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Off without a hitch

By Mark Sticht

The Quick Answer

Two thumbs down, or amputated whichever you think is worse. I can't review a U-Haul hitch, only their customer service, or lack of. Read on to find out how they struck out three times in one day.

Saturday morning I found out I may have a chance to travel from Montana to Utah where I need to pickup some stuff with a small trailer, but I don't have a hitch. What to do? Call U-Haul! Two birds with one stone!

Strike One

I called a Utah County U-Haul store to schedule a hitch install for Monday morning in Provo. They asked what time, I reply that I'd like as early as you can. They offer 7:00 am. I'm thinking it is a bit early, but I guess I can get out of bed. That was smooth, very quick to setup the appointment and hold my reservation and parts with a credit card. I also reserved a trailer.

About an hour later I get a call from someone who actually works in Provo — they are booked up for the day and offer Tuesday. There is one other problem with my 7:00am appointment, they don't open until 9:00 am. Since I'll only be town for one day, I cancel. They recommend trying Salt Lake.

Strike Two

I called the Salt Lake U-Haul and explain that I need a hitch installed. As soon as they get to asking for a credit card (which is soon) I stop then and explain that I'd like to make sure they really have an opening because I just had an appointment for another store, but it wasn't really available. No problem she says, we'll call her Jaclyn, and checks Monday. Great news, it is completely open! I can pick any time I want. Given my last scare with 7:00 am I opt for 9:00 am. She takes my card info. (My phone starts ringing, it is U-Haul), since I'm still on the phone with U-Haul, I proceed to reserve a trailer. Great!

The voicemail. A call from Andrew, while I'm still talking to the rep who made the reservation, and he has bad news. News that the first rep should have known. The "Hitch Bay" is not open on Sunday or Monday at this location! The soonest available time is 2pm on Tuesday. If Andrew can see that this reservation is a no-go while I'm on the phone with Jaclyn, why did she make this appointment?

I call U-Haul, have them look up all my reservations by phone number and make sure they are all canceled. They were sure to correct my usage of the word, "reservation", they are "preferred pickup times". Maybe they haven't been on the receiving end of the "U-Haul Hitch Receipt" email with the bold heading "Hitch Reservation".

Strike Three

It is Saturday afternoon, 1:50pm or so, and I realize I might be able to get a hitch in Montana, before I leave for Utah, so I dial my the nearest dealer in Kalispell. More good news, after taking my vehicle information they check and they have all the parts "right here". What is the chance you can get it done this afternoon? They inform me they have an opening at 2pm and it takes about 3 hours. They close at 7pm. Perfect, except I'm just over an hour away — no problem, they can do it at 3pm. I'm finally going to get a hitch! I rushed out the door and arrived just after 3pm.

Meet Zach. He is a nice guy, laid back, hanging out in the U-Haul store parking lot, doing U-Haul store things like fixing the lights on a trailer. He doesn't know anything about a hitch install. We walk inside the empty store and check the computer. There are some issues. The "boss" isn't there and he takes care of the hitch installs. And another slight problem, there isn't a hitch to install. Thanks, Jason, if that is your real name — for assuring me you had the parts "right here" and for wasting my time and gas. Two and half hours round trip, for nothing.

I cancel my travel plans. No hitch, no need to go. Three strikes, U-Haul, you are out. I will never, ever, call, recommend or use U-Haul again.

What happened?

What happened? I can only guess. So, U-Haul, feel free to reach out to me and correct me where I'm wrong. What is wrong with U-Haul?

  1. If you call a store and they don't answer, you end up talking to someone, somewhere, but not where you called. Now they don't want you to know this, they are friendly and local, or try to be. I should have guessed it when Rep #3, Jason, had to lookup the address when I asked to confirm it before rushing out the door.
  2. They have parts "right here". They are either flat out lying or their inventory tracking system can't be trusted. Either way, that only means a brand that can't be trusted.
  3. They have a schedule right in front of them and know that the entire day is open. Right... No, really the "bay" is closed that day, but the call center doesn't know that or doesn't care. Again — either they lie to collect a credit card or their system is so lame that they can't mark a day as closed.

So what is it U-Haul? Are your reps paid by the credit card number they collect, the number of reservations made? Are the systems that are available to the reps so poor that they are to blame and not the people? Whatever it is, it is U-Haul has a problem and there is a good chance it turns into a problem for the customer too.

If you do dare to call U-Haul, they warn you that the call is being recorded and you can have a copy, this will help them deliver on their promises to you. Right. Always ask for a copy. When speaking with a rep, ask if they are in the location you think you called or ask them which direction to the McDonald's that is closest to them. If they don't know, they aren't local. If they aren't in the location you think you called, you can be sure of only one thing — they can't be trusted.

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