WARNING: ALL MOVING COMPANIES ARE NOT EQUAL!
LET THE CUSTOMER BEWARE!
We called it “The Move From Hell.” Okay, we didn’t literally move “from Hell” but from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, more like Paradise than Hell. Yet, our move proved to be “hellish.” In May and June 2015 we made what we sincerely hope is the last major move of our lives from Vernon, British Columbia to downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba. Two moving companies contributed to making our move less than ideal: Two Small Men With Big Hearts (TSM) in Kelowna, BC and AMS Transportation Ltd. Inc. headquartered in Dundalk, Ontario. The latter company was the most “hellish.”
In 2007, we had used TSM out of Winnipeg, Manitoba for a previous move from Winnipeg to British Columbia without a hitch. However, our circumstances were different. Eight years ago, they moved a number of already packed and stored boxes plus four small items of furniture: a cedar chest, a teak secretary desk, a captain’s chair and a teak three-drawer filing cabinet. These we had stored in Winnipeg for over two years while we were on a long-term adventure in Mexico, having sold the rest of our furniture and household goods before we took off for Mexico in 2004 in a 35-foot motorhome.
This year’s move in 2015, we had a houseful of furniture (bought when we moved back to Canada from Mexico in 2007), myriad boxes of books and all the household goods we had not downsized. We were moving from a house with two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, plus a den, a porch and garage to a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with the hopes of eventually moving into a two-bedroom apartment once it became available in the same seniors’ life lease apartment building. We also had to move out of our house several weeks earlier than we would have liked, would have to put our household goods into storage for about six weeks, would have to travel for about a month and then have our goods moved to an apartment which we had not yet had assigned to us, though we knew the apartment building to which we would be moving.
Ian has moved households “about a thousand” times (according to him) from Scotland to Canada and then all over Canada from east to west and back and forth. I have moved households from the US to Germany and back (with almost a year’s storage in Germany after we left) and from Wisconsin, USA to Winnipeg, Canada. This was to be Ian’s and my first “major” household move together.
I had asked a friend who had experienced a number of major moves throughout Canada over the years to recommend a moving company. After meeting with a pleasant estimator from that company, we were floored to receive an estimate of almost $13,000–way more than we had anticipated. At the time I didn’t appreciate the fact that the price included packing, storage locally for about a month, plus transportation and unloading, all by one company. That was when I decided to contact TSM, a company I knew would be less expensive and with whom we had had a good moving experience in the past.
NOW I know that I should have been much more cautious about checking out the entire process of packing, moving into storage and moving from storage halfway across the country, considering that two companies would be involved in the move, a situation I had not anticipated.
Here is a brief list of the problems we encountered:
- Our household goods were neither properly inventoried nor tagged. After the move was completed, TSM declared that they did not inventory items that went into storage but just labeled the boxes (usually) and delivered them to storage. They further declared that AMS always tagged and itemized the boxes and furniture when it picked them up from storage. In contrast, AMS declared that TSM should have itemized the items when they were packed. In other words, each moving company blamed the other for neglecting to tag and inventory the household goods.
- During the move-in on June 19th, when I noted that the movers were not leaving room to set up the bed, dining table, entertainment unit and living room couches/recliners, the driver of the AMS van declared that he had neither instructions nor tools to assemble any of the furniture that the TSM packers had unassembled. After numerous calls to both moving companies, the driver was finally instructed to see that the furniture was assembled (they only did the bed and the dining table) but I had to borrow tools from our apartment building’s maintenance man for them to use.
- The two local-hire personnel who were hired to unload the van and carry household items to the apartment were not always attentive and, at times, clumsy or careless. No matter what room was labeled on the boxes, about half of the time they unloaded the boxes into the wrong room.
- Not all the TSM-packed boxes were labeled, so it took some days after delivery to find essential belongings. Finding them in the wrong rooms only exacerbated the confusion. The worst problem was the four-day delay before the cable company could complete setup of our TV and component parts. All parts were in the living room except for the main TV cord which I eventually found in an unlabeled box under four other boxes in the bedroom.
