• Report: #282437

Complaint Review: Champions Movers

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  • Submitted: Thu, November 01, 2007
  • Updated: Sun, June 07, 2009

  • Reported By:Cupertino California
Champions Movers
47000 Warm Springs Blvd. Suite 260 Fremont, California U.S.A.

Champions Movers Lies, Excuses, Broken Furniture, Damaged Apartment, 1000% Cost Increase, Awful Awful AWFUL Fremont California

*Consumer Suggestion: AVOID SCAMMING COMPANIES - DO YOUR RESEARCH

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Documentation of Move:

To preface, from the time this move began to go horribly awry, I took tedious notes, documenting times and events. Here are my notes.

I scheduled a move with CHAMPION MOVERS of FREMONT, CA roughly one month prior to my move. After getting roughly ten quotes from local movers, their offer sounded like the best mix of services and cost. I checked on a few review sites to look for any scathing reviews, and amazingly, didnt come across any. At the time of sale I was promised a number of things by the sales representative, MICHAEL:

- Move in date of Saturday, Oct 13th

- Professional Moving Staff

- Free use of all moving materials, except for glass table top, which would cost extra to pack.

- A minimum quote of $207.00 for two movers (at $69/hour) for a minimum of three hours. I was given a rough estimate of between $400-500 dollars after move and extra packaging. The move was from a 1 bedroom apartment to a 2 bedroom apartment, 10-15 miles across town, from San Jose (CA) to Cupertino (CA).

- I told him a lot of my furniture was heavy and had lots of Marble; he assured me marble (and heavy) items would not incur any extra charges.

- Move would be completed same day (per their contracts agreement)

On October 12th, CHAMPION MOVERS called to give me my time window for the move the next day, Saturday. My window- keeping in mind I originally was promised noon- was now 2-6pm without any chance of something earlier. I scheduled the afternoon because I travel for business a lot, and would not have wanted to risk getting stranded somewhere due to bad weather, and missing a move the next day as a result in the morning.

The movers had not arrived by 5:30PM so I called the moving company (since they did not call me to give me an update) and got a dispatcher. I would find out later this dispatchers name was BEN GOLDMAN. Whether or not this is his real name, I doubt, but from here on the dispatcher will be referred to as BEN.

BEN informed me that the movers were running a bit late but would be there by 6:00PM, as they were just leaving for my residence now. No one showed or called at 6:40PM, so I called BEN back. I was told the drivers would arrive within moments. It was not until 7:20PM before I got a call. The movers were ready and needed my address, and were in Walnut Creek (CA) which is 45 minutes away. I gave them my address and called BEN back again to express my disappointment. I said that at this point, I felt a discount was justified. BEN continued to offer up excuses and apologies and ensured I would be getting professional movers and that he would contact the owner and would call me back within the hour. Seeing where this may be going, I took digital photographs of all of my furniture.

The drivers called at 8:10PM and said they were here. I guided them in so they could begin. It crossed my mind to cancel this ordeal entirely, however:

- My move-out date in the apartment was next Saturday, October 20th.

- I travel for work and would be gone Monday through Wednesday of next week.

- The movers said they wouldnt be available that Sunday, the 14th, and probably not during that week, either.

- I had no way of knowing if another moving company could facilitate a move on such short notice.

My decision to move forward, in retrospect, was the wrong decision, but when youre under the pressure of moving out and having a date where your lease ends at residence A, what other options do you have? We began the move, and the lead mover, NISSAN, walked me through the paperwork after he saw my stuff. Here is where the promises began to break down further:

- I was told that anything with marble or glass would require extra special packaging, and that this packing would cost extra.

- Since these were not the originally scheduled movers, this was a three man crew (not a two man crew) and that a two man crew would take us until 3AM and that I should pay $20.00/hour extra for the third man. Not having all that much choice in the matter, and for the sake of expediting this, I foolishly agreed.

- I would be charged- by cash or charge- in the middle of the move, before anything would be unloaded to my final destination.

I was discouraged, but I wanted to move, so I signed the document and we began. As the moving progressed I called BEN back to see if the owner had gotten back to him. He hadnt. The move continued 10PM 11PM 12AM. The movers (three of them, mind you) were not finished and ready to move until 1am! At that point, what choices do I have? Leave my possessions in a truck overnight with a company I already distrust? Or struggle through to get my possessions delivered?

The truck arrived at the final destination at 1:40AM. The first piece of furniture was brought up at 2:00AM. This apartment had no elevators- only stairs- and my new apartment was on the third floor, and my bedroom was on the second floor of our apartment. Obviously, the movers were aware of this and this is included free of charge.

