U-Haul Unexpected Adventures in Moving

Recently my father-in-law decided to downsize from a three-bedroom house to a one-bedroom condo. As a result, our family became the beneficiaries of several pieces of furniture. Moving said furniture items from the East Bay to Elk Grove required that we rent a vehicle large enough to do it in one move. Like millions of Americans, we looked to U-Haul.

My wife went on the internet to make the arrangements. We decided to pick up the vehicle near our point of origin and then return it to a location near our house. My wife selected the ten-foot-long truck. Upon review of the dimensions of the vehicle and the furniture, I had her upgrade the vehicle size to one fifteen feet in length about five days before the move.

On the day of the move, we discovered that the pick-up location had been changed to one about eight miles further away. When we arrived to pick-up the rental truck, we were asked where to drop-off the truck. Apparently, the location near our home was not open on Sundays so I had to pick a place further from our home. We selected one that was open Sundays from 9 AM to 4 PM. We signed the paperwork and were off on the moving adventure.

Five of us loaded the truck in about an hour. After eating lunch and touring the new place with grandpa, we headed back to Elk Grove. We got home just after 5 PM and unloaded the truck. Shortly after 6 PM we had emptied the vehicle. As far as we could tell, all the U-Haul locations near us were closed so we got ready to drop-off the truck on Sunday morning as scheduled.

I took the truck to Safeway for fuel because it was the cheapest gasoline that I could buy on the route to the rental place. Not being familiar with the vehicle, I overfilled the gas tank from the level required on the contract.

I then drove to the special U-Haul location that was open at this time of the morning on a Sunday to drop off the truck. I followed my GPS instructions to the letter. I ended up at a place with Tattoo painted on it in 2 ½ foot letters.

Photo via Google streetview

This place was supposedly an auto repair business. The building was buttoned-up tighter than a … (sorry no metaphor really comes to mind so make one up yourself). All the rolling doors were shut, and all the walk doors were too. On the paper from U-Haul it said call this phone number when you arrive. I called the number and it tried to go to voicemail but couldn’t because the voice mailbox was not set-up.

OK, so the business is closed, no one answers the phone number provided by U-Haul, oh, and I had 45 minutes to turn the truck in or I would be charged another day’s rental. The building had two small U-Haul signs on it, so I knew it was the right place. Upon further examination, there was a U-Haul logo near one of the walk doors, this was a key drop. (Tiny white box on wall behind white car in center of above photo.)The key drop had a sign above it with a URL to go on the internet and return the truck.

I entered the URL in my fancy Samsung phone. It asked me for my last name and a phone number. As I began to click thru the prompts, the program sent a confirmation code to me via text message. I entered the code that was supposed to let me begin the return process and then I got kicked completely out of the program. This happened three times.

In desperation, I tried calling another U-Haul location, but they too were closed. I began looking thru the text messages from U-Haul looking for a lifeline. I found a link in one of the messages sent before I picked up the truck. It was a direct link to the return process. Finally, I could begin the self-check-in.

The check-in process was multiple pages of yes or no questions mixed with requests to take photos of various types related to the truck and upload them directly to U-Haul. Once I had completed what I thought was the process, I got hit with another screen. This one for going over the mileage. The overage in mileage was due to the moving of pick-up and drop-off locations.

Interestingly, none of the photos taken with this U-Haul provided URL were stored on my phone. They were uploaded and then gone.

So, from the time I was handed the keys to the truck, I never interacted with another human again., U-Haul never told us that humans were irrelevant to the rental return process, not even the biker looking guy that handed us the keys.

Total cost from Pleasanton to Elk Grove $376

  • Truck Rental $312
  • Gasoline $55
  • Over mileage charge $9

So, if you’re looking for an adventure in moving, be sure you have patience and a good internet signal. You’ll need it.