Monday, September 14, 2009

u Haul

Dear readers,

I read an article in the Slate online magazine several weeks ago about how poor publicity for companies online can be absolutely devastating. Now, I don't have the audience some of the people interviewed for that article do, and I have been relatively gun shy about airing dirty laundry here since ruffling a feather or two that I hadn't meant to ruffle, but I do have at least a modest forum here for a 'consumer beware' Public Service Announcement.

When we moved to Ottawa last month, Ari and I were not in a position, after having been on parental leave one of us or the other for 9 months, to pay for movers cross-province this time around. So we bit the bullet for a u Haul. Now in our former location in Kitchener, we lived a 5 minute drive from our closest u Haul depot; however when shopping online, we discovered that to rent our truck from the next town over, would be significantly cheaper - to the tune of $400. Don't ask me why renting a u Haul in Cambridge would cost $500 vs. $900 in Kitchener, but it did, making it worthwhile to go out of our way.

Book the truck Ari did, and he received our confirmation email which contained a link to the actual receipt online - red flag number one; u Haul's online 'receipt' is a webpage which expires upon the completion of your transaction, and which they can modify at any time. Now, foolishly, admittedly we didn't click through to said website, figuring that yes there would be add-ons (insurance, gas surcharge, etc.), but that the price for the base unit truck would be consistent. Caveat Emptor - buyer beware, of course, however in this case I'm not entirely sure that checking up on this would have made much difference as again, they could modify this receipt at any time, meaning we'd have to keep checking back in case there were rate increases, and that it would disappear on us unless we printed it (in the middle of a move with our electronics packed up and no internet access!) upon return of the truck.

So of course come moving day, when Ari goes in to pick up the truck, oh no no no the price is back up to $900. No time to argue at that point, but upon checking email etc. at the library the day after moving day, sure enough going through to the receipt the price WAS listed as $900. But (a) that was nowhere near the price listed on the website, and again, there was nothing in the email itself with the price; and even if making customers click through to a changeable, deletable website is an ethical way of providing a receipt, they could have changed the price X number of times in the middle.

The moral of this 'long story not so short' is that we call in (twice, mind you, as we never received the call back the first customer disservice agent promised us), for the $400 (not exactly chump change at this time) we feel we didn't owe them, but because this website with the promised price, plus even our receipt, are by now deleted/updated/etc. there's no way to prove that this money was charged dishonestly. Fun being called liars, hmm ... and perhaps it was our own fault that we didn't cover our *ahem*s enough in the middle of a move; we do feel the least u Haul could have done was put the receipt documentation directly in the email they sent us; and so yes, right now we're hoping for people's support and awareness in terms of what we see as a deceptive practice of u Haul's. But more than that, even if you think we're the biggest idiots in the world for simply not checking this stuff as thoroughly as possible, bare minimum I hope our mistakes will save others from making the same. Read the fine print, question the fine print, print out the digital fine print ... and next time YOU move? Use Budget. Or Discount. ;)

Be well. Goodnight.


Alex @ I'm the Mom said...

omg that seriously sucks tushy.


Unknown said...

Hi, there

I would like to say, that I too dislike U-Haul very much.

I had several episodes with them in regards to a storage space I had with them for several months.

I don't remember all the details, but recall going back to an old residence of mine (meeting up with an old roommate) to find a mountain of mail from U-Haul stating they were looking for their $42.75, etc., etc. on a storage unit that no longer contained my belongings.

Had I not left them a valid phone number they could reach me at should snail mail fail?

This was the first I'd heard of the matter, and it had been going on for so long, I was starting to get collection calls!

(I was in BC at this point) -I come back to Ontario for a holiday visit; guess who I decide to visit first... I remember going in there myself to try and solve the case -Can't remember if I ended up paying them, or a collections agency or what, but it had lasted a while and I was not a happy little cher.

$42.75, however is not $900.