Your Moving Horror Stories

I think Sr. Olives and I are cursed when it comes to moving. As students we’ve moved every 1-2 years for about the past decade, and you think we’d get better at it with age, but no. Lately we’ve been using those hourly-rate moving services that come with the truck rental, but I had quite a few things scratched and dinged up because the movers didn’t really seem to care about our stuff.

So this year I had the brilliant idea to hire professional movers with a full packing service. This would both help alleviate the stress of moving and prevent our stuff from getting scratched. I called around and took the lowest estimate. Maybe that was my mistake. The customer service rep seemed competent and professional.

We were scheduled to move on Saturday. It was to be an easy one-day deal. I was at a training seminar that day, so my husband was overseeing everything. After they packed our stuff up (leaving a not insignificant amount of it behind), my husband drove to the new place and waited for the movers to arrive. After 40 minutes, they still hadn’t shown up. He called to see what was up.

‘‘Oh,’’ they said. ‘‘We forgot to call you. We’ve been in an accident. You’ll get your stuff tomorrow.’’ (Just to be clear, this was 2 hours after the accident.)

This wasn’t a little fender-bender, either. It was a 9 car smashup on the NJ Turnpike and was caused by a brake problem with the moving van. Thankfully, nobody was injured. The moving van, with our stuff in it, was towed to a police impound (or something like it, details are sketchy) and left. We had none of our stuff with us, including a mattress or blankets, but fortunately we have a friend living in the same apartment complex who had left us her apartment key in the event of some unforseen problem. We crashed there.

The next morning, we get a call from the movers. ‘‘Uh, we’ll call you tomorrow,’’ they say. They can’t tell us when we’ll be getting our stuff back.

So we have an empty apartment, with a very pissed off cat, with no air conditioning, no clothes, nothing to do for an entire day. We ended up having to buy new clothes to get us through the weekend. We went back to the old apartment and spent the day clearing out a number of the things the movers hadn’t bothered to pack.

When the stuff finally arrived on Monday, then the real fun began. That’s when we got to explore all of the ways that things can be broken, and all the ways moving companies can be completely incompetent. There were a few major things destroyed in the accident - a desk, a bookcase, and an expensive, cherished crystal pitcher we’d been given as a wedding gift.

However, a great deal of the damage to our property clearly had nothing to do with the accident. Large, heavy boxes were thrown on top of small ones until they collapsed. They threw our wireless router into an empty wooden cabinet without wrapping or securing it. And the thing that really gets me - they wrapped everything in packing tape. Not just on the boxes, but directly onto all of our wooden furniture. You know what happens when you put packing tape on finished wood? Yes, of course you do, because you’re not an idiot. And I don’t mean a single strip of packing tape, I mean they wrapped our shelves like 5 or 6 times in the stuff and utterly destroyed the finish on a number of our things. They ruined the finish on my best piece of furniture - a family heirloom of sorts that will probably cost a few hundred dollars to refinish.

Unpacking has been a most depressing experience. I’ve lost some things that cannot be replaced. I haven’t added up the damage yet, but I’m guessing at least $800 worth of our property has been destroyed, and about half of that due to pure incompetence. We’re submitting our claim to insurance but it could take months to get reimbursed.

Yesterday I called the moving service to complain. I was very polite and very calm. I specifically said I wasn’t complaining about the accident but rather the damage caused due to negligence. I told him about what the packing tape had done to our property. He couldn’t possibly have cared less. He kept telling me to call the claims number for reimbursement. I explained I was submitting a claim to insurance, but calling the company specifically so that he understood his movers were damaging property. He didn’t care. He basically hung up on me. This is a national company, so I’m going to send a certified letter of complaint to the central office. Believe me, I have never in my life been angry enough about a service to complain about it, until this very moment. We’ve taken pictures and documented everything, and they WILL compensate us for the damage they caused.

We’re still unpacking, trying to sort through this mess. I have never had such a stressful moving experience in my life.

There’s my horror story. What’s yours?

Holy shit. That’s…a helluva story.

You’re definitely doing the right thing with a certified letter. You did everything right - only mistake would be not having 2 changes of clothes and your toiletries with you when you move.

My story involves the cops, a furniture store going out of business and a good family friend whose worked for the family for 20 years.

Basically I was moving to a new college after transferring from a different school. I had zero furniture. Fortunately, a furniture store was going out of business (rhymes with Muniture Hairhouse) locally so we went, bought what we wanted and agreed to pick it up on Saturday. They impressed upon us how we HAD to be there on time to get our stuff.

What we didn’t realize is that when a business is closing and people don’t have another gig lined up (likely for hourly, slave wage work) is that they simply jump ship when they can.

Which is how a line that stretched nearly a mile long came to be when we arrived at our “scheduled time”. Probably would have taken 3 hours to get everything. Anarchy was on everyone’s mind.

Well, we had the moving elevator scheduled at my new building (condo, actually) and could NOT be late for that either!

So we ended up showing our receipts and taking stuff though the front door. There was no other way: we were gonna piss someone off either way and getting it was more important than having it all loaded in a truck and not being able to access the freight elevator. It was the lesser of two evils.

As we took our stuff though the front door, a very stressed out manager told us she’d be calling the cops unless we stopped, saying we were stealing from the store. The family friend/former landscaper/wasp hive killer/car repair shop owner gave my mom a look that said “If I get a ticket, you pay it” and she gave him a thumbs up, so we went on.

My involvement was limited to blocking our license plates so she couldn’t call them in and holding doors for my brother and the family friend.

