U-Haul definitely seems to know how to upset their customers. Being the owner of a Ford Explorer, I'm unfortunately targeted by one of their seemingly insane business practices. And that's only one of their issues...
U-Haul's ban of the Ford Explorer
I purchased my 2002 Ford Explorer back in 2002. I could go into details, but while I have nothing against other vehicle makes and models, the Ford Explorer seemed to fit my needs.
After graduation, I planned on renting a U-Haul for my move to Wausau, WI. After a round of scheduling and reservation issues which seem to plague U-Haul, instead of picking up my reserved trailer at a mechanic 10 minutes away, I had to drive an hour into Appleton for a place that had a trailer available. Only once I arrived was a told that they could not rent to me, as my Ford Explorer was a prohibited vehicle for trailer rental.
The "U-Haul rejects Explorers" article on USATODAY.com is probably the most informative I've seen. This ban is also described briefly on U-Haul's Wikipedia page, with additional information on 2,500+ pages as returned by a Google search. One of my favorites is http://www.michaelworth.com/loser_uhaul.shtml.
I can understand and even support vehicle restrictions. However, this ban is insanely broad, as it covers all Ford Explorers, even though:
- As shown on Wikipedia, the Explorer was comprehensively redesigned in 2002, including a wider wheelbase and a new suspension.
- While one of the primary drivers for the ban may have been the Explorer's history of rollovers, this was almost completely due to the Firestone tires and improper tire inflations, and limited to model years prior to 2002. My Explorer was purchased in 2002 (after the redesign), with Michelin tires, and receives proper maintenance.
- The Mercury Mountaineer and Lincoln Aviator mechanically identical to the Ford Explorer, just marketed differently with different styles and add-ons. Yet, no Mountaineers nor Aviators are subject to this ban, even the troubled pre-2002 model years!
- If U-Haul is going to be responsible for permitting and banning rentals based on vehicle model, doesn't/shouldn't this only make them more liable if/when a problem does occur on a "permitted" vehicle?
Added to the frustration is trying to make any intelligent communication with U-Haul company. Any rental location understandably redirects related inquiries/complaints to their district manager. However, the district managers state that their hands are tied by the corporate office. Apparently there is no one at the corporate office to address inquiries to, and any attempts are redirected back to the district managers. I've tried sending a few emails, which are simply returned as a generic form-response.
Additionally, it appears that even a model 2008 Ford Explorer purchased today will fall victim to this ban. However, any Ford salesperson I ask about this at least claims to be taken by surprise and completely ignorant to the ban. Thinking that maybe Ford's corporate office would be more concerned, they at least admit to being aware of the ban, but only state that there are no safety concerns with the Explorer, and that they must respect U-Haul's decision. I still think they could do more to stand behind one of their best-selling vehicles as well as to support their consumers.
Fortunately, the recent purchase of our own utility trailer has hopefully eliminated the need for most situations that would otherwise require a trailer rental.