Venting about trucks, trailers, and custmer service

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Over the weekend I finished most of my move. I had moved all of my machines a couple weeks ago except for one where the cabinet I made was 5 feet wide. As it turns out, the 5'x9' trailer is really 4'10" on the inside. And the guy I normally rent trailers from didn't have the 6'x12' open uhauls...
So I rent the biggest truck my normal uhaul guy has. He asked me if I wanted the appliance dolly. I said no because I already have one... nearly identical to the uhaul one in fact. He calls me today with the total saying that it includes the applicance dolly rental. When I said that I tried not to rent the dolly, he tells me that I didn't sweep out the truck either, which is normally a $25 charge, but he didn't charge me for that. And mentions quickly under his breath that he can't go back and change the total now. For the record, I didn't sweep out the truck. But it was about as clean as it was when I got it, which was nearly perfect. My knee-jerk reaction is to find another u-haul dealer. And I've rented from him maybe a dozen times in the last three years.
So back to my 5' cabinet. I had to rent a trailer from another rental place, not u-haul. It seems that no u-haul dealer has open 6'x12' trailers. I called five of them. The central u-haul 800 number says they want $5 up front, and they'll call me tomorrow with the address of someone who has it. This is chicago though. So I'm sure they would come up with someone clear across town.
The cost to rent the open 6'x12' trailer from this other place was $60. Now I'm no cheap skate. But this is about twice what u-haul charges. I (politely) asked the grumpy old man behind the counter why it was so high. I asked, "What am I getting for twice the money? Am I getting better service? A better trailer?" I mentioned that I would rather work with a privately owned place like that, even if the price is higher. But there's a point where it doesn't make sense anymore. He complained about how u-haul is self- insured, but they have to buy insurance and that's what it costs to put a trailer on the road. He can't help it if they're giving them away. While every u-haul dealer in town sells out of their trailers every weekend, this guy had a lot devoid of people and full of a couple dozen trailers.
What's happening? I'm I getting old or something? I would never treat my customers like the u-haul guy did. We're on a first name basis. And we're only talking $10. And the other place seems like they would rather take their ball and go home than to engauge in any reasonable competition with u-haul. Why have the trailers?
There was a nice lady I talked to at another local u-haul rental place. She recommended her competition when she didn't have the bigger trailer. I'll start going to her guess. I guess I'm done venting.
brian
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brianlanning wrote: ...

...
My impression from the last experience w/ U-Haul (which I intend to be _THE_ last one :) ) is that their billing software now is so inflexible from corporate the local rental places essentially have no freedom for fixing any billing other than, say, the sweep-out charge which they can add/not add. It certainly appears true they can't change anything once billed, even an incorrect billing. I had the local guy charge an extra day and it took nearly an Act of Congress to get it corrected through corporate -- at his billing station, once their software thought said trailer was rented for two days there was literally no way he could alter the fact. :(
It may well be that is fairly close to the marginal cost for the local self-financed guy under his cost model. Quite possibly he has the same problem as do many other small outfits--not enough volume combined w/ relatively high fixed costs to keep the incremental cost high. Alternatively, he might just be a grumpy old man and as stodgy in his ways by now as I... :)
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dpb wrote:

Someone sent me an email describing some of their business model these days. They sound like typical corporate america. That by itself is enough to make me not get a u-haul trailer again.

I know the small u-haul people make next to nothing on the rentals. I have to wonder why they put up with it.
As for the non u-haul guy, they're probably having a hard time competing with a corporate giant who can play games with the laws and get huge discounts on equipment by buying in volume. I could tell he was feeling great about his job that day, even before I started talking to him.
I think the plan is for us to buy a 12' or 16' trailer as soon as we have a place to park it. Seems more workable to us (since we drive vans) than a separate pickup truck.
brian
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I own a 10' enclosed trailer and have been very happy. That trailer is the smartest investment I ever made. Once you own a trailer you find uses for it all the time, more than expected. A quality trailer is a simple device compared to a truck and can outlast several pickups and perhaps last the rest of your life. Repairs and maintenance are simple compared to a truck. So, if you can find the room for it then buy one for sure.
The coolest thing about the enclosed trailer is that it give you secure, weatherproof storage seperate from the truck. This has a lot of advantages and will cause you to use your truck in a whole new way. If it's inconvenient to haul your gear all over, you can just lock up and unhook and your truck is empty and available. If conditions don't allow for immediate unloading, your gear is secure and can be accessed at your convenience.
I love my trailer and would like to own another. That way you could have a trailer devoted to a particular task ready to go and other trailers which are empty and available. My next trailer will be a gooseneck tandem with a dump bed and removable sides rated to 14,000 lbs. After that I would like to have a 20' enclosed.
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lwhaley wrote:

