Retiree Has Nightmarish Experience Moving from Large Home to Smaller Condo
TO THE EDITOR: We wanted to sell our house and move to a condo. We lived in Old Ottawa South and moved to The Glebe Annex, just west of Bronson Avenue. The first thing we did was attack the basement and throw out as much stuff as we could. Then we had a real estate agent come around. She looked at the house and said: “You’ve still got too much furniture!” So we moved some of it to the basement, we gave some of it away and we finally decided to put some of it in storage. To make it easy for the moving company, we purchased all kinds of boxes and packing materials, masking tape, mirror boxes, wardrobe boxes, china crates, and all the packing materials. We did all our own packing and then dismantled certain pieces of furniture out of fear of having things broken or damaged. We were all ready to go when the moving company arrived.
OTTAWA LIFE: How did you go about selecting a moving company?
We called the movers we’d used before but they had gone out of business. Another moving company was recommended to us on a pre-recorded message. So we called those people. Big mistake. We should've looked at multiple moving companies and compared pricing.
OTTAWA LIFE: Were you satisfied with the service you received?
Absolutely not! There was a crew of three people. I believe the man in charge was the driver. As far as I recall, they did arrive on time (At 9 a.m.). The crew came into the house and looked around and the driver said: “We haven’t seen anybody as prepared for a move as you are – ever! You’ve got everything packed and dismantled! You’re all ready to go!” So I suggested that perhaps the estimate they gave could be a bit less. No response. They started moving the heavy stuff out of the house for about 90 minutes, emptying half to three-quarters of the house. But then they took a break that lasted 45 minutes! Then they started to load the rest of the stuff. They filled the truck with the heavier items and then they took off for a three-hour lunch! We had a major scheduling crunch because we were moving into a condominium. The condo corporation has rules governing the elevator. We had the elevator from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. We didn’t want to get into trouble with the condo management, so we were fretting a little bit because the movers had disappeared with half the job done.
We were waiting for the crew at the condo by 1 p.m. At 2:30, we started to get worried. Where were they? My wife called the moving company. Understandably upset, she told the lady who answered what she thought of the company. My wife said she couldn’t understand how this could be happening – when the entire move could have been done in the morning and here we were at 2:30 in the afternoon pushing up against the elevator deadline.
The movers showed up at around 3 o’clock. The truck driver (Who was the manager) had heard about our call. “ I don’t know if it was you or your wife who called my company, but you really upset the people there.” And I said: “Well, we’re kind of upset too.” Here I had a truckload of stuff, a ticked-off mover and an upset wife.
And we had to stop at a storage locker to boot! I had to de-escalate the situation. I managed to calm people down. But I did want to know what they had been doing for 3 hours.
I questioned the driver on that. He said they took a one-hour lunch break. Clearly he had not looked at a watch.
We got out of there at around six o’clock. The moving truck then went to the storage locker, which was no problem at all. At this point, they were eager to get home. They didn’t do a very good job of stacking stuff in the storage locker. I was still angry about the way they spoke to my wife, so I didn’t tip them. Then I got my bill. They billed me from nine o’clock till 6:30! What a nightmare! There I am all alone with three guys at the back of a warehouse. Am I going to argue? I said, well at least you can take off the hour for lunch. They said okay. I paid quite a lot more than I expected and the general lack of professionalism of the whole crew really bothered me.
OTTAWA LIFE: Was anything damaged or lost during the move?
I won’t know until I examine the contents in the storage locker, which were stacked hastily. There were a few scratches and scrapes on the furniture.
OTTAWA LIFE: What lessons have you learned from this terrible experience?
What we would do in the future is have a written contract that says in detail what the movers will do and how much they will charge. I think you just have to know who you’re dealing with and not take a chance on a mover based on a single recommendation. Don’t get one reference… get several. Or, you go with a company that is a member of the Canadian Association of Movers, which I only now just found out about. All of my previous moves were done by large reputable firms like Allied Van Lines and Mayflower Canada Moving Services. But we were only moving a short distance (From Ottawa South to Carling Avenue) and thought we could get the job done more cheaply with these guys. We learned otherwise. It was a very unpleasant experience, a very stressful experience. It caused stress between me and my wife because I was forced into the role of mediator.
We could have saved ourselves some money by getting rid of our things before we put it in the storage locker. We should have just tried harder to think things through – basically downsize twice before a move. The best thing I can say about the whole ordeal is that it was a learning experience. If we ever move again, we’ll know what not to do.
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