Penetrating Lies

Lucifer Notes

The following text is a real letter from a real lead programmer at MR to the U Haul Corporation. Although U Haul's corporate office never responded to this letter, Ian did succeed in getting the Norwalk U Haul office to refund him $153 and change. He wants you to know and be sure that the corporate office people were no help at all.

22 May 1998

Ian Bogost
[address withheld]
Albuquerque, NM 87111

The U Haul Corporation
P.O. Box 21502
Phoenix, AZ 85036-1502

Dear Sirs and Madams:

Chrome shimmering in the afternoon, fleets of U Haul trucks and trailers lie
in wait on lots across the nation, armed with mighty orange racing stripes and
obliquely printed American vistas--imagery meant to inspire even the most
bleak-hearted self-mover to Napoleonic spirits. Indeed, all my life I passed
by these lots, passionately purviewing proud U HAUL signs peering over
underpasses and puissant rigs bound to become beasts of burden for families,
mothers, sons, daughters.

All my life I gazed ardently at such lots and such rigs, confident that the
audacious epigraphs each van bore--America's Moving Adventure--expressed the
pangs of Wanderlust and enterprise inborn in the hearts not only of their
potential users but also of those whose ruddy faces and warm smiles oversee
the operation of such a noble, such a courtly, such a valorous corporation.

One week, one day ago, I proudly made my first rental from the U Haul
Corporation, about to set off on my own moving adventure, myself a daft
sojourner plying my way across our nation in all its summer majesty. But then
suddenly all my fantastic images and hopes were quashed like a gourd crushed
by a truck's obdurate tire; the heart of U Haul, I discovered, is as dark and
ribald as the remotest orifice of some abandoned rundown trailer, rolling door
panels flapping thunderously in the wind as the family it was meant to deliver
to a New Life chokes on the thirst of an unforgivable transgression.

When my rental trailer failed to suit my needs, I returned it to one of the
many accessible U Haul outfits along my route, where I was greeted by rough-
edged, amiable laborers. Lovers too, I noted, seeing the engagement ring on
the woman's finger and the license-plate holder on their camper-shell bonneted
pickup: "Jeanette Loves Eric." With a heavy heart I returned my intrepid U
Haul trailer, feeling as though I had betrayed the stalwart beast, as though
it were my place to fulfill its needs rather than it mine.

The kind sweethearts assured me that I would be refunded the difference of my
original payment, and referred me to a toll-free number based in Phoenix. The
brain of the beast, I thought.

Imagining that such a storehouse of hearty U Haulers would be a locus of
sophistry instead of turpitude, I telephoned, only to be treated with most
acute rancor by the profligate crew. All my dreamily pure meditations about
the U Haul Corporation were not only skewed, they were lies. Dark, penetrating

Several impish customer service agents--all "senior managers" I was assured--
repeatedly refused to honor the partial refund I was formerly promised,
promised in trust and in faith that the U Haul Corporation was truly a pillar
of greatness and virtue, worthy of its eponymous hold on the rental truck
industry. I was informed that U Haul operates "just like the airlines," who
offer not refunds but ticket vouchers for passengers who make unanticipated
changes to their travel plans. I was offered $150 dollars of my original
expenditure of nearly $500 in U Haul VIP Vouchers, vouchers which now
resembled reserve notes from Lucifer himself. I was referred to point 16 of my
rental agreement, "Customer agrees that there is no refund for unused time or
mileage." Even the kind sweethearts backed down, now claiming that they had
meant to say that a refund would be issued in vouchers.

I shall bring my invective to a head.

Sirs and Madams of the U Haul Corporation, your precious analogy between
rental truck and airline ticket is a false one; while airline tickets do
retain their value due to the relative frequency and utility of airline
travel, the use of a rental truck or trailer is limited to the moving event,
and event which cannot be assumed to occur with even the remotest frequency of
air travel. Further, the other products for which such vouchers would be good,
e.g. boxes and packing tape, are tools almost entirely limited to the moving
event, and tools which have especially little value for a customer who is in
the process of completing a move. Further yet, I cannot conjecture how I could
violate myself further by the act of using said vouchers.

Sirs and Madams of the U Haul Corporation, point 16 of the rental agreement
blatantly and maliciously takes advantage of an ambiguity which you
unrightfully exploit by means of your status as a corporation of interstate
commerce. "Unused time or mileage" is never specifically elucidated to the
customer, who will likely assume that it refers to the time and/or miles
allotted to her/him on her/his contract.

Sirs and Madams of the U Haul Corporation, the fusillade of ascetic treatment
I have received from the very customer service employees from whom I
anticipate the regal and heraldic any customer warrants is devoid of any
possible exculpation. I would not treat the basest of beasts with the crass
treatment issued by your demon cadre.

Sirs and Madams of the U Haul Corporation, you have absconded with the happy
pleasure I once effused toward your corporation and its project.

Sirs and Madams of the U Haul Corporation, when I pass your lots and fleets,
I feel not pride nor glee nor empathy but pain and hatred.

Sirs and Madams of the U Haul Corporation, you should be ashamed to be the
eponymous host of rental trucks.

I ask once more for the immediate and friendly refund of the unused portion
of my contract. In the event that no such outcome transpires, know that I
shall make it my personal project, despite or in spite of my own busy
schedule, to eschew the U Haul Corporation, to encourage others, be they
friends, relatives, or acquaintances, to eschew the U Haul Corporation,
and finally to make it a point to recount my sordid tale in all its skillful
semblances to any and all parties who will listen.

I hereby recant all my previous dreamy beguilings for the U Haul Corporation.

Very Truly Yours,

Ian Bogost