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Many Unhappy Returns

, , , , , , , , | Right | June 15, 2022

I’m a site supervisor of an industrial property that rents partly to a truck rental company. We are literally the last truck rental location going west across the island so the activity is always high.

The property is not a twenty-four-hour return site, which is not only stipulated in the contract but also on a separate sheet of paper. The people who rent the trucks literally sign a box saying, “I acknowledge that my truck must be returned by 6:30 pm as the property is not a twenty-four-hour return site.”

This restriction is in place for safety reasons as the property features a steep hill with no guard rails or lighting, meaning we don’t want the liability that comes with people driving into the lower valley at night.

It is 7:45 pm and it’s raining. A twenty-foot box truck pulls up to the main gate of the property, which is closed. The woman in the truck leans on the horn. Due to our proximity to a housing area, I am forced to come out. She has a car behind her, being driven by a man that I recognize as her husband from earlier in the day.

Me: “Good evening! Please don’t do that! We have housing in the area.”

I allow the gate to roll shut behind me so she can’t drive past.

Driver: “Oh, well, I need to return this rental.”

Me: “Sorry, ma’am, this isn’t a twenty-four-hour return site, and due to the weather, I can’t allow you onsite. It’s too dangerous at night.”

Driver: “Well, the girl at the desk told me that I could return until 8:00.”

Me: “No, ma’am.”

Driver: “Excuse me?”

Me: “[Storage Facility] does not own this property; they are a tenant and they are not allowed to authorize after-hours access for guests. I was also in the office when you rented your truck and [Agent] told you about our hours.”

Driver: “Do you have proof?”

Me: “Yes, ma’am.”

I pull the copy of the addendum out of my clipboard.

Me: “This paper that you signed when you rented states that we are not a twenty-four-hour return site and stipu—”

Driver: “I wasn’t given that.”

I sigh. We are doing the WHOLE song and dance tonight, apparently.

Me: “Okay, maybe we can make an exception. Do you have your signed rental contract?”

Driver: “Yes!”

She hands me the rental contract with a large smile. She apparently doesn’t realize that it is a modified, site-specific document authorized by the rental company’s corporate side. She clearly assumes that because she claims not to have seen the addendum I will allow her to return under the terms of a normal contract.

I flip the pages, fold it back, and read it off.

Me: “Renter acknowledges that the property at [address] is not a twenty-four-hour return site and vehicles may not be returned past 1800 hours.”

Her smile blows out like a light bulb as I hand her the contract with her signature on the line.

Driver: “What do you expect me to do?!”

Me: “You can leave the truck here on [Public Road] and come back tomorrow morning to complete the return.”

Driver: “No, I want to make sure it gets back!”

Me: “I understand that, but unfortunately, it’s too dangerous with the weather right now.”

She gets all huffy and looks around, waving to the CRV. Her husband unfolds himself from the vehicle and comes over.

Driver’s Husband: “Is there a problem?”

Me: “Yes, sir, you are outside of our return time.”

Driver’s Husband: “Oh, okay, that’s fine. We can bring it back in the morning.”

The woman at the wheel looks crestfallen. Once they leave, I think that’s the end of the story, but I am wrong.

The next day, the property operations manager calls me over to ask why I turned away a rental return at 5:30.

I tell him that I turned away a return at 7:45, not 5:30. Apparently, the couple has complained to property management but conveniently moved the time to sound as if they were returning in the correct window.

Operations Manager: “I thought that didn’t sound like you. She said you were yelling at her and called her a b****.”

Me: “You’ve known me for six years; when have I ever?”

Operations Manager: “I still have to look into it. I believe you but [Storage Facility] will want something solid.”

Me: “I was literally in the valley. The keypad logs will show that I entered at 4:00 and didn’t come out until 6:50.”

Operations Manager: “As will the cameras.”

Me: “Yup.”

Operations Manager: “And your shift log.”

Me: “Yup.”

Operations Manager: “And the truck’s GPS.”

Me: “Yup.”

Operations Manager: “And the dash camera.”

Me: “Yup.”

Operations Manager: “And that concludes my investigation. Let’s go get lunch.”

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