Please note: This site's design is only visible in a graphical browser that supports Web standards, but its content is accessible to any browser or Internet device. To see this site as it was designed please upgrade to a Web standards compliant browser.
Signal vs. Noise

Our book:
Defensive Design for the Web: How To Improve Error Messages, Help, Forms, and Other Crisis Points
Available Now ($16.99)

Most Popular (last 15 days)
Looking for old posts?
37signals Mailing List

Subscribe to our free newsletter and receive updates on 37signals' latest projects, research, announcements, and more (about one email per month).

37signals Services
XML version (full posts)
Get Firefox!

Selecting the Right Moving Van

12 Aug 2003 by Scott Upton

So I’m preparing to move across town and was curious how much it might cost to rent a truck for the day. After Googling up a crop of truck rental services, I visited Budget and Ryder. Both sites have their downsides (poor Javascript error checking on Budget being one glaring problem), but what struck me immediately was how differently both companies approached truck selection.

If you look at Ryder, for example, they give you 3 initial radio buttons to choose between the big classes of trucks they rent. Then, however, they place the burden on you to figure out the difference between “Parcel Van” and “Panel Van.”

Ryder Moving Van

There’s a better way, as Budget illustrates:

Budget Moving Van

Instead of making you choose based on truck names the company understands, Budget provides photos of each option as well as helpful measurements. They then detail how many bedrooms you can expect to fit inside each of the trucks they rent. Very smart.

23 comments so far (Post a Comment)

12 Aug 2003 | Corn said...

Complete agreement. Now let's get to the more important part, Snowman: Ryder rents tractor trailers online?

12 Aug 2003 | speedy said...

Tractor or trailer rentals are NOT available for personal rentals. Tractor or trailer rentals are available only to those companies with approved Ryder billing accounts.

12 Aug 2003 | Benjy said...

Aren't the White Ryder trucks all commerical rentals, ie. businesses with temp. demand for additional trucks or a truck in in for repairs? Thus these renters probably know the designations for the different types better. The yellow trucks are the consumer rental vehicles, which is a shared fleet with Budget. The site is Ryder's site, with Budget just piggybacking on it.

12 Aug 2003 | Darrel said...

I noticed you can rend a tractor, or a trailer, but not both in the same request. Odd.

Oh...and if you ever rent from sure to check and re-check that they do, indeed, have your reservation in the system. I've gotten royally screwed by them once.

12 Aug 2003 | Tibloto said...

I'm moving in a couple weeks, and I hit all the major truck rental sites yesterday. I ran into the same Javascript errors on Budget, and what's even worse, Uhaul made me sign up before I could see even a basic rate chart. I never even got to a final cost on The whole process was too much of a pain so I ended up driving to the nearest Uhaul joint. I had a truck rented in under 5 minutes.

So much for the web in this case...

12 Aug 2003 | Tim said...

I'd love to just rent the trailer from Ryder (no tractor) and just show up and chill out in it in their lot for the duration of my rental.

12 Aug 2003 | steve, another steve said...

I've use the Ryder dealer behind the Aurora Mall several time. Very professional, trucks are clean and maintained.

12 Aug 2003 | steve, another steve said...

I've use the Uhaul dealer behind the Aurora Mall several times. Very professional, trucks are clean and maintained...well most of them.

12 Aug 2003 | Benjy said...

The truck rental industry is certainly one ripe for some butt kicking in regards to their customer service.

When I moved back to Chicago from Atlanta about 2 years ago, I got a call from Ryder a day or 2 before my move and was told that they wouldn't have a truck for me at the location I reserved one a month in advance. And no, they had no way to check if other locations did. So I spent much of the day before my move frantically trying to locate a truck, and having to drive into the hood at the crack of dawn in order to get the one truck of the correct size that was on the lot but triple booked.

And don't ever forget to fill up the gas tank to the very, very top! A few months later, when I moved from the suburbs into the city, I filled it to what I thought was the top (silly me for minding the do not top off tank sign at the gas station). They charged me a $25 fueling fee and $4.95/gal. for 2 gallons of gas!

12 Aug 2003 | Brian Peddle said...

I believe the Ryder section you found was for commercial use only. Ryder trucks for personal use is actually run by Budget now. I recently rented a "Budget" truck which was actually a Ryder Truck.

12 Aug 2003 | SU said...

I believe the Ryder section you found was for commercial use only. Ryder trucks for personal use is actually run by Budget now. I recently rented a "Budget" truck which was actually a Ryder Truck.

