Ok, like so many others who have reported their stories here, we were naive movers who got scammed by slick movers. But, they didn't count on fiesty Mama here with lots of time to research and fight back. As of right now, we have our stuff, we paid only a little more than the original estimate, AY is begging us for more money, and National Moving Network cannot claim they have no liabilty for the actions of the carriers. How did we do this? Read on...
We contracted through National Moving Network to go from Portland, OR, to Alexandra, VA. I received a low rate offer from National via email after an internet request to another company. I spoke with David Lamondin in the deposits department. I described all of our belongings, which was very little furniture, but many boxes of books and CDs. I had no idea what such a load would weigh. We have never used a mover before, and we were both nave about the moving industry.
David Lamondin listened to my description, and said No problem, that sounds like less than 2000 pounds. My quote is $1300. I shopped around a little more, and the next best quote was $2500. I had wanted to use a known name, but we had very little money, and price was a big issue. We went back to National, accepted the bid, and paid a $447 deposit. At no time did he tell us they were not the movers (I had no idea there was such a thing as a broker). When we got the contract a few days later, I read every word. I had a list of questions to ask him when I called. He assured me that if anything seemed out of the ordinary, I could cancel at anytime, up to 7 days before the move.
First, I asked him if there would be any additional charges than the fuel, tolls, and packing listed on the estimate. He said nope, what you see is all that will be charged to you (nothing about extra steps, extra long carry, etc). Then I asked who the actual movers would be. He said We gave (gave') your contract to our best company, Modern Moving, out of Michigan. Look them up with the BBB, and here's their phone number. I looked them up, was impressed with their record, and was satisfied, I signed and returned the contract.
I had contracted the movers for the 30 of July, since my baby and I were flying to VA on the 31st. On Sunday the 27th, I received a call from the drivers of the moving van, asking if they could come the next day, 2 days early. I said there was no way we could be completely packed by then, and anyway, we hired them for the 30th. After a few more times asking, he said we'll have to call some different drivers then. I hope they don't get angry! I took this as a threat to our stuff. I called Modern Moving to ask what had just happened, and they said they didn't have our contract, didn't know why National would have told us that.
Using my caller ID, I called the driver I had just talked with. He told me they were with AY Transport, and gave us the office number. We were furious that we were lied to about who was handling our belongings. Monday, we called National to speak with David Lamondin about the problem. Every time I asked to speak with him, I was either hung up on, or transferred out of the phone system, or sent to the wrong person. Finally, on the 23rd call, I was told I could only speak with my Customer Service Rep, Walter Sanchez. We left several voicemails with him, and got a call back a few hours later. He listened to our story about the threat, put us on hold, then came back and said they'll be there tomorrow (Tuesday).
We stayed up all night frantically finishing packing the last minute items. Tuesday came, and after 6 hours of waiting, we called the drivers. They said they'd be there tomorrow (Wednesday). We went to a hotel. Wednesday came, after 6 hours of waiting, all of this is in an empty, un-air-conditioned apartment, we tried to call the drivers, no answer. The home office told us that National had contracted them for the 31st, they'd be there Thursday, 8-10 am. If they're not there by 10 am, call us, we'll straighten it out.
10 am on Thursday came and went. We began to call other movers for last minute emergency moves. United was willing to come look at our stuff, and pick it up the next day (provided my husband could have left one day later, he was driving to a conference). We called the drivers again, and they said they'd be there by noon. They did arrive at that time, only 5 hours before I was supposed to be at the airport. Very pressed for time, I listened to the driver go over the paperwork with me. I knew I needed to read all of it word for word, given what had happened already, but until I signed all the forms, the man was not packing my belongings onto the truck. I skimmed them as best I could, but was not able to read the Rights and Responsibilities book. While they were loading our stuff, I had to repack some of the smaller boxes into large, heavy boxes, plus, I was trying to babysit a toddler while my husband was out getting a flat tire fixed. I have never felt so helpless in my life! They were finally done at 3 pm, 2 hours before the airport. They told me about the extra 3 flights of stairs and 2 times a long carry, adding more money, plus the same charges to unload at the other end (despite David of National having told me NO extra charges), and, now that all our stuff was on the truck, it was more like 3000 pounds, 60 cents a pound, more money, we'll call you with the final total in a few days. I had wanted to witness the weighing myself. Goshen, the driver, told me I would get a certified letter at the unloading showing the 2 weights. They left (after having the gall to ask for a tip!), we took out what trash we could grab, before running back to the hotel to leave for the airport. We did not get to clean up our apartment before leaving, so we've lost our security deposit.
On Monday of the next week, I received a voicemail saying the new total was more then $3800, not including the deposit already paid. The Customer Service rep for AY, Elena, told me the actual weight was 5400 pounds. It didn't matter to her that National had told me it was less than 2000 pounds. At this point, I went online to research the moving laws for all states involved. It was here that I found the two websites about moving scams. I read every word, and realized I was just another statistic. I felt so stupid for having been roped into this scheme, until I remembered that David Lamondin had flat out lied to me to get my contract. I was determined not to let them do this to me. For 3 days, I couldn't sleep. I pored over all the information I could find, including reading the entire Title 49 law to see how we could defend ourselves. I went over all the paperwork for the movers and National again, and found that AY Transport, who's office message calls themselves Your Premium Moving Company, had given me one form stamped with Progressive Van Lines of Miami. That was the connection I needed. I had read all the articles about the base for this scam being in Miami, and knew I was definitely in with a bad crowd.
