Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The battle for U-Haul's soul

We made a reservation for a U-Haul truck in Virginia to make off with our IKEA stuff. A warning to all would-be renters: when they say "location is a preference only" they really mean it. They will gladly send you thirty miles away to another location if they happen to have a truck there that needs renting . . . which is what happened to us. So we had to make a side-trip to Fairfax to get the truck, even though there was a U-Haul less than a mile from the IKEA store.

When we called the location the day before, the owner tells us that we have to have our insurance company fax over some confirmation that the truck will be insured if we want to decline the extra insurance coverage. "You mean you won't rent us the truck if we decline the coverage?" we asked. "No, you come," he said. (He was a Russian imigrant, I think.)

So we get there, and he starts in with the same line: we have to prove that we have coverage if we want to decline coverage. I had never heard this exact line before . . . I had had car rental companies sometimes ask me who my insurance carrier was and what kind of coverage I had, in an effort to plant seeds of doubt, but no one had ever tried to force me to accept extra coverage. I argued with him for a while, mostly good-naturedly . . . I figured this was just hard-ball sales. Finally, I said "Fine, fine, whatever." I was ready to get out of there.

But then he starts showing me the papers to sign, and the forms say right on the form that it was optional coverage. OK, I thought, now I smell a rat. I flipped over the form to the page with the coverage declined option, and sign that, and go out to the truck. The guy follows me out eventually, and tries again to get me to sign the page with the extra coverage. "You need to sign here," he says. I point out, again, that this is optional coverage, that it is not necessary. He starts to get mad, slamming his hand on the pages -- "Read this!" he yelled.
"I am reading it, and it says optional coverage," I reply.
"Look, just sign," he said.
"NO," I yell, pushing the paper back at him. "No, I don't trust you, I don't believe you."
"Look, I am about ready to kick you out of my store and not let you take the truck, so you better read and sign."
"Ok, we're done here. We're not taking the truck. Goodbye."

So we drive on to IKEA, with no truck, and no leads on a truck. I figured we could at least go through the store, pick out stuff we like, and maybe I would make the trip up alone later. But while we're in the store, I get a call from (I presume) some regional manager. "I heard you had an altercation with one of our franchisees," he said. "I can get you another truck."
I was slightly shocked. "How did you hear about this? Did the guy report it, or . . . "
There was a long pause on the phone. "I . . . know about this guy."
So after a couple more phone calls, I have a confirmed reservation for a truck at the Woodbridge location, just a mile from the IKEA store. I get the truck. Nobody gives me any guff about taking or not taking the insurance.

So . . . what to think? On the one hand, I'm relieved that U-Haul was responsive enough to know that they had cheesed off a customer, and stepped in to do something about it. On the other hand, I am appalled the company knows that this guy is pulling this crap routinely, and still lets him rent out their trucks.

I googled around just now, and found dozens and dozens of complaints about U-Haul, most worse than mine -- unsafe trucks, breakdowns, complete failure to provide a truck, physical assault. I doubt I'll be getting much attention with my complaint . . .


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