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Penske - A Moving Story

Jan 27, 2002 (Updated Jan 29, 2002)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Customer Service Experience:

Pros:Inexpensive, guaranteed a newer truck, problems fixed

Cons:Some trucks need help.

The Bottom Line: While we had a lot of problems on this move, we will continue to use Penske as long as they keep coming thru for us in service and low prices.

This is going to sound like a very mixed Epinion, and it really is, but I will do my best to explain it all and I hope you understand why I gave them 4 stars. It's a long story, it was a long move, but I hope this informs you of how some Penske places work.

We recently made one of the longest moves a person would wanna make. We moved from California to Virginia, stopping off in Indiana. My husband is in the Navy and we currently went thru a change of duty station. We opted to move ourselves, as we always do, figuring we would take better care of our stuff rather than some government contracted company.

We shopped around a couple of places before going with Penske. We have always used then in the past, but figured it was worth shopping around anyway. We wanted a 20 foot truck, or something close to that since some competitors don't offer that size, and a car transport for our second car. Since we were moving 2800 miles roughly, it was an expensive order.

Why did we chose Penske? Well, for one, they were the least expensive. We called 4 places total and got the best deal with them. Number two, it was unlimited mileage. Since we weren't going straight to Virginia, we didn't want to pay the extra money per mile the other places charged if and when we went over the allotted miles. Number three, they didn't require a deposit. Just a credit card number to hold the truck, which we also used to pay for it. Number four, they guaranteed a 1998 truck or newer for the one way moves.

When we called to reserve the truck from our local Penske they didn't have the 20 foot truck available from the location we were wanting, so they offered us a 25 foot for the same price if we wanted to take it. If not, they were going to hunt one up for us. Since it was the same gas mileage as the 20 foot truck, we went ahead and took the offered 25 foot. They also threw in 2 more days on top of the 11 days offered to us, just to make sure we had enough time to get where we were going. Sometimes they do stuff like that for military people since we're moving all of the time. Makes us want to come back and use them again if the need arises.

Did we have problems during our move? Oh, man, where do I start?!? We picked up the truck, took it home and loaded it up for our move. As we were leaving the base, with me driving our other car and following my husband who was driving the truck, I noticed the lights on the car transport weren't working. They were when we picked it up, so we figuring it was something we had done when we hooked the transport back up that morning. My husband rechecked the connections and they were fine, so we called the Penske rental place we got it from and they said to bring it by. It was a simple fix, a loose wire on the trailer itself, and we could go on our way. We had to go about 10 miles out of our way to get this fixed, but they did it quickly and we were finally off!

Well, sort of. We were crossing the country taking Interstate 40 thru the southern part of California and into Arizona and New Mexico. Well, we ended up going thru some mountains and it really set us back. The truck was bogging down to 20-30 MPH going uphill. Since we only filled maybe 60% of the truck, we knew it wasn't the weight. Since we were doing a military move we had to weight the load and the truck wasn't even close to maxed out, so I called the 800 number on the back of the truck from our cell phone (I was using the hands-free equipment we bought, so I had my hands on the wheel for those of you who hate to see people driving with their hands on the phone and not the wheel).

When I called I got someone to transfer me to the SOS Roadside Assistance Department. They said that the trucks are just slow going uphill, especially towing a car. Nothing can be done. Ok. Whatever. We had moved before with Penske, moving TO California as a matter of fact, driving thru the Colorado mountains, and didn't have this problem, but we let it go.

A short time later a 25 foot Penske truck passed us going uphill, with a transport behind it, carrying an SUV. Ok, I KNOW our Escort is lighter than that and they flew by. Something is wrong with the truck. We both knew it (we also had hand held radios to keep in contact with each other), so I called the 800 number again.

When I got thru, the gentleman I could barely understand (VERY strong foreign accent) said that their phones would not allow them to transfer me to the Roadside Assistance and I needed to dig out our contract and call that number (the contact was in the glove box of the truck). I told him I had called a little while before and that lady transferred me, so then he said HIS phone would not allow the transfer and I would need to call back to get a different operator. Well, just ducky. I did it and that lady transferred me.

I was once again told the trucks are just slow going uphill. When I told him about the other truck that passed us he said maybe we had to much weight in the truck. This might have worked with someone else, but since this was a military move, we knew EXACTLY how much our load weighted. When I informed him of this, he said oh, ok, then you could stop somewhere and we'll have someone come out and look at it. As it happened, we were about 10 miles from Flagstaff, Arizona, so we stopped at a McDonalds and waited.

The repair shop guy showed up in his personal vehicle, which I was told her would be in a wrecker with the name of the company across the side, so I am assuming he came from home, which wasn't something I was thrilled with. Anal, maybe, but when some guy is walking around your truck and car, loaded with all of your possessions, you kind of want to know he is who he says he is. He and my husband went for a drive and came back almost 30 minutes later. By this time our 3 year old son was extremely not happy. He had long ago finished his fries and wanted down from the highchair. The guy said he could find nothing wrong. It was funning fine, just maybe the governer (the truck is governed at 75 MPH) was screwed up, so he reset it. He did add that if we were still having problems and wanted it rechecked there was a service place in Albuquerque, New Mexico if we wanted to stop again. Great. We wasted a good 2 hours to be told nothing was wrong, but we could stop somewhere else if we wanted.

