As a former U-Haul employee, I would like to share my experiences with unsuspecting customers.
I was employed at the Morse Road U-Haul Center in Columbus, Ohio for 2 years as a temporary college job. First of all, let’s talk about safety. My first 6 months on the job, I was a “Service Tech” which meant I did safety inspections and minor repairs to Truck Engines and bodies as well as trailer repair.
I was CONSTANTLY finding major issues with the trucks. Management refused to “down” the trucks (meaning to put out of commission until fixed) and told me to do what I had to to get the truck back out into circulation.
For example, fuel system problems in 3 locally assigned trucks, in particular, caused them to break down at least once a week during customer use. One of our old International 26ft trucks had a broken hinge on the hood, so it was ordered to be wired shut preventing us from checking oil levels. Mid-winter, the bailing wire broke while a customer was driving the truck sending the MASSIVE semi-truck-style hood flying across the road to strike a parked car.
Once I transitioned into “counter” duties, the problems with the trucks became even more evident as I had to deal with the customer complaints. I personally did everything I could to try to prevent problems as well as rectify any that occurred, however upper management made this impossible.
One particular situation that stands out in my mind…one of the infamous “problem trucks” was rented to a customer. Big surprise, they called when the truck broke down on the side of I-71. They called the breakdown hotline several times over the course of 6 hours just to be told that a computer problem was preventing them from being able to verify that the truck had even been rented to her although I had called personally to verify it myself, meanwhile, the poor woman was stranded on a busy freeway. I volunteered to take another truck and transload the truck for the customer, however our GM, who we will call Mr. Knappy, felt that my time would be better spent mopping the floor.
As for trailers, if I tried to deny a trailer rental to a customer due to safety reasons, I would be reprimanded. For instance, one customer wanted to pull a tandem axle trailer with a chevy s-10, which was stupid to begin with because once loaded, the trailer would weigh more than the truck, but furthermore, he was using a bumper-mounted tow-ball on a severely rusted bumper with one of the 2 bumper mounts GONE. When brought to Mr Knappy’s attention, he said, it’s not our problem, rent the trailer to him. As you can imagine, the trailer AND bumper ended up in a ditch 2 miles down the road. It’s amazing that no-one was hurt or killed. And then the CUSTOMER was charged for damage to the trailer.
As for the charging of credit cards… wow… Mr Knappy was acclaimed as the best manager in Columbus due to the exemplary numbers his store generated. His method for generating said numbers were charging customers credit cards for damage that already existed, putting miscellaneous charges of over $100 on customers cards to “get their attention” if a truck was not returned on time, and putting defective merchandise and damaged boxes back on the display racks. Charging fuel fees knowing damn well that some of the trucks had malfunctioning fuel gauges was a common practice as well.