This was a shakedown from the start. They saw an opportunity to exploit a senior citizen and took full advantage of it. If you do an internet search on this company (like I should have before I hired them), you'll find repeated complaints similar to mine. Please heed my warning and steer clear of American Van Lines East, Inc. at all costs!
I contracted American Van Lines East, Inc. out of Tampa, Florida to move all my household belongings to a storage unit 15 minutes from my house. A representative of the company came by my house and gave me an estimate of $315, which he said included the limited remaining wrapping required on my items. He said "it was easy in and out in a couple hours." I signed the estimate agreement and provided a deposit to confirm the move.
On the day of the move, two men arrived and told me the move would now cost me $700 because it will take 6 hours. They said I had to pay extra for bubble wrap and their time to wrap, which is counter to what the original estimator had indicated.
When I called the company's office to protest, they said it really will not take that long and that they just provide the worst case price. They said it would more likely be around $450. Since I was already set to move that day, I said OK and the men started loading the truck. One of the guys loading the truck later approached me and said the company felt bad for the confusion over the estimated pricing and that he was not going to charge me for the small amount of packing supplies and wrapping, which were to cost $150. He said just pay him $60 in cash and "we'd be good." I paid him $60 plus an additional $20 to thank him for the kind gesture.
Three hours later, the truck was on the road with my belongings. About 2 minutes away from the storage unit, the moving truck broke down (the alternator, they said). They told me they had to have the truck towed away for repairs with my contents inside and they'd return the next day to the storage unit to deliver my possessions. They assured me my stuff would stay on the truck untouched and secure.
When they pulled up to the storage unit the next day, they were in a different truck. They had transferred my belongings to this second truck. When they opened the back of the truck all of the contents were strewn throughout the truck as they had hastily thown all the items from the first to the second truck. I also quickly realized that many of my items, including, but not limited to, boxes, mattresses and furniture were wet and damaged because there was a hole in the roof of the truck and it had rained in. It already smelled of stagnant water and mildew. I was distraught and began to cry when I realized how much of my stuff was ruined.
The movers said they would transfer the contents of three of the wet boxes to dry boxes, but I'd have to pay for the dry boxes and the time it took them to transfer the items! Prior to unloading anything, they told me they would not cover any damages and handed me an invoice for $660. They said unless I agreed to pay the invoice and sign a waiver releasing them of all liability, they would not unload my possessions. I refused to sign anything because the way everything was thrown around the truck I had no way of determining exactly what was damaged. They immediately closed the back of the truck, locked it and drove off with all my stuff, threatening to "throw it all away" if I didn't pay my bill and sign the waiver. They also called me shortly after and threatened to call the police if I did not sign a document that said I had refused delivery of my belongings.
Over the course of the next five days I repeatedly tried to reason with the company and asked to speak to the owner. They wouldn't give me the owner's name and no one I spoke with would even provide their last names. I was told that my invoice was increasing for their "storage fees" for every day I refused to sign and pay their ransom, and that when I did eventually come to claim my items that I would have to bring my own truck and movers because they would not move mys stuff any further. They also told me I could only pay with cash or money order despite the fact that I had paid the deposit with a credit card and the contract clearly said credit cards were acceptable forms of payment.
Five days later, after I paid American Van Lines East, Inc. almost $1,000, they finally gave me access to by belongings. Many of my items were ruined with water damage, there were deep gouges in the wood furniture and many other items were cracked beyond repair. On top of that, I had to hire and pay a different and incremental moving company to remove my items from American Van Lines East's warehouse and transfer them to my storage space.