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Budget tends to be better known for its car rentals, which you may have used while vacationing or traveling for business. But it also has a truck rental arm, which is aimed mostly at consumers like you, who are moving, and small businesses or commercial groups. With 1,700 locations in the United States, it seems miniscule compared to a company like U-Haul ® with 15,000 locations. But it keeps true to its name by offering promotional deals that translate into savings for clients. Still, being small and relying on local dealers to answer customer questions and maintain their own unique standards can detract from the positives and provide inconsistent and sometimes confusing experiences for clients.
For the purposes of this guide, I am planning a long distance move (1,100 miles) of a 3-bedroom home from Fort Lee, N.J. (New York City area) to Kissimmee, Fla. (Orlando area) because those are two destinations with which I’m familiar. I order the rental about two weeks before the invented move date. I try to reserve the rental for a Saturday, which is a popular moving day. I complete the order and later cancel it. By keeping the particulars of the move about the same for each order, I make it possible for you to more easily compare companies and services.
Here’s the particulars of my move: I live in a 3-bedroom home with two large flights of stairs. In addition to the bedrooms, there are two and a half bathrooms, a finished basement (which includes a bar and living area featuring a sofa that turns into a queen-sized bed), a laundry room (with storage under the staircase that includes boxes of holiday decorations), a kitchen, living room (with two sofas, including another one that converts to a queen-sized bed), formal dining room (with a very large and heavy china closet filled with delicate china and glasses for entertaining), and an attic (with some pieces that will eventually be used to convert my son's toddler bed to a queen-sized bed and my wedding dress packed in a special box for preservation). The quotes I received are based on this information.
Prices, of course, vary. For my move from Jersey to Florida, I rented a 24-foot truck, which Budget promises is big enough to haul the stuff in an apartment or house with three or more bedrooms. I also agreed to rent the suggested four dozen furniture pads and two hand trucks, which cost $116 and $74 per trip respectively. I was also charged $17.50 for a cost recovery fee, which is described as “an accepted industry allocation that allows for the recovery of certain taxes, environmental costs, vehicle licensing fees, and federal inspection fees and apply (on a pro-rate basis) to each rental.” Whatever that means.
Add it all up and include taxes, and the estimated charge for my rental truck would be $2,071.55. I saved $328.95, according to the Web site, but I’m not sure what promotion permitted that or where that number comes from. The site and the representatives with whom I either chatted online or spoke on the phone did promise that you get the lowest rates by renting online as opposed to making your order via phone or in person at a Budget location. Maybe that’s why I saved that much. I’m not sure. You are charged at pick up and not when you initially order.
Budget estimated the trip to take five days and offers unlimited miles within that timeframe. I would have to turn in the truck no later than 8 a.m. on the fifth day to avoid paying $70 for an extra day. Although I saw no difference in price when I tried to change my moving dates to mid-week, as opposed to the weekend, everyone with whom I spoke said availability of trucks and equipment is optimal during the week. Indeed, truck availability is highest from early to mid month, too. There are rate differences based on availability, says a customer services representative online.
While you don’t get charged for changing your pick-up date, you should change it at least 48 hours before your scheduled pick-up to ensure inventory. If you’re planning on canceling all together, you must do so at least 48 hours beforehand or you’ll be charged $50.
You might be a good fit if you are the type who is willing to do research on promos and the optimal times for moving. Of course, you also have to be flexible, so you can take advantage of those optimal dates because availability of the equipment reduces the rates. Consumers who do their homework could end up with a great price that keeps them within their budget (or even spending less than they anticipated).
Budget has some serious charm. The staff exudes niceness, the Website and online chat are easy to use, and there are lots of promos that could lower your costs. Here’s what had me singing:
Nowadays, the customer is hardly ever right and lots of customer service representatives for various companies can be rude or just apathetic when dealing with you. Everyone on the phone or online for Budget was kind and courteous. They always asked if there was anything else they could do for me. Even though they didn’t really answer my questions, they tried and I never walked away from the encounter feeling badly about the world.