Hmmmm... I didn't realize that -- none of the messaging as I went through the site clearly explained that to me. Ryder used to be just like Uhaul (which incidentally does a similar thing when it comes to helping you select a vehicle to Budget).

13 Aug 2003 | Cruxman said...

SU, You don't have that much stuff, nor that far to go. Load the Subaru a couple of times and maybe borrow a friend's truck (white Toyota may work best) for the large piece or two.

13 Aug 2003 | Kristen said...

Pardon me, not to derail this thread, but are you the Scott Upton who used to work for Intertec/Primedia in Atlanta?

If so, I haven't seen you in ages... It would be a nice coincidence. :-)

13 Aug 2003 | SU said...

Pardon me, not to derail this thread, but are you the Scott Upton who used to work for Intertec/Primedia in Atlanta?

Nope, wrong guy.

13 Aug 2003 | lisa b said...

scott --
agreed. great point.

are you still in boulder?
i used to work with you at spire


13 Aug 2003 | Darrel said...

Also, for anyone moving cross-country, look into buying a used cargo van or cargo truck for a few grand. Then you have unlimited use of it, and can typically resell it at your new location with little-to-no depreciation.

13 Aug 2003 | n said...


13 Aug 2003 | Matthew Oliphant said...

look into buying a used cargo van or cargo truck for a few grand.

I did this when I moved from Alaska to Oregon. Sold it and made back everything except for about half the gas money. Probably got lucky with the price, but it was pretty much a sure thing to sell it for about what I paid for it (even with the extra 4000 miles).

19 Aug 2003 | Hopper said...

Just stay away from UHaul.

27 Aug 2003 | Michael Z. said...

Check the fuel gauge when you pick up the truck and while you're gassing up. I once rented a small moving van, and noticed that the gas gauge was dead on the letter "F".

Before I returned it, I put gas in until the gas pump clicked shut. Paid my $40, hopped in the truck and found the gauge a good 1/4 tank over the F!

27 Aug 2003 | Chad said...

I came across the same thing when I moved earlier this month, trying to choose between Ryder and Budget, based on their websites.

The company that got my business? Budget. They were able to get me from A to B (wanting to having) in fewer steps than Ryder did. Plain and simple.

08 Jan 2004 | Pat said...

Avoid U-Haul like the plague... if you want to retain what sanity you may have left during a move, especially if it's a long distance move....

I reserved a truck a month in advance, arrived on pick-up day to find they didn't have it and was given the biggest diesel truck they had! THEN, to make matters worse, they didn't have the car tow trailor I reserved A MONTH IN ADVANCE, and was again given the largest darn car trailor on earth. By the time I was all decked out, I think I was driving a truck and trailor the length of an 18 wheeler!!! Needless to say I was not a happy camper, especially in light of the fact that it was just going to be myself and my young daughter and 2 cats making the drive, during the hottest part of the summer TO ARIZONA!

I got us loaded and left at some unearthly hour of the morning, stopped for a nap a few hours down the road, woke up and headed down the highway toward Atlanta (maybe 4 hours from Charlotte) when the truck started hesitating, getting hot, and on the other side of Atlanta DIED!!! We spent a full day on the side of the road while they sent a repair man to "fix" the truck.... the same truck I was going to be driving for the next several days! ONE FULL DAY SHOT!.. and 2 very stressed/hot cats!

We make our way to AL where we stay the night.. get up and head into the longest state in the world, Texas. Spent the night in Abaleen, got up and got on the highway, drove to Midland, stopped for gas and found I had a flat tire!!! A $400 flat tire!!! That "I" had to pay for because U-Haul would not! Well, they said they'd reimburse me. By this time you can imagine I'm ready to spit nails when I get to my destination.

When I finally arrived in AZ, after days with no A/C, worrying our cats would die, worrying we would die in this darn truck!!! They had the nerve to charge me full price and then take MONTHS to reimburse me for that tire!.. and only after I wrote a letter to everyone and their brother, from the head of the corportation, the BBB, and all legal state and federal departments!

As you can see... this left a bit of a bad taste in MY mouth toward U-Haul...

Of course, I'm getting ready to move again... and need to rent a trailor.. ya think I can find one other then UHaul in South Dakota? NOOOOO

Best of luck to you movers out there

16 Jan 2004 | Griechenland Flug said...


Comments on this post are closed

Back to Top ^