Monday, September 3, 2012


I'm just gonna tell my story, with no care in how whiny it is, or if it's entertaining at all. This is venting. Deal with it.

If you've been reading along, you know my move from Savannah to Virginia has been a mess. My original move was ruined when the buddy who had agreed to help me instead disappeared. (He's back now, and working to rectify the situation.) That meant I had to leave my apartment - and, most importantly, my studio equipment - in Savannah, while I drove to VA.

This past weekend was my only opportunity to get it back.  Labor Day traffic be damned, I set off for Savannah with the dude who lives in my basement (Mover2) and a goal of finally ending that chapter of my life.

The trip didn't start well. Even with Mover2 getting off work a bit early, we had to drive in Friday evening, holiday traffic. Griping ensued. At least it gave us some conversation topics. (You're note that Mover2 is not referred to as a "buddy.") We ate a Bojangles for the first time. It was weird, and the food was not worth the wait. You suck, Bojangles. We did have lots of friendly convos with good ol' country boys while waiting for the food, though.

We got in at 11:30, and took a walk around town before bed. Mover2 gave me a running commentary of how he would like to violate every woman he saw, so that was nice. Bedtime. We had to get up at 7 to retrieve our truck from Budget.

The next morning, we were optimistic. We heading over to Budget when it opened to see if we could get the truck early.  In the lot outside the Budget office, we saw a guy angrily screaming at his phone. Uh oh.

Dude behind the Budget counter took me name, typed it in, stared at the computer and shook his head. "We don't have your truck."


I had the email. I had the conformation number. I had the right location. Dude told me there was no record of me. He gave me a number to call.  The number told me, through a recording, (paraphrased) "the in-store representative you were working with will handle it," and hung up on me. I went back inside. The dude didn't even look at me. He sat at the counter, slowly filing papers, hoping I would go away. Mover2 lost his cool and started shouting loud enough that we couldn't be ignored. Counter dude, never changing his expressions, said there was nothing he could do.

That's when the chick beside him actually looked up our information, and told us my reservation WAS there, but it had been CANCELLED.  The heck? Zombie counter dude shrugged, and said the company overbooked, so they just cancelled a bunch of reservations. Didn't I get a call or message about it? NO. No I did not.

So now we had no truck and panic was setting in. We found a nearby location for Uhaul and went to them. The difference between the two companies was night and day.  The Uhaul staff was smart, informed, engaging and very helpful.  Problem is, we weren't the only people screwed over by Budget.  At 8:30am, we were the third crew to come begging, and any spare trucks were gone.  (Mover2 swears the angry guy from the Budget lot got the last one, but I have no visual confirmation.) We got an 800 number to call, and not only did a real person immediately pick up, but he made an effort to search the area for any spare truck they had. He found two, one at the size we needed!  But there was no guarantee yet. These trucks were owned by independent companies, so confirmation was needed. I was told it would take an hour.

I went to get Mover2, who was ranting at everyone about Budget, and we asked the Uhaul manager for advice. She kindly suggested we leave (someone might have been making a scene) and get breakfast while we waited. Her suggestions: IHOP and Golden Corral. Oh, Georgia.

IHOP *was* close, so we went there. The staff was very nice and attentive. The food was IHOP. We picked at our hash browns when the phone rang. We had a truck! It was a much-larger truck than needed, BUT IT WAS A TRUCK! Only problem was that it was 40 minutes away.  Well, not much we could do there. I thanked the Uhaul person, wrote down the information, and called the confirmation number on the subsequent text message Uhaul sent me. (A great feature, by the way.)

The truck owner answered the call, and was completely baffled. In the time it took for my reservation to be processed and move through the system, someone had come into their office and rented the truck. My notification came in during our conversation, and there was nothing I could do about the double booking.  The owner told me he was renting it out for the day, so we could stop by at 5pm and pick it up for our trip.  We obviously weren't thrilled with that, but we told him to keep my name on the book.  If that was the only option, we were taking it.

Back to Uhaul's office! The manager was still lovely, took down my information and said she'd call if there were any cancellations. Nothing left to do, we hopped in the car to drive back to my apartment.