The site was really easy to use to get a quote. Once you entered pick-up and drop-off locations and dates, you could also ask questions to customer representatives in a live, one-on-one chat. I really appreciated how Budget offered extras, such as rental of furniture pads, GPS, and hand trucks, but made it easy to see how to avoid those costs if you didn’t want them. The “No Thanks” button was as big as the “Add and Continue” one, for example. Simple drop-down menus also made it easy to find what you were looking for.
I can’t be sure that this is true because I didn’t go through with the rental. But the site suggests that you’re practically guaranteed your preferred pick-up location. It says changes in venue are rare. If they occur, Budget tries to make sure your new pick-up place is still nearby. If that’s true, that would be great, and that is definitely how it is presented to potential clients.
The front page had a few different promo codes that you could use at checkout when renting a truck. I refrained because I wanted to see the cost without promos for comparison purposes. If I were really on the move, I would have input those babies, for sure. AARP members enjoy savings because of a partnership between Budget and the organization. You also catch a break if you pick up and drop off to the same location, which is great for those making local moves. Also, the site clues people into the fact that moving mid-week and mid-month means equipment and trucks are more available, which usually reduces rates. That’s good information to have when planning a move.
As long as the truck you need is available, you can make a reservation and pick up for the same day.
I believed that everyone at Budget was helpful because they were all kind and courteous both via phone and online. But, upon further reflection, I realize that no one could give me answers to all my questions. Most of the time the national hotline folks sent me to the local dealer. And the local dealer gave vague and uninformative responses. The warm and fuzzy “How are yous?” and “Is there anything else I can do for you todays?” are nice, but they’re overshadowed by being bounced around to get answers, and potentially never getting those answers. Here’s what you need to know:
When I first started researching a move with a Budget truck rental, I got the impression that the price would be lower than some of the competition. Saying you have unlimited miles on a trip from New Jersey to Florida sounds like a dream. I was thinking I should take the truck for extra spins in the evening to hang out at Magic Kingdom or go for ice cream just because I can. After all, even if you complete the trip in less than five days, you’re not getting money back, according to an online representative. In reality, you still have only five days to complete the journey, and you’ll be charged $70 extra for any additional days, even if you simply turn in the truck after 8 a.m. on your scheduled drop-off day. The unlimited miles really don’t make a difference, but they sure sound good.
In addition, you have to pay this cost-recovery fee, which reminded me of U-Haul’s environmental fee. It sounded like the same kind of thing. The only problem is that U-Haul’s fee is $5 and this is a whopping $17.50. After reading the explanation for both fees on both company sites, I have to say they sound like a bunch of bull to me. It seems like these truck rental companies just decided, “Hey, let’s see if we can get a little more moolah out of folks at the end. We’ll sneak it in and they won’t be the wiser.” Well, well, I’ve foiled your plot.
While all the Budget consumer representatives were busy minding their etiquette, I was getting the run around. No one really ever answered my questions. I asked about the insurance options, which are available online, and I was told to contact the local dealer. I asked about the age of the fleet, I was told to contact the local dealer. I asked about test drives and safety features of the trucks, I was told to contact the local dealer. You see where this is going.
When I contacted the local dealer, I pretty much got non-answers and very brief ones at that. That was only after I managed to get someone on the phone. The first few calls to the local dealer had me receiving a recorded message to try back later.
Finally, I could ask about the safety features. I was hoping to hear something about the brakes or at least the comfort of the truck’s interior. Instead, the phone representative said, “It’s a lot like driving a car, only bigger. You have to make a wider turn, but you’ll mostly be driving straight down I–95, so it won’t be bad.” That’s a non-answer if I ever heard one. Still, he was courteous and not at all pushy when I said I was unsure about whether I was going to rent from Budget, which I appreciated.
Since the local dealers take such ownership of their rental companies, it behooves consumers to check out reviews of that dealership as opposed to relying on national info. Joe Shmo’s thoughts are far more valuable than you ever imagined when choosing a rental truck, especially in this case.