The next day, I went to see the local police. I knew that many departments would be reluctant to get involved, but both the Fairfax County police (where I lived), and the Alexandria City police (where the movers would drop off our belongings) were more than willing to help. One officer gave me his personal number to call, if the movers were to hold our stuff hostage. I called the FBI Washington Field office, but they did not want to get involved. I'd heard that only a federal officer could arrest movers for holding belongings hostage, but I found a section in Title 49 saying that is true EXCEPT in the hauling of household goods. The local and state police CAN help. I also located the 110% rule, where a person only has to pay 110% of the original estimate, and has 30 days to pay the balance to the movers. In my case, the new balance was over 3 times what the original estimate was, and would have cleaned out our bank account.
Our promised delivery date passed on Monday the 11th. That day, Elena at AY Transport told me our things would be here in three days. Thursday, today, when we hadn't heard anything, I called Goshen, the original driver. He told me our things were no longer on his truck, I had to call the office. Elena tracked down the new driver, but surprise, we could not get Gideon to answer his phone all day. Elena somehow managed to find out that it would be here Tuesday to Thursday of next week. I asked her what was taking so long, and why had she told me on Monday it would be three days. I dunno.
No answer, yet again. I asked why our things had transferred trucks, she said it was their standard policy to bring things to their office in San Jose, CA, where it was put into storage until a cross-country trip could be arranged. I said that we never authorized such a trade, and nobody had told us it would happen. Well, National should have told you. Again, it comes back to a convenient omission by David Lamondin and National.
On Wednesday, August 20th, I had not yet received a notice call. I called the movers. The driver, Gideon, said he did not have our things. I called the home office. After identifying myself, I asked permission to record the conversation. Michelle in Customer service said no, even after I brought up that they record our calls for quality purpose. In an unrecorded conversation, she told me our things were in a storage facility in NC, and they would have a truck bring them to us in 5-7 days (by Mon-Wed of next week).
I told her this is now a breach of contract, we were promised 10-12 days delivery at most, she said I'm sorry, there's nothing we can do. I demanded a single truck be sent to pick up our things, she said We can't. I then called Walter Sanchez at National. He also refused recording, despite the notice that our calls may be recorded. Those are for our records. I told him this was for my record. He still refused. In another unrecorded conversation, I told him the new situation, told him there was a breach of contract, and that despite his insistence, National was indeed liable for the mover's problems. I told him that we had contracted for the 30th, and National hired AY for the 31st (according to Elena at AY, on July 30th). He said We told them the date you wanted, and it's up to them to show up on time.
I told him that AY said specifically that National hired them for the 31st. He said, They're lying. I asked why nobody at National had mentioned that our things would go into storage, he told me there's always a possibility that that might happen, we don't know. I asked if they had used AY before, he said yes, I asked I asked if they had put things into storage before, he said yes, and I again asked why nobody at National had told us this could possibly happen. Putting things in storage guarantees that our belongings would not be delivered in the 10-12 days promised.
Sanchez said the delivery days were an estimate and again, National is not liable for any wrongdoing on the part of the movers. I asked how this much miscommunication could go on between the two companies, and Sanchez told me that as soon as I call him, he calls AY to find out where our things are. I told him that whatever AY is telling him is not what they've just told me 5 minutes ago, so why would they lie to Sanchez? I told him that once we have our belongings, we were initiating legal proceedings against National and AY, he said Fine. Is there anything else I can do to help you?
On Monday, August 25th, I called AY. Elena told us out things would be delivered this weekend. I told her that was later that what she told us last week. I don't know why it's being delayed, but our dispatcher said it'll be there this weekend. I asked to be transferred to the dispatcher, there was no answer. I left a message. Left a second message with Walter Sanchez at National Moving.
On Wednesday, Elena said our things would be picked up by Progressive Van Lines, one of their companies-within-a-company, and delivered this weekend. We got a call on Friday saying they would be there on Saturday, the full amount was due upon delivery. I didn't say anything about the amount, but told them I had a cashier's check all made out to them. They said only a money order would be accepted. I returned to the bank and exchanged the check for a money order. Around 8 pm, the driver, Andre, said they had indeed picked up our stuff and would be in VA in the morning. I told him I had the money order, he said they would not take a bank money order, only a postal money order. I told him they were exactly the same, and was not going out to exchange any more money. He said they would meet us at 11 am on Saturday, so they could call the office and ask about it.