- I itemized the extra money we had to pay to hire someone else to reassemble the entertainment unit and living room couches and recliners, plus replacement value for those items that were damaged or broken and the costs of long distance telephone calls to both moving companies on moving-in day. AMS refused to pay us compensation, citing a $300 deductible about which we had never been informed. TSM also denied knowing about this deductible. To their credit, TSM volunteered to pay the money we had claimed and declared they would no longer be doing business with AMS. (Donna, the estimator from TSM was very gracious and helpful to us.)
OUR RECOMMENDATIONS: In hindsight, we offer the following recommendations to anyone undertaking a major move that includes storage for a time before household goods are moved on to another address:
- If you can afford it, go with a major international moving company that can handle all of the tasks of moving such as packing, loading into storage, storing the goods, moving out of storage, transporting to, unloading and reassembling at the new address. That way you have one point of contact to deal with any questions or problems you might encounter during the move and will have all the information you need in writing.
- If you cannot afford moving with a major company, be sure that the company you do go with spells out completely that they will itemize and inventory all your household goods during packing.
- Be present when that moving company delivers your goods to storage and leaves the inventory at storage so that whoever picks up the goods for moving on to your destination checks that inventory as they load their van.
- Have contact information on the company who will be picking up the goods from storage. We were merely told that another company would be picking up the items from storage but never had anything in writing from that company until after the fact (thus we knew nothing of a deductible). However, they did call us before pick up from storage and demanded our credit card information so they could charge us $5041.95 for their part of the move before they picked up the items. (We were two provinces away from the storage unit when they called us so had no way of checking that our items were truly picked up and on the way and had no contact information about them.)
- If at all possible try to insure that only one franchise does the entire move. The company we booked with recommended the second company over their own franchise in Winnipeg. I wish, at that point, that we had gone to another franchise that would have completed the entire move.
Incidentally, the move cost us a total of $8,451.00, including costs for both moving companies, the storage facility and extra boxes we purchased. I had packed many boxes of books and other non-breakables prior to the packing day to reduce the packing costs. Yes, we saved around $4000 but also had a great amount of extra work, frustration and dissatisfaction as well.
For anyone who is interested in reading the entire correspondence regarding our move, I am including that herewith. I hope our warning will help anyone contemplating a similar move.
From: Gayle Moore-Morrans, Winnipeg, Manitoba
TO: Donna, Moving Consultant (via email)
Two Small Men with Big Hearts Moving Co. Ltd.
Re: Bill of Lading & Invoice #22772
AND TO: Ken Conley, Manager (via Canada Post)
AMS Transportation Services, Inc. Dundalk ON
Re: Contract # 515-59
July 17, 2015
On our move-in date to our new apartment at 333 Vaughan Street, Winnipeg MB R3B 3J9, I stated in a hand-written comment on the AMS Contract Number 515-59 before I signed the receipt for delivery, the following: “I’m unhappy with the fact there was no manifest & items were not numbered. Also that workers had not been told they were to put the furniture together. I will be writing the company. I was unable to inventory items and will have to do it later. I know there is some damage on items.”
