For those who read this blog, you know that I may be sarcastic and self deprecating and frequently poke fun at the stupidity I observe out there. However, those who actually know me would probably say that I'm polite and understanding, perhaps to a fault. I wouldn't call myself a doormat, but I am prone to give people the benefit of the doubt way more than anyone deserves.
And that is why the experience I had with our apartment move last week makes me feel so crazy. I got terrible service from an otherwise highly recommended moving company, and then the manager of the company put the blame on me! Naturally I felt depressed by this situation and spent hours wondering if he was right -- was it really all my fault? Maybe by sharing the story with you, I will clear my conscience and find out from your comments where to place the blame.
Let me start by listing what went wrong:
> the move took six hours to move a 2BR apt 10 blocks
> the movers let our belongings pile up on the sidewalk, quickly irritating our new landlord
> they broke my lamp
> they left behind a piece of hardware for our bed, which my fiance had to go back to retrieve at midnight just so we could assemble our bed to go to sleep
> they LOST MY COFFEE TABLE
There's other things too that may or may not be their handiwork -- a snag on the love seat, a ding in the bookcase -- which could have been avoided had they wrapped or protected our furniture more carefully. But even just losing my coffee table alone was enough to make me want money back, payback, revenge even.
I called the next morning to complain. The manager wanted to know what kind of coffee table, what kind of bed hardware, as if a description would explain why these items did not make it to our new home. He said he would get back to me. This was not the reaction I wanted. Shortly thereafter we discovered the cracked lamp, at which point Mr. Homewrecker got on the phone to give Intense Movers a piece of his mind. After what seemed like a lot of unnecessary arguing, the movers offered us a $40 refund. Hardly even the cost of the coffee table.
So why, you may wonder, was I being told this way MY fault? The truth is, I underestimated how many boxes we were going to have to move. I accurately itemized our furniture, appliances and musical equipment to Intense Movers over email and estimated "15 to 20 boxes" for the rest -- the clothes, the books, the CDs, the towels, the blankets, the shoes, the pot and pans, the etc etc etc that filed our closets and cupboards. In the end it was more like 6o boxes, though most of no more than three cubic feet. I mentioned to Intense Movers on the phone a few days before the move that I thought I may have more boxes than originally thought, and I assumed that would be enough of a warning. At worst maybe they would charge me a fee for the additional stuff -- which they did. Fine.
Now I've hired movers in the past. They didn't ask for a super specific inventory in advance, just a rough idea and a number of rooms being moved. They came prepared to deal with whatever that actually means in terms of boxes. It seems absurd to me that I am the first person in the history of Intense moves who underestimated how many boxes she would have. Once you start upending dressers and digging out closets, it can be shocking how much crap you've crammed in there. But the manager of Intense Movers told me that they've never had this problem before. Really?!
So Intense Movers showed up for my move with only two dudes and a smaller-than-needed truck. I didn't mind that they had to go back for a bigger truck, and I was patient as they slowly moved all our stuff into the truck. I had expected better service for my money, but as I said, benefit of the doubt and all. I just let them do their thing. Plus they were cool guys. Nice guys about my age; a musician and a stand up comedian. White guys from hipster Brooklyn. Guys I'd probably hang out with.
Problem is, "nice" and "cool" a good mover does not make.
The last time I moved, I hired three Russian guys. They loaded my stuff onto their truck faster than I could sweep up after them, protecting my furniture in a tornado of plastic wrap and moving blankets and hoisting things onto their massive backs with inhuman strength. But I gave Intense Movers a shot this time because a friend thought they did a great job with her last move -- being extra careful with her vinyl collection, and related skills hipster movers are expected to have. And yeah, they were careful with Mr. Homewreckers drums, but while they were busy texting about band practice, someone walked off with my coffee table. FAIL.
When I called the manager again the next day to smooth things over and see if I could squeeze more of a refund out of him, he was borderline hostile towards me. I politely owned up to the underestimate of boxes, I allowed for the six hour move, the extra fee -- fine. I wasn't particularly mad about that (disappointed, yes; mad, whatever). But I could not see how losing and breaking my furniture was OK. In his opinion, however, if I had accurately estimated my boxes none of that would have happened. Whaaaa? I mean, sure, if a third guy had been there maybe he would have been standing on the sidewalk in that moment when the culprit walked off with my table. Maybe. Or maybe he would have been texting about band practice too.
In the end I talked them into refunding me a whopping $80, which I have yet to receive. And I swore to destroy them via social media and word-of-mouth. Therefore I ask you to consider when you read reviews of Intense Movers saying they are "cool" and "nice" if that is going to make your move a success as much as "careful" and "efficient" would.
Now that I've explained the entire situation, tell me (if you are still reading) -- am I to blame? Am I crazy for wanting money back, for wanting an apology, for wanting to write negative reviews?
Or is it as simple as LOST/BROKEN STUFF = JOB POORLY DONE?
**UPDATE - June 14, 2010**
After my prolific web bitching about Intense Movers, the owner Matt (who, I stand corrected, is not the guy I dealt with on the phone) called to talk about the situation. I appreciate him taking the time to do so, because really what upset me most was the way Alex (the guy I DID talk to on the phone) handled things. On my end -- lesson learned not to assume that movers will be prepared for the size of my move, in particular flat rate movers, so I should be more accurate in setting up the move to avoid the situation we had last month. On their end -- I hope they've learned not to trust the amateur estimates of their clients and to always send at least three guys to move anything bigger than a studio apt. That would be my advice anyway. That and dealing with unsatisfied customers a little more delicately.
Thank you Matt for the call, and I'm sorry Mr. Homewrecker gave you an earfull. For as much as I've griped here, I don't know how you do it -- heavy lifting all day + dealing with stressed out people like us.