The cops that arrived while we were 2 miles down the road - it was awesome family friend’s good buddy, who asked for the receipts. He checked over everything, found it matched up to what was in the truck, and we went on our way.

It started raining about 30 seconds after we got the last load in the freight elevator.

So yeah, sometimes you gotta bust people’s nuts when ya move.

Olives, may I suggest a call to a tv news department that has a ‘consumer / on your side’ department?

When it comes to TV news they look for a compelling story, things that can be shown on tv, and a badguy. You have all that.

You can raise some noise and likely get an anemic moving company to respond with some gusto. But do it sooner rather than later - you won’t get a tv crew there in 2 weeks, they will want to do it Monday. ‘Happening right now’ is the key.

Wow nothing so dramatic.

When I moved from Seattle to San Diego, the plan was to hire a guy off Craigslist to help me and my boyfriend load my stuff onto a truck we had rented. Like any other moving plan, it was time-based, we really needed the helper to help move the heavy stuff, so we could pack in the lighter stuff and we needed to be done by mid afternoon, so we could clean the place to get an early start the next day (we planned to drive down the Pacific Highway and enjoy the trip to San Diego).

The guy missed the appointment at 10, calls to his cell phone went unanswered. Around 11, I found another mover on Craiglist, who agreed to be there by 1. He didn’t show up either, and wouldn’t answer his phone. I started to get a little frantic, I had a very heavy sofa bed that I could NOT help move down a flight of stairs and I had to be out of that apartment the next day (I started wondering what the apartment complex would charge me if I just abandoned it, and I loved that sofa!)

I finally found Mario (the Angel) who didn’t have a car. He rode the bus from Seattle and I picked him up from the nearby bus stop. He got there around…4, I guess. He was a packing, moving genius and everything got onto the truck, eventually.

We ended up cleaning the next day and when we left town, we got stuck in a horrible horrible traffic jam outside of Tacoma (a car had flipped upside down and all lanes were blocked), got re-routed through the city and went basically nowhere on our first day of travel, no Pacific Highway for us that trip!

And of course, I had the random trauma through the years (reservations to pick up moving trucks at Uhaul which weren’t there), movers who could only fit so much in a truck and just left rest, a few broken things. But wow, nothing like your horrible move, so sorry you had to go through that!

Jim Donovan on Channel 3.

When we moved into our house, we got everything packed up and ready to go. We arranged for the mvers to come early in the morning. Then we sat down to wait.
And wait
And wait
And wait.
We called the movers. They were incommunicado. No reply.

We waited for hours – something like eight, I think.

Then the movers showed up. They yhasd had a previous job, and when they got there they found that the customers hadn’t packed anything up, as they were supposed to, and they spent eight hours packing them up. Without contacting us.
They mved all our stuff, and nothing got broken. But we were pissed. They didn’t even give us a break on the price.

I would have been pissed, too. What is with people? Do they just not have to do a good job because they know you’re probably only a one-time customer, anyway?

I think it’s because 1) you’ll never use them again and if they’re cheap they’re relying on a new crop of customers every single year, much like the ethnic but not authentic restaurants near a college campus that rely on freshmen and their parents all year long to make a living, year in and year out. And 2) because the really talented, hardworking laborers are doing bricklaying, cement/concrete work, automotive repair and high end landscaping where they can make a really decent living (you wouldn’t believe what good plumbers make). Moving is back breaking and hot doesn’t pay at all and you’re dealing with super stressed people on deadline each and every day. So moving attracts the bottom of the barrel: guys who can’t get steady work cleaning carpets, landscaping or working at Home Depot et al.

Small claims court. It’s easy and cheap to file in most states, and a court notice will often get their attention in a way that an angry phone call can’t.

Our move from Hawaii to Georgia was horrible - $2500 in damages. I had a 4 foot tall lingere chest with a perfect bootprint pressed into the top of it. The microwave cart arrived in 100s of small pieces. I had packed all of my china, glassware and valuables myself but allmost all of the furniture sustained some sort of damage. The lawnmower had been drained of fluids but the movers placed it upside down in the crate, so what fluids were left dripped right onto the sofa. It was horrible. When I went on post to submit my claim, the clerk told me she always gets claims for moves from Hawaii. The companies work until they rack up so many claims the Navy won’t use them anymore, then reincorporate under another name.

Assuming the insurance doesn’t pay sufficiently to cover the damages, that’s definitely our back-up plan. Hence all the pictures and documentation.

SnakesCatLady, that sounds just awful! It’s weird, I didn’t realize how emotionally attached I was to my stuff until this happened. They’re telling me to call insurance for reimbursement, and I’m just feeling like, I don’t want new stuff. I want my stuff.

And trying not to think about the fact we’re moving again a year from now. :frowning:

Could have been. We set ourselves up for a terrible moving experience a few months ago: we had a one week old son and my wife was still recovering from the related surgery and strenuous labor. Despite that it went really smoothly: the company was very professional, punctual and took good care of our stuff. We actually went with the significantly more expensive quote, because I had a good feeling about the company that was lacking for the others: they did a very detailed inventory for their quote, etc. It definitely paid off: even when they had internal issues (one guy didn’t show because of a flat tire) they kept them internal by sourcing people from their warehouse to keep us on schedule. All in all, about as stress free as moving can be.

The weirdest thing that has happened to me while moving is when we shipped my car from Georgia to California: the three air conditioning knobs were missing. Easy to fix and get reimbursed for, but I have no idea why they would have gone missing.