Ohhhhhhhhhh boy. Well, here is my review on my rental with Budget. I thought I was making a good decision but nothing, NOTHING could have been worse than this. At some points, I wished our furniture (and every problem Budget brought us) would just vanish into nothingness.
It all started when we rented the truck out of Falmouth, Mass. The office was an absolute mess- it was a tiny little backroom rented out of a car shop that had nothing to do with Budget. The girl who helped us knew absolutely nothing and was taking care of her child on the job- making us wait a good extra 30 minutes because she stopped the transaction midway many times to go take care of her child who kept breaking Budget merchandise (opening matress covers, etc...). There were children's toys everywhere and I nearly broke a leg stepping over one as it started rolling. Anyhow, if that was all that had happened, I wouldn't have cared, but looking back, this was just a very tiny sign of things to come.
When we rented this truck (16' truck with car carrier in the back, which was attached before our arrival), I asked if the truck had been inspected upon return and I was assured that it was. It was not until we hit Tenesee that I noticed that on the wall behind the seats inside the trucks were the inspection dates (I think it said 8,000 miles and then 16,000 miles, but I'm not positive, but those were printed as milestones for which the truck HAD to be inspected) and one had a little check mark done in permanent marker (not sure if there shouldn't have been an inspection sticker??) but the other one was left blank, even though our truck had passed the mileage on the required milestone before we even got on the road. Great start.
The lady told us she could not show us how to remove the car carrier (so that we could load our furniture easier on the ramp that could only come down once the carrier was removed) due to insurance liability in case we put the carrier back on wrong (we were assured it was put on properly) but that we could call roadside assistance and that they could help us out with it. With this, off we went to our home to load up our stuff.
First of all, the directions were absolutely impossible to understand. It was freezing cold and it took us forever to figure out how to tighten the straps that went around the car's wheels because the information manual says "push down" but what you were really supposed to do was pull up. Real helpful. We could not even begin to figure out how to unhook the car carrier, and all of the knobs were rusted so we didn't even touch it. We called roadside assistance who said that since this was not an emergency, we were on our own. We decided to just lift the furniture over the carrier and to not use the "easy" load ramp. We were two strong women, it was fine, whatever.
When everything was loaded onto the truck, and we were getting ready to go, we tried to close the sliding door on the back of the truck and to put on the lock we had purchased at the location. No such luck, the door would not close. We tried for about 30 minutes (it wouldn't even come near to being shut), we sprayed some WD-40, did everything we could, to no avail. We called roadside assistance back and told them that this time it WAS an emergency because we had to leave and the truck would not close and that we could not ride with the door to our belongings half open. The woman's answer after 30+ minutes of waiting on hold? "Use a rope or something to pull it shut, this is not an emergency and we cannot come out to help you". By this point we were ready to scream. We went back in the truck, half unloaded it, noticed something inside the mechanism had come loose, retightened it, reloaded, and miraculously closed the door. We were on our way.
At our first stop (at a nearby coffee shop), a kind state trooper told us that our car had been loaded on wrong, laughed when he read the directions on the budget "manual" (i use the term loosely as it was really just two small pages), and helped us ACTUALLY secure our car to the carrier so that it wouldn't fall off. Without him we most likely would have been doomed. Budget could try and understand that if we are renting these trucks, we are most likely lay people, and that if they cannot teach us how to use their high-priced equipment, they could at least write a decent instruction guide. The trooper showed real concern when we told him we were taking this accross the country as the carrier looked rusty and old, but we went on our way regardless, as it was now way too late to do *anything* about it. Not like roadside assistance was going to...assist anyone.
We made it to Tennessee before our first major problem. We were alerted by a very kind truck driver that the chains on the car carrier had snapped off. We stopped at a nearby truck stop and repair center to call our dear friends at roadside assistance. See, upon inspection, the truck repair shop had shown us that the chains holding the car carrier to the truck were SO old and rusted that they had just corroded into nothingness and come off. They had been dragging on the ground, unconnected to the carrier, for quite sometime. The only thing holding the carrier to the truck was a giant bolt...which I'll talk about in a moment.
