We are writing in the hope that you can advise and/or help us with a claim against a moving company, Air 1 Moving and Storage, that stored and transported our belongings from San Francisco to Dunedin, Florida last May 2006. Specifically, a new racing bike worth $6,000 was irreparably damaged while it was in the company's hands due to failure to wrap and protect it during storage and transit. The details are as follows:
On May 1, 2006, we contacted Air-1 Moving and Storage by phone after filling out an online form. We spoke with a representative, May Bell, who asked us to verbally list the items to be moved and to estimate the number of boxes we would need. At that time, we explained that to May that a few items would need to be packed with extra padding, handled carefully and protected during transit. These items were described at that time (two bikes and a mosaic table). She assured us that the movers would carefully wrap and protect these items the day of the move.
Before the moving date, no one from the moving company came to our home to see what we were moving and to take note of what needed to be packed carefully.
Moving day was the first time we met the movers. At this time, we were presented with the contract and the booklet explaining our rights and responsibilities. The person who presented the contract to us that day didn't speak English and could not answer our questions or understand our concerns.
Before signing the contract, we called May, who told us that we had to sign it or the men would leave without moving our belongings. We also mentioned again that we were concerned about the bikes being packed properly.
No one told us that we could or should take out insurance for high value items, as we learned later when we had the opportunity to read the booklet. At the moment we were presented with that booklet, we were also given the contract to sign, with an ultimatum: sign now or we leave and there is no guarantee that we will be able to move you anytime in the near future. The regulation requiring a moving company to give clients this booklet is meaningless under such circumstances.
We had no real choice we had to vacate our apartment on that day. We felt enormous pressure because they would not give us any time to review anything before signing not the booklet or the contract. They simply showed us where we had to sign and were impatient with our hesitancy, threatening to leave if we didn't get on with it. So, we signed, not knowing the true terms of the contract.
Once we signed, the movers began carrying our belongings to the truck, including our bikes without protection, in spite of our pleas to wrap them before leaving. When we saw the bikes on the truck with no protection, we complained again. The mover, in broken English, said 'Don't worry. We will wrap when we put in storage for you.'
We took photos of the moving day, including a photo that shows the bikes on the truck unwrapped and unprotected. We also have photos of the racing bike when it arrived in Florida two months later, showing that it was not wrapped or protected and was lying on its side on top of boxes, with heavy metal furniture on top, gouging into the bike. On top of the metal piece was a box containing all our heavy framed artwork. We were outraged to see how this bike had been treated after having been assured repeatedly that it would be handled with great care. The wrapping and protection was included in the price of the move.
Vadim, the driver who unloaded our belongings in Florida was astonished at how our section was packed. He said that the person who packed it would indeed be in trouble and that the company would pay for the damage. As assuring as he was, we once again ran into the problem of being forced to sign paperwork. Vadim told us that we could not get a claim form (to file a claim) until we signed acknowledging the delivery and paid cash for the balance due.
Before signing, we called the company explaining the damage. The reply was short and rude: no claim form will be sent until the paperwork is signed accepting delivery and the balance paid in cash.
Before we signed, we had the driver note all the damage on the paperwork while we took photos showing how the shipment arrived, with boxes crushed and falling and the bikes unprotected and damaged.
After signing the papers, we took both bikes to a repair shop where we learned that the racing bike could not be repaired. The frame was cracked and, according to the repairman, 'if I tried to ride the bike I could have been killed.' We filed a claim with for the estimated cost of replacing the bike not including the few parts they were able to salvage. The company's attorney responded with a $200 settlement offer. This damage was due to the company's negligent and careless handling of a bike they agreed to pack and ship with extra care.
We cannot afford to hire an attorney to undertake an lawsuit. Can you advise us regarding what steps we can take to recoup the value/amount it will cost to replace the racing bike?
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Report list of other Moving Companies Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on National Moving Network and other various transport companies ripping off the consumer