Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I Got Scammed

I have now officially moved to Small Town, Tennessee. Of course, everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. The stress of this move has turned even more of my hair white, to the point that I fear I'm going to end up looking like an older, female version of Albert Einstein.

Since I had less than a month to move to Small Town, I had to hire a moving company in a hurry. I called almost every interstate moving company in Chicago. Several of them refused to do my move, since they said it was too small. Others said they weren't willing to do an interstate move to a small town. A few were willing to do it, for the paltry sum of $2,300-$4,000.

The cheapest one I could find turned out to be the Worst. Movers. Ever. Later, when I Googled "moving scams," I read about red flags that people should watch out for. Of course, this company had all the red flags.

For one, the sales rep claimed that they could give me a low price because they didn't do an estimate in person. Even though I gave him an itemized inventory, the movers ended up charging me hundreds of dollars more on moving day, because they claimed that my belongings took up more space than expected in their truck.

The sales rep also claimed that it would only take one or two weeks for them to deliver my things. Later, I found out that it could take up to three weeks. Fortunately, the delivery driver called me a week after I moved to Small Town, telling me that he would come by the next morning.

He didn't. He didn't come by the day after that, either. Neither he nor the dispatcher returned my calls (I called them thirty times EACH and left more than a dozen messages). I finally did reach the dispatcher at one point, who yelled at me and said that he didn't know where the driver was. The driver only returned my call after I threatened to call the police and file charges against him for theft.

I started to worry that I would never get my belongings back. Most of them weren't expensive, like my fifteen-year-old TV that still had a VCR. But I couldn't help worrying about the items that had sentimental value, like the small stuffed animal I've kept since I was fourteen, because it was the first gift I ever received from a boy I liked. There were also my high school yearbooks, which had signatures from my friends and classmates. I also fretted about the loss of all my books, especially the ones that were autographed by authors like Anne Lamott, Amy Tan, Studs Terkel, B.J. Novak, and Jen Lancaster.

Most of all, I FREAKED OUT about the possibility of losing more than twenty-five years' worth of journals, everything from the ones that had entries written in crayon to the more recent ones that included handwritten copies of my manuscripts (some of which I hadn't copied into my computer yet). Losing my writing was as frightening to me as a musician losing his or her instruments and songs or the Kardashians losing their audience (or their mirrors).

When the movers finally arrived several days late, some of my belongings were missing. A chunk of my table had been broken off. My drying rack for my laundry was broken as well, and so was one of my bookcases. The other bookcase had been taken apart, and the movers refused to put it back together (even though they were supposed to, according to my contract). All of my boxes were wet and damaged. The movers left fairly quickly, maybe because I kept waving a screwdriver around and shrieking about the cops.

I tried to call the company, but they either told me to file a claim online (though I doubt I'll ever get any money back) or hung up on me repeatedly (which they had done before). I plan to file a claim, as well as a federal complaint with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. I will also post negative reviews of the company all over the Internet, including the Better Business Bureau (which gave this company an F-rating). I've learned my lesson, and the next time I move, I'll do my research. 

But at least I have my writing back. That's something.

What about you? If you faced the prospect of losing all of your belongings, what would you miss most?


  1. Oh no. I really thought you'd used up all your bad luck this year! I hope you do get something back from the company - but so glad your manuscripts and journals are safe. You're so right - it's the stuff that's worth less to other people that means the world to you! (And yes, I meant 'worth less' not 'worthless' :-))

    My writing and my copy of Pride and Prejudice I was given when I left a job (and signed by all my colleagues) are what I'd miss most. In fact, I'd be inconsolable.

    1. Hi Annalisa,
      I think that bad luck follows me around, and I can't get rid of it. I doubt I'll get anything back from the company; their website suspiciously disappeared this past week, and I think they're screening my calls, just like the dispatcher and the driver did (those jerks didn't even answer until my father called them from a different phone).
      I love Pride and Prejudice; I have a copy of that too! I was worried that those movers would take my stuff and try to sell it, but I doubt that anyone would want my old journals.

  2. I'm so sorry! That was a really crappy thing for this company to do. I hope your claim against this company is successful, so you can get some money back. But, you are in a new place, starting over. May there only be great experiences and opportunities in your future:)

    If I had to lose my writing, I would be devastated. Wishing you well and sending you plenty of virtual hugs.

    1. Hi Murees,
      I doubt the claim will be successful, especially because they've been so unprofessional throughout this whole process. But thank you for your positive wishes; I appreciate it! I've been so busy these past few weeks it's been impossible to relax. But I hope that things will get better from now on.

  3. Oh the stories you'll have to tell based off this experience... I'm so sorry it's been such a nightmare, but at least it's over now, right? Here's to better and brighter days.

    My computers are where my writing is at, but I periodically email everything to myself so that even if all my electronics blew up, I'd still have my files. Not everything, but the most important parts.

    1. Hi Crystal,
      I do e-mail my files for school; I should do that for my fiction writing too. I've always had this fear that I'll accidentally e-mail my stories to all my students and everyone in my department; that'd be like reading my journal out loud in front of the class. Someday I'll be ready to let other people read them, though.

  4. What the hell did they do with that truck? Wouldn't it have been just as easy to bring you the stuff on time than screw around like that?? Good for you following through with filing complaints and posting reviews.

    Sorry it was such a nightmare. Now that you have your stuff, I hope it means you can settle in and move on to better things. Come on, Small Town -- give our girl a break!.

    1. Hi Nicki,
      My apologies for my late response; my computer was at the repair shop and I wasn't able to respond until now. Anyway, I don't know what was going on with that moving company; you'd think that at the very least they would have called to say they were going to be late or they couldn't show up. If they had, that would have kept me from wasting an entire weekend waiting for them.
      I have most of my stuff now, though they lost several of my things, including one of my favorite pieces of furniture that took months to save up for, sigh...But at least I never have to deal with them again.

  5. I'm so sorry you had to have such a harrowing experience on top of the stress of moving so far. I hope you have a much easier task of settling into your new life in the new town and job.

    1. Hi Misha,
      Thanks! I hope that things get easier too, because ever since I decided to move to Tennessee, one bad thing after another has happened. I just want things to get better and easier, because so many bad things in a short period of time has been too much for me.