Monday, September 08, 2014

Two Men and A Truck and A Chronic Headache

We recently hired Two Men and A Truck (the Northwest Houston franchise) to move us 35 miles from our old home in Cypress to our new one in Richmond. I chose them not just based on the price they quoted me but also because I felt like they were reputable, knowledgeable, and truly cared about what they were doing.

Because of the size of our home we actually had Four Men and Two Trucks: double the capacity, double the manpower, double the body odor. 

We packed our entire house ourselves and meticulously labeled everything according to which room it belongs in. I even put neon sticky notes on all the furniture to make it as easy as possible for the movers to get stuff into the correct rooms. This turned out to be a huge waste of time since they either asked me where stuff went or they put it in the same room where it was in the old house even though it was clearly marked to go to a different room in the new house. I would estimate that 80% of our stuff was placed where it should have been even though 100% of it was labeled.

At 8:30 a.m. on moving day our team of guys showed up and seemed very grateful that everything was boxed up, sealed, labeled and ready to go. All they had to do was pack and/or wrap our furniture then load it all up, drive it to the new house and unload it.

Local movers charge by the hour instead of by the pound like interstate movers do. My estimate was for 10 hours and I felt that was going to be pushing it. We've used moving companies several times in the past so I have an idea of how it takes to load and unload our stuff. We have a lot of stuff. Fortunately, if it took longer than the estimated time, I would not be charged more than 10% over the amount of the estimate so I didn't worry too much about it.

The guys started working and after about 2 hours one of them asked if I had any water. I didn't have any bottled water since all of our food had already been moved to the new house and I didn't have a glass for them to drink tap water from since everything we owned was already boxed up. The guy said he had a cup in the truck so I told him that of course it would be fine for him to fill it from the tap.

He then asked where he could buy water. I was a little confused by his question but told him there was a grocery store down the street in one direction and a convenience store in the other. He asked if it would be okay for them to stop at the store to buy water on their way to the new house. I really couldn't believe that they didn't bring water with them. These guys are professional movers who know they are in for a long and very hot day. Water should have been their first stop first thing in the morning. I told them that would be fine, of course they need to have plenty of water on hand.

It took 6-7 hours for the movers to get the trucks loaded and when noon came around I asked one of the guys if they took a break for lunch. He said no, they don't take any breaks until after the job is done. On the one hand this is a good thing since I'm paying by the hour but on the other hand this is a very bad thing because I knew these guys were going to get tired pretty darn fast if they didn't take a break to eat and fuel up.

I don't know if this was their personal choice or if this is the way the company wants it done but either way I didn't like it. Not only is it unhealthy for these men to work all day with no break and no food (especially in August in Texas where 100 degree temps are the norm) but I knew that by the end of the day my personal belongings would likely suffer from their fatigue and hunger. And sure enough, they did.

When it was time to head to the new house, the guys reminded me that they were stopping for water but would be there shortly. I was fine with that and told them that I also wouldn't mind if they wanted to stop someplace to eat as well. They declined and said they would just pick up water.

I don't know what happened to this water they were picking up but I never saw it and about an hour after they started unloading the truck at the new house, one of them asked me once again if I had any water. I was more than just a little irritated since they were supposed to have stopped for water along the way but what could I say?

"No, you can't have any of my water because you were supposed to stop and get your own so go back to hauling my valuables up the stairs with no water while I sit here and drink a nice cool bottle in front of you."

I don't think so. I pointed to the fridge and told the guy to help himself. A few minutes later one of the other guys asked for water. I bit my tongue and pointed him to the fridge. He grabbed 2 bottles, one for him and one for another guy then he spotted the nice cold soft drinks in the fridge and asked if he could have a Sprite instead.

OMG! Seriously?! Again, what could I do? I told him to go ahead and after that they all made repeated trips to the fridge and completely wiped us out of water and soft drinks. I'm really surprised they didn't make themselves a sandwich or heat up some leftovers. It was totally unprofessional, inappropriate and just plain inconsiderate.

