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Thread: U-Haul CAN'T HAUL

  1. #1
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    U-Haul CAN'T HAUL

    I stopped by my "friendly" U-Haul to see about renting a trailer, and was told "No, we're sorry, but you have a Ford Explorer. We can't rent to you." They were friendly about it, but something was definately wrong.

    When they launched into the issue involving decade-old rollover issue, I pretty much fumed, as functionally, technically, that's a complete non-issue, as you'll see in the letter I just sent them:

    Dear U-Haul:

    I was recently refused a trailer rental because I own a 2005 Ford Explorer Sport-Trac.

    This despite the facts:

    1. The pending lawsuit stems from "a higher than normal incidence of tire failures on For Explorers ... fitted with Firestone tires," and that all accidents involved tread separation.

    2. The problem was completely solved prior to 2003 with the recall of the faulty tires and corrected figures for tire inflation.

    3. I do not have Firestone tires.

    4. The issue didn't involve the Ford Explorer per se'. In fact, many vehicles fitted with those faulty tires, including vehicles by Mercury and Mazda, suffered from the same issue.

    5. The Explorer was never at fault, as Explorers fitted with Goodyear tires never experienced any rollover issues.

    6. The Explorer was entirely redesigned beginning in 2002, including a completely independant rear suspension, resulting in the same ride comfort, handling, and vehicle stability enjoyed by the Hummer H1, Ford F-150s, and most of the GMC vehicles U-Haul currently uses throughout its fleet.

    7. I do not have a Ford Explorer. I have a Ford Explorer Sport Trac. It's not the same vehicle. It's only based on the Explorer, but has a lengthened chassis which provides for greater stability.

    Since I do not have a Ford Explorer, since the problem originated with faulty tires, improper inflation, and a vehicle which no longer exists (except in name only, as all Explorers and Sport Tracs were completely redesigned in 2002), I have a question:

    Why am I being denied service? The issue you cite invovled a completely different design and different tires. My Sport Trac bears about as much functional resemblance to that vehicle as a does a mouse to a kangaroo.

    Sincerely,

    Mugs
    What's wrong is that instead of targeting the vehicle designs and model years the NTSB clearly indicates were involved, they're blanket-targeting all Ford Explorers, even the Sport Tracs, which have different wheel bases and suspensions than the Explorers.

    Does this seem particularly numb-brained to the rest of you? Would you be ticked off if, for example, you were denied rental equipment based on issues with the old VW Beetle when you owned the new VW Beetle? Structurally, that's about the size of it when it comes to the differences between the old 2001 and earlier Explorers and the completely redesigned 2002 and beyond Explorers, including the Sport Trac, which is even further refined for increased stability, given it's off-road use.

  2. #2
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    So go to a different rental company.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mugaliens View Post
    Does this seem particularly numb-brained to the rest of you?
    Yes

    Would you be ticked off
    Yes

    Beyond, that I don't have any advice. What seems weird to me is even if all that they think is true, why deny the rental? I'm sure the rental agreement says that if you flip the trailer and damage it, whether it is because of something wrong with your vehicle, or you just can't drive properly or you do something stupid, that you have to pay all damages, up to the cost of the trailer. As long as you can show you have the insurance or the means to pay for it, why do they care?
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  4. #4
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    Strange.

    I'd figure so long as the vehicle is totally driveable (and a customer reasonably sober and presentable), they'd gladly sell their services to a customer (especially as "the issue" is a decade past).

    Maybe it's just a knucklehead (or two) at that particular U-Haul outlet?

    Is there another closeby you can try and obtain services with?

    Good luck.

  5. #5
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    Every business has the right to deny its product or services to anyone.
    Also they could have to pay more insurance if they wanted to rent drivers of Explorers.
    ...I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mugaliens View Post
    ... Does this seem particularly numb-brained to the rest of you? ...
    We've only heard one side of this.

    I'd need more information before I could form an opinion.

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    What's wrong is that instead of targeting the vehicle designs and model years the NTSB clearly indicates were involved, they're blanket-targeting all Ford Explorers, even the Sport Tracs, which have different wheel bases and suspensions than the Explorers.

    I smell a lawsuit is the reason for them refusing to rent to you, or at the very least, corporate lawyers trying to prevent a lawsuit. Looks like I'm right, according to this article:

    U-Haul — North America's largest trailer rental company with more than 17,000 outlets — implemented the policy Dec. 22, saying the ban was not related to safety.

    "U-Haul has chosen not to rent behind this tow vehicle based on our history of excessive costs in defending lawsuits involving Ford Explorer towing combinations," the company told The Detroit News.