We called roadside assistance and were on hold for about an hour and a half total- we called 4 different times. Apparently, the manager was not "around" any of the times we called, and we just had to wait for him to get back because roadside assistance could not "make a decision like that" (aka send us help) without approval from the manager, who apparently enjoyed extremely lengthy lunches and did not have any reachable phone numbers for his staff to consult with him on anything. My bet is they just did not want to spend the money to send anyone out. We had even offered to have the truck repairshop we were waiting at fix it for them and then have them bill it to Budget (even though the truckstop did not have the required chains and would have to attempt to MAKE them from scratch which was not very re-assuring) and this, also, needed approval from the manager, who by the way was still out at lunch.
After the very long wait and a lot of heated words, we were actually in bussiness about MAYBE having someone come out. But the incredibly moronic lady we were dealing with could not find any Budget centers "within 15 minutes" of us, and so she didn't think she could send anyone out. She would only agree to look EAST of us, even though there was a Budget center about 20 miles West. Why? I do not know. Apparently she wanted someone to come from somewhere we had already driven through. I do not know why, and I do not think she did, either. Eventually she agreed to send someone out from this service center, even though she kindly reminded me that "she did not have to". THREE hours later, the service man came. We asked him to bring several chains so that he could change all the chains on the carrier and not just the one that broke so that this would not happen again, but alas, he only had one "in stock" (probably because this happens often...) and couldn't scrounge up any more. He replaced the broken chain with a relatively new one, and then inspected the rest of the carrier. He narrowed down to that bolt I talked about earlier- the only thing holding the car carrier to the truck, and mentioned that it was loose and was not the bolt that was supposed to go on that car carrier. It caused him concern, however, not enough concern to go back to his shop and come back to fix it, and since he didn't bring any equipment with him, it would just have to be okay the way that it was. Hah.
We finally went on our way after losing 5 valuable hours (and ultimately making me late and forcing me to cancel a very important job interview by a mere 2 hours). We had relatively few problems until we hit Eastern California. In Eastern California, about 50 miles from our destination, one of the tires from our dearly beloved car carrier went flat. We called our super good buddies at roadside assistance who let us know that really, this was not an emergency and to just drive to our destination that way, but to just do it slowly so we didn't bend their equipment. Fed up, we did exactly that. It took us an extra 3 hours, goind 25 mph on the freeway, which was terrifying in and of itself, because even in the slow lane with our hazards on, we were horribly in the way. It was hell.
But, the hellish part had really not even begun. We arrived at our new home late, and decided to unload in the morning. We had the okay to park on the street, so we did. Incredibly late in the night, I was woken up by the noise of walkie talkies and conversation outside my window (which gives on the street). I looked outside to see the police congregated outside of our truck and carrier. They were talking back and forth in their walkie talkies and acting really agitated like something serious was going on. I went downstairs and was questioned for a good 25 minutes (at 3 in the morning) and then was told to wait and would be informed of the "situation. The situation, you see, was that the car carrier we had been using this entire time was not only a worthless piece of crap, it had also been reported as stolen, back in April of 2005. And apparently, we had stolen it alllll that time back! Lucky us!!! They took down all of our information, statements, and ordered the car carrier AND the truck which was still attached to it be TOWED away. We were not allowed to take our belongings. We were not allowed to try and secure our belongings which were now loose in the truck because while we did not unload the furniture, we did unload most of the boxes that were holding them all in their respective spots (and for the record, absolutely nothing had been broken or even damaged by this point). The police told us that if they had caught us while driving, they would've thrown us in jail while trying to straighten this thing out, and that they still could, but wouldn't. I thought they were bluffing, but it turns out, they really had the right to do that. I wonder if roadside assistance would've considered it an emergency. I doubt it.