The largest pieces of furniture were the first ones on the truck so they were the last ones to come off at the end of the day which ended up lasting 12 hours. This made me nervous because all 4 guys were tired, hungry, and very obviously just wanted to get this done and get home. I think this is at least part of the reason that 4 pieces of furniture were damaged and 3 items packed in boxes were broken beyond repair. Since I packed everything except furniture I can't really place too much blame on the movers but they were at least partially responsible because more than one box that was labeled "fragile" was crushed under other heavy boxes. Common sense should tell you not to put boxes labeled "books" on top of boxes labeled "china". It's too bad that common sense wasn't a member of my moving team.

We sustained more damage in this one move than all of our others combined. We paid $95 for the additional insurance so we might as well use it to get our furniture repaired, right? It took a week of repeated phone calls and emails to get the insurance gal to send me a claim form. She said that once I turn in the claim form and pay the $250 deductible, they will send someone out to the house to give an estimate on repairs.

Wait a minute. I pay the deductible BEFORE the damage is even assessed?? I told the insurance gal that's not the way insurance works. She said that's the way she was trained to handle it. So I said what if the damage is less than $250? Then I tried to explain how insurance works to the insurance gal while I jabbed forks in my eyes. She said that since I've waited so long already, she would go ahead and call the repair company or whatever and have them contact me to schedule a time for them to come look at the damage.

Of course that hasn't happened yet and here's what I'm afraid of. I have a feeling that someone will come out here and quote a ridiculous price to fix everything then I will pay my deductible and they will spackle over all the gouges. And then I will be homicidal. Or more homicidal than usual.

That's just me speculating but based on my experience so far with Two Men and A Truck, I'm expecting red tape, poor quality, poor service, and more delays. Does that mean that Two Men and A Truck is a bad company and I wouldn't recommend them? Not necessarily. It's a franchise situation so each location is independently owned...which makes it a crap shoot. Reading online reviews for your local franchise might help but, as in my case, it might not.

I will report back after I hear from the repair company and I will wait until after everything has been taken care of before I give Angie's List and the rest of the internet my review, which at this point is not exactly favorable.

Someone owes me a case of water and soft drinks and I'm a little bitter about that.


Elsa said...

I used them here in CA for my last move, and it was a terrible experience. Anything that had a hinge or a door was tweaked. My favorite lamp, a faux Tiffany, was broken, an original painting had the canvas punctured (yes, a razor cut).

It was a record heat day on moving day, 115 degrees, but they took no breaks and just kept coming to the fridge for the ice water on tap once we got to the destination house. I've often wondered if I had ordered some pizzas for lunch for them, if my stuff would have been better treated.

I was not able to get any compensation for the damages, and was not assertive enough about the whole thing -- they just brushed me off, and I allowed it; I didn't have the energy to fight them.

At least you are much better at handling things, and will hopefully get compensated for damages.

Christina Hicks said...

My brother is a repair technician for Sears. He gets offered food and water ask the time. He refuses every time. He brings plenty of water with him and uses public restrooms. He says no company allows their workers to mooch off clients.

Shannon Green said...

Elsa, you can get nowhere being assertive just as easily as you can being passive. :)

The furniture repair service did call me this afternoon to schedule an appointment to come out and look at the damage. The appointment is for September 18th, 10 days from now. They must be very busy.

A quick Google search showed that the company (U.S. Quality Furniture Service) has an 'F' rating with the BBB for repeatedly failing to respond to customer complaints.


Kourtney Heard said...

I am so sorry you had such a dreadful experience moving. I can't believe your stuff was broken after all that time packing and the expenses paid relocating. Obviously the local company should allot time for breaks. Nobody is going to perform well on an empty stomach. Hope you can put it all behind you and enjoy your new home.

Kourtney Heard @ Hansen & Adkins Auto Transport