We got back on the road again. We were both miffed, but kept on going until we stopped for the night. The next day, Wednesday, we stopped in Albuquerque. The truck was running worse, if that was possible, so I called from our cell phone again about 15 miles out and got directions. I got the run around 2-3 times about not being able to be transferred to the Roadside Assistance number and to please call back, which is more than a little annoying, but I finally got thru and got directions.

We showed up and they had someone come right out, since they already knew I wasn't happy (I had made that very plain in my phone call) and they knew we were coming. The mechanic came out, started the truck and listened. Not even 30 second later he said we had a spark plug that was missing (not working right). They replaced the spark plug and listened again. He said something was still not right, so he and my husband took a drive. They were gone for about 35 minutes, leaving me to once again deal with a grouchy 3 year old. After they were gone about 30 minutes, I called my hubby on his cell phone (yes, we each have one) and he said they were on their way back and the transmission was screwed up. It wasn't staying in second gear long enough, so it was over-working third gear, which is why those hills about killed us. It wasn't shifting down far enough to regain power. They decided to swap us trucks because they didn't have another transmission to put in it.

Well, terrific. Between the stops for service and the not running correctly truck, we were way behind in out trip. I was seriously peeved. Our son was extremely tired of being in a car seat and my husband was fuming. Penske sent us to go get something to eat because it would take about an hour to arrange a swap crew to take our stuff out of one truck and put it in another. They also said that there MIGHT be a price re-imbursement when we reached our drop-off point, but that was up to the place we delivered it to as to if we would get it and how much it would be. We called the 800 Penske number and they said the same thing.

We came back from eating about an hour later and the swap crew still wasn't there. We sat around for about 20 minutes more before they showed up. Two guys. Hummmmm. Ok. My husband decided to help them load the new truck so we could get on the road. It took them about an hour to unload the one truck onto the other. I wasn't thrilled with the way it was packed, but no one asked me, or my husband for that matter. They just grabbed stuff and moved it over. They were nice, and didn't screw around with the load shifting, but the way the stuff was packed in the truck lead to some of our stuff getting damaged. No, I didn't file paperwork on it. I was told I would have to go thru a bunch of paperwork and such, so I said forget it. I didn't want to jack around with all of that mess.

Anyway, we finally get back on the road. The new truck runs great! It only had 20,000 miles on it and was a 2001. It was running excellent and we were making good time.

Then, about 500 miles from home, the change oil light came on. It didn't sound like a big deal, but we called Penske anyway. They said it was nothing to worry about, but they said it would be a good idea to keep an eye on the oil level just to be sure. About 100 miles from home my husband contact me on the radio saying he was stopping at a gas station because he smelled something that smelled like oil burning. Well, he checked and the oil was low, so we added a quart and went on our way.

He kept smelling that smell, but we made it to Indiana. We unloaded our stuff in storage and went to the local truck rental place. We walked in and told him what happened and what we were told about the partial rental re-imbursement. He said that they shouldn't have said that. We said, well, they did, so now what? He said, ok, how much were you thinking about getting back. Well, this kind of threw us. We expected them to give us a refund, not have to bargain for it. My husband and I looked at each other for a minute. The guy, after a few minutes of silence on our part, said how about a couple hundred? That was $100 a day for the two days we lost (we could have been home Thursday, but didn't make it until Saturday). I looked at him like he had grown a second head. I told him that I wanted at least $500 because of the extra gas the truck used that wasn't running right, plus the loss of time and our damaged stuff. He said $500 it is. We had the credit within 2 days on our charge card. Not to be greedy, but we actually wanted half back for all of the trouble, but I guess we don't always get what we want. This still irks my husband, but I have tried to get over it. I was glad to get any of the money back at the time.

While we had a lot of problems on this trip, we have used Penske before many times for local and one way moves both. Lots of stuff went wrong, but they did go out of their way to fix it and give us some of our money back for the trouble and they didn't, for the most part, give us a hard time. They were always as helpful as they could be, considering the circumstances.

We had a lot of problems, true, and that guy in Flagstaff really ticked us off because we could have been on the road instead of stopped a second time, but Penske did their best to make it as right as they could. That is why I have given them 4 stars. This is one trip of many we have made with them, and the others were all uneventful. I give them an "E" for effort in trying to make things right for us.

We will continue to use Penske for our moves until they no longer offer the best prices and service that we have ever seen.

Other offerings:

10 foot trucks
15 foot trucks
20 foot trucks
25 foot trucks

Tow Dollies
Car Transports

They also offer hand trucks, furniture pads (usually by the dozen), boxes and bubble wrap for an extra charge.

Recommend this product? Yes

Ease of Filing Claim: N/A
Lost Goods: N/A
Amount Paid (US$): 1950 (or so)

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