In August, 2015, my husband and I rented a trailer from a U-Haul location in St. Paul in order to take our daughter down to college in Ames, Iowa. My husband purchased the SafeTow insurance policy which covered damage to the trailer, its contents, and our vehicle. The staff at the U-Haul location attached the trailer to the back of our SUV, we took it home and loaded it up, and left for Iowa.
That evening, we began our 210 mile journey home with an empty trailer, but only after my husband rechecked the hitchball and tightened the handwheel as mentioned on the back of our invoice. Approximately 50 miles into our return trip, the trailer began whipping wildly from side to side behind our vehicle. My husband struggled to keep our SUV under control while avoiding other cars around us. The trailer rammed into the back of our vehicle at least two times, denting in the back hatch and the bumper. We were eventually able to get the vehicle and trailer safely to the side of the highway without hitting any other vehicles or going into the ditch. The wiring had been torn from the lights and we were uncertain as to whether the hitch, hitchball, or trailer was damaged.
We immediately called U-Haul's roadside assistance and were instructed to reattach the trailer and drive it over 30 miles east to an auto parts store where a store employee could look at the hitch and ensure that it was properly connected. They said they would text us the exact address of the store to our mobile phone. After 20 minutes, having not received any text message, we called a second time to ask for assistance. We were given a second location for an auto parts store 37 miles east of our location and were assured they would still be open when we arrived. We double checked the store hours on our mobile phone and found that the store was closing in 20 minutes.
We called roadside assistance a third time and expressed concern about driving the trailer given that it had been in an accident and we were unsure why the trailer came unhitched in the first place. We were told that someone could come out to our location in about two hours to ensure that the trailer was properly attached to our vehicle. By now, it was turning dark and we were on the side of a remote road in Iowa. We asked if there was a location nearby where we could drop the trailer off and were given the address of a hardware store ten miles away. We were told there might be a drop off fee, but they could not give us a dollar amount. They suggested we call U-Haul Customer Service the next day and explain the situation to them.
We have now received a charge of almost $250 for dropping of the trailer at a location other than the one where we rented the trailer. We sent pictures of the damage and a description of the accident to the insurance company, RepWest, a subsidiary of the same parent company that owns U-Haul. After two weeks of trying to get a response from them, my husband had to contact the adjuster's supervisor to get any assistance. After another several days, our claim was denied stating that, upon inspection, the trailer was not found to be faulty and that the accident was due to our negligence in not tightening the handwheel. At no time did the adjuster ask us if we had inspected the hitchball or tightened the handwheel, which my husband had done before leaving Ames, Iowa.
First and foremost, it is appalling that a company would be willing to risk our safety in order to have their trailer returned to the original rental location. The trailer hitch was either defective in the first place or had been improperly installed at the rental location. Asking us to reattach it, particularly after we had had an accident with it, was unreasonable and unsafe. Even if we had been able to make it safely to an auto parts store, how could we be sure that the employee would know what damage or issues to look for? And, had we waited the two hours for someone to come out to our location to inspect the hitch, the inspection would have been done in the dark and we would still have had to tow it 160 miles home.
Secondly, we purchased insurance to cover damages to our vehicle. By paying our fee for SafeTow, RepWest should be acting as our insurance company, not U-Haul's. Find out more about why you shouldn't rent from U-Haul at www.dontuseuhaul.com and the website coming soon: www.micethatroar.com .
Product or Service Mentioned: Uhaul Roadside Assistance.
Reason of review: Safety.
Monetary Loss: $2500.
Preferred solution: The company will not charge us for the drop off fee and they will pay for the repairs to our vehicle (return it to its condition before the accident)..
Uhaul Cons: How issue was handled.