The truck and car carrier (minus my car, which I had thankfully taken down earlier by cutting the straps which held the wheels to the carrier, because see, the straps had gotten stuck because the handle with which to loosen them had gotten even more rusted during the trip, a little piece had broken off, and they were now stuck. I called roadside assistance who said that Los Angeles must not be a very industrial area because she could not find a Budget service center within driveable distance and that all she could offer me was a tow, but that even if it was towed to a Budget center, they could not help me loosen the straps because it was not their responsability, whether the handle was broken or not. I told her I needed my car that night and that if she couldn't send anyone, I'd cut the straps- she put me on hold for- I kid you not- another 37 minutes, I hung up, and cut up the straps.) were loaded onto a tow truck that would only lift up the FRONT of the truck, while everything else would drag and bounce off the road. Our stuff was taken away to an undisclosed location.
Three days later, we hear back from the "truck recovery center" in Denver, CO. They must be used to this because they actually have a department for it, how nice! The man was less than helpful, telling us that he could get us the truck back but that he would need us to go get it over 45 minutes away drive (traffic factored in...actual mileage about 20 miles each way) and that he would not pay for the gas nor fix the flat tire. After I told him that was unacceptable and pointed him to the Budget center where I planned on returning the truck in the first place, he got incredibly rude with me, but still agreed to get it dropped off there.
Meanwhile, my mother spent an entire day on the phone with customer service trying to explain why they wouldn't be getting their car back on time, telling them it was impounded and that we were dealing with Truck Recovery for it.
The next morning (the day of the truck's return...we were not told at which time it would be there, only "by closing"), I got awakened at 7am by a very rude woman (I did not answer, she left a message) not stating her name, direct phone number, or department, and telling me she wanted the truck back. I called, tried to weave through endless automated messages,. and eventually dialed the extension for the head of human resources because that was the only option that allowed me to speak to a human. This lady kidly tracked down the woman who called me by her first name ONLY (since that's all this unprofessional woman left me) and I was taken to.......her voicemail. I left a message, in which I said that the truck was impounded and that it was being recovered by Truck Recovery that day and that since they couldn't tell me when, that I would go shortly before closing as to not get there before the truck, and that I would then need an extra day to unload what might be left of my furniture and that we had spent the entire previous day on hold and being transferred to various deparments in the customer service wing trying to explain just that, and that I didn't know why I was being awakened at 7 in the morning to be asked the very same thing again which she could've just easily looked it up in the computer. I added that if she needed to further communicate with me, could she please leave a last name and direct number as it was impossible to contact her otherwise.
She called me back a few hours later but I couldn't pick up the phone and she left a message in the nastiest tone I have ever heard a professional speak to a customer stating that since I did not state MY last name nor MY phone number on my voicemail message, that she was not sure she was really leaving a message for me and that she would appreciate I change my voicemail. I about died laughing. The reason my voicemail is the way it is, is because I do not feel I should identify myself if someone calls me, it should be the other way around. But it was her cheap, pathetic way of trying to answer to my very valid point. I never got back to her however, as she again did not leave a last name or direct line number. I did call her supervisor though and left HIM a message, after which the woman never called again.
The time of close at West LA Trailer came, and I went out to get the truck. Traffic was especially bad, and I spent 40 minutes (and an unmentionable amount of extremely expensive gas) getting there. I got there AS they were closing but there were still customers in there, so I went and asked if our truck was there. Indeed, it was! But there was a catch! We needed to sign a NEW contract that stated they were leasing us this truck for free, but that it was a "local" move. The person at Truck Recovery had closed our previous contract (even though he assured us he had extended it and that we would NOT need to sign anything new) and apparently we could kiss our deposit goodbye since we would have had to be the ones to close the contract in order to get our money. They refused to give us the truck lest we signed a new contract. They also told us this was not normal protocol, but that the instructions were very strict. Telling them there was no way in hell we'd sign anything else from Budget, they told us to deal with Truck recovery and to try back the next day. Keep in mind that we were losing valuable hours of job searching and interviewing, here. But, what other choice did we have? We wasted the same amount of gas to come back empty handed, our truck left in the slummiest part of town.