The phone rings.  "Hey, this is Budget. Are you ever gonna pick up your truck?"


"Your truck was transferred to the Richmond Hill location. Didn't someone tell you about it?"

No. No that was definitely not what we were told.  Good lord. I begged the guy to hold onto the truck, promising we'd be there as soon as possible. Swung by the apartment to grab the GPS, typed in the address and we were on our way.  Turns out it's a half-hour away, BUT WHO CARES WE HAD A TRUCK.

This was new Budget center, stuck at the edge of an impound lot at the back of the field and only a tiny, barely visible sign to point out it existed. It was surrounded by puddles of stagnant water, and thus full of swarms of hungry insects. The office was a run-down shack with some very questionable choices with the electronics. (Dripping AC unit above the power strip? What could go wrong?)

The manager wanted to hurry up the checkout, as he ate something that didn't agree with him and he was about to be sick.  That was the computer system's cue to start throwing out error messages. Over and over. He would click. Computer would throw a fit. He would say he's about to vomit. I slid the trash can over to him and asked him to keep going.

After a long call with Budget tech support, the reservation went through.  I finally paid, and the manager sprinted off to vomit. We got the truck inspected and FINALLY got to drive it off.  Over 5 hours had passed since our scheduled pick-up time.  We were frustrated, angry and ready to drive back to the first Budget center and punch zombie dude in his expressionless face.

Let me make this clear:  While we ended up using Budget, it will never happen again. Uhaul costs more, but they are reliable, helpful and competent. I will always take that over that day of hell. Budget had a failure at every step, from the office people, to the computer system to a useless help network. (Which I had also dealt with during the LAST move, but I didn't know if Budget had failed then, or original moving buddy.)

Those five hours lost were brutal, though, as it meant we *had* to stay another night in Savannah. I like Savannah, but all my friends were out of town and I had a loud, whiny sleazeball I had to take everywhere. We loaded the truck much faster than I'd have preferred, so we had a full evening to kill. At least we agreed to leave well before sunrise in the morning. Early bed = less conversational pain! My twitter follows know a lot more about what I'm implying here. Basically, don't ask that dude about his views on women.

We had a great dinner, followed by a long and excruciating walk.  Let me be clear: I adore walking around Savannah. Aside from my friends, it's what I will miss the most. What I don't like is the horrific running commentary I got.

Next morning we woke up real early, loaded the last of the stuff into my car, dropped off the apartment keys and left. The drive was smooth and uneventual. The arrival was move fun from Mover2, who ranted to me about how evil Budget was for restricting their trucks to a 75mph top speed.  Yes, dude, rant to me about not being able to drive recklessly with a truck full of MY STUFF. We knew going into this that he would be a pain, but I was desperate and he owes my family an irreparable debt. Sometimes you have to go with the due who can't say no, even though everything else he says will be awful.

Forgive the griping, but I felt the need to share. I left out a lot of details, such as discovering the gas station store was also the main liquor store of the area, and the 1970's New York locksmith experience, but I'm tired and this is long enough.

The happy ending is that I'm typing this in my newly set up studio, and it's kinda awesome! (For now... I see wifi issues on the horizon, but I'm gonna rely on the cable box and ignore that.)

I now turn back to drawing tomorrow's comic. First new comic drawn in a while. WILL I REMEMBER WHAT EVERYONE LOOKS LIKE?

1 comment:

Iron Ed said...

Whoa! And I thought it was bad just traveling with my brother! You actually let this guy live in your basement?? Think I'd rather have mice!

I do feel for you though. I've been involved with three Budget truck rentals; luckily only as the driver or a helper though. Two trucks were terrible and the third wasn't fun. One had two inches of dirt in the back from the previous renter; a plant nursery. The replacement truck vibrated so bad your accelerator foot would bounce off the floor. Another truck broke down (power steering & brakes pump) before even getting out of town. Literally took two of us, working hard, to turn the steering wheel so we could drive it back to the print shop where I was working.

I guess there's a reason the place is named "Budget."

Overall, though, I'm glad you finally got your stuff and made it home safely. I was worried.