This letter has taken a long time in getting written as things have been in chaos ever since our move-in to our new apartment on June 19th. In fact, Ian and I have referred to it as “the move from hell.” Since Donna of TSM and Tina of AMS and I had several emergency conversations during the move in on June 19th, they know a bit of which I am speaking. I just know that I would never recommend either TSM or AMS Transportation Services Inc. as movers in the future. I have used moving services in the USA, Canada and Germany and never encountered the problems that we did during this move. Let me itemize them:
- Our household goods were neither properly inventoried nor tagged. When we received her Moving Proposal, Donna recommended that Kelowna TSM pack up our household goods, that we store them at Kelowna Self Storage until we received a move-in date for the new apartment in Winnipeg and that she arrange for employment of AMS Transportation to pick up the items from storage and deliver them to our new home in Winnipeg. She had also recommended that I stand by the moving van as it was being unloaded and check off each item on the itemized inventory as it came off the van, noting the tag number. On June 19th, as I needed to be upstairs on the 10th floor at the new apartment to tell the movers where the furniture was to be placed, a friend and my disabled husband went down to the van as it was being unloaded, prepared to do the inventory checking. They were given five blank copies of a form entitled “Household Goods Descriptive Inventory” and told to list the items as they came off the van. They soon came upstairs with the blank forms and told me that this was impossible to do as none of the items were tagged. The blank forms included space to note the tag number, articles, room, condition at origin and exception (missing/damaged). My question is: Should not the tag number, articles, room and condition at origin have been already filled in by the TSM packers when the goods were packed and loaded onto the TSM van on May 11th in Vernon BC? There were no tag numbers on any items of furniture or boxes in the entire shipment. The only list I received from TSM when I met the packers at Kelowna Self Storage was the Bill of Lading / Invoice number 22772 dated May 11, 2015. It itemized the cost of the packing and the move into storage as $1713.75 and itemized the packing supplies only. I assumed that I would be given the itemized inventory when the items were being unpacked as Donna had indicated I would. The area for “condition code of items” was crossed off on the Bill of Lading and Invoice I was given at the storage unit. I signed this document after I joined the movers who had already unloaded the household items into the storage unit in Kelowna, locked the storage unit, paid the $1713.75 on my Mastercard account and also paid for a month’s storage.
- During the move-in on June 19th, the driver of the AMS van declared that he had neither instructions nor tools to assemble any of the furniture that the TSM packers had unassembled. I quickly became aware of this situation when I realized that the movers who were bringing up the furniture were placing the items in the rooms I indicated but then were leaving no room for assembling the furniture including a bed, a dining table, an entertainment unit (five pieces including two glass-doored side towers, a tv stand, a bridge to hold stereo component parts and a top piece) and four pieces of upholstered furniture whose backs had been taken off (two recliners, a reclining love seat and a reclining couch). (I question why TSM packers removed the backs from the upholstered furniture – this had never been done on two previous moves, nor did I observe that this was being done during the packing time. I was in the house but was fully occupied with packing and labeling some of the boxes.) After my frantic calls to Donna at TSM in Kelowna and her and my calls to the authorities at AMS both in Calgary and the Toronto area (Tina), the driver and one local mover finally consented to putting together the bed and the dining table before they left, though I had to scare up some tools for them by borrowing them from my apartment buildings’ maintenance person. I later had to hire the maintenance person to put together the entertainment unit and the upholstered furniture at $35.00 an hour for three hours, totalling a cost to me of $105.00. These services should have been included in the $5,041.95 I had paid to AMS on my Mastercard on May 29, 2015 when my household goods were moved from Kelowna Self-Storage to AMS Transportation in Calgary.
- The two local-hire personnel who were hired to unload the van and carry household items to the apartment were not always attentive and, at times, clumsy or careless. In the first place, these two men told me that they did not clearly understand what they were hired to do, saying that they understood they were going to be moving household goods out of an apartment. As I was running around trying to solve the furniture-assembling problem, I was not able to supervise where each box was to be placed. Only my disabled husband was in the apartment and a lot of that time he was asleep or confused. However, I had clearly marked all the boxes I had packed myself as to the proper room each box was supposed to be placed in – balcony, bedroom/den, living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom and laundry/storage room and the TSM packers had labeled the destination room for many of the boxes they packed. Despite this, at least half of the boxes were placed in the wrong area, necessitating me having to get help for several days later to move the boxes to their proper room so that I could unpack them. Many of the boxes I was not able to move myself, my husband could not help and we had to wait for the evenings when our son-in-law was free to help. This wasted a great deal of time and energy. In addition, during the unloading, I noticed the men carelessly dropping some of the boxes, one gouge in a brand-new refrigerator which was already in the apartment and had been undamaged before the move and a large gouge out of the doorway to the kitchen (pictures attached).
- Not all the TSM-packed boxes were labeled. In particular, one of the boxes containing stereo component parts was not labeled at all. This ended up in the bedroom under a number of book boxes. It contained a tape deck and many of the cables used to connect the component parts to the TV and speakers. Unfortunately it also contained the power cord for the living room TV. The cable company was able to quickly hook up the bedroom TV but was not able to activate the living room TV nor the component parts . I finally was able to connect the TV several days later when I finally discovered the unlabeled box containing the TV power cord. Because the TV power cord and other connecting cords were unavailable when the cable company was there to hook things up, I had to hire someone to connect the component parts at a later date. Had they all been available when the cable company was there to activate the cable system, they would have hooked everything up gratis. This cost me an extra $35 for an hour’s labour.