    Joanne Fried, a U-Haul spokeswoman, declined to disclose how much the Phoenix-based company has spent defending lawsuits involving Explorers.

    "The decision is not based on one accident," she said. "It's based on several different lawsuits going on for several years."

    Ford Motor (F) spokesman Jon Harmon called U-Haul's decision "surprising and disappointing."

    "This is all about runaway litigation and trial lawyers forcing businesses to make unfortunate decisions for fear of lawsuits," Harmon said.

    U-Haul was embroiled in a lawsuit that Bridgestone/Firestone settled out of court in September. It involved three college students who were injured in 1999 when their Firestone-equipped Explorer overturned while pulling a U-Haul trailer.

    U-Haul would not release details about the accidents cited in its lawsuits.


    While the ban doesn't make much sense any more, getting sued multiple times can make a company gunshy. When you see something that doesn't make much sense, look for the lawyers behind the scene.

  8. #8
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    From UHaul's FAQ site
    Ford Explorer owners: U-Haul has chosen not to rent behind this tow vehicle based on our history of excessive costs in defending lawsuits involving Ford Explorer towing combinations. This policy is not related to safety issues. This is an unusual circumstance for U-Haul – we have built our success for over 59 years by saying "yes" to our customers, and do not like saying "no" instead. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and are committed to working with our customers to find alternative options to help with their move. Please contact 1-800-GO-UHAUL (1-800-468-4285) for assistance with alternative options.
    Now; I'm not sure what those "combinations" consist of, but I do know that the tow rating of the explorer is often overestimated by thier owners, and they probably "stuffed" those trailers.
    When I was looking for a tow vehicle for my camper, the base Explorer came up short in many ways compared to others in the same class.

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    Not insurance but the next best thing, lawsuits.
    ...I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me.

  10. #10
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    My experience with U-Haul1 has been that they will quite cheerfully rent equipment with some rather serious safety defects, including bad brakes (the vehicle was refused) and missing headlights, so it's rather surprising they cared what would be towing the trailer.



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    1 In their defense, it was about 25 years ago. Things may have changed.
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    They refused to rent me a car trailer once. Apparently, the combination I wanted to use didn't meet their standards -- I was using a turbo-diesel F350 dually to pull a minvan. I just called a different U-Haul location and told them I was hauling a VW. They gave me the trailer.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by captain swoop View Post
    So go to a different rental company.
    Aside from U-Haul, there are exceedingly few options available for point-to-point, cross-country rentals. Used to be Ryder rented trailers, but no longer. For cross-country trailer rentals, U-Haul has a veritable monopoly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    What seems weird to me is even if all that they think is true, why deny the rental? I'm sure the rental agreement says that if you flip the trailer and damage it, whether it is because of something wrong with your vehicle, or you just can't drive properly or you do something stupid, that you have to pay all damages, up to the cost of the trailer. As long as you can show you have the insurance or the means to pay for it, why do they care?
    That makes perfect sense to me, and yes, my insurance covers trailer rental damage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Buttercup View Post
    Strange.

    I'd figure so long as the vehicle is totally driveable (and a customer reasonably sober and presentable), they'd gladly sell their services to a customer (especially as "the issue" is a decade past).
    That's what I'd thought.

    Maybe it's just a knucklehead (or two) at that particular U-Haul outlet?
    No, I called corporate and was informed that it is indeed U-Haul's corporate policy.

    Is there another closeby you can try and obtain services with?
    I've scoured both the Internet as well as the Yellow Pages, and when it comes to point-to-point, cross-country trailer rental, they're the only game in town. I can do a daily rental and simply return it in about two weeks, but that'll cost about double, and as I'll be beyond the normally contracted distance, if anything happens to the trailer, I'm the one who's liable for all repairs and expenses to return it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Davidlpf View Post
    Every business has the right to deny its product or services to anyone.
    Also they could have to pay more insurance if they wanted to rent drivers of Explorers.
    Not here in America. Clearly, discrimination on the basis of things such as religion, gender, race, etc., is prohibited. Discrimination on many other bases must be "reasonable," for example, denying a rental car based on one's driving record or lack of insurance.

    I would submit it's unreasonable to deny renting a trailer to anyone with a 2002 and later model Ford Explorer (completely redesigned) when the issue was limited to 2001 and earlier models, and then only with a particular set of tires (long since recalled) and even then only when those tires are underinflated.

