Local News

Customers Say Problems With U-Haul's Online Reservations No 'Fluke'

Posted April 9, 2003 5:18 a.m. EDT

— When a customer confirms airline, hotel or rental car reservations, they expect to have a seat, room or car waiting. With at least one company, it does not always work that way.


is the largest truck rental company in the United States. In


, Five On Your Side reported a WRAL viewer's problem with the company's online reservation system. At the time, a U-Haul spokeswoman called the problem a "fluke."

After the story aired, Five On Your Side heard from more viewers who said the problem is no fluke at all.

Daniel DeForge rented a U-Haul truck for his move in December. Using the company's online system, he got a confirmed reservation and even reconfirmed the reservation by phone. When he went to pick it up, no truck was available.

DeForge said he showed the employees his paperwork.

"They said that doesn't necessarily mean that you'll have a truck when you get there," he said.

DeForge could not believe it. Then he saw WRAL's story about Mark Peters, a U-Haul customer who had a similar experience.

In November, Peters reserved a truck using U-Haul's online reservation system and also received a confirmation. When it was time to pick up the truck, U-Haul did not have one "yet."

After Five on Your Side called U-Haul, the company refunded the $290 Peters paid to rent another truck. At the time, spokeswoman Jennifer Flachman apologized and called the situation a "fluke."

"I said 'Holy cow. That's exactly what happened to me,'" DeForge said. DeForge and more than a dozen other WRAL viewers who contacted Five On Your Side do not think it is a fluke.

Many viewers sent e-mail saying they experienced the "exact scenario" and wrote about dealers who had "no record" of a reservation. An e-mail from someone who claimed to be a U-Haul dealer said customers often show up with a reservation they printed online and "we know nothing about it."

Five On Your Side called U-Haul again. The company sent a statement from U-Haul of Raleigh president James Frawley. In the statement, Frawley said the problem is customers don't have a "clear understanding" of the "reservation and scheduling process."

DeForge does not think there is much to understand. He feels U-Haul's system just does not work.

"What a silly service to offer if they can't actually follow through on it," he said.

DeForge ended up getting a truck from a location 10 miles away.

An e-mail sent from someone who claimed to be a former employee in Raleigh said a truck reservation "does not guarantee that it will be there. It never has and never will."