As I noted above, no one could tell me about safety features of the vehicle and it doesn’t appear on the Web site. As a mom and someone who has never driven a vehicle of such heft, I would be concerned if I was really going to have to drive one of these things from New Jersey to Florida. And, remember, I was asking about the 24-foot truck, which is the biggest one available for rent. Scary!
From the company information page on the Web site, I learned that Budget has a fleet of 27,000 trucks. And this is what it says about their features, “Nearly all trucks have a variety of driver-friendly features including air conditioning, automatic transmissions, power steering, power brakes, AM/FM stereos. Walk ramps or lift-gates are available on most models.”
There are a list of protection plan options and explanations available online. But there is also a note that there are changes, depending on the state from which you are renting. When you ask a national customer rep about this, he or she sends you to a local dealer (which is one of the few instances when it makes sense to do this). My local dealer told me I could purchase “collision,” which would cover me 100 percent and cost $30 per day, “liability,” which would cover anything I hit and costs $19 per day, or “personal and cargo,” which would cover up to $12,000 of my stuff and me but no electronics and costs $12 per day. I would pay for whatever protection plan I wanted at pick up, so it is not included in the estimated price you’re given online. Again, this is another way to make you think you’re paying less than what you’ll actually end up paying.
Whhhhatttt? In the age of the Internet, you are unable to do the simplest task without calling a toll-free number. For real. I tried to get around this – just to see if I could – and I managed to have an online rep do it for me during a live online chat session. But I had to start a new order just to get to the option of speaking with an online rep in the first place.
Your options vary, depending on the state from which you are moving. There is a complete run down of the possible personal protection plans at Budget Truck Rental Coverage. But not all of these are available in every state.
Budget has nearly 1,700 locations in the United States and some other locations in Canada. “Our moving trucks are new models. However, to get more information on the model and year, I would recommend you contact the local dealer,” writes an online representative of Budget during a customer chat Q&A.
Budget truck operates through a network of more than 1,900 corporate-owned and dealer locations throughout the United States. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Avis Budget Group, Inc., according to the Web site. This bit of info might explain why the national reps are always sending you to the local dealers for info. I think they all kind of do their own thing but rent out Budget trucks.
Budget Truck’s history doesn’t go all that far back. In 1998, Budget Group, Inc. first acquired Ryder TRS, Inc. and combined it with Budget Truck Rental to form the Budget Truck Group. You might remember those yellow trucks. In 2001, Budget released the first 700 newly designed blue trucks and phased out those yellow ones. It wasn’t until 2002 that the Ryder ® signs were replaced with Budget ones. At around the same time, Budget sold its car and truck operations to Cendant Corporation, which separated into various operations. One of them resulted in Budget Truck Rentals being part of Avis group. And thus it all began.
So far, I have not found much in the way of charity. Even the company’s press site only features about two press releases per year, mostly about savings and promotions offered to clients at various times. When I asked an online rep about whether the company was making any effort to be green, he told me, “Yes.” But he couldn’t say how and told me to check with the local dealer for specifics. Whatever good works the company is doing are flying under the radar. Still, the fact that it offers promos and sales makes it cool, especially for those who want to save some money (and isn’t that everyone?).
History buffs might also give the company cool points for its role in the contested 2000 presidential election between Al Gore and George H.W. Bush. A Budget truck transported those infamous Floridian ballots from Palm Beach to Tallahassee to decide the election. And the company sold the truck on Yahoo! Auctions and then donated the $67,100 in proceeds to the American Red Cross.
In the presidential election of 2000, a Budget truck made history by transporting Florida’s contested presidential election ballots from Palm Beach to Tallahassee to decide the election. The trip made by the Budget truck resulted in a tremendous amount of press coverage throughout the nation. Budget® sold the ballot-carrying truck on Yahoo! Auctions for $67,100. They then donated the proceeds to the American Red Cross.
Everything was good.
I drove a budget rental truck. I felt liberated.
I had to drive farther out to pickup the truck.
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