Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Repost: U-Haul: Never Again

I wrote this on Andrew's old old blog years ago. While he was digging up articles for his new blog he reminded me of it and I thought I would put it here for posterity's sake. Its an amusing tale for those that didn't live through it, and any bad press for U-Haul is a good thing in my books.

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Back in December of 2003 I moved into a new house. The move was an almost-disaster and surviving it was a miracle. Anyways, I thought I'd post it here so people can avoid U-Haul like I now swear to do. Enjoy!

Moving Report

Day 1: Closing Day

Spend day cleaning and packing while waiting for Lawyer to call that our keys are ready. I make a trip to grocery store and Future Shop, but lawyer still hasn't called.

My wife and Mother-in-law talk about going out to Walmart all day but wait until 3:00 pm before they go. Lawyer calls at 3:30 that the keys are in and they close at 5:00 pm. It takes roughly 45 mins in good weather to get to Almonte where the lawyer is, and its raining and rush hour outside.

I quickly call Kim and get her to come back, and then we are out the door by 4. Stress rises as traffic woes increase and it becomes apparent we are going to be late. We have to call the law office and ask them to wait an extra 15 minutes for us, which they agree to do. We get the keys and start to head for Carleton Place, but promptly get lost in Almonte. Fortunately, Almonte is small and we muddle our way through.

We get to the house, tired and cranky (well, me at least) but at least we made it. We need some cloths to help with the cleaning so I head out to Canadian Tire. Didn't know there was a big sale and ended up almost getting trampled by a crowd. As the cashier said, "I think the whole town is here!". Escaping that lot with my life, I head back to the house, finish our cleaning, and head back to Ottawa for tomorrow's big move.

Day 2: Moving Day

Get up in a good mood. Snow on the ground... uh oh. Well, its not too much. *crosses fingers* I go to the Uhaul dealership to pick up my 24 foot truck. I get in there and they have no idea who I am or what truck I reserved. Um, come again? I pull out my sheet and say "But I confirmed my reservation!!!" No luck. I call the Uhaul central office to ask where the hell my truck is. After 10 minutes on hold, the guy there says the dealer should have a truck for me. I speak with the dealer, still no truck. The guy from the central office speaks with the dealer. Again, still no truck. After ten minutes of arguing on the phone with the central office, the dealer turns to me and says, "The best we can do is give you a truck after 5, maybe 6. Depends when it comes in." Its 8:30 in the freaking morning and I've got people coming to help me move. Needless to say, I'm not too happy.

I leave in disgust and return home and start scouring the phone book for another truck available before the evening. As luck would have it, I find one but I have to go to the far side of Gatineau to get it... and bring it back the next day. (For those that don't know, from south end Ottawa to the North side of Gatineau is a 40 minute drive through downtown Ottawa and downtown Gatineau... in good weather.) Well, its better than Uhaul could offer. I grab my friend David to drive my car back and we venture out into the snowy day. Its a long drive but eventually we find the Hertz dealership and secure a moving truck. Oh boy, its Standard transmission. I buckle down because I know I have no choice and I dredge up decade old memories of driving my mother's Cherokee Jeep back in high school. Somehow, I manage to navigate through downtown Hull and downtown Ottawa and make it back to the townhouse even though the truck is sliding through the slush all over the place. But dude, where's my car!?! Somehow I managed to lose David in downtown Ottawa and there is no sign of him. With the snow covered roads and blowing winds, I fear for his life, and more importantly, my car.

Anyways, while I have Kim call the Police to find out if there's been an accident with my car, we start loading the truck. By now its 11:30 and we are two and a half hours later than I hoped thanks to Uhaul, but with the help on hand we make good progress and soon the truck is filled. Its cold though, and the snow is blowing and the wind howling. We slowly freeze even though we are bundled in winter coats, and Kim and I worry about poor Dave.

Near the end, David shows up with my car intact! Hurray! Turns out he lost me at a yellow light that I went through (what?! Me go through a yellow light? Never!!!) and he stopped at and never saw me again. Since he did not know exactly where I lived and none of us thought to exchange cell phone numbers, he couldn't find the townhouse. So he drove up and down streets in my neighbourhood looking for a big Hertz truck and got lucky. Relief floods the crew.

We head for Carleton Place in good spirits, with the weather slackening and the roads clearing. The unloading goes surprisingly smooth with light winds that do not freeze us to the bone. We set up a system with two men in the truck passing to two men who take the stuff to the door where another two men move it inside. Everything is unloaded in record time and we head in satisfied with the end result. We tear off the boots and coats and sit down to some beer and pizza. No thanks to Uhaul, the move was a success!

Day 3: Cleanup

The alarm goes off at 6 am and I try to make my sore and achy body move to the shower. I've got to get the truck back to the far side of Gatineau before 8 am, and I managed to rope my father-in-law into picking me up afterwards. Poor sod. Anyways, I'm off before the sun comes up and the roads are clear and traffic is light. I have no problems getting the truck back (besides one stall where I was trying to take off in 4th gear instead of 2nd) and soon we've hooked up with Kim and her mother for breakfast near the old townhouse. Kim and I go there after breakfast to cleanup and meet the landlord for the final inspection.

At 10 am we start cleaning and it takes the next 3 hours to finish up, including a quick run to walmart to get a new mop because we forgot the old one at our new place. It's hard to make our bodies move but we somehow find the energy and just finish the mopping as the landlord arrives. A quick tour, hand off of the keys, and we are back on the road to Carleton Place.

Exhausted again, we pull into the driveway and collapse on the couch. Feet and back ache, tired, broke, but the move is complete. Let the unpacking commence!

And Andrew's comments from the original posting of the moving report:

I must say, the day was amusing on a few counts:

a) I've never driven in snow before - yet there I was at 8:00 slogging my way to Dalton's place to pick him up BEFORE THE PLOWS WERE OUT. I took a fun slide thru a red light coming off the Queensway at March Road - thankfully people were kind enough to anticipate a lack of stopping power, and let me slide through safely.

b) Walking into Bill's place, the conversation went like this:
"Can you pick up David at South Keys, we don't have a truck."
Uhhh.... sure - has he arrived there yet?
"I don't know - I don't have his cell number, and the home line is already disconnected."
Uhhhm - alright - I'll try.

Luckily for us, David showed up at the bus stop 30 seconds before we arrived.

c) Trying to make sure Bill's wife didn't go insane while Bill was out in the snow with a big-ass truck he'd never driven. "Don't worry Kim - Bill couldn't possibly have another accident - he's already used up his quota for this lifetime". I never said I was kind.

d) Driving into the sun on crappy roads around 3pm towards Carleton Place. Can you say blinding???

e) Dropping David off, and then promptly getting lost on Montreal road. I have no sense of direction - never have - probably never will. I ended up on Innes Road. Don't ask.

f) The Sens lost. Well crap. What a horrible end to the day.


  1. Sweet..... Google loved to serve up this post whenever people searched for "gatineau uhaul" Now it can do so again!

    Down with UHaul!

  2. Anonymous9:54 am

    You're lucky. In the states, they (truck rental places in general) would have found a way to charge you for the truck they never provided.

  3. Ah memories. I lived in Kanata for many years. Also worked at Rosewood Studios in Almonte, for close to a year when they opened. Miss having pints at the Ironworks on the patio.


  4. Similar thing happened to me. U-haul reservation in hand yet no trucks. Uhaul employee behind the counter said "It's not my problem." Me: "Well, yes, it is."