I would like to get an enclosed trailer. My wife keeps pointing out that we wouldn't be able to haul a refridgerator in it though since the top would likely be too low. I'd like to be able to put a car on it also. And i really dislike the idea of having to bend over inside. Maybe someone makes one with a 7' interior height? Maybe I need a horse trailer.
brian
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brianlanning wrote:

Which enclosed trailers are you looking at?
All of the enclosed trailers I've ever seen, (Featherlite, Haulmark, Wells Cargo, and the BORG cheapies) except U-Haul and snowmobile trailers, would easily take a household fridge standing up, even the small 5x8's.
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B A R R Y wrote:

I admit I haven't done enough research and my only exposure to box trailers so far has been the u-haul 6x12 and my assessment of trailers I see driving down the road.
brian
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You can get almost ANY configuration of trailer that makes sense, and rolls down the road. Full custom, even. You just have to look.
If I had a place to park one, I'd have one, and sell one of the trucks.
Patriarch
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"a standing refrigerator"
My understanding is that one may safely transport them laying flat - provided, however, that you let them sit a day or so in the new location before starting them up again so as to allow the fluids to settle back.
I've done this a couple of times, most recently last month without difficulty. The staked washer dryer, however, lost fluids enoute (found them on floor of the trailer) though it does not seem to haveimpaired the operation over the five years since the move.

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Lee Michaels wrote:

Couldn't he just lie the refrigerator on its back? Of course, if he's talking about an enclosed car carrier a la Nascar then he's talking some major bucks. When he starts laying out that kind of cash, he can find one high enough to take a standing refrigerator.
--
Mortimer Schnerd, RN
mschnerdatcarolina.rr.com
  Click to see the full signature.
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brianlanning wrote:

My enclosed trailer is 6' high inside. I have to stoop ever so slightly while inside. A ordinary house hold fridge is shorter than that. Otherwise, You can buy or order a trailer of any height, believe it.
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brianlanning wrote:

Why would you have a problem hauling a refrigerator? Just lay it on it's back and it will be just fine. Allow a couple hours in the upright position before applying power (let's oil flow back to the compressor).
Pete C.
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wrote:

<snip of difficulty with U-Haul and guy at competition>

I'm glad I own my trailer.
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George Max wrote:

Figured out if your amortized per usage cost is less than U-Haul's rate yet??? :)
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Easily.
The trailer was a couple of hundred bucks around 25 years ago. It only gets better as time passes.
It's moved the contents of two households from one place to another. It's made numerous trips hauling dirty things that I and others would be loathe to put in our cars. It's made the transport of sheetgoods possible. It's helped quite a bit with hauling lumber and firewood.
And it's available at a moments notice. At 9am or 9pm. Whichever. And I don't have to deal with any self important fools or accounting software that doesn't allow for correction of mistakes.
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I'm in a university community. U-Haul is absolutely the worst of the dealers. Their equipment is in poor condition (compared to Ryder, which has much nicer newer trucks), and while they're happy to take your money and reservations, they can't guarantee that the truck or trailer you reserved will actually be available.
Why are you second-guessing the place with the higher prices? Their costs probably ARE higher than U-Haul's, and their service is probably much better. You complained about your treatment at U-Haul, but then you say you don't want to pay any more.
brianlanning wrote:

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M Berger wrote:

I agree.

That's debatable. Maybe what I need is a different, better, non-uhaul place to rent trailers from.

There are half a dozen uhaul dealers around. I'll probably try some of the others. If I can find a private place, I'd rather work with them though.
brian
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As to the U-Haul software, let me add my own example.
I needed a tow dolly, to move a Plymouth Voyager minivan from one spot to another. My tow vehicle was my semi-old iron, '82 GMC half ton pickup.
I tried making a reservation online. I was told that my truck was too small to pull a minivan. Curious, I kept playing with the combinations of tow vehicle and towed vehicle, just to see what was acceptable.
I didn't make the reservation online. Instead, I walked into my neighborhood U-Haul dealer. Forewarned with knowledge, I told them the one thing I knew would pass the computer system: I was using a 3/4 ton pickup to pull a Geo Metro. With proper caution, we made the 80 mile trip easily and safely.
On the other hand, there is such a thing as "too little vehicle". My late next door neighbor once repossessed his co-signed truck from his wayward son. He borrowed a 16' flatbed from the fellow across the street, loaded the truck, and towed it home. He said he had a bit of a scare when he came to a stop sign, and skidded right through the intersection.
Lessee... 1971 long/wide Chevy truck, on a 16' trailer without trailer brakes, being towed by a Toyota Corrolla.
Yeah. I can see the problem with braking. LOL
Kevin
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For what it is worth, I used Penske to rent a 16' truck and tow dolly. They didn't have a tow dolly and gave me the trailer at the same price. I did it online - then did not "go through with it." They called me to offer help and discounts. I went with them and had no complaints and enjoyed the discounts. (One way 800 miles four days)
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