I had the privledge of trying to rent a U-Haul truck today. The phone book gave me a local number and the hours 8-6 M-F. Called it but they were closed, so I dialed their 800 number. Where I confirmed that they are open and placed a reservation and recieved a pick up time and confirmation number. They also informed me that I was very close to the pick up location. I told them that although they advertised as being open they in fact were not. I was reassured that they were indeed open. The phone call was about to end..
Just one thing, where is the truck? They don't have that information but it's no problem I can wait to recieve a call sometime the next day (the day of the rental). Or if I wanted I could find out right now. ---I just need to dial a second 800 number to get so that information could be given to me....
So I called the second 800 number (it was different) and gave them the confirmation code. Automatically they knew my name and order, they gave me the address to pick up the truck at. Which was only 20 miles further away (they charge per mile). Great, next I ask about parking and pick up time. They don't have that information but no problem I just need to call the local office.
Called the local branch office. They don't need my confirmation code,just my last name.. no, no Mr. Smith here. Ok so they need my confirmation code. Yes they have the truck in stock I am lucky. Until now I could have recieved any truck of equal or greator value for the same price, but turns out the one I ordered is available. Great, I recieve the address. Just in case I confirm the pick up time. Nope not doable, but an hour later should be fine.
I mention this as WTF for two reasons:
1) 3 phone calls are needed to complete the transaction passing each one a unique id (Querystrings anyone?) although the data is shared among all three offices instantly.
2) The information flows only in one direction. This data flow is all too familiar. The management makes the big decisions operating with absolutly no knowledge of what is actually going on while the actual decisions, data (availablilty of trucks, open/closing days/times, parking availability) is all at the end nodes (along with the comptent workers).
My wife recently graduated from law school. TRWTF is the amount of U-Haul case law which is currently covered in a typical 3 year law school curriculum. (And, no, she didn't choose to specialize in transportation, or anything like that.)
This is nothing compared to my U-Haul WTF:
Made reservation online several weeks in advance. Called the day before to confirm. "Oh, there's not a truck available at that location (because evidently 2 weeks isn't sufficient notice?) But you can go get one from this other place that's 30 miles away." So I call those guys and check, they say it'll be available at 10. So at 9 I call them and they say it'll be an hour late. I get there at 11, and the guy who's scheduled to return the truk doesn't show up until noon. Shouldn't they do some sort of buffer time on these things?
Finally get the truck, pack up my stuff, and drive across the country. Some last minute plan changes on my part mean I'll have to rent a storage space for a couple of weeks until my apartment is ready. No problem, u-haul gives you a free 30 days of storage. So I call pretty much every place in town and they all say they're full. Finally find one that's not, but he tells me I can't return the truck there, so I have to go somewhere else to do that.
When it comes time to unload the storage, I rent another truck from them (since they're right there). Load up the truck, drive it to my apartment and unload it. Then when I try to return the truck, it won't start. This is 6:00PM. Call their 800 number and am told somebody will be there within 90 minutes. at 8:00, I called to ask what the hell was up. They told me it would be another 30 minutes, sorry about the wait. An hour later I get some confused calls from the driver looking for my place. "you guy's don't have GPS?" nope, they just try their best to follow a map. Making things more fun, the apartment was on Westcott St, but the person on the phone had typed W. Cott St, so naturally the guy had trouble finding the place. Is it that hard to google an address before you dispatch a truck? There is no Cott St in Houston. At 11:00 he finally showed up.
But it was only his job to confirm that the truck was dead. He radioed back to HQ and said somebody would be calling me to setup a time for a tow truck to come and pick it up. Half an hour later I get a call saying it'll be 90 minutes until the guy's out there. "That's the same thing you told me 5 and a half hours ago." They tell me that as long as the truck is accessible, it's fine if I just leave the keys in it and go to bed. There's a gate around the place. I told them to call me and I'll let the guy in. At about 3AM he finally shows up is noticably annoyed that he had to spend a few minutes at the gate waiting for my to put pants on and walk over there to buzz him in.Yeah, because he's not the one that tried to return a truck 9 hours ago and is just now getting rid of it.
The following morning at 9AM, I woke up with three angry messages from the guys at the local store about the fact that I hadn't returned the truck. Evidently they had promised it to somebody else (there's that buffer zone thing again). I called back and gave them a piece of my mind, but all I got in response was an "it's not my fault, I just work here" response.
Coincidentally, I just had the joy of making a car rental reservation for 4-5 days (depending how you count 'Tuesday through Saturday'). Rates online looked to be $373 via the cheapest (Thrifty). But if I made a 1-week reservation, it was only $203. Debating whether I can just return the car 2 days earlier, I call their phone reservation line. "Weekly rates only apply to pickups on Monday and Thursdays", I was told, "if you pick up or drop off any other week day,you can't get the weekly rate. And only some places allow weekly." And no, I can't set up a Mon-Mon and pick up Tues to drop off before Monday, because then that's not a week.
Feeling less than convinced by this off-the-cuff assessment, I give up on getting help via phone and go back to the web form. I start tweaking the dates, shrinking the '1 week' window without having it switch back to 'daily rate'. Basically, it ends up:
Tues 8/5 12:00 to Sat 8/9 3:00: weekly rate, $203
Tues 8/5 12:15 to Sat 8/9 3:00, or 8/5 12:00 to 8/9 2:45: daily rate, $373
So a 15-minute slide defines 'daily' vs 'weekly'. Annoying, but workable. In past reservations, I have found Thrifty phone reps tend to say different things depending on who you talk to but always honor online reservations as written, so I'm pretty confident my online reservation is good. Mostly. I hope.
But it was only his job to confirm that the truck was dead.
Now try that sitting on the side of I70 outside St. Louis -- for 8 hours. That's what happened to my step dad. He was driving the truck for us from Louisville, KY to Omaha, NE. He woke up early Sunday and took off aroudn 6am. We were going to leave later that day after we wrapped up some stuff. Aroudn 10am I get a phone call from him saying it was dead on the side of the road. So I start calling UHaul, since it was in my name. I gave them the mile marker and the direction and the interstate (like I70 West bound, marker #9. Outside St. Louis). 20 minutes later the operator told me she couldn't find a St. Louis Illinois. I asked, "Can you find mile marker #9?" Took another 20 minutes. Was told someone would be there in 1 hour to help. Long story short, a truck with ~ 50,000 miles lost 2 spark plug wires. 8 hours later, they finally showed up and towed my step-dad's truck. He spent the night at a hotel off exit #9. The next morning the shop had it up and running ain about 1 hour.
At least they told you what it was. I "love" when you call someone, and they tell you (after a half-hour on hold of course) the number has changed and conveniently redirect you to it, but don't bother to tell you what it changed to. Hope you don't have to call back.
Or if I wanted I could find out right now. ---I just need to dial a second 800 number to get so that information could be given to me....
So I called the second 800 number (it was different) and gave them the confirmation code.