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 lies. 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