In 2001, I moved from Virginia to Florida. To save money, I--much to my regret--found Help-U-Move online, a company that arranges to move your belongings at a lower cost than professional movers because you, the customer, pack and unpack the truck. Help-U-Move contracts with ABF Freight Systems. As with all moving companies, there is a contract stating that the movers will only be responsible for something like .10 per pound if your belongings are ruined. Like most people, I figured this statement was in case of an accident, and I did not think it meant that it covered problems such as the movers ABUSING your belongings. This is the top of my once-beautiful antique secretary. The glass was completely busted out of this, although when the truck was packed, this piece of furniture was packed in blankets.
a This is an example of what was done to one portion of my $300 coffee table.
If you want more photos, I have them.
An ABF truck was delivered to my house, and I hired PROFESSIONAL MOVERS to pack the truck. Help-U-Move left me instructions on how to install a bulkhead, as my belongings would take up approximately 1/3 of the truck, and others' would be packed behind them. The professional movers installed the bulkhead.
When the ABF driver came to pick up the truck, I specifically had him open up the back of the truck and CHECK THE BULKHEAD. He did, saying it was secure. What would possibly do this to a metal file cabinet? This is a photo of the bottom of my beautiful antique secretary after the move.
When the truck arrived at my new home in Florida, the bulkhead installed by the professional movers did not appear as it was when installed. In fact, it had something different holding it up. When we took it down, I was beyond appalled. My belongings, which had been neatly packed and secured in Virginia, were literally PILED IN A MESSY HEAP.The ABF driver who delivered the truck told me that from the way my things appeared, "It looks like they rolled the truck these things were in. Is this the same truck?" It was, but there was no evidence on the outside that the trailer had rolled. (Someone else told me that ABF drivers are known to drive poorly, and that the company has been known to move people's belongings from one truck to another while en route.)
My belongings had obviously been THROWN in a heap after having clearly been tossed around the back of the truck. It was obvious that either the bulkhead, installed as instructed and o.k.ed by the driver, had come down and my things all flew around the back of the truck for half the trip, or the bulkhead had been taken down and the same thing happened. Because my bulkhead had 2x4's in place (nailed to the floor of the truck as well as to the bulkhead itself) holding it up and the 2x4's leaned away from the wood, I suspect that SOMEONE took down the 2x4's either to look at my belongings, move my belongings, or to create a tad more room when they put another load in the truck. It would have taken some WILD driving, I think, to make that bulkhead come down.
But adding insult to injury, it was obvious that once this problem was discovered by the ABF driver, he THREW my things back where they belonged. In all honesty, it appeared that a few drunks had tossed my things about the truck. This included an antique secretary (ruined), an antique shotgun (broken), a coffee table (chunks of wood missing), and a white couch, which had been WRAPPED and tied in heavy plastic, which now had BLACK FOOTPRINTS (OIL OR SOOT STAINS) ALL OVER IT. The entire back of the couch now wobbled back and forth, and the couch had to be thrown away. There was hardly one thing I owned--even a television packed in styrofoam in a box--that was not chipped, scraped, or broken.
Help-U-Move immediately tried to blame the people who loaded the truck. Then they told me that ABF Freight System was responsible. ABF sent an inspector from MTI Inspection Services out for insurance reasons. This man could not believe the damage to my belongings. He took photographs of everything that had been damaged. Strangely enough, when I asked ABF and MTI for copies of these photographs, they were not available.s
I completed a claim form, the man from MTI verified all of the damage, and ABF refused to pay me the (rather measly) $5,825 that I was asking. ABF tried to put it all off on Help-U-Move, all the while insisting that nothing was wrong with the trailer they delivered. They said they could not substantiate my statement about the bulkhead being different than the one put in place in Virginia. They told me that if I amended my claim to reflect a figure of .10 per pound of my items, they would REVIEW that claim. (Why, then, had they bothered to send the inspector out?) I never could figure out what severe "violence" in that truck could have torn this Pierre Cardin suitcase that had been used once.
Unfortunately, Help-U-Move insists on being paid by credit card prior to your move, so there was no way I could NOT pay them ($1175 + deposit) for ruining my belongings. My credit card company was unwilling to get involved in the dispute, as it did not involve ITEMS.
No attorney has been interested in taking this on, as I'm not asking for $100,000. Help-U-Move and ABF have a pretty good thing going here--both companies knowing that they don't have to take responsiblity for ruining people's things, all the while they both get paid for doing it!
Daytona Beach, Florida
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