We hope everybody believes when we say that moving is never easy. But we understand that without personal experience trust is not 100%. But not all stories are positive, you know. Today we want to share a real moving story from beginning to end. We are welcoming Tim Herrman who is so kind to tell all the details of his Denver moving story. He was trying to find a reliable moving helper for his 89-year-old father and truly believed in the decency of people. Long story short let’s find out how it all ended.
– Hi, Tim! Thank you for having us. We would like to pay our reader’s attention to the fact that you have left the negative review at our moving reviewer site first. Your story is very disappointing as everybody who is paying wants to get the proper service. So let’s start from the very beginning, how was the decision made to hire movers and how did you choose these specialists? Did you ask your family and friends for recommendations, or did you search for them yourself? Have you read the review before hiring?
– Once I learned of my father’s desire to move from Canon City, CO to Ames, IA (Mar 2019), I offered to assist him. Given his age and lack of familiarity with the internet, at the right time, I took charge of looking for a reputable moving company to move his belongings. My research was conducted almost entirely on the web. After several days of research, I was able to isolate four companies (two national and two local) that not only had good reputations and presented themselves well, but that also received good customer recommendations. I contacted all four in order to get quotes that I could use for the decision. Three of the four applications were over the phone and one was virtual, entailing a video walk-through. All three quotes were within $750 of each other and ranged from $3,950 to $4,700 for Dad’s two-bedroom home. After I gathered the necessary information, I shared this information with my father and together we decided to go with Mile High Van Lines (MHVL). The MHVL “Senior Consultant” with whom I spoke was knowledgable and responsive to my questions regarding the cubic foot estimate, the delivery date, disassembly/assembly, and loading/unloading. The MHVL’s quote was reasonable; not the lowest, but it was lower than the $4,700. Furthermore, MHVL was local and that afforded us a certain flexibility regarding departure and delivery dates.
Moving Me Remark: When choosing a reliable moving company pay special attention to reviews that are left in Google at such sources as Yelp, Google Maps, Moving-me reviewer and others. Examine carefully and try to avoid the same mistakes former customers faced. We understand that price matters and the lower the price for the same move the more tempting the unreliable mover. But believe our years of experience you can pay twice or even three times more you were planning to. Read also HOW TO AVOID HIDDEN COSTS OF MOVING.
– Could you please tell us more about your items: huge furniture, valuable belongings, pieces of art or antique to pack and move. Please note if you have specified what you have and how you would like to transport it.
– As I said, my father is up in years and, since the death of my mother, has been downsizing. He owned a two-bedroom home but, once he decided that he was moving into a one-bedroom apartment, he been reducing the number of things he had even further. The number of large items was few: a kitchen table and chairs, couch, easy chair, a couple of end tables, TV and stereo, various pictures and a couple of floor-standing pieces of art, and a computer, hutch and desk from his study. As I implied above, only so much would fit into a one-bedroom apartment. Also, no moving company representative gave the slightest indication that anything he wanted moved would pose any kind of a problem; there were no pianos, large appliances, collections of artifacts, lawn and garden equipment, or vehicles. The remaining stuff entailed clothes and linens, kitchen items (pots, pans, bowls, small appliances and tableware), a couple of lamps, books and a couple bookcases, and a few tools.
Moving Me Remark: A moving inventory is a document that lists all of the notable valuables in your home, their condition, and their estimated value. We know this sounds tedious, but it can save you in the long run when you move, unpack, or sign up for homeowners or renters insurance.
– Tell us about the preparations for the move. How long before the moving date did you decide to pick up professionals and what actions were performed by them during this period before the day of moving?
– When my father turned 89, he decided that it would be good to move into something that would be a bit more manageable and he wanted to do this before he turned 90. So, we began talking about this move about a year before he actually moved. During that year, before even looking into a mover, I helped him get rid of things. For example, he had never used Craigslist, but I was able to place an ad for his riding lawn mower on Craigslist and sell it within a few hours. He was impressed. We also used that year to query and distribute certain special items to family members and charities. It wasn’t until the summer of 2019 that I began to look for a mover. I used June and July for the investigation and the final decision was made by early to mid-August.
Moving Me Remark: There are some hot periods during the year for movers and booking the date in advance can save your money and effort.
– Were you asked to pay some cash in advance and when did you finally pay for the whole moving?
– The move was scheduled to take place in early September. Once the decision was made, I paid the initial deposit. Of the remaining two thirds, one third would be paid at the time of pick-up and another third at the time of delivery. After making the deposit we did not hear from the moving company until the day before the move. An update might have been nice, but there was no pressing need for it. However, we would have liked a bit more of a notice than just the day before, not even a 24-hour notice.
