Moving Wrap-up (I Hope): aka, The Move Part 4

[Part 1 & Part 2 chronicle the unbelievable nightmare of moving with Fidelity Moving Group. Part 3 has some advice and things I wished I had thought of before moving.]

We finally arrived, the day before what was supposed to be our delivery date, in San Francisco, exhausted, sun-burnt, stressed out, and at night. We knew that we should expect a strange, overstuffed couch sitting in our apartment, in addition to what we hoped was all of our own stuff. And there it was. I wish I had thought to have one of my friends take a picture of the apartment when it had all of our stuff, and all of the other customer’s stuff. It would have been insane.

We immediately noticed that there were big black scuffs on the freshly-painted white walls and plaster knocked off a corner in the hallway. We also noticed that a lot of our boxes looked like they had been tossed around violently. Many had corners and tops totally collapsed in, and were close to destroyed.

The next morning we set about documenting the damage. Photographing the walls, the door, the hallway corner. Photographing the damaged boxes. One box, a plastic filing cabinet, had 1/2 of its contents missing, which I later found dumped and crumpled (unfortunately, since some of it was artwork I was storing) in another plastic bin. One small painting had apparently been bent in half while still wrapped in bubble wrap, destroying both the frame and the handmade artwork (it had been a first wedding anniversary present I made for my husband). The back leg of our couch had been snapped off, and the upholstery torn off the bottom. And our large, antique mirror is still missing.

We haven’t finished unpacking, and we’re documenting as we go. But that seems to be most of it. I also heard from my cousin in Florida that they snapped one of the legs off of our heirloom great-grandmother’s mahogany dining room set.

I’ve texted the manager, and the driver, several times to try to track down our antique mirror. It doesn’t seem promising. We’re contacting furniture repair stores to see about fixing the leg on our sofa, but for now it’s totally useless. I’m not optimistic that I’ll get any money back for any of this damage. So I rescind the last thoughts of my part-3 post. Knowing now what I do, if I were to do it again, I would just suck it up and pay the double price for a pod. At least that way I’d have all my stuff, and not have destroyed the only piece of furniture we actually moved with us.

So, final thoughts: do not under any circumstances for any reason ever use Fidelity Moving Group. They are absolutely unprofessional, and your stuff will not be safe with them.

2 comments

  1. Jackie Britton

    On September 19, 2014, I made a serious mistake believing Maria Lewis’ sales pitch regarding Fidelity Moving Group and it will be a long time before I can recover from the financial nightmare this company created.

    When I initially spoke to Ms. Lewis on September 19, I was very clear that I had been researching moving companies for my move from Rainelle, West Virginia to Las Vegas, Nevada and I wanted a firm price because I did not want any “surprise” price increases because funds were limited and I knew from previous moves that all of our belongings fit into one 26’ truck and one 14’ truck. Ms. Lewis assured me that there would not be any surprises because the quote/inventory was based on volume versus weight and based on the information I provided her, I qualified for their VIP Package, which includes 30 days of free storage with delivery and set up at our new location. Ms. Lewis provided me with some moving dates and I selected September 26, 2014 and I was told that she needed a credit card number for a $150.00 deposit to reserve the truck, at which time she also assured me that I would be provided with a “ 53’ semi and six guys.” I gave her an estimate of my inventory and told her that the house was essentially packed and she noted that I made their job much easier by having everything already packed and the foreman would go over everything when he arrived. The initial “Moving Estimate” that she sent me was for $6,635.95, which stated that Fidelity Moving Group only required a $100 deposit to reserve the truck, the move date was listed as September 29, 2014 and the quote had no indication that this price was binding. I called Ms. Lewis back after I received this quote and told her that it was not acceptable to me because it was not a binding quote and I could not afford to take any chances with the price. I also informed her that there were some items I forgot to include in the inventory and the moving date was wrong. Ms. Lewis adjusted the quote to include the additional items and sent me a “Binding Moving Estimate” for $7,800 with the correct moving date. She assured me that this price was “high” because it included an additional 50 cubic feet of space so any difference in price would be a refund. She said they required half of the fee on the moving date and the other half, in cash, upon delivery. I signed and returned this quote and provided her with a credit card number. She said we would be “talking every day” until the move. Ms. Lewis called me later to tell me that the credit card number was invalid and it was determined that I transposed some numbers. The credit card company said that Fidelity never charged the deposit and I never heard from Ms. Lewis again until October 3, 2014, when I received an email requesting my updated contact information.

    On September 25, 2014, I attempted to contact Ms. Lewis to give her our final inventory. I spoke with Ms. Emily Sanchez at this time. I told her that I had not heard from Ms. Lewis since I signed the paperwork and I was calling to provide them with a final inventory, as previously instructed by Ms. Lewis. Ms. Sanchez told me that Ms. Lewis had been out sick. When I tried to provide her with our final inventory, Ms. Sanchez told me “don’t worry about it.”