Before we begin moving, as agreed at the start, its time to pay before they unload everything. Remembering that, per MICHAEL, my original written minimum quote was $207.00, and that the verbal quote maximum was between four and five hundred dollars, realistically. My new, official, price tag was here. My total for three movers during a nine hour move at $89/hour, plus the additional (roughly) $550 worth of packaging materials, my total was $1,359.00. Yes, even if you assume the highest number I was quoted, $500, a full $859.00 increase, and not to mention the bait-and-switch from two movers to three.

The pieces began moving into my apartment 1 by 1, at an average of 1-2 pieces every ten minutes. At 2:11AM they brought up my main bed frame. Its heavy, has two marble pillars, and its tall. They got it up the stairs into the apartment, but when bringing it up the 2nd floor stairs in the apartment; they scuffed the top wall, both side walls, and then put large dents in the right wall, and in the hallway wall at the top. I took digital photographs of the damage done to my apartment immediately once the movers had gone back down to the truck.

At 3:00AM, Cupertino Police Officers knocked on my door. They explained that they had received a complaint from a gentleman who lives near the stairs, two floors below me. I explained my situation to them- as I have done so here thus far- and they sympathized with my predicament, and agreed I really hadnt had much in the way of options. They went downstairs to talk to the gentleman and unfortunately he was adamant that the moving stop or citations be issued. The police asked the movers to bring up what was left, and then to return tomorrow at 9AM. I reiterated with the movers that they would be back tomorrow morning at 9AM to complete the job. They agreed each time. The moving ended that night at 3:41AM. I asked for details on how the truck would be stored and where. I was told the truck would be locked at 2295 RINGWOOD AVE in SAN JOSE (CA) and that the facility was indoors and had camera surveillance.

8:45AM comes and goes the next morning. I start by calling NISSAN, the lead mover from the night before, to ask him where he is and if he is close to arriving. He tells me he is at another job, and that another set of movers would be coming, but that the owner was on his way and should be there any minute. I called BEN and he said a different moving team would be coming sometime before 4PM, and that the owner was not on his way. No one could give me a solid time for when I would be getting my possessions back. BEN, again, said he would call me back. And didnt.

I called BEN back about 9:20AM and asked for the owners name and phone number. His name is GIOVANI RUSO but BEN would not give me his number. He said he would ask the owner to call me back. Either this owner does not exist or he just does not care. He told me this time that the movers were now the same movers who would come back, but that they were tired after having worked late last night and thats why they werent there yet. I explained that I had also stayed up until 4AM and that I was up at 8:30AM trying to resolve this issue, why couldnt the movers be? I forget his excuse. I asked him if he cared at all about customer service. He said not enough to wake his movers.

At 10:00AM I contacted the Cupertino Police. I spoke with DEPUTY LEUCK (Badge Number xxxx) and explained to him my ordeal up to this point. I asked if I could file theft charges against the movers for not returning my possessions. He said unfortunately, since this was a contracted move, it was a civil, and not criminal, matter. Nonetheless, DEPUTY LEUCK seemed to feel that the situation was awful enough, such that he offered to call BEN on my behalf and speak with him.

At 10:30AM DEPUTY LEUCK returned my phone call and said that BEN had told me the movers would be here to finish the job between 2-4PM officially, without question. DEPUTY LEUCK said that Ben gave him mostly the same answers I had already expressed to him but unfortunately got nothing better than a time frame. I asked DEPUTY LEUCK for the case number, which is event# 07-287-xxxxx, and informed him I was planning on filing civil charges when this was concluded.

At 10:40AM BEN returned my call (the first time he had ever done so) and told me that the movers would for sure be there earlier than 2-4PM, but that DEPUTY LEUCK had requested an official time, so to play it safe he said 2-4PM, but that I should not worry. At this point, I was tired of BENs double talk, excuses, lies, and manipulation. I humored him and said I appreciated his help, and that I merely wanted my possessions back, and that just so he could tell the owner, I had every intention of filing civil charges once this matter was concluded, if for no other reason than to get something in motion!

His response was the best yet. He said that no matter what he was dedicated to giving me the best customer service in his power, and that since we had a contract, he didnt care if I sued him or took him to court, and that he would still do everything he could to make me happy. My reaction was that this is a man who gets sued (and must somehow win) a lot! I told BEN, as sincerely-sounding as possible that I appreciated his help and looked forward to this concluding today. At this point, theres no point in antagonizing a man who apparently doesnt care about anything: police, civil charges, breach of contracts, customer service, business reputation, etc. Although, my signature is only on the papers I signed when the move began and I had NOT been given a copy of those papers yet. All I had been given was a receipt for my charge.