Saturday at 11 am, Andre called and said only a postal money order would be taken, no bank ones. I asked where they were right now, he said in D.C dropping off someone else's things. I asked why, when you told us you'd be here at our place at 11 am, he said I'm not going to waste my time if you don't have the right payment. I called the office, which had just opened, informed them that the post office says their money orders are exactly the same as a bank's, and was told by a woman I had never spoken with that it was company policy to only accept postal money orders. I asked why, she said that's company policy. I again asked why can't they accept a bank's money order if even the post office says they're the same. She said We just don't. I again asked what the difference was. She said they won't accept postal money orders. After about 3 minutes of not receiving a sufficient explanation, I hung up and called the driver again. I told him I was going to go get a postal money order, he said he'd be there at noon. I did get a postal money order, and we met them at the storage place a little after 12.
Andre and his partner arrived at our storage facility in a full size truck and trailer marked AY Transport (not Progressive Van Lines). We went into the office for payment and paperwork. The certified weigh tickets were both from August 1st, a full day after pickup. They were both from the same station in Washington State. If the truck was weighed with our things on it, and later the same day empty, where did our belongings go in the meantime? Was there a third storage facility? Were they loaded onto yet another truck? How do I know that there weren't other loads on the truck at the time of the first weighing? When Andre saw the amount of the money order ($1507), he pointed to the paperwork showing the full amount of $3800. I informed him of the 110% law, and said they were even getting a few cents more than that. He said the amount had to be paid in full before delivery. I pulled out both the printout from the government's Title 49 law and the Rights and Responsibilities book that his own company had given me, he refused to read them. He again asked for the full amount, I said I don't have to pay it, I have 30 days to pay the balance (the owner of the storage facility was sitting behind the desk and piped up that I was correct about the law). He tried to leave, we told him we would call the police if he left because he as violating federal law. With several witnesses there in the office, he kept telling us that we would have to pay the full balance if they were to unload our things. We kept telling him he would be arrested if they left, he finally agreed to go call his office.
The man at AY's office told us we had to pay the full amount. I told him about the same law, he said That's not true. I said not only was it true, but I would not hesitate to call the police if the drivers left with our things. I had already spoken with the police, and they said they would come if the drivers left (my husband was on his phone with the police at the same time, and even though the dispatcher was refusing to send any officers, we didn't let the movers know). The man in AY's office kept refusing to let us get our things for less than the full amount. I told him to look in the book that the moving companies are required by law to give out and read it, the law is plainly stated in it. I also told him that his refusal to follow federal law was only giving us more fuel for our lawsuit. He finally told Andre to release our things if we signed the form saying we would pay in 30 days. I told Andre I would not sign anything to that effect, because that's what the law says I would have to do anyway, and I follow the law. I finally did sign the paperwork saying we would pay in 30 days, because I felt I had gotten our point across, and ultimately wanted to see our belongings on the ground.
Andre and his partner delivered our things. Nothing was missing, although our diplomas were destroyed because their glass was shattered. We noted this on the paperwork, and signed everything. At the end of the delivery, when we had all become civil again, I told both of them that I was not yelling at them, I was mad about their company's business practices. I told them if this pattern continues, then one day, they would be arrested, and they should quit AY rather than set themselves up because their company breaks the law. I told them they were very good workers, and could get a job anywhere. The younger man, whose name I did not know, looked very embarrassed. Andre said nothing.
We hired a lawyer to protect ourselves. He offered a settlement of $440.50, for a total payment of $2,394.50 (the amount of the Changes Reflecting Cost page). They responded by demanding the full amount again. AY claims that my charges being forced to sign forms under duress are both completely fabricated (I have 6 witnesses), and hearsay and objectionable (improper use of those terms). It seems like some overworked secretary is trying to sound like a threatening lawyer. If they are accusing me of lying, I have several witnesses who will swear to the events laid out. They say they will take legal action and foot us with the bill to collect the entire amount. My lawyer advised us to do nothing, since it was most likely a bluff, and we can't be liable for their legal fees, anyway. I have filed complaints against both companies with the NMCSA, the AMSA, the BBB (even though they're not members), my congressman (to support the new proposed bill to regulate the industry), MSN (for signing a deal allowing National to be their moving consultants at their House and Home websites), Yahoo (same), and the two apartment finding websites that allow National to swoop in on unsuspecting customers like me. If AY Transport does try to come after us for the full amount, then not only will we go to court, allowing all of their unscrupulous and criminal acts to be entered into evidence, then National is going to have a big surprise. I did not sign the box on the contract saying I agreed to their terms, so they are indeed liable for any wrongdoings of the movers, and they will all have to travel here to Virginia where it's convenient for me.
I do not go quietly.
While surfing the web tonight, I read a customer's complaint about National Moving Network's shenanigans with another company (http://www.ripoffreport.com/report44918.htm), which mentioned that the supervisor at NMN that responded to the Florida BBB's report was Michelle Oney, the same supervisor that wrote my letter from AY refusing our offer and demanding the full amount. Did Michelle change jobs, or are National Moving Network and AY Transport closer than I thought? (Actually, I believe Michelle is one of the Customer Service reps I spoke with when Alana was not there at AY, refusing to allow me to record our conversation) If this is true, then Nationals' claim of having no part in the carrier's wrongdoings is thrown right out the window. Of course NMN would be responsible for AY's actions, because they have the same employees!
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on AY Transport