    Early on the day of our move, I received a call from one of the movers. He told me that they had just entered West Virginia and asked for our address. When a team of three men arrived driving a 32’ truck, we panicked because I was promised a full size semi and I was concerned that Fidelity was breaching their contract. My mother asked them where the semi was that I was promised and she was told that it was parked at Sam Black, a distance of 21 to 27 miles away and travel time of 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the route, and we thought this was odd because one neighbor on our road owns and operates a trucking company from his home and our immediate neighbor drives a 37’ motor home up and down our road. We later learned that the movers had driven all night from New Jersey to West Virginia.

    I met the foreman and showed him everything that needed to be moved and he NEVER said anything to me regarding our inventory at this time. The movers got to work and we loaded our vehicles so we could leave as soon as they were finished since I had notified my landlord that we would be gone that day. We own a small eight foot flatbed trailer and our original plan was packing it with personal items and towing it behind the truck because I had never towed anything before and we loaded that, too. We provided the movers with all of the coffee and cold drinks that they wanted, gave them cigarettes when they asked and we supplied lunch meats for sandwiches for lunch. They finished loading the truck and I distinctly remembering my father commenting on how tightly packed the truck was before they left for Sam Black, where they were going to unload the small truck into the semi and come back for the rest, a trip that took them approximately three hours. It was late afternoon when they got back and everyone was tired. While they were loading the master bedroom, I was told that I had to unpack all of the dressers and a freezer that had small boxes in it, something that I was not told in advance but added more boxes to Fidelity’s inventory. They loaded the second truck with smaller items first and my eleven year old son was the first to comment on how badly packed this truck was compared to the first one. As it started to get dark, we were informed that they did not have lights on the truck and we turned on all of the exterior lights and provided them with flashlights to use. We ordered pizza for dinner for everyone. After they loaded the second truck and were getting ready to leave, I asked them if they would be back again that night or if they were going to wait until the next morning to get the last of our belongings. We asked them to specifically load one gun cabinet and were told that it would be an additional $85.00, with immediate payment due. At this time, the foreman, took out the “Binding Moving Estimate” and told me that the price had increased from $7,800 to $15,425 and if they came back for the rest of our items, the price would increase again! He also asked for half the total, $7,712.50 and a tip for his crew! Reviewing the paperwork, I noticed a line item of $384 for packing tape for a house that I had already packed!! I was stunned!! I was prepared to pay the original half of the total, $3,900.00, at this time and I told them that I could not pay anything more than this at this time and the foreman told me that they would charge my credit card for the $7,712.50. Had I been thinking clearly, I would have told them to unload all of our belongings and sent them on their way. While the foreman was working on his paperwork, I tried to take a picture of how poorly the second truck was packed but it was too dark. Because of the “bait and switch” tactic that Fidelity used, we had to change our plans. We could not leave that evening because we still had belongings on the property. We had a few blankets in the cars and we slept on the floor in a house we were scheduled to vacate that day. In the morning, we found some inventory stickers that the movers used on items that they inventoried but were obviously still in our house. I called Fidelity and told Emily what a nightmare our moved had turned into. She promised me that she would speak with the foreman and get back to me. I kept the telephone plugged in until we left at six that evening but, no surprise, she never called me back. We had to rent a U-Haul trailer, at an additional cost of $308.46, purchased two new tow balls, at another additional cost of $60.40, unpacked and repacked our trailer and then packed the U-Haul. We weren’t able to leave until 6:00 p.m. and we were so exhausted that we only drove 100 miles before stopping for the night. In addition to incurring the additional expenses for the tow balls and U-Haul, we got terrible gas mileage towing two trailers across the country. Even though Fidelity is supposed to store our belongings for 30 days, we had to rent a storage unit here in Las Vegas to store the items that were in the U-Haul and on the trailer, another unnecessary expense of $51.50 per month.

    I received an email from Ms. Lewis on October 3, 2014, requesting my new contact information. I responded back that I was still waiting for Ms. Sanchez to contact me and I provided my cell number and then I called her on October 7, 2014. I reached Ms. Sanchez, who stated that she was the one who actually sent the email, and I expressed my concerns that their “bait and switch” was fraud, told her about the additional expenses we incurred and requested a price reduction because the initial price of $7,800, which I was promised would not increase, was costing me an ADDITIONAL $8,045.36, not including additional hotel and gas expenses. Ms. Sanchez said that what happened was “my word against the foreman’s and they never had a complaint about him before.” She put me on hold while she claimed to speak to the owner. When she came back on the line, she reported that the best she could do was to reduce the bill to $15,000, a reduction of $425.00? She stated that we have to pay a minimum of $7,500 to release our belongings and she wanted an address for delivery, at which time I must pay the additional $7,500 balance in cash. I told her that since they promised me 30 days of storage, they would have to keep my belongings in storage until the end of this time because my family is now staying with friends while we try to come up with the money for housing because Fidelity committed fraud so we are now essentially homeless.

    Like

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