but there are some comments above that seem to imply that Uhaul actually does care. We all know the truth.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      That’s why a lot of local TV stations have a consumer reporter spot (ours is “Get Marty!”) that handles consumer complaints by publicly shaming the offending party – the advantage: A consistently large audience.

    • 0 avatar

      At the end of the article I said: “Would another person who doesn’t have the ability to blast out a personal experience to thousands of people have the same luck? I’m not sure, but I hope so.”

      I’m sure you can read between the lines.

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        That phrase is actually a little murky, especially using the negative “doesn’t” and the term “same luck”.

        I’m going to try –

        “Would a U-Haul customer without an Internet Blog have their problem resolved in a manner similar to my experience? I’m not sure, but I hope so.”

  • avatar
    Whittaker

    Absolutely Mark’s ability to broadcast his experience to a wide audience helped him get a refund.
    Uhaul looked at the bad publicity and decided to throw $280 at it.
    That’s a good business move but its still purely a business move.
    In the same situation average Joe Blow still gets a shrug.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    That’s a good strategy for those of us who may not have a platform like Mark: use the consumer-affairs folks on the local news.

    There’s an angle to try that uses these “bully-pulpit” experiences — cite the experience when you go to do battle. Whip out the “so-and-so of Blog-X had this problem, and you folks did this. As a proud customer of you folks (for the moment), I think [x] is fair.” Can’t hurt!

  • avatar
    -Nate

    ” I’m not your mom taking peas out of your casserole for you.”.
    .
    So , now I know why some here are chronic whiners and cry constantly .
    .
    Jesus H. Christ , grow a pair and Man Up why don’cha .
    .
    I too cluld have written my less than pleasant tangles with U-Haul but instead , I took charge and made sure I didn’t get screwed , not whine like some here .
    .
    Mark provided a good article for those who have reading comprehension
    and might not know the pitfalls of a simple thing like vehicle rentals .
    Yes , it’s cars related .
    .
    Stop bitching so much ! life is too short .
    .
    If you really hate it here , use the ” DELETE KEY ” .
    .
    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      Oh, heck – we wouldn’t be here as much as we are without the ability to leave comments – there’s always a little (or a lot) of hubris in making comments – it almost seems like we’re making a difference (aka the “Butterfly Effect”).
      The thing about the “Butterfly Effect” is that it don’t mean squat in the middle of an already raging Cat 5 storm…

  • avatar
    Moparmann

    @ Nate: +100 AMEN!!!

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      Thanx MoparMan ! .

      I understand that complaints are important and necessary , I was just backing up Mark’s comment that chronic whining just to be a troll , isn’t productive .

      I’m enjoying reading the ‘ how I handled this problem ‘ replies greatly

      I understand the Butterfly Effect .

      -Nate

  • avatar
    nrd515

    It never hurts to just write or email when you have a complaint. I learned about 20 years ago, it can get you a lot. The first time was when I had a PC that had endless issues. By the time the warranty was about to expire, almost everything inside the case had been replaced at least once, and it still was just a lemon. I found the name of the president of the US division, and wrote a calm, pretty pleasant letter telling my tale of woe, and included copies off all my paperwork. I sent it by FedEx in one of those pouches. About 5 days later, a new, well, refurbed PC (That looked and smelled new) was on it’s way. Not only did I have a working replacement, I had a major upgraded in every way PC that worked great for 5 years. A few years ago, I bought a camcorder that had issues. I sent it in for repair, and it was “lost”. After giving them a couple of weeks to “find it”, I emailed the boss of the US operation, telling him about what happened, and that I was about to go on the trip I bought the camcorder for in the first place without it. I got a call the next day, saying I could get a totally new replacement for zero cost to me, a slightly upgraded refurbed one for $25, or a hugely upgraded refurbed HD camcorder for $50. I took the $50 deal and it came a few days later. It was in prefect condition, and worked great. The real surprise came a few days later when my supposedly lost camcorder showed up. I called the number of the guy I had talked to on the phone, and asked them if they wanted it back, and he said no, give it to someone or whatever I wanted to do with it. I gave it to my friend’s 10 year old son, who still has it, and loves the 50X zoom.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • ToolGuy: “much better than the horror show that the Camaro is now” Will no one rise to defend the...
  • tankinbeans: I have pretty much the perfect spec in my car today. Finally pulled the trigger on a Mazda3 Turbo. Must...
  • tankinbeans: I briefly paid for a subscription to Sirius 10 years ago, but have the same problem with Sirius as I do...
  • Ol Shel: So, you just made sh!t up, and want people to believe it’s a fact. You sound like the jacka$$ at the...
  • nrd515: I agree with most of your list, with a few exceptions: I don’t drive enough miles to really care about...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber