18 August 2010

Understanding Truck Rentals

I have to drive to Northwestern Pennsylvania... soon.
That's where my Moto Guzzi presently resides. The guy that sold me the bike has to leave for Beijing, China on the 29th of August and will be gone for months, so he obviously would like to have the sale consumated before then. That's a problem for me...
My schedule and required training absolutely fill the next few weeks. But the guys I work with have come through for me... they'll cover my shifts Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, giving me the time to go retrieve the bike.
But that presents another problem:
Conveying it home.

Last year I bought a rusty, ratty, '89 Chevy Silverado pickup truck. It has oodles of miles on it, but its 350 engine runs great and I bought it to haul stuff like manure and motorcycles when necessary...
But I never considered I might need it to cross country almost 1500 miles.

I think it has a 4:11 rear end in it. When the speedometer indicates 70 mph and the engine is humming along like we're goin' REALLY fast, Carmen the Garmin indicates we're only doin' 55.
So the truck uses a considerable amount of gas while doin' it's job. A trip of 1500 miles in it would not only concern me with questions of "will it make it?", but it'll cost a fortune in fuel too.
Add to that the fact that it has no air conditioning and you can see how I really don't want to drive this thing to PA.

So I stopped by to chat with my local Penske Truck Rental guy, a guy I like a lot and have rented from three times previously. As he has in the past, he "cheated" a little for me and gave me a break on the mileage fee, but it was still gonna cost me over $500 to rent a truck for two days and go 1500 miles. I told him about my old truck and that it looked as if I had an "adventure" driving it to Pennsylvania in my future, and he made a suggestion:
"If the trip is not local, Penske allows for UNLIMITED mileage!"
How does that make any sense at all?

So I called some friends in Indianapolis to see if they'd be up for visitors, then called Penske's 800 number. Here's the surprising outcome:
I can rent a 12-foot truck in Indianapolis Saturday morning, drive it for four days, then return it here at home, UNLIMITED MILES, for $244.64! (10% military discount included).

Can someone explain to me why renting the truck locally (for two days) would cost TWICE what returning it (after using it four days) one-way will cost? What's the business sense in that?

It's a crazy world.

1 comment:

Timothy Frazier said...

Having a brother in who manages a massive truck fleet for Aramark, I happen to have a little insider knowledge about that.

Believe it or not, it costs the truck company less in the long run because someone, somewhere, is going to need to drive one of those trucks to your home town on a one way in the near future.

It saves them having to pay their own drivers to "restock" trucks from town A which has too many to town B which has too few. In effect, while you are taking care of your errand you're actually also delivering a truck for them.

It may not pay for them in a few cases and they may have to do some unprofitable redistribution by having their own drivers relocate trucks sometimes, but over the entire operational scope and time frame it ends up being a big savings for them to encourage long haul one way rentals by lower pricing.

Plus, highway miles are commonly less wear and tear on the equipment than in-town mileage.