On January 28, I booked AVL Atlanta for shipping household goods to Melbourne, Australia. The salesperson, Taj Syed, provided me a quote of $3581.25 including packing, shipping, labour, and documentation of 531 cu. ft for shipment to Melbourne, Australia . I sought assurance from Mr. Syed for three things
i. That the price of shipping and packaging will not go up after we have booked their service
ii. That the items will be delivered within a given timeframe with the understanding that some delay is expected.
iii. That the items will be packaged in a manner to have minimum chance of damage to goods
Mr. Syed, through email and many phone conversations, assured that the price quoted for the items list provided is final, that we should expect to receive goods with 30-45 days from the day of goods picked from our house and that the items will be packaged and shipped professionally but to be on the safe side, we should buy insurance which we did.
As scheduled, two gentlemen with a moving truck showed up on Feb 9, 2005. After packing goods, they gave me a modified total for packing and shipping of $4393.15!
When I inquired about the increase, the lead person, Jose, took me to the moving truck and explained in detail how the total space occupied is calculated. This essentially invalidated our earlier estimates that were reviewed and agreed by Mr. Syed. It is worth noting that at no point during the process of selling their services, Mr. Syed informed me that the final space determination will be on-site.
To my objection of almost three times the earlier charges for packaging, Jose told me bluntly that estimates given by salespeople do not mean anything! Upon my continued objection, he however called his supervisor in Atlanta late in the night and miraculously, the total cost dropped by 30%!
On Feb 13, I received a phone call from Alon, the person responsible for overseas shipping, that the total space occupied is now 45 Cu. ft more than what was calculated by their own personnel! Upon my inquiry of how could that be possible after Jose walking me through the moving truck and explaining in detail how the space is calculated, his simple response was Jose made a mistake! Alon offered me three choices
i. I could fly to Atlanta from Dallas to check myself the total space occupied!
ii. I could let them know of any other company that will ship my goods, and they will send my items to them after deducting their!
iii. I could pay up the difference and let them handle the goods.
This essentially was holding my goods as hostage. I felt trapped and because of my flight to Melbourne, Australia in two days, I was not in a position to take any action other than to accept AVL's terms. The final agreement was that AVL will give a discount of about $50 and Alon will send me the amended documents certifying the total new space. I needed this certification to later verify his claim of increased space. To this date, the document has not been provided.
I moved to Melbourne, Australia and by the end March 2005, when I did not hear anything about the arrival of goods, I started calling AVL Atlanta. For more than a month, various people including Mr. Syed kept giving me different explanations for why the goods have not arrived yet. Mostly, however, it was a standard response of The person responsible for overseas shipping will get back to you. Of course no one ever called back.
After one month of constant pleading, the warehouse in-charge Alon re-surfaced with the explanation that he was out of country for personal reasons. He claimed that in his absence nothing related to overseas shipping gets done! It took him further few weeks to book the space on a liner and he finally gave an Estimated Time of Arrival of May 25. By May 25, I started calling the local shipping agent Tranglobal Shipping, responsible for delivering our goods. They had absolutely no idea and after phone calls almost everyday, they informed us that the goods will now arrive by the end of June. The goods finally arrived, broken and misplaced, on July 9, 2005 exactly 6 months after picking from our house in Plano, TX!!
AVL's misleading, dishonest business practices has cost atleast an additional $2600 for overcharging of services, broken goods and us buying essential household goods.