- Care was not given in loading or unloading some of the boxes marked “fragile” or “top box only” so that one plastic file box was smashed during transit and several items were broken when I was able to unpack them. The plastic file box, worth $15.00 had to be discarded as it can’t be repaired. Luckily, only a few items were completely broken: two crystal stemmed glasses, the glass in a framed picture and one ceramic bowl (picture attached). The crystal glasses are worth $25 apiece, the glass in the frame about $5 and the handmade ceramic bowl $35. Thus, replacement value for these items is $105.00.
- The extra monetary cost to me for this move totals $265.00, including the additional cost to me of the long distance calls on my cell phone to Donna and the AMS representatives on the move-in day (about $20.00). In addition, I had many, many hours of frustration and extra work trying to make some order out of the chaos left in my apartment after the move was completed.
Please let me know what compensation TSM and AMS plan to give me as a result of the incompetence I encountered on this move and what measures will be taken by each company to insure that others will not encounter this kind of incompetence in the future. Thank you.
Sincerely, Gayle Moore-Morrans
Attachments are pictured below:
Moore-Morrans NOTE: NO ANSWER WAS RECEIVED FROM EITHER PARTY SO THE CORRESPONDENCE WAS RESENT ON SEPTEMBER 10, 2015
From: Two Small Men, Kelowna
To: Gayle Moore-Morrans, Winnipeg
September 13, 2015
Hi Gayle: Received your letter on Friday. I called AMS to see what was going on with your claim and they wanted me to fax a copy to the claims department. Tina in dispatch told me to give them a week to assess it.
I am shocked at what happened to you. I have never had them not tag and list a load and never not set anything up. That is part of the moving service. I also checked on our bucklers web site for your original e-mail to me not I did not receive it.
I called your daughter Shirley to get your phone number and she wasn’t home. I tried directory assistance and they had no listing for you. Could you please call me or e-mail me your phone number and I will call you right back so there is no cost to you. I am in the office today and next Sat.
Thank you. Donna
From: Gayle Moore-Morrans
To: Donna, Two Small Men, Kelowna, British Columbia
September 21, 2015
Hi Donna. I have yet to hear any response from the other moving company or an explanation about why your TSM Packers neglected to itemize our property. Gayle
From: AMS Transportation Services Inc., Dundalk, Ontario
To: Ian & Gayle Moore-Morrans, Winnipeg, Manitoba
September 30, 2015
Dear: Ian & Gayle Moore-Morrans
This letter is in follow up to your claim recently received in our office.
It should be noted that AMS Transportation Services Inc. was contracted to move your goods from Two Small Men’s warehouse to destination. Two Small Men packed and loaded your shipment and at that time, items should have been tagged and listed. When AMS Transportation Services Inc. received your goods from Two Small Men there were no inventories given to the driver. AMS Transportation Services Inc. simply hauled your goods from point A to point B with no instructions from Two Small Men.
Please be advised, your signed Bill of Lading evidences no added valuation was purchased or paid for, and therefore releases your shipment to 60 cents per pound.
We generously estimate the weight of the items that you noted as damaged in your letter to be 30 lbs., and therefore the following calculation applies: 30 lbs @ .60 = $18.00
Considering the $300.00 claim deductible signed for on your Bill of Lading,this computes to a negative balance.