    By "completely redesigned," they mean completely. The old Explorers were based on the Ranger chassis. Ford started from scratch with the 2002 and later Explorers

    I have a 2005 Sport Trac with Michelins (summer) and Coopers (winter). Aside the name "Explorer" the only thing it has in common with the questionable Explorers is...

    Nothing. Perhaps the general gross weight category, but even that would be a stretch.

    Quote Originally Posted by kleindoofy View Post
    We've only heard one side of this.

    I'd need more information before I could form an opinion.
    Knock yourself out.

  13. #13
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    U-Lose.
    0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 ...

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Jacks View Post
    I smell a lawsuit is the reason for them refusing to rent to you, or at the very least, corporate lawyers trying to prevent a lawsuit. Looks like I'm right, according to this article
    Looks like you're right. From what U-Haul's customer rep said on the phone, it appeared to be directly related to the rollover incidents. She not only mentioned that, but the NTSB report released a decade ago, as well. Your link, however, says it just has to do with lawsuits:

    "U-Haul has chosen not to rent behind this tow vehicle based on our history of excessive costs in defending lawsuits involving Ford Explorer towing combinations," the company told The Detroit News.
    Given the fact they made this decision way back in 2003, in the midst of the rollover heyday of lawsuits, tells me it's strongly related to those lawsuits. I suspect some Ford owners who'd created their own mishaps, or perhaps their insurance companies, thought the rollover data was a good foot in the door for a lawsuit for anything involving a Ford Explorer.

    "The decision is not based on one accident," she said. "It's based on several different lawsuits going on for several years."
    Ok, first they said it "wasn't safety-related. Now they're saying it's not based on one accident. I wonder what factor in towing would ever generate a lawsuit? "The trailer refused to detach itself from my Explorer, and U-Haul refused to detatch it, requiring me to tow it to a mechanic and pay him to do it." Yeah...

    Ford Motor (F) spokesman Jon Harmon called U-Haul's decision "surprising and disappointing." "This is all about runaway litigation and trial lawyers forcing businesses to make unfortunate decisions for fear of lawsuits," Harmon said.
    I was certainly surprised and disappointed!

    U-Haul was embroiled in a lawsuit that Bridgestone/Firestone settled out of court in September. It involved three college students who were injured in 1999 when their Firestone-equipped Explorer overturned while pulling a U-Haul trailer. U-Haul would not release details about the accidents cited in its lawsuits.
    This issue also appears to be about one company (U-Haul) using their near-monopoly to exert their own brand of punishment against both another company (Ford) and the owners of certain vehicles as retribution for having had to defend, then settle the lawsuit in which they were probably named as a defendant.

    Back to Larry's comments:

    While the ban doesn't make much sense any more, getting sued multiple times can make a company gunshy. When you see something that doesn't make much sense, look for the lawyers behind the scene.
    Hey, Larry - thanks for making the effort to find and post this info. Wikipedia said it was a series of rollovers as noticed by the NTSB's report, as confirmed by the Denver NTSB office. I wasn't aware that one of those rollovers involved a U-Haul trailer.

    So basically:

    1. A a number of Explorers were involved in rollovers due to faulty design, faulty tires, improperly-inflated tires, or some combination thereord.

    2. One such accident involved a U-Haul trailer (U-Haul refuses to provide any further information).

    3. Despite a completely redesigned truck, with different tires, and at the correct inflation pressures, U-Haul arbitrarily decides to prohibit renting to ANY Explorer, both current and future models, and makes this decision more than a year after the completely redesigned truck hits the market.

    If U-Haul's lawyers are of the same "quality" as those to often fail to maintain the U-Haul fleet, I suppose it's not such a stretch they'd arrive at this logically incongruous decision/recommendation to the overall company.

    As one of my MBA professors was fond of saying as we examined various corporate faux pas and failures, "Yet another clear example of corporate stupidity."

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by 01101001 View Post
    U-Lose.


    U-Right!

    And really, we all loose when corporations make such idiotic decisions.

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    I think invoking Federal anti-discrimination law is a huge stretch. As far as I know, Explorer owners are not a protected class.

    Sears denied my choice of tires for my Explorer because their policy prohibited the sale/installation of light truck tires on "passenger cars" even if Ford and the tire manufacturer said the combination was fine. Tough nuggets for me but it sure doesn't make me an injured party under anti-discrimination law. I figure they were attempting to limit their exposure to liability and I figure that's their right. So long as they aren't violating the law, my right to sign a contract doesn't trump their right not to sign one.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    My experience with U-Haul1 has been that they will quite cheerfully rent equipment with some rather serious safety defects, including bad brakes (the vehicle was refused) and missing headlights, so it's rather surprising they cared what would be towing the trailer.

