|In October 2009, I searched for a moving company for a long-distance move & found Sunstate Movers & Storage. I spoke with Neal, who gave me some information. I also received weight-based in-home estimates from other companies. Even though every article I read suggested to choose companies that did weight-based in-home estimates, Neal convinced me SunState would be able to make an accurate estimate of the square footage based on the inventories & weight estimates of the other companies. He also gave me the impression that SunState employs all the people involved in the move & that it doesn't use contractors, another thing the articles warned about. |
The estimates I received from the other companies listed estimates of 6600, 7000 & 7700 lbs. Based on the inventory I gave him from one of the companies, Neal proposed an estimate based on 6600 lbs. I asked him to base it on 7000 lbs, just to be safe. He felt that it was an overestimate, but agreed, & on 11/24/09, gave a quote of $2931.77, to include packing, job # W437696 (the date on the estimate says 11/1/09, but that was the date of the original estimate. It said very specifically that this was a binding estimate. The other companies' estimates were from $4100 to $4800, which included no-deductible insurance. I told Neal that we needed to receive our belongings by 12/18/09. I also told him that the other companies recommended packing dates of 12/8 or 12/9 in order to meet that deadline. He told me that if it was packed on 12/11 he could have it there on time. Based on the price he quoted & the packing date (I was scheduled to be off work on the 11th), I chose Sunstate.
He mentioned, only after I paid the deposit that SunState didn't have its own insurance company. He also did not mention that the company you use, MovingInsurance.com, doesn't have a no-deductible policy. I found that out after giving him the deposit. That added $600 to the estimate, & provided less coverage than I would have received otherwise. This was a considerable hidden charge, which would have changed the difference in price between the companies from $1200 to $600. When I sent an email to Neal about the smaller difference in price, he replied that the other companies had a lot of hidden charges that would have made their final cost higher.
The day of the move, December 11th, an unmarked truck arrived. Companies I have used before that employed all their packers & movers, brought their own trucks. Then it became evident that one of the packers didn't speak English, which further convinced me that these were not regular employees of SunState. Then the foreman, who must have actually been employed by you but didn't put his name on any of the paperwork, said that I would have to pay a lot more, because the estimate had been way too low. My final cost was $3659, $700 more than the binding estimate, which in combination with the hidden insurance charge, put made final cost $4259, which was $100 more than one of the weight-based companies. The foreman didn't know he was supposed to disassemble my furniture, and when I told him that Neal had said the movers would do that he told me it wasn't included, but that he would do it as a favor.
The packers then forgot to pack a linen closet, which I was fortunate enough to discover before they left. The last thing they packed was the garage, & before they left I went over everything I wanted them to pack in the garage. I also asked them to leave a specific table in the garage. When they left I discovered that they had not packed anything that was on the table. Later I discovered they hadn't packed anything in my pantry, including many non-perishable items & even some dishes & table leaves.
At that point my wife & I felt we had been mislead & deceived about several details of the move, & we were disturbed that some of the packers were evidently not professional movers. We still hoped that the rest of the move would go better. However on December 17th, since SunState hadn't called us, I called the dispatcher. They told me the truck wouldn't arrive until the 21st, & that it hadn't left FL until the 14th. We became more upset, because the other companies had been honest enough to admit that they might be delayed & so wanted to pack & move us several days earlier. There was some bad weather that week, but it didn't start until the 15th, so the driver likely would have missed it if he had left on the 11th or 12th. On the 20th, I called to check on the delivery, & was told that it would now be a day later. This continued until December 23rd, at which time I was told they would arrive the next morning, on Christmas Eve, a full week later than I was told it would arrive. I realize that the contract says it could take 5-21 days to arrive, but Neal led me to believe that 7 days would be enough time.
It wasn't until that point I was told that the remainder of the cost would have to be paid in cash. I told him that I wouldn't have my wife at home carrying more than $1000 in cash while several men in an unmarked truck came to the house & asked why I hadn't been told of this earlier. I later found the information in the small print on the back of the contract. He then admitted that he could take a post office money order, but urged me not to do it. I became convinced it was so he could use the cash to pay the day laborers he brought to unload the truck. However it was already after 5pm & all the post offices were closed. I called the dispatcher to verify that we had to pay with cash or postal money order. She said that we could also pay by credit card over the phone to the office, but of course the office had already closed, too.
I still had reservations about my wife holding a postal money order for that much while alone, so I asked my parents to be with her that morning. I started calling the office at 8am EST, but of course it was closed because it was Christmas Eve. So my wife was waiting for the post office open so she could get the money order when the truck arrived. Our things were now packed on a Budget rental truck, so they had obviously been moved from one truck to another. We had not been told that our belongings would be moved twice, which increased the risk of damage. Since they arrived right at 8am, my wife & my father had to go get the post office money order after they arrived. My mother remained at the house & my wife & father expected that a lot of the work would be completed when they returned.
What they discovered when they returned was that neither the foreman or his day laborers had done any work while they were gone, refusing to do anything until they had the money order in h&, even though they knew my wife was on the way to get the money order & that she couldn't have gotten it any earlier because they hadn't told us that we could only pay by cash or money order until it was too late to get one. After she arrived, she discovered one more thing. The packers in FL had only labeled 14 of the almost 50 boxes! They had no idea what was in them, & just placed them in rooms based on what was on the top when they opened them. Finally, they refused to reassemble the furniture. On top of all that, they charged her a fee to carry things up the front stairs, even though I told the foreman in FL that was how our home is set up. She was charged a total of $1720, even though the balance due after I paid in FL was $1567.75.
Overall I felt that the service we received was inexcusable. Even though I gave Neal an inventory from an in-home estimate done by another company, he still underestimated the moving costs by $900, even though at the bottom of the final estimate it lists an inventory of 8000 lbs, which equates to over 1142 cubic feet, only 100 cubic feet less than the final total. We were given the impression that you had your own professional packers & movers & that you had your own trucks, neither of which was true. We had a hidden charge of $600 for insurance & the deductible was almost exactly the amount of our damages. Neal told me that our things could be delivered in 7 days, & didn't mention that the contract allows up to 22 days. The packers left so many things in my house that I had to buy a cartop carrier to move them myself. We weren't told that the driver wanted cash until the last minute, & he never even told me there was a credit card option & reluctantly told me there was a money order option. The unloaders refused to do any work until my wife returned with the money order. Less than a third of the boxes were labeled. The movers resisted disassembling our furniture & refused to reassemble it even though Neal had said that they would.
I am aware that some of these issues are addressed in the fine print on the back of the contract, but they were not made clear to me at the times that I discussed them with Neal or the foreman.