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.

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