Monday, March 19, 2012

A Crappy Moving Story & PSA

This is a VERY long story {{as most of mine are}} but it is also a VERY real story. It's not just a friend-of-a-friend story either. I cannot stress this enough, This REALLY happened to my own mother. I am telling this story to you all because so many readers are military and in that are regular movers.

This story starts when my Mom used to get a shipping quote for her household goods from NOLA to San Francisco, CA. My mom had made a mad dash to CA after a phone call notifying her my grandmother was in the hospital after having a stroke. She had been away from CA for a few {{rough}} years and she was ready to move home. Coincidentally, the fact that my Grandmother needed someone to speak for her happened right at the same time and my mom listed her Algiers Point, LA home {{*sniff, sniff* goodbye Mardi Gras flop house!}} and started looking for work in CA. The house sold quick enough and in an attempt to make things better on herself mom set up movers to meet her at the house over a weekend, right before her closing date. She took time off of work and went to NOLA to pack up her stuff. She had a suit case of some clothes but the majority of her belongings were to be shipped via the Van Lines. My mom used who put her in contact with a company called Real Van Lines and they gave her a moving quote and met her promptly on the day she asked them to.

The day of packing went very quickly. They even quickly packed all of the items in her fused glass studio. It was a lot of very expensive equipment and glass. The day went so well, My mom was appalled when they closed the gate of the truck and told her she owed them $1800 more than the quote for "packing materials" that were not included anywhere on the original estimate. Knowing she didn't have the time for them take everything off the truck {{and that extortion is illegal}} my mom wrote a check for the full amount asked for and decided she would deal with all of it once back in CA. This was in February 2010. They were supposed to deliver the goods in April.

My mom tried to contact the moving company through every means possible after she got back. Phone calls. E-mails. Certified mail. But weeks kept passing and she heard nothing back. From ANYONE. In a last ditch effort to get the moving company to contact her she cancelled her check for their services.

Now there are VERY few things that will get a conman more mad than when he expects to rape you of your hard earned dollars and then you go and cancel your little ol' check. Suddenly, the owner of the business was available to talk and couldn't imagine why she had such a hard time getting a hold of him, but he SURELY didn't have any record of all of the times she says she tried to get in touch with him. Then he told my mom that her stuff would not be delivered on time due to their 'disagreement' and because of this it would need to go to long term storage. Long term storage was expensive. Now to get her stuff to her it would cost her $11,000.00. That would be *almost* double what she wrote the check for when they packed it up.

Folks, my mom is not a sit-around-and-mope kind of person. This isn't one of those stories where I'm going to complain because these people were assholes to her and she did nothing to counter it. My mom put together a packet of all the receipts she had, all the emails, the voice mails, all of it. She took it to the Department of Transportation, filed a complaint and then had to wait. LONGER {{I'd like to say again the majority of her belongings - EVERYTHING she owned was on this truck somewhere}}. The DoT tracks down this company and fines them for 1.)Changing the price of the estimate once the truck was loaded. 2.) For not delivering when they promised. They also told the moving company that what my mom was willing to pay {{the original check amount}} was fair and that they needed to take it and return her stuff. That's it. That is all they had the jurisdiction to do. Give one fine per infraction. They also asked that they show them my mom's container but the people at the warehouse couldn't supply it.

After the chat with the DoT the company immediately closed up shop, moved to GA and changed their name. This is legal, apparently. There are laws that make it ok for businesses to shut down and open under a new name in a new place and then protects the "new" business from previous fines. My mom went to the police department. The one in NOLA had no jurisdiction because her stuff was taken out of the state. The new state had no jurisdiction because it came from another state. It's not a FEDERAL problem because its an inter-state issue. Atlanta police can't even take a damn report from her over the phone because apparently, they don't do that "long distance". BBB. No jurisdiction. Office of Consumer Protection. NO FLIPPIN JURISDICTION!! Out of desperation to just get her stuff back she consulted a lawyer who told her it would cost more than what her stuff was worth to get it back. Money she didn't have.

For some time after this there was no contact between my mom and the company. She tried several more times to just get them to give her an itemized bill so she could pay it and get her stuff back. But they never did. At the beginning of last summer they told her, her stuff was going to auction, but then they didn't do the necessary things people are supposed to do to sell "abandoned" shipping crates. My mom asked for auction dates, no response. No response. NO RESPONSE. These people STOLE every LAST THING IN HER HOUSE.

I want you to look around your house right now. Think about all of your family photos, trinkets, memories, I'm not talking about the stuff. Look at all the things that would be WORTHLESS to other people {{aka trash}}, but are completely priceless to you. Think about how sucky it would be to have someone STEAL it. Right in front of you. And there ain't dick you {{or anybody else for that matter}} can do about it. Those people put her stuff on that truck knowing she'd never get it back.

Obviously, if it's been done to one, it's been done to others. You can go to and do an advanced search for "Real Van Lines" or "State Movers" and find some disgruntled customer reviews who have had very similar experiences to my mother {{some even military families}}. You can also do a search for both of those company names or "moving schemes" on the Atlanta Fox News website. You'll find a nice consumer report about these people. You can also Google "Israeli Moving Scams" and find out some more information about how these people work.

I encourage everyone to share this and spread it as much as possible. Make people aware that this happens. This has been a two year process and the sad truth is my mom's stuff was probably gone before it was ever supposed to be delivered and there is NOTHING that can be done about it.


If you're moving please, please, please DO NOT USE These people suggested the company my mom used and then NEVER {{NOT ONCE!!!}} contacted her regarding this situation.

Read reviews on the van lines you're using. You'd be surprised about how much you can find out by the reviews people post.

