Brecksville man claims trailer rental put him in a potentially hazardous situation

Understand your vehicle's load limits

BRECKSVILLE, Ohio - Ian Roberts of Brecksville claims he went through an unexpected safety risk during his move to Boulder, Colorado.

Roberts claims the trailer and hitch he rented from U-Haul locations in Parma and Bedford exposed him to a potential hazard.

Roberts explained to NewsChannel5 U-Haul personnel allowed him to rent a trailer that was too heavy for his 2008 Honda Element, and then made mistakes while attempting to wire the trailer brake lights.

"It is unnerving, it happened to me and we caught it, and we took care of it, explained Roberts. "My vehicle has a 1500 pound towing limit. The trailer they gave me unloaded was 2000 pounds, that's already 500 pounds more than my cars a capacity."

Roberts showed NewsChannel5 pictures of how U-Haul employees tried to wire the trailer brake lights incorrectly attempting to splice into his Honda's electrical system.

Roberts reports it was an effort that still left him without brake lights for the 19-hour trip to Colorado.

"Got home and loaded up the entire trailer, the mismatched trailer, and when I checked it with my family to make sure, the brake lights didn't work at all," explained Roberts. "So, he knowingly sent me on my way in an oversized trailer, with non-working brake lights, just to get me out."

Roberts explained how the experience caused delays and required him to pack twice so U-Haul could issue him a smaller trailer, a situation that left damage to the back of his vehicle.

NewsChannel5 contacted U-Haul headquarters and the company responded quickly. The company issued an apology and admitted the wrong wiring kit was used in this case.

U-Haul also gave Robert's a full $500 refund on his rental, agreed to pay for repairs to his vehicle, and buy his family dinner.

U-Haul maintained it did not rent Roberts a mismatched trailer for his vehicle, and issued the following statement in response to our story.

"I am extremely sorry that Mr. Roberts had an unfortunate experience with his rental.  His experience does not meet U-Haul standards.

I contacted Mr. Roberts to personally apologize to him and assure him that I will be taking action to ensure that this does not happen to another customer.

Mr. Roberts has received a full refund for his rental and I will be assisting him with his upcoming move.  He will also be getting a quote on the repairs needed to his vehicle, for which he will be fully reimbursed.  I am also planning on sending him and his wife a gift card to enjoy a dinner on me.

I also assured Mr. Roberts that the original trailer and vehicle combination is an approved hookup per U-Haul policy.  The allegation that this hookup is unsafe is not true.  U-Haul has been renting trailers since 1945.  The issue Mr. Roberts encountered with his rental had nothing to do with the combination of his vehicle and the trailer, but rather with the wiring.  Our team member accidentally pulled a wrong wiring kit from inventory, and I apologize for this human mistake. 

To elaborate on what might seem like a conflict of ratings, vehicle manufacturers like Honda provide tow ratings based on possible long-term trailer use for all types of towing activities and with any trailer in the U.S.A.  U-Haul tow ratings and vehicle combinations are based on occasional use with U-Haul trailers only.  Put more simply, many cars can safely exceed the tow ratings in their manuals if they are towing a trailer for a day or two, rather than eight hours per day, seven days a week, 52 weeks per year.  We have engineering experts and processes in place to determine vehicle and trailer towing combinations, and we certify that this towing combination is approved by U-Haul standards."

Roberts urged consumers to understand their vehicle's load limits and ask plenty of questions before renting anything that will be hooked up to their back bumper.

"I understand human error happens, but how they chose to handle the situation, and put lives at risk continuously," said Roberts. "Even their customer service manager is telling me to drive across country with my hazards on, if I couldn't get them fix in time, just shows that they care more about the dollar than the person."

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