Are You Moving? Don’t Use UHaul

For those of you who don’t personally know me, you may have been wondering where I’ve been the past month!  I recently got a job as the Coordinator of Recruitment Communications and Admissions Services for the Graduate School at the University at Buffalo (sorry that title is a mouthful)!  So, over the last few weeks I’ve been apartment hunting, packing my life away, moving from Rochester to Buffalo and starting and new job.  Although I miss my friends and former colleagues back in Rochester (very much), I’m excited about this new opportunity and I’m ready to explore a new city!

ed-moving-boxes_480I cannot even begin to tell you how crazy the last few weeks have been.  My boyfriend and I are still in the process of unpacking, but thankfully I think most of the chaos is behind us now.  The worst of it was when, the day before we were scheduled to move, our moving truck changed the date and time on us!

U-SuckI had reserved a UHaul truck a couple of weeks prior for last Saturday afternoon.  The plan was to pick up the truck and pack my apartment and a few large pieces of furniture from my parents’ house on Saturday night. We coordinated this plan with three different families and friends that were helping us move (I was moving my stuff from two places in Rochester and my boyfriend was moving his stuff from two places in Lockport). The plan was to wake up and drive the already loaded truck Sunday morning and get unpacked in Buffalo early so that my boyfriend could use the truck to get his move done.

Turns out all of this was just wishful thinking…

UHaul called me Friday to inform me that no trucks were available on Saturday at all.  The only truck they had available in “the entire Western New York area” was on Sunday at 1pm and it was two sizes larger (and much less fuel-efficient) than the truck I requested.  I immediately started scrambling to call any and all other moving truck options but it was pointless. Nobody was available on such short notice!  After a lot of arguing with UHaul reps both on Twitter and over the phone, I surrendered and was forced to take the Sunday reservation.  We rearranged everyones schedule at the last-minute (which made for a lot of grumpy movers)!

By the time we were done unpacking and getting everything moved into our new place in Buffalo it was after 11pm!  My poor family had to make the hour and a half drive back to Rochester after that and work the next day!  It was a bit crazy and super stressful but with the help of our amazing families and friends we got it done.

Later that week, I contacted UHaul to get my “$50 Reservation Guarantee” refund since they totally screwed us over at the last minute and didn’t have my equipment on the day I had requested.  After all that craziness, a $50 dollar refund (which they promise on their website) is the LEAST they could do right?  UHaul “customer service” doesn’t seem to think so.  Apparently their guarantee only applies after you confirm your reservation 48 hours prior!

WhhhhhaaaaaattttttTF?UHaul

What this means is say you book a UHaul truck 2 months prior to your moving date.  UHaul can call you the day before to “confirm” your reservation for a completely different date, time, truck and/or pickup location…and once you agree to that, you don’t get a $50 refund.  This is UHaul’s way of trying to make you feel like it’s safe to book with them, when really there is no guarantee at all.

My advice? DON’T EVER USE UHAUL!no_uhaul-thumb

I’m really not sure what other companies are better out there, but I’m sure it’s worth spending the extra money for an organization that actually guarantees reservations or at least notifies you of any changes more than a day in advance.

Normally I’m not one to bitch and complain about these things…my bitterness towards UHaul probably wouldn’t have lasted long had I received my rightful $50. But as it turns out, I’m not the only one UHaul has upset.  Their customer service (or perhaps how they run their business in general) is so bad, there’s a website called dontuseuhaul.com and another called uhaul-Sucks.com.  The sites are dedicated to persuading people not to choose UHaul by sharing horror stories similar to mine.

If you don’t believe me, just check out the @UHaul_Cares Twitter handle to see how poorly things are going.  The vast majority of tweets @UHaul_Cares receives are complaints just like mine.  Via twitter they are kind enough to apologize, but still no problems are ever solved.

uhaul-1UHaul, for their own sake, needs to start paying attention to what their customers are saying.

What You Don’t Know About Gamers

So here’s something I find interesting: gamers.  Why do I find them so interesting?  Well, as a marketer, the gamer demographic is just fascinating to me.  Of the top 1000 YouTube channels, 20% are gaming channels.  Gaming channels are the most popular category on YouTube, second only to music.  What is interesting to me about gamers is their power, the way they communicate and disseminate information, and how they coordinate things.gamerEvolution

The gamers I know are always the first to know about everything and they are super quick to spread information.  Gamers are so powerful that they often start major trends and influence pop culture.  Where do you think “rofl, “ftw” and “noob” came from? Let it be said that I am not much of a gamer.  As much as I love to play games, I can never play the same one for long and often find myself slightly outside this social circle.  However, over the last year or so, I worked on a marketing plan for a local gaming store and was quite surprised by what I discovered in my research.

Cartman from Family Guy playing WOW Many people, when thinking of gamers, envision a lazy overweight slobbish kid, vedging out in his parent’s basement, playing Call of Duty into the wee hours of the night.  I’m not saying those people aren’t out there (they are), but this perception is not representative of the typical gamer.  Here’s a few things you may not know about gamers:

  • They are very social.  Whenever major tragedies happen, I swear there’s always someone who says, “he always kept to himself, didn’t have many friends…just played video games all day.  I never thought he’d murder 12,000 people…”  I know this is a hot button issue with many, but if violent video gaming always led to violence, then we’d all be dead.  Gamers can be extremely social!  Have you ever watched people play WOW?  MMO players will coordinate raids (and whatever else those nerds do) with dozens of people from all over the world at the same time.  It’s just insane.  There are tons of other genres of gaming that also involve heavy socialization. Take role-playing gamers.  RPG events happen weekly here in Rochester where hundreds of people meet up (in person) to play Magic: The Gathering or Yu-Gi-OH!  All of a sudden those basement gamers aren’t looking so lonely and anti-social right?social-gamers
  • Their skills are valuable.  Oh, you didn’t think all those hours of hard “work” would pay off?  Gamers have a very unique set of skills (que Liam Neeson voice).  They get things done efficiently.  They work great as part of a team and independently.  They are often leaders and they are always strategists.  Gamification plays a huge part in marketing plan strategies.  With the influx of mobile technology, gamification is becoming a more popular way to attract and retain customers.  It’s usually based around rewards programs or promotions (I can’t tell you how hard I’ve worked to achieve gold status on my Starbucks app).  Wouldn’t it be great to have people who know how to achieve your company’s business objectives using a game that’s actually fun to play?  Click here for some excellent examples of how valuable gamification can be.

So…the next time you start to stereotype gamers, I hope you’ll keep these tidbits in mind.

May the 4th be with you.