Moving with Fidelity Moving Group

The estimate was extremely low, almost unreasonably so, but Manisha seemed professional, and was very reassuring. The estimate was for 40 medium UHaul boxes, a 3-person couch, a queen sized mattress, a cedar chest, and a large piece of artwork, and was $1100 from Providence to San Francisco, including carrying up 2 large flights of stairs in San Francisco.

The communication was bad from the beginning. Manisha told me that we would get a call to arrange the pick-up time the day before, but when 5 pm came and went and we hadn’t heard from them I called. I got Maya, the manager with whom the rest of my interactions took place. She was brusque and said that she was just starting to call people and we’d get a call later. A few hours later I got a call from my cousins who are getting some of our furniture and who had referred us to the moving company. Instead of calling us they called him – it seemed then that they had just confused our two moves since they were originating in the same place. He told us, with them on the other phone, that between 1-2 PM was the time the movers would come to start the moves.

We were staying at my mother’s the night before the move, in Boston, and decided to get back to the apartment 2 hours before the movers were supposed to come, so we got there just after 11 am. The movers were already there, had just arrived and were waiting for us, much to my surprise. Apparently, they had been told to get there at 11 for “Dave” and 1 for me, even though the day before the scheduler told David 1 pm for both moves. Sloppy,

The movers themselves seemed fine, and did a professional job handling the move, though they damaged part of our apartment that we have to pay for out of our security deposit ($150). Once all our stuff, and not David’s, was loaded in they showed us that it took 525 cubic feet, about twice what the estimate was. This would double our move costs. Because the estimate was absurdly low, we had anticipated that it would cost more, so agreed, and paid half of the new cost, $1050 over the phone with Maya using a credit card. When I spoke with her I told her that if we weren’t there when the driver delivered the things we’d have a friend with keys, but we would have to pay the balance with the same card. She said that was fine.

They then loaded David’s furniture and because they couldn’t reach him I paid $700 on the same card for the first half of his move. Once they left I felt relieved – they seemed professional, even if the communication was a little difficult.

On the paperwork we indicated that the earliest date possible we could receive delivery was 6/15/2014 since we had to drive across the country with our car. We are driving currently, and the first part of our route took us through Canada where we did not have cell phone service. On June 7 when we got back into the US I had two messages from Maya, and one from the driver of the truck saying that he was going to be in San Francisco on June 8, a Sunday, a week before our “earliest possible delivery” and would need $1325 in cash or he was going to put our things in a storage unit.

Maya’s first message was about the $700 charge for the first half of David’s move, which she was going to refund to us and put on David’s card. Fine. The second message was that the driver was going to be in San Francisco on Sunday and she urgently needed to talk to us. I returned the call less than an hour later, but no one answered. I called three separate numbers to try to reach someone at Fidelity, the toll-free number listed on their website, the local number listed on their website, and the phone number from which Maya’s call came. I left a message on two of the numbers, and the third just rang and rang. I also called the driver and left him a message. Two hours later on Saturday I tried reaching both the driver and Maya or anyone else at the moving company again. No one was available.

The morning of June 8 I texted the driver again to ask him to please call me. He did, and was extremely rude, essentially saying that it didn’t matter what Maya had told me the only way he would deliver our things is if our friend paid him $1325 in cash. And the reason it was more than the first half was because of a $275 “shuttle fee” for taking a truck into San Francisco. Why that wasn’t included in our original quote I have no idea.

We spent the next 4 hours in Morris, IL where we had stopped for the night the night before trying to find a way to transfer that amount of money to our friend. Not that this is Fidelity’s fault exactly. But Western Union would’t allow us to transfer that sum of money online or over the phone, and the only Western Union locations that would take a card (credit or debit) were over 2 hours away. THe driver told us he’d be there by noon, San Francisco time, so we didn’t have time to drive the 2 hours out of our way to a Western Union location. We also tried, at the driver’s suggestion, MoneyGram, but had the same problems. We finally asked my father to help us and since he lives in Boston he was able to get to a bank, withdraw the cash, and go to a Western Union location, where he had to transfer it in two seperate installments to two of our friends in San Francisco. This was all terribly stressful, and given that it was happening on a Sunday morning when we were in the middle of nowhere Illinois, nowhere near our bank, or any bank for that matter, we were rendered essentially helpless. Now is where a good company would have provided support. But predictably there was literally no one available at Fidelity to talk to. If you’re going to schedule deliveries on a Sunday, a week ahead of schedule, you should at least provide someone to talk to when things go inevitably wrong.

If only that were the last of it. When the driver finally showed up at 3 he gave our friends a hard time about where he was going to park the truck, even though the landlord made available the parking lot in the back which has direct access to the building. He ended up calling me, and I told him that the parking lot was available and he asked “with access to the elevator?” I responded that there was no elevator, that it was 2 long flights up, the equivalent of 3 flights, as I indicated and is documented both in the quote and in the paperwork signed at pick-up. He then hung up on me. Apparently, according to our friends, they chose to double park on the street instead. Not sure why, since the previous tenants (other friends) were able to use the back stairs and parking lot with no trouble to move their belongings in and out.

Then the driver asked one of our friends how he was supposed to pay the 2 additional movers he had with him. I explained that as far as we knew the company was paying the movers, and we were only responsible for the additional $1325. Then the driver called me to tell me that I “had to take care of him because of the stairs” which I told him we had already paid for 3 flights worth. He insisted that because there were 2 large flights we owed him additional money, and I told him that’s why we had told Fidelity 3 flights and been charged for 3 flights as part of the original estimate. He said he’d “take my word for it” and I offered to text him the paperwork showing that. He said that would be good, so I did, and he responded by saying “but that doesn’t prove you’ve paid for it.” I told him, by text, that I didn’t understand what he meant, because it was part of the original price, and so included in the $1050 we had paid at pick-up and the $1325 we had managed to get him **in cash** today. He said not to worry about it and he’d bring it up with Fidelity tomorrow. Again, here is where it would have been extremely useful to have been able to call someone at the moving company.

We’ll see when we get there next week, but hopefully at least all our stuff arrived and is intact. This has been an extremely unpleasant, stressful process with absolutely poor communication and no customer support to speak of throughout. If I had known a month ago what I know now, I would have paid a lot more to have been spared the nightmare of stress this has been.

[It wasn’t over…read part 2 here.] [Then came part 3.]