    1 In their defense, it was about 25 years ago. Things may have changed.
    I've refused 2 trailers with bald tires (thread was showing), and one had a bearing that seized about 100 miles into the trip. Fortunately we were about 10 miles from a U-Haul center when that happened, and we just did a transload to the new trailer they hauled out to us in about half an hour.

    Another time the trailer was graffitied by some idiot gangmembers the night before we even left town. Instead of hauling gang signs from Washington State to North Carolina, I swung by the U-Haul office that rented it to me. He just laughed, shook his head, and said, "Take the identical model over there. I'll have the new paperwork ready by the time you've swapped them out."

    So I can't complain about their customer service, as I've never had any problems.

    And I think the reason he laughed is because all such vandalism, along with the gang whose signs are plastered on the vehicle, were reported to the police. Nothing so foolish like committing a misdemeanor then signing your name...

    Quote Originally Posted by pantaz View Post
    They refused to rent me a car trailer once. Apparently, the combination I wanted to use didn't meet their standards -- I was using a turbo-diesel F350 dually to pull a minvan. I just called a different U-Haul location and told them I was hauling a VW. They gave me the trailer.
    Hmm...

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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    I think invoking Federal anti-discrimination law is a huge stretch.
    It has nothing to do with Fed a-d law. It's covered under state and federal business law. I merely used discrimination as an example, because most people aren't familiar with business law.

    Sears denied my choice of tires for my Explorer because their policy prohibited the sale/installation of light truck tires on "passenger cars" even if Ford and the tire manufacturer said the combination was fine. Tough nuggets for me but it sure doesn't make me an injured party under anti-discrimination law.
    And you've the option of going to a different tire installer (Discount Tires, Firestone, etc.). Such option doesn't exist in my case.

    I figure they were attempting to limit their exposure to liability and I figure that's their right. So long as they aren't violating the law, my right to sign a contract doesn't trump their right not to sign one.
    Again, this has nothing to do with a-d law. Under both State and Federal law, it's their right to do so, but only up to a point. As I mentioned previously, businesses cannot arbitrarily refuse service. They must have a legitmate reason, defensible in court.

    It's both reasonable and legitimate for U-Haul to refuse to rent to the owner of "2000 and earlier models of Ford Explorers, Mercury Maintaineers, and Mazda Navajos fitted with Firestone tires," as these are the only model/tire combinations reported by the NTSB.

    It's neither reasonable nor legitimate for U-Haul to continue to refuse to rent to owners of 2002 and newer models of Explorer, as it's a completely different design. There's no mechanical, structural, or accidental basis for their decision.

    That's what makes it discriminatory, the same as if you walked into a fine restuarant and they refused to seat you because they felt you were obese and more likely to suffer a heart attack in their restaurant. Although that restaurant would loose any lawsuit against them, even this has some basis in fact! U-Haul's carte blanche refusal to rent to any Explorer owners has no such basis in fact.

  19. #19
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    So you are SOL with the explorer, you might have rent another car to pull the trailer.
    ...I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by captain swoop View Post
    So go to a different rental company.
    When one U-Haul franchise turned me down for a two-wheeled car-hauler, I went to another, explaining I simply wanted to move a VW sized Fiat around my property with my Thunderbird, and they let me rent it. I then proceeded to tow it 500 miles, without incident.

  21. #21
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    I have to wonder if they'd have a problem with my Ranger pickup, which probably has a lot more in common with the earlier Explorers than your recent one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mugaliens View Post
    And you've the option of going to a different tire installer (Discount Tires, Firestone, etc.). Such option doesn't exist in my case.
    Actually, no, I didn't have that particular option...locally...for that model tire...within the required time frame. Sears was the only game in town. But I did have other options outside of those narrow considerations. So did you. They might not have been convenient or financially palatable options but they were there.

    Under both State and Federal law, it's their right to do so, but only up to a point. As I mentioned previously, businesses cannot arbitrarily refuse service. They must have a legitmate reason, defensible in court.
    Well, there ya go. Take 'em to court and prove the policy is arbitrary.
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    what is the towing capacity of an Explorer Sport trac? i know they are built more like a car than they are built like a truck.
    i'm a Chevy guy and would never use anything smaller than a 1/2 ton pickup to tow pretty much anything up to a midsize car on an 18 ft or so trailer- and even then i'd only go about 40-50 miles tops. anything bigger and for any longer distance, it's time to fire up the 3/4 ton pickup..
    altho i will admit that i once pulled a 92 Grand Prix on a tow dolly about 45 miles with my 94 Caprice cop car. it pulled fine, but stopping and corners were interesting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    Well, there ya go. Take 'em to court and prove the policy is arbitrary.
    Exactly - that sounds like your only course of action if you wish to pursue this, rather than use dishonesty or go to another rental mob. Court cases from Explorer owners got them into that position, so court cases from Explorer owners might be necessary to get them out of that position.