Moving Me Remark: The cheapest moving period of the year is from late September to April. Rates and demand are much lower. Try to plan a mid-month and mid-week time frame. It is obvious that summertime, holidays and weekends are the busiest and the most expensive options.
– Yes, very strange. May I ask you to tell more about the moving day itself? I mean the arrival time of the movers, their appearance and precautionary measures. How quickly they handled it.
– On the day of the move, the movers arrived with an unmarked truck (from what I remember) that looked like one of U-Haul’s larger trucks. We were expecting there to be three movers, but there were only two movers. They were clean and professionally dressed. But they were both Russian and only one could speak English with any fluency. Regardless, dad’s stuff would fit easily into the truck. Everything looked to be in order and we were ready to start.
– What problems did you face at this stage of the moving process?
– What surprised us, however, is that before making an assessment of the items to be moved, the lead mover (the one who spoke English) expressed surprise at having to pack dad’s things (even though packing was in the Binding Moving Estimate) and he insisted that the estimate was too low. He claimed that he had moved many people before and what dad had was more than they were told. So, he would either return to the warehouse without dad’s stuff or he would need to rewrite the moving estimate. I did not think of it at the time, but there is language in the Binding Moving Estimate that protects both parties of the contract in just such cases of under/over estimates. We were both upset because, as I said, we had interviewed four companies and all four arrived at about the same cubic feet. In fact, the virtual estimate was even lower than MHVL. Furthermore, dad’s home was already sold, so we were out of time and had to use them. However, before making a decision, I called the “Senior Consultant” to tell him about this rewrite since he was the one who estimated the size of dad’s stuff. For the first time, he seemed perplexed by it all and only recommended that I go ahead with the new moving estimate. After that, I contacted the MHVL’s Customer Manager about this matter. She too had little advice to offer except she said that she would measure the load when it arrived in the warehouse and give us a credit if the load estimate was high (which follows stated policy). Reluctantly, dad signed the new Binding Moving Estimate. We learned later that this estimate was 180 cu. ft. and $1,089 more than the original (702 cu. ft. and $3,955).
Moving Me Remark: A non-binding estimate is what your mover believes the cost of your move without guaranteeing a price. Your actual move cost will be determined by the actual services provided, not necessarily what the estimate says. A binding estimate means that whatever the estimate says, you pay. We also propose you to read the article about Weight & Cubic Feet Moving Estimation.
– Tell us about how the move was performed, whether all your things were safe or damaged? If not, has a solution been suggested? Share your feelings at this moment.
– Despite the rewrite and the language difficulties, the movers spent the next nine hours or so wrapping up and loading dad’s stuff onto the truck. They seemed very efficient, professional, and careful. Later, however, we discovered several items that were damaged and lost.
Moving Me Remark: Clients are available to choose an option to protect their household. That means the moving company takes responsibility for your valuable belongings in case of damage or loss. Under Federal law, interstate movers must offer two different liability options: Full Value Protection and Released Value. Moreover, the client may also obtain separate liability insurance from the third party, which are regulated by state law.
– Did you agree on the terms of the refund immediately after the service was performed? Were you answered politely? Was there any reaction to your complaint?
– After this experience and because dad left for Ames, IA soon after the truck was loaded, I paid careful attention to the whereabouts of dad’s stuff. I wanted to know the official measurement and when his stuff would be delivered. However, I had a difficult time getting through to MHVL headquarters. I had difficulty getting through to someone on the phone and no one would reply to my messages. After a couple of weeks, I finally learned that my dad’s stuff was on its way to Ames and that they didn’t have time to measure his items in the warehouse. She told me, however, that they had measurement marks on the inside of the truck and a measurement could be taken at the point of delivery.
Since my brother lives in Ames, I arranged with him to take a measurement of dad’s stuff as soon as it arrived. He did this and we learned that the rewritten BME was high and that the original BME was almost spot on. I encouraged dad to pay the remainder of the contracted amount (since that was necessary before his goods would be unloaded) and before the week was out, I informed MHVL of the overcharge and requested a refund by phone and by email. The following week, the Customer Manager contacted me to say that she would give my request to the “Owner.” A week after that, I received another call from MHVL to inform me that my request had been forwarded to the “Operations Manager.” After not hearing from them again for ten days, I wrote to say that I would take legal action against MHVL.
Moving Me Remark: Read also YOUR RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES WHEN YOU MOVE
– And what about the trial and court decision. Give the company you used a rating in a few sentences. Do you think that this is a deliberate deception of customers?
– By the end of the month, I had filed a complaint with several organizations connected to the moving carrier business (BBB, the Federal Moving Carrier Safety Assoc., the American Moving and Storage Assoc., Consumer Affairs, etc.) and I submitted a claim to Denver County Court Small Claims for the amount that we were overcharged.