We dealt with Truck recovery the next day, and he agreed to reopen/extend our contract, and to let West LA trailer know they owed us our deposit when we were done emptying the truck and brought it back. So we wasted copious amounts of gas again, went, got the truck which had finally gotten the car carrier detached (with confirmation that the bolt was all wrong and that they had a horrible time trying to get the entire thing apart) and were on our way. They did kindly fill up the truck with gas, and told us not to worry about filling it back up as we returned it.
We returned it that same night and didn't drop off the key- as we wanted our deposit back first, which was the least we could hope for considering that we had a LOT of damage to the furniture. Thankfully nothing outright broke save for two pieces off of a dresser after it rolled over sideways (most likely as it was being towed and hit a pothole, I'd imagine, because that thing was HEAVY...and gave us no problems for our entire trip), but a lot of things were scuffed, ripped, and chipped. If the cops had allowed us to try and put the furniture differently since the boxes holding it up were gone, or if they had held their promise to get a tow truck to lift the entire truck and not just the front (and disconnect the car carrier), or if they had even kept the small promise of asking the tow truck driver to go in there and tie things down with rope...it wouldn't have happened, but then again, had Budget not falsely reported the carrier stolen, they wouldn't have taken anything. And no, apparrently they couldn't JUST take the carrier because "people rent Budget trucks to carry stolen furniture all the time, and if you stole the carrier we cannot prove you didn't steal what's inside the truck". The police went and searched inside our furniture, too "for drugs...or dead bodies" and upturned everything even more badly than it already was- although when called upon it they denied touching ANYTHING due to obvious liability reasons- and it was obvious our furniture was doomed. All this, for nothing.
We went there in the early afternoon (and running on our 6th day wasted on nothing BUT this truck) and the lady insulted us over and over again for not having left the key in the truck (even though in that neighborhood it would have been an invitation to the truck being stolen and they had a key double anyway, and by the time we went to the shop the truck had already been re-rented with no problems! We got our deposit back in the end, and as to the carrier...it turned out that it HAD been stolen sometime last year, and recovered back in JUNE of last year...in Long Beach, and that the people at Budget had just "forgotten" to update their database notices. That about covers it.
The total cost...in gas alone...we spent a little under a thousand dollars on the truck for the trip (double that which we spend with a car, I'm not sure if that is a decent average or not, but that truck just guzzled gas like there was no tomorrow. I was sort of expecting it, though. The truck was $1,500, and that worthless carrier was $500. So around $3,500. We did not hire anyone to help us. We could've had a nice move without us lifting a finger (or sporting all of the bruises we eventually got) with a similiar amount of money, it's pretty disgusting to think about. I thought we were being smart, but we were being idiots. [Note: after looking at my bill, I realized I underquoted the price I paid for the truck. I have edited this post to reflect the actual price I paid.]
We will be looking into having Budget refund us the entirety of the cost of the truck and the carrier, since nearly everything valuable carried in the truck was damaged due to their mistake, and another sum agreeable by both parties for the week of job searching we wasted, all the gas going back and forth, and emotional turmoil. If they do not at least reimburse us for the cost of the truck, car carrier, and that agreeable sum, we will be taking them to court, as we deserve SOMETHING back for our wasted time, emotions, and furniture. This was the biggest mistake and biggest nightmare in the entire world, and shall I ever move again, I will hire full service movers- as I honestly would rather my things disappear than ever go through the fear, frustration, and pain of something like this ever again.
PS: I am double-posting this in a new topic and in the rental van company reviews because Budget has mainly good reviews on this site, and I feel that people should really read this story before considering them. I picked Budget over U-Haul (Penske told me they could not rent me a truck without a credit card, and I do not have one) based on this site alone, and from what I see, both of these companies seem equally horrible. Perhaps Penske would have been better. I don't know if all offices require credit cards, but perhaps they should consider taking other forms of payment, as I would've gone with them in a heartbeat if they had.