    Ah, the joys of a litigious society.

    If they won't play nicely I reckon you'd be better off just going to their competitor. Maybe explain to them that there's an opening in the market they may wish to exploit.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by mugaliens View Post
    That's what makes it discriminatory, the same as if you walked into a fine restuarant and they refused to seat you because they felt you were obese and more likely to suffer a heart attack in their restaurant.
    That's a bit hyperbolic. It's not the same at all.

    One could make the claim that a restaurant refusing service to blacks is "the same" as a repair shop refusing to service Fords, but the law prohibits the former and not the latter - and your situation is much closer to the latter than the former.

    I'm afraid you will find the government not so willing as you think to apply anti-discrimination law to vehicles.

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    Mugaliens - My two cents on this: When I encounter things of this nature I've found the best solution is to go up the tree until someone can solve it. Find out who the store manage is and speak to him/her. If that fails go higher... regional if necessary. I'd recommend writing a concise email as well explaining which exact vehicle you have and asking for clarification (at a higher level than a store clerk) of the policies regarding Explorers. You already know that there was a drastic change in platform. My approach also would be to explain that I'd love to go with U-haul but that particular store you encountered issues at is making it difficult to use them as your go-to choice. A store manager or regional manager will respond to that kind of approach quite quickly, you'll find.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mugaliens View Post
    Does this seem particularly numb-brained to the rest of you?
    No. If you knew the detailed history and development of the Ford Explorer and its offshoots, and how easily they roll over when you swerve to avoid a dog or deer in the road, for example, you'd be thinking about a new vehicle. The Sport Trac does not appear to be much better.
    Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cougar View Post
    No. If you knew the detailed history and development of the Ford Explorer and its offshoots, and how easily they roll over when you swerve to avoid a dog or deer in the road, for example, you'd be thinking about a new vehicle. The Sport Trac does not appear to be much better.
    Are you aware of the Explorer's roll rating? It is NOT easy to roll. In fact it takes a grievous driver error to force it into a roll. It is no more dangerous than any other SUV.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by mugaliens View Post
    It has nothing to do with Fed a-d law. It's covered under state and federal business law. I merely used discrimination as an example, because most people aren't familiar with business law.
    I have a suspicion that U-Haul's insurer either said "no more Explorers" or "If you want to continue to allow Explorers, your rate is going to increase by X". That's a common practice in the industry (I'm not defending it, just say'n). Insurance rating is based on loss ratios and percentage, thus even a few large losses can let them legally take such steps*. And while liability for a trailer being towed is extended from the vehicle doing the towing* -- placing the onus for damage and injury caused to others in an accident on the renter and his/her vehicle* --damage sustained to the trailer itself often isn't covered under the customer's personal policy*. Thus regardless of the renters' insurance, U-Haul can also experience claims in a loss. And even if they're not legally responsible for damage or injury to others in an accident (don't forget that stupid '*'!), that doesn't stop them from being named, thus incurring defense fees.

    It's a mess. I certainly agree that denying usage to all Ford Explorers is the wrong thing to do, but I can see how it might arise. That's the system for you.

    *Ah, now the pesky disclaimer: the insurance portions of these statements are based on Ohio law and what little other observations I've made while working in the industry. Laws and insurance rules vary by state, which is always fun. It's also something that becomes particularly fun for a nation-wide operation like U-Haul, as how things work in the state you rent may not be how they work in the states you're driving to or through. Blah! As fun as lawyer jokes are, the people that have to try to keep up with this stuff on a multi-state scale are either insane, heroic, or a little of both.
    Last edited by Fazor; 2010-Apr-28 at 04:16 PM. Reason: minor formatting to hopefully make it more legible

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    Like many others, I had a very bad experience with u-haul back in 1992. Three years ago, I needed to rent another truck, but while searching for my nearest U-haul dealer, I encountered this web site devoted to lousy U-haul customer experiences. I had figured that my experiences with a truck that should never have been on the road were an abberation, but perhaps not. Anyway, I went with a competitor of U-haul and had no problems. Perhaps I would have had no problems with U-haul, but I decided that my time was too important to risk wasting another day with a lousy truck from a company that has many dissatisfied customers.

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