UPDATE: 4-12-2013:

U-Haul has discontinued their fingerprinting policy
and I am no longer boycotting their company for that reason. There are
many other good reasons not to use them, this is not one of them.

UPDATE: 10-8-2000:

U-Haul still has a policy of fingerprinting implemented, as discovered
when a friend of mine decided to rent from them instead of using another
company. Why someone with a "Secret" clearance from the Federal
Government cannot be trusted not to steal a 17' orange and white truck
that even a 2-year-old can distinguish from any other truck on the
planet, is beyond me.

My letter to U-Haul, submitted through their customer feedback page,
located here. Please use this link to submit your opinion of their

I visited the U-Haul center in the Indianapolis (Castleton) Indiana area
February 8, 2000, to rent a furniture dolley. I had visited that site
last year to rent a 17' truck, and had a trouble-free transaction. I
only wish this experience was as pleasant. After presenting a valid
Indiana driver's license and a valid credit card to the clerk, he
processed all the paperwork and had me sign for the dolley. After I had
signed everything, he then informed me I would need to leave my right
thumbprint for them, as a part of U-Haul's loss-prevention program. I
asked if I could leave my $60 required deposit as cash, or present more
ID (such as my U.S. Government Department of Transportation badge) in
lieu of my thumbprint, and was told it was now company policy to retain
my thumbprint. I immediately cancelled the transaction, and instead
rented from one of your competitors.

Why did I refuse to be printed? There are several reasons I disagree
with your policy. First and foremost, I felt my rights to privacy were
being violated. My unique identifying characteristics are on file with
the government authorities and local law enforcement agencies, due to my
security clearance and birth certificate. A private corporation has no
need of such data. If your corporation is having a problem with loss,
there are other methods of verifying one's identity that are less

Another reason I object to your policy: I fail to see the need for this
added measure! The deposits required for smaller items like blankets and
handcarts would cover the cost of these items if they failed to be
returned. For larger rentals, such as vehicles, all I can say is that
it's pretty damned hard to get away with driving around in a stolen
U-Haul. Auto rental companies have been allowing people to rent their
vehicles for years with nothing more than a valid driver's license and a
credit card. If there is such a large problem with theft, surely they
would have resorted to more drastic measures, either to verify
identities via biometrics, or by installing GPS tracking devices on
their vehicles. So tell me, where is the loss prevention problem?

The final reason I refused to submit my fingerprint is TRUST.
Unfortunately, I'm referring to a lack of trust shown by the U-Haul
store I visited and by your company in general. As I stated previously,
I had patronized that particular establishment within the last year, and
rented a substantially more valuable item, and returned it on-time and
un-damaged, with none of the small items (blankets, dolleys, etc)
missing. Would it be so difficult to rent someone who has a good record
with your company a simple HANDCART without resorting to demanding a

My answer is NO. NO, it is not reasonable to obtain biometric data from
your customers when valid ID is presented. NO, I will not patronize your
establishment until this restriction is removed. NO, I will not refrain
from recommending my friends, family, and acquaintances to other rental

I know I am not alone in feeling this way. For every person like myself
who complains, there are many more who are bothered but remain silent
for fear of being thought a criminal or a crank. The old adage about
every one dissatisfied customer reaching another ten people by
word-of-mouth is out-of-date. Substitute A MILLION for the number ten,
thanks to the Internet.


(Madoc Owain)
Dissatisfied Customer

Here's the reply I received a couple of days later:

(form letter, obviously)

From: Uhaul_Customer_Service@fc.uhaul.com (Uhaul Customer Service)
To: madoc_ab_owain@hotmail.com
Subject: Re: Customer Service Internet Customer Action Form
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 11:43:46 -0700

Dear Mr.(Madoc Owain):

Thank you for contacting our Customer Service Department.

U-Haul started the thumbprint program on November 15, 1999 to stop the
loss of our equipment.   We have made a tremendous commitment to keep the
customer's rental cost low.  The cost of purchasing and providing trucks
and trailers has increased tenfold over the past 10 years.  Our trucks
costs in excess of $30,000 and yet we will rent that equipment with an $80

The thumbprint program helps ensure our equipment will be returned.  It
keeps our expenses down -- allowing us to pass the savings on to our

This policy is implemented without regard to race, age, or sex on all
rental equipment.   As an organization, we regret that this program may
cause customers some inconvenience.  We also understand this program may
offend some people.  At this time, taking a thumbprint appears to be the
best step U-Haul can take to effectively manage rental equipment and
secure its timely return.

Thank you for your inquiry.

Janet Stats
U-Haul Customer Service

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