A hearing with Small Claims was scheduled for Jan. 21, 2020. The lawyer for the defendant did not file soon enough to legally represent the defendant, but he showed up anyway. The magistrate heard both sides of the case, but then postponed it so that the defense would have time for adequate representation. Before departing, the magistrate recommended arbitration and the lawyer for the defense made a motion in that direction, but it did not seem consonant to me to settle for the pittance the defense wished to give.
A second court date was scheduled for March, but COVID-19 hit and this second date was postponed until April and was again rescheduled for September.
At the September hearing, the magistrate (a different one from the original) again heard both sides of the story and then judged that MHVL was guilty of overcharging us and ordered that MHVL pay the Plaintiffs the overcharge plus court fees and travel expenses. Since this judgment, the defendant, Vadim Ivankov, owner of MHVL, has ignored letters requesting payment of the judgment and ignored Motion and Order for Interrogatories issued by the DCC. Ivankov’s (new) lawyers, however, did contact me to see if I was interested in settling for half of the original overcharge. Some, I’m sure would say, “A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.” But, my father and I are more interested in justice. So, I said that we were not interested in less than the pittance originally offered, and I have not heard anything more from MHVL.
– Now, after all these hardships can you share tips with our readers on how to avoid a negative experience and what to pay attention to first when agreeing on the terms of moving. Do you think that it is possible and worth saving on moving when moving or nerves is more important?
– I wish that I had advice for your readers on how to avoid this kind of person. But, as you can tell from the above description, these scam artists are good; people can get scammed even when they do their due diligence investigating business organizations like MHVL. These businesses, of course, don’t have to be that bright, but they do have to know their business and the people at MHVL clearly do know that. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that they know the legalities surrounding their business as well.
For my part, I would not want to say, “Avoid local companies,” because I’m sure there are good local companies. Nor would I say, “Avoid Russians.” I have nothing against Russians even now and I did not know that this move had any connection to Russians before the movers came to my dad’s home. Even then, as I said, the movers were clean and worked hard.
Again, we carefully examined various companies, compared quotes, and discussed advantages and disadvantages. We did not rush into this decision and we did not decide based on any one factor like cost. So, I would not know what to recommend beyond those things that we did, except to say that if it were to happen again, I would take even more time looking into the background of these companies, and I would make even more of an effort to follow up on some of the complaints that I see from other customers. Some of these complaints are circumstantial, but others can betray real weaknesses in moving companies, like using third-party movers that are not directly employed by the moving company or like looking into a company’s ownership and management through BBB or a similar organization. Speaking of BBB, I looked up MHVL on BBB before making the decision to go with them and they had a B+ rating. I looked again when I filed a complaint against MHVL and MHVL’s rating had mysteriously dropped to a D-. Go figure. Perhaps, it just comes down to timing.
Moving Me Remark: Hiring a Professional mover will take some of your precious time but it definitely worth it. There is nothing more important than your nerves. We also have 10 WARNING SIGNS THAT YOUR MOVER IS FAKE to help you when choosing a mover.
– Tim, thank you very much for being clear and fair with us and our readers. We hope it will all end in your favor!
P.S. What was our surprise within seconds after our interview Tim received an envelope by special delivery containing a check from Mr. Vadim Ivankov, owner of Mile High Van Lines, for the full amount of the Small Claims judgment. He will be submitting a “Satisfaction of Judgment” to the Denver County Court tomorrow just as soon as he verifies his personal check. This appears to be a “happy ending” to a rather long ordeal. In fact, we would also like to recommend one important thing to others in this situation. Customers should carefully read the contractual material which in this case is the Binding Moving Estimate. As Tim said earlier, the BME contained language that would likely have confounded the efforts of the movers and forced the MHVL management to support the original BME.
There is nothing more valuable than your time. Do not underestimate the power of moving company reviews and a free moving quote. If you think that spending 2 more hours on research, examining movers reviews and surfing the site reviewers like Moving-Me is a useless waste of time, we propose you to recollect this interview one more time. You better learn from the mistakes of others. As you can see, trials can take years and there is no certainty you receive your money back not to mention your nerve cells. We are honored to propose a full catalog of moving companies with updated ratings where you can find a reliable mover perfect for your relocating needs. Only honest customer reviews on all presented companies will surely help you with your decision-making process. We are doing our best to prevent our customers from disappointment by providing everything from useful articles in our blog to online consultations. We hope this interview will save you from moving disaster as moving is also a great opportunity to start a new life so let it be a pleasant journey. If you have your own experience with movers and want to share, leave your comment and we will post it as a ‘useful review’ and will take it into account when compiling our rating.
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