I called my father to update him and he wanted to talk to BEN himself. I dont know why he wanted to waste his time- and I had already- but he wanted to try. He called BEN and told him that if the truck didnt arrive by 2PM we would absolutely not accept delivery, and that they would have to instead deliver it during the week in the morning.

At 12.15PM I hadnt heard anything yet. I called BEN and he said he would call NISSAN to see when he would be over at my place and that he would call me back. In the meantime I decided to inspect what they had delivered. I inspected my bed headboard, which is a tall wooden frame with two thick marble pillars on the side. Upon inspection, the right pillar is cracked 100% through. The pillar is at least 3 inches in diameter. I contacted BEN with the news. He told me we were insured for that and everything would be taken care of when I called their claims department Monday. I told him that the included $.60/pound likely would not cover a replacement for beds headboard. He said he could also offer me two dinner passes to Benihannas restaurant because its in Cupertino close by and its really good. No, I am not making this up. Hes continued to patronize me throughout this ordeal.

I also told him that I reviewed our contract, and that they guarantee on-day service. My day was October 13th, and even before the police arrived, it was Sunday October 14th (4AM). Now it is 1PM on Sunday and still no one is officially scheduled to be here. I told him that the contract he was hiding behind had already been breached by their lack of delivery completion on Saturday, October 13th. He got more defensive and made more excuses.

I called BEN every five minutes from 1:00PM to 1:30PM. He didnt answer. Finally at 1:30PM I got a call from the move team saying they were ready and that they would be there in fifteen minutes. Thirty minutes later the crew arrived. They began unloading the truck and bringing it up to my apartment. The moving continued mostly without incident. I was so worried about how this would go that I called DEPUTY LEUCK back and asked him that if things got confrontational, if I could call him for assistance. He said that would be fine and he would be happy to come if the situation arose.

Eventually, the movers decided to disassemble my desk (without asking me if that was OK prior, as I was upstairs watching the apartment) before bringing it up. I inspected it after they reassembled it again and had placed it against the wall. I could see damage to the back of the desk that they apparently werent planning on telling me about. Essentially, instead of unscrewing the back part off properly, they ripped it off, and in the process destroyed the hinges that hold it to the top flat part of the desk, and stripped all the wood off the back that was next to the screws. After that, I asked them mostly to bring what was left upstairs. At this point I had all my possessions more or less in place, I was ready to end this nightmare.

We wrapped up with the paperwork. First, I presented the lead mover, NISSAN, with a sheet I had created which documented the damage to my apartment and possessions during their move. I asked NISSAN to initial by the list of the items, print his name, date and sign- he did. NISSAN asked me to sign the moving document that acknowledged I received my possessions. I did.

NISSAN had a document that stated (basically) I agreed that the move did not exceed $1700.00. Confused, I asked him where this figure came from. He said that upon seeing my apartment initially this was his estimate. I asked him if he was supposed to show this to me before the move began and he said no. I asked him why not since this seems important. He had no response. There were two places to sign on the document, and I am assuming one is for before the move begins, and one to verify once the move is completed. I told him there was no point in a document being signed after the fact that said we were under an arbitrary amount that I was never informed of. I told him I would not sign the form, and I did not.

Lastly, NISSAN had a survey type form that detailed the service and asked me to sign it. Things like I am satisfied with the service; my possessions were not damaged, etc. I amended this document by writing in the facts of the move, then initialed them, and signed it. I had the driver make me a copy of that sheet before they left.

After contacting various people and organizations I sent them this e-mail on October 17th:

Michael-

I have made a number of attempts to get in touch with a manager or owner at Champions Movers. During my weekend move, starting October 13th at 5.06pm, and ending at 1.28pm on October 14th, my phone records will show that I placed a total of 26 calls to 1-866-453-6055. In no fewer than half of these calls I asked to be contacted by a manager or owner. When asked for a direct number to contact an owner or manager, I was told I could not have their contact details. In 4 days, no owner or manager has contacted me.

Today I sent you a long e-mail describing the experience I had with Champions Movers. After discussing this manner with various parties, I have been instructed to inform you that an owner or manager of Champions Movers has until 12PM PST on Thursday, October 18th, 2007 to contact me regarding my complaints (via e-mail, for documentation purposes).