If it's a government sanctioned move - please let Transportation do the planning. They have the ability to put pressure on businesses that regular citizens do not.

Before people come and pack up your stuff, take pictures of EVERYTHING in your house. The proof is the pictures and if you have high dollar items these will help you get the most back, IF {{IF!!}} your insurance will cover it.

Double check that your homeowners, renters or whatever kind of insurance will cover your things in the move.

Now I just need everyone to share this story. Maybe it will help someone or reach a hitman.

In the mean time, I'll just say we are firm believers in Karma.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Very Backyard Photo Bomb

Have you ever had one of those moments in a store when you see something you really don't need but absolutely have to have? Of course you have. It happens to everyone. My problem usually then becomes, "If I get one of those, I'll need two of those. If I get two of those, I'll need to plant five of those. If I plant five of those, then I'll need to get some of that, too." It's a downward spiral. The whole giving a mouse a cookie thing. Anyways, Most days when I have those moments I get what we call "Analysis Paralysis" {{aka a walking zombie in a hardware store trying to figure out cubic yards and square feet}} and I will usually leave the store empty handed with a headache. Today when I had the urge to splurge on something kind of unnecessary absolutely fabulous, I totally gave in.

My first problem is that we got the swing set put together {{btw, total pain in the a$$. Probably not worth the *awesome* deal we got vs. the amount of time and energy going in to figure out the missing ((and extra)) pieces. What's important here is that Bug is SUPER happy.}} I'm one of those people who likes to get things done. Once a project is started, I'd rather just finish it and be done with it. With the swing set in {{and looking awesome in a not so awesome looking yard}}, I really felt like I needed to start tackling my yard projects. The main yard project is going to be to sod. But {{here come the but-if-I-do-that's}} the dogs have done a number on our yard and before we can sod, we'll need to put up a fence to keep them off of it. What's the point of putting sod down if they're just going to destroy it like they've done to our weeds? Those are big jobs. Ones that I most definitely won't be able to handle on my own. So, I picked the smallest two jobs on the list and spent my BEAUTIFUL afternoon filling Bug's sandbox and creating a flowerbed.

{{The kids playing after a day of asking if we were done yet}}

{{Before: Sand pit the dogs like to dig in}}

Step One: Assemble gorgeous blue fountain and LOVE it!

Step Two: Add Soil

Step Three: Plant Flowers

Step Four: Mulch & VOILA!! {{Needs a border but I LOVE it!}}

The next project will be to make a Victory Garden on the empty side of the screened in porch {{can be seen behind Bug in the picture under Step 2}} and add a compost bin. I've never tried to plant anything so the garden {{and the composting}} will be an adventure. It was a lot of work, but sitting on the porch when I was finished listening to a water feature and my two year old play in her sand box was totally worth it!

Stay tuned for whats next...

Friday, March 9, 2012

How do you...

Know your spouse is AWESOME?

He sends gifts and spoils his girls even when he is 9000 miles away


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Look What I can do!

Ok, so I said I was back and then left again. There are so many other women out there with a deployed husbands that I didn't want to turn my blog into a "Boo hoo hoo! My husbands deployed" blog. Plus, I'm trying to process quite a bit right now and my brain feels like its slowly being poked to death. Creativity {{at least in the writing department}} took a back burner.

Since J left we have had two different sets of visitors: My BFF and my Madre and a family friend that drove out with her. My BFF and I met when J and I were stationed here before he went to DS and we jokingly say that she is my husbands girlfriend and I'm her husbands girlfriend. She ended up getting to be here when J left and it was such a great distraction from him leaving.

{{A man. His Wife. And his girlfriend.}}

While She was here, we made no-sew fleece blankets {{soooo warm!!}} We got the fabric on sale, too which makes it even better! We each used 2 yards of fabric and cut 4" slits into all four of the sides. A glass of wine and forty minutes later - Vwalla!!

Between the time She left and my mom and her friend got here, I didn't really do much but feel sorry for myself. While at the outlets the day after they got here we found a Madeleine Pan. I have been searching for one for awhile {{ok, not really looking that hard}} but all I found was one at Williams-Sonoma for $30 {{and lets face it, I'm cheap.}} After professing my love for the scrumptious tasty snack and promising to make them, my mom bought the pan for me. We used THIS recipe. There were some easier sounding recipes, but I wanted to make a real Madeleine. They were DEEEEEEEEELICIOUS!! The recipe made just under 3 dozen light and buttery cookies.

{{Be jealous!}}

While showing off the sewing machine to my mom and all of the projects I have made thus far, she asked if I could make a travel kit. She's pretty much on the road at least once a week so she uses hers quite a bit. I'd never attempted to make one but I said, "Sure!" We picked up the stuff and I found a TUTORIAL that seemed well written and jumped right in.

My first attempt turned out great except the fabric I had intended for the lining turned out on the outside {{haha!}} and I was sewing while reading the steps instead of the other way around and I had already sewn my seams and couldn't add a handle {{whoops!}}

The second attempt took less than an hour to bust out and it turned out a little not square GREAT! Especially for only being my second attempt.

After my travel-bag success I decided to sew together a tote bag I had forgotten in my pity-party cut almost two weeks ago. I made it from a piece of fabric that I absolutely loved and had no clue what to do with. It's not finished {{I have to rip and re-sew the bottom seam because I missed a piece of the fabric}} but I still think for a first try it was a success!

And last but not least, the Play Set Fairies heeded my call and this weekend, with the help of some friendly awesome neighbors, we'll be putting together one of these

Three weeks down. Only 6 and a half more months to go. I figure by then I should be able to hire myself out for handyman, sewing and painting projects.