In an example of the type of protection California’s laws attempt to provide consumers from unfair and deceptive business practices, a Santa Cruz County Superior Court judge ruled that U-Haul engaged in “unlawful and fraudulent business practices” when they advised agents to book reservations of trucks and trailers without knowing if it will have the equipment available when and where customers need it.
In his class action ruling, Judge Stevens declined to award monetary damages to U-Haul customers but ordered the rental giant to stop promoting “confirmed reservations” for one way moves in California. U-Haul agents have long been instructed to accept every reservation – a policy known to employees as “just say yes”, and although the company almost always supplies the equipment (98% of the time according to U-Haul representatives), the customer may face long waits or have to travel long distances to pick up the rentals.
Under U-Haul’s policy, customers reserving equipment online or by phone were supposed to be told that their booking was confirmed and that they would be informed of the time and place that they could pickup their rental the day before their move. The ‘confirmation’ pre-supposed that the reservation had been made, but in actuality, the reservations were not official until the customers received pickup information the day before their move. The indirect warning of uncertainty often did not register with customers and according to judge Stevens was tantamount to a fraudulent business practice:
“This is all part of U-Haul’s business plan. Their marketing scripts and computer screens are designed to promise confirmed reservations and then, with less than explicit language, take it away.”
U-Haul is appealing Stevens’ ruling and contends that its policy has always been fair to customers.
The types of consumer protection laws that governed this class action decision against U-Haul are the same ones that apply to new and used car fraud in California. Since 1987, Southern California unfair business practices attorney Howard Silver has focused exclusively on protecting consumers from lemon cars, automotive fraud and other types of dishonest and unfair business practices. He has developed a strong track record of success, and wins more than 95% of his cases against big businesses like automakers. If you believe you are a victim of consumer fraud, you have rights. Call the Law Offices of Howard D. Silver today for a free half-hour consultation, where you can learn about your rights and have your case evaluated with an experienced eye. And because we work on contingency, you pay nothing up front if we take your case -- and nothing at all if we lose.