If I do not hear from your owner or manager, I can infer that your company is unwilling to discuss or address my experience, and I will take my actions in other directions.

In the meantime, I have begun to take action to insure that as few consumers are taken advantage of by your organization. I have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau of Alameda County (CCed), The Department of Transportation (CCed), The California Public Utilities Commission, The Federal Moving and Storage Association, and MovingScam.

I have posted a detailed blog regarding my experience with your company, and shared it in various online communities. I have contacted Consumerist (CCed), a website dedicated to consumer protection. I am locating fellow customers of yours with poor experiences, gathering their feedback and examining the possibility of a (very public) class action lawsuit. Lastly, I am preparing for the possibility of civil action against your company, if necessary. Ultimately, however, I would like to give your organization one last opportunity to make this right.

My request in this e-mail, as in the last, and in all my previous attempts, is to discuss why I am entitled to a full refund for my experience with your organization.

This will be my final attempt to get a response from an owner or manager at your organization.

Best Wishes,
xxxxxx xxxx


Recent Updates:

1. Champions Movers ignored all of my requests to speak with an owner or manager (including the above letter).

2. Champions Movers replied to my Better Business Bureau request, did not offer any compensation, and instead made excuses and said I should have been happy regarding their 'bait and switch. BBB report link below:
http://www.oakland.bbb.org/complaint/view/57106515/c/gxq3kz

Thomas
Cupertino, California
U.S.A.

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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 11/01/2007 06:03 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Champions-Movers/Fremont-California-94539/Champions-Movers-Lies-Excuses-Broken-Furniture-Damaged-Apartment-1000-Cost-Increase-282437. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Suggestion

AVOID SCAMMING COMPANIES - DO YOUR RESEARCH

AUTHOR: Anonymous - (U.S.A.)

There are MANY "scamming" moving companies ALL OVER the United States, especially here in the Bay Area. It's unfortunate that such companies exist and are able to disguise themselves as professionals fooling MANY consumers. Some moving companies even take a reputable known-name moving company, and will manipulate the name to something very similar but slightly different - so consumers will think they are going with the reputable company when they are actually using a knock-off scamming company.

These moving companies are able to SCREW innocent consumers through "loop holes" in the system.. and are able to get away with it the majority of the time LEGALLY even though it is straight up WRONG and IMMORAL leaving the consumer unable to do much and left being the victim of a scam. Sadly, the moving company will still continue to prosper by ripping off other non-informed consumers. In today's environment of price competition, the current scamming will continue (and get worse).

There is nothing like having the stress of moving in the first place only then to be fucked in the ass by your moving company. Not only did you pay 10x the amount you expected and were initally told but more than likely your belongings damaged and sometimes sentimental items completely ruined or lost forever.

If you are ever planning on using a moving company, it's crucial that you are WELL INFORMED and that you do your RESEARCH in advance.

Currently moving companies are overseen by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), part of the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT). At last count the FMCSA had only nine investigators to handle all of the thousands of complaints against moving companies each year. What does that mean for consumers? It means this:

* Most complaints against movers are overlooked and the consumer becomes a statistic while no action is ever taken against the moving company.

* When Congress dissolved the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) in 1995, they also removed the authority from the FMCSA to step in on a consumer's behalf if they are taken advantage of by a moving company. In other words, they don't have the authority to help you even if they want to.

* If an investigation does occur, it takes months if not years for the FMCSA to, yes, get this... Fine the moving company.

* The scam moving companies get away with not paying the fines and if they did, the consumers don't see a dime of their money back. The money from the moving company's fines go to pay for highway improvements!

There are in fact laws governing moving companies, but the moving industry is unique in having special privileges and protections that no other industry could even imagine enjoying.

Useful Websites & Tips:

http://www.movingscam.com/

http://www.protectyourmove.gov/

http://www1.move.com/Move/Moving/Promover/MovingScams.asp

Always check the BBB, if they are not a member, that's a red flag - http://www.bbb.org/

Make sure the company is fully licensed & insured (note: even if the company is fully licensed and insured - they can still be a scamming company), have them fax a copy of the certificate of liabilty insurance (which by law, they are required to provide). Get their license numbers then check the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for any complaints filed. http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/puc/transportation/movers.htm

Please note that these companies have answers ready for all questions pertaining to scams.. and it's sometimes very hard to distinguish between a reliable and a scamming company. They disguise themselves well, will tell you what you want to hear and will play the "good guy" role until they have you in a contractual bind and the money is in their hands.

One of my go to guides for ANY business: http://www.yelp.com
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