Yours Truly, AMS Transportation Services Inc. Claims Dept./CVO
From: Two Small Men, Kelowna, British Columbia
To: AMS Claims Department, Dundalk, Ontario
Re: Moore-Morrans move contract # 515-59
October 17, 2015
Claims Department: This e-mail is in response to my customers Letter of Claim regarding her move by your company from Kelowna Self Storage to Winnipeg, contract # 515-59. We have had a working relationship for over 15 years with AMS Transportation. You have moved many of my customers for me and done an excellent job. First off, you have tagged and listed every load you have done for us either from the house to house or from a storage locker to a house. Mr Moore-Morrans was handed a blank tag and list sheet and the 83 year old was told to write down every item taken off the truck. (Are you kidding me). NEVER, until this load have I had a phone call from the customer on the unload that the men would not set anything up or put things together and not put the labelled boxes in the appropriate rooms. (They had no tools to set up the furniture that was taken apart). I called Tina in dispatch and she was also shocked. After many calls to Tina and the driver Tina called the driver and one local mover finally consented to putting together the bed and dining room table before they left. (Customer had to borrow tools from the maintenance people at her new apt building.) On all our other moves you have done your movers always did this. I have been working for TSM Kelowna office for over 27 years and we have never not set anything up. That is part of the job as a mover. We do whatever the customer requests whether it be a local or a long haul job. We have a very good reputation in Kelowna and have won Best Movers in Kelowna many times.
Mrs Moore-Morrans had to hire the maintenance man at her new apartment to put together the entertainment unit and the upholstered furniture at $35.00 an hour for 3 hours that your movers should have done. I have never heard of a moving company that does not help the customer do this. Mr and Mrs. Moore-Morrans are elderly and the husband is very ill. This move had no customer service at all. The extra money she had to pay because your movers did not assemble things is $265.00 not including the damage done to the brand new refrigerator or wall. These damages were done by the movers on the unload in the apartment and the new refrigerator was never on the moving truck. They hit it moving things in the apartment and the damage to the wall was also done by them as they were moving things in. If we get damages in our office we repair them as soon as possible and not hide behind a $300.00 deductible, which I have never heard of from your company. Tina in dispatch said the driver was fired after this job. Well that may help you but my customer is very disappointed and frustrated with the way her claim was handled, especially the refrigerator and wall as they were fine until your men arrived. They paid good money for a move job that was a total disaster on your part. I am hoping that you will reconsider at least to giving her the $265.00 she paid out for the assembly, etc. that your drivers normally do for the customer. If you choose not to do the refund of money my office will end our working relationship of over 15 years with you and we will never contract your company to move another load for our office.
Awaiting your reply, Donna, Estimator
From: Claims Dept, AMS Transportation Inc., Dundalk, Ontario
To: Two Small Men, Kelowna, British Columbia
October 22, 2015
Thank you for your e-mail of Oct 17, 2015. In response we advise: AMS Transportation was contracted by your Company to pick up goods for the above out of storage facility in Kelowna, BC. Upon our pickup, we were not provided with any inventories obtained on your pickup TO the storage facility, which would evidence which items were packed and/or disassembled by carrier on transport to the facility. A tag and list was not performed by AMS Transportation Services Inc. (Bob himself) as it was the only shipment being hauled on the particular PUP Bob was hauling at the time.
Upon delivery (not Bob) our Driver had no way of knowing which items were required to be assembled as we had nothing to show us which items were disassembled by carrier on original pickup. Surely you must be aware (being in the industry for 27 years) of all the implications that may arise if items are assembled that were not disassembled by the movers at pickup. We were not provided with any information or documents at the storage facility. In addition, AMS Transportation Services Incl did not perform any packing of this shipment and cannot be held responsible for the damage to packed items not packed by our Company. Added Valuation was not purchased or paid for and automatically releases the shipment to 60 cents per pound. this is a decision made between Shippers and Bookers long before AMS Transportation Services Inc. arrives to pickup any shipments.
As far as the claim deductible, AMS Transportation Services Inc. has had a claim deductible clearly marked on our Bill of Lading since the inception of our Company, and it applies to each and every shipment.
In consideration of all of the above, and a second review of the original complaint letter, remarks are directed towards TSM Kelowna which should be answered to this shipper by them. As a hauler, AMS Transportation Services Inc. can only service work orders as stipulated in documentation we are provided with from Bookers.
Moore-Morrans’ NOE: As a result of this correspondence, TSM paid us the $265.00 Claim that AMS refused to pay and has told us that they will never use AMS Transportation’s services as a carrier in the future.