I opted for the “no” on paying 3500$ to replace the big ol’ hybrid battery in my 2004 Prius. I had also grown increasingly uncomfortable with it holding up while (perhaps stupidly) driving it the ~45km from my house to the dealership. Now that I wasn’t going to have the dealer fix it, somebody had to…
To that end, step one was getting the car home. I was really not that pumped about driving it back, I was genuinely worried about doing irremediable damage to the battery by draining it or charging it when it’s screaming at me to stop. I don’t even want to guess how much a tow truck would cost to get the car home. While talking to friends, someone mentioned that U-Haul rented automotive tow dollies as well as full on auto transport trailers. The fact that Cailyn has a Toyota Tacoma plays nicely with that. I don’t remember exactly what the quote was, but essentially it came out to ~20$ difference or something between the two options. Finally seeing an opportunity to splurge, I reserved an auto transport trailer.
I can safely say I have never had such a bad experience with such clear communication before hand. First of all, I tried to do everything online. Wanting to be sure, because I had to coerce Cailyn to be around for the whole ordeal, I called the location I had supposedly reserved the trailer. Turns out U-Haul’s online inventory is not even close to accurate, with some of the locations it directed me to telling me they have never even had an auto transport trailer. After calling my third location with no hits on a trailer, and none of the staff able to help me, I called U-Haul’s reservation line to do it over the phone. Apparently they have information their online service isn’t privy to, because the option I was given didn’t even appear in their online franchise (dealer?) network when I looked. Either way, all good, reservation confirmed.
Almost immediately after booking the reservation, the U-Haul franchisee called me directly. There is a bunch of information you have to fill out when you show up, and he wanted to do it over the phone to expedite the in-person process. Works for me. Made an appointment for 4:15 on a Wednesday or something. The franchisee stressed that they close at 5:00, so don’t expect to pick up the trailer if I show up at 5:00. “No problem”, I said.
I spoke on the phone, to the person I was picking the trailer up from, at ~noon on the Wednesday to double confirm everything. They again stressed they close at 5 sharp. “Yep, got it”, I said. I showed up at ~4:20 (5 minutes late, I know) and the location was closed. At first I didn’t really understand, I thought maybe I was at the service entrance or something. I walked around and asked neighboring businesses, but no luck. Not just “Sorry, we just pulled the little dangly chain on our fluorescent open sign” closed, but “doors locked, lights shut off, building looking rough, exterior a mess as though they’ve been closed for a couple months” kind of closed. So that kind of sucked.
I can safely say that after having safely said I’ve never had such a bad experience with such clear communication beforehand, I have never had such downright atrocious customer service over the phone. Calling U-Haul’s phone system, I had two people talk to me for about 3-4 minutes and then transfer me back to the root of the phone tree. Yes, I did want to start all over again with the same options I was frustrated by previously but once again ending up with someone who has no context, thank you. I then had 2 people HANG UP IN THE MIDDLE OF MY ISSUE DESCRIPTION. Two distinct individuals, in the midst of fulfilling their job responsibilities, just… didn’t. “Hi, it’s 4:45 and I’m standing outside a U-Haul where I have a reservation to pick up a trailer and there doesn’t seem to be any… hello? @#%!$#@$@!^%@#$”. I couldn’t believe it! That’s never happened to me before ever. How can someone not get fired for that?! I believe this is the part where Cailyn pulled out her e-reader and let me rage out in an empty parking lot for a bit.
I dropped Cailyn off at the beach to play some volleyball while I continued to be in a great mood and have lots of fun. After about 20 minutes of phone-tree roulette, I ended up with a kindly older Texan who was determined to help me. He was really sweet, and really reassuring, and really wanted to help, but just didn’t have any authority. He tried to transfer me a handful of different places before saying my best option was to call the next number, and immediately escalate and have them look at my file (which he had made descriptive notes in). I don’t remember his name now, maybe Walt? If you’re out there Walt, I appreciate the effort. You’re a nice guy. Your co-workers are dicks though, so maybe make friends outside of work.
Calling the head-office number and escalating ended up working, and I was eventually connected with someone far more head-office-y. I should have written this a month ago when it was still fresh, as I also forget her name, but we’ll call her Sarah. Sarah had both the authority and the righteous indignation to get shit done. She didn’t promise anything quickly, but she promised that I would get an auto transport trailer that night. I stayed on the phone with her for around 45 minutes while she began knocking heads, but eventually she started to get a little discouraged. I told her it wasn’t a huge deal, it just really sucked to have wasted a whole evening and not be any further along. We dropped the call, (this is around 6:45 now, or after about 2 straight hours of phone shenanigans) with the understanding that she’d call back as soon as she had something to talk about. I went and ran an errand downtown, and around 7:30 Sarah called me back. I don’t know exactly what happened, but there was going to be a trailer waiting for me in the east end if I were to drive over that night.
Go pick up Cailyn from the beach; head out to the east end of the city; go to an equivalently seedy looking location behind a gas station. The attendant there seemed to have been totally clued in to my situation – it sounded like his boss had been brought in from home to get things sorted out. Sarah – I’m sorry you had to go to such lengths, but thank you for making U-Haul suck less than it apparently does. Maybe give Walt a call, you’d probably get along.
It was starting to get dark, but it was done. Prius on trailer.