Moving is never easy, but San Francisco resident Carleigh thought her transplant from a one-bedroom apartment to a one-bedroom condo wouldn’t be so tough. Ron, a customer service rep from Starving Students movers, talked a good game, convincing Carleigh the company could pull off the move in the three-hour time window the HOA demanded.
As you could imagine, since we’re talking about the move on Consumerist, things didn’t quite go as planned. When all was said and done, Carleigh was overcharged, left out to dry and forced to lug her stuff along with her boyfriend while sobbing.
Here’s the e-mail she wrote Ron:
I am going to follow up this email with a phone call later this afternoon. We are in the middle of moving, but I must tell you I am quite flabbergasted. As soon as our account was turned over to the local movers, everything went wrong. Laura, the office person, did not get the contract in until the last minute. The scheduling was a fiasco—I indicated from the beginning about the move-in time window (12:30 to 3:30) and at no time prior to the movers showing up at 8:45 a.m. this morning were we given an estimated time or arrival, and we had called repeatedly over this week. We made them leave, and they did, and then came back at 10:45. It is now 12:10 p.m. and no furniture has even been moved yet. They have one guy downstairs, one guy up here moving one box at a time, and then when I asked him if he wanted to continue to take smaller stuff from the bedroom, he told me, “what bedroom? You want us to move the bedroom as well?” We indicated from the very beginning that this is a 1-bedroom apartment to a 1-bedroom apartment move—we are moving! Of course we want the bedroom moved, too. He huffed and thought about it for a while, and is now moving slowly in the bedroom as well. As you can imagine, the clock is counting down and I am quite frustrated. I told him I didn’t care if he wrapped the furniture, my new and most important concern at this point in the day is time. I am not sure what to do, but I am having a terrible experience. Please advise.
After that, Carleigh was in tears. A follow-up talk with another customer service manager, Eddie, did nothing to rectify the situation. She e-mailed her boy Ron again:
It is the day after and I simply want to follow up with you, detailing the order of events.
After I emailed you, I received a call from Eddie right away. He asked how it was going, and I told him I was quite distressed, and did not understand why the movers were going so slowly. He told me that the movers should have started at 8:45 upon their first arrival. I told him that regardless, Laura told me they would come back at 9:45, they didn’t show up until 10:30. He asked me what was still left, and I told him that all of the big things were still left—not a chair had been removed yet. He began to scold me for refusing the truck first thing that morning and he told me that he wished he had been in the office to not allow that—I told him that I wished he had, too. He was scolding me more, and I became quite emotional, and told him that I was understandably very distressed, and that he should have some sympathy and try to help. He calmed down, and told me that it was only 12:30 now, and that he was sure the move could still finish by 3:30, at the end of the window. Getting ready to leave the apartment, I gave him directions and reminded him of the move-in window. He did not know that we needed to be finished by 3:30. I was speechless.
At two o’clock we were finally on the road. (We spent the last hour and a half gathering things to take to our own car—lightening the load of the moving men, inappropriately but in the interest of possibly saving time—which we did not, as a big bag of dog food was spilled all over the lobby of the apartment building. My partner is visually impaired/totally blind and the mover and he collided because of this doubling up of work force.)
On the way to the new apartment, as I said it was 2 o’clock. I was driving and Scott (my partner) called Eddie to tell him that we were really running out of time—the walk through inspection still needed to be completed (part of the signed HOA policies) prior to the beginning of the move-in and that we were looking for solutions at this point. We asked him if a third person could be sent out to help in order to make the 3:30 deadline. Eddie was apparently very rude to Scott and cited the fact that we “refused the truck” repeatedly. He also said that he just learned that there was a “surprise additional bedroom” and blamed us for the extended amount of time. He refused to send a third person, and Scott told him we would be dealing with the corporate office only after the completion of this move.
I want to clarify that there was no surprise additional bedroom. There was one bedroom. The movers assumed we did not want to bring the contents of it (a bed, a dresser, a cabinet, a nightstand, a coffee table, a love seat, and a television). I simply cannot comprehend this fallacious assumption.
I would like to note that I have moved many times, and used different companies, my own hands and friends, and day laborers. I have never seen a 1-bedroom apartment to 1-bedroom apartment move take this long. As a professional moving company manager, even Eddie would have been appalled to see the rate at which the man moved our belongings. I am not exaggerating when I say that the man upstairs (as I mentioned, one man stayed upstairs loading the elevator while one stayed downstairs loading the truck) took boxes one at a time. I witnessed him pick up a box, look around, put it down, and pick up a different box multiple times. He rarely moved more than one box at a time. He was, plain and simply, moving too slow. He was utterly shocked by the revelation that was indeed wanted the bedroom furniture and televisions moved in addition to the boxes we had compiled in the living room (per your suggestion during our initial phone contact, we prepared everything as much as possible prior to moving day and consolidated all boxes and small furniture into one corner). He also had apparently not been told by his managers of the absolute deadline for completion of this move—3:30. In summation, the moving expereince was terrible. It was stressful and humiliating and disorganized. Prior to moving day we spoke with Laura in the office 3 times and never was an estimated time of arrival given. We did consider 8:45 a.m. too early a start time—I think that our estimation of what the move should have been like was in fact reasonable.
I do not know if there is any possible recourse. At the end of the day—the movers finished at 4:30 and I do not know yet if fees will be levied against us by the Homeowner’s Association—the job was done. We paid $698 and change. I booked with Starving Students because of how amazingly spectacular my service with you was, Ron, and also because $84.99 per hour seemed reasonable. I now think that paying $150 and hour would have been better because perhaps that moving company would not have taken between 6 and 7 hours. Also, I find it unacceptable that the terms of the move, a 1-bedroom apartment into a 1-bedroom apartment, would be so inexplicably misinterpreted to warrant the events that occured: an early truck, a too-slow and lazy move, a fastly approaching deadline, a “surprise additional bedroom”, an uncooperative manager. and finally much more money than I intended to spend with your company. I am disheartened.
All that happened two weeks ago, and Starving Students has stopped responding to her. Now she’s asking for advice:
At this point, it is 13 days later and there has been no response from Starving Students whatsoever. Their company has terrible reviews. Should I report to BBB? Can I do a chargeback for their failure to comply with our contract though the service was rendered? Should I threaten small claims for the fee levies against me by the HOA? Any advise appreciated.
I did not hear back after my summation email wherein I specifically asked for advice for any type of recourse.I wrote again to my csr contact Ron last night, asking for contact information for his higher ups and did get the phone number to the northern California district manager, whom I will be calling today.
It is a franchise with headquarters in Los Angeles and satellites in major cities.
They were contracted to complete the move-in portion of the entire move within a certain time frame, which they did not do. My problem began when I literally watched in horror as the mover would pick up one small box, look around, seemingly change his mind, put that box down and pick up another. He was slow, lazy, and incompetent. I tried to rectify the situation with the very strict time constrains in real time and the local branch manager was rude and not helpful. Also, taking 7 hours to complete a 1-bedroom to 1-bedroom move is unheard of, as I have moved many, many times within San Francisco (a 49 square mile city) and only went with this company because they promised they could meet the requirements of my HOA.
The fail was ultimately epitomized at 2:30 p.m. when one hysterically crying woman (myself) and her disabled, totally blind boyfriend were carrying armloads of things the movers weren’t getting to fast enough and the 50 lb bag of dog food spilled all over the lobby of the apartment building. A sad scene indeed.
It never hurts to go through the BBB, but some companies are impervious to complaints. I say she hits Starving Students where it hurts and disputes the credit card charge. What would you do if you were in Carleigh’s situation?