When the moving truck arrived in front of our Florida home, I felt somewhat relieved. Moving companies usually give you a window – in this case two days – of when you can expect your stuff to arrive. For our relocation, they couldn’t confirm the final arrival dates, nor did they actually make it to our house when they originally projected they would. But at this point, we had already come to expect this sort of customer service from Graebel.
We’ve made several cross-country moves over the years, but had never heard of Graebel until our boss recommended that we get a quote from them. When their sales representative, Courtney, came out to our Houston apartment, she was friendly and professional. Her quote even came in more accurate and affordable than any of the other two companies we considered. Within the next few weeks, we had signed the paper work and arranged a date for them to pick up our stuff. At this point, communication from the company became as reliable as my iPhone’s AT&T cell service; it’s never available when you need it. Other moving companies would call and email up before each stage of the move, making sure we’re ready and always”in the loop.” Not Graebel. As a matter of fact, we didn’t even get our friendly, “How To Prepare For Your Move” email from them until moments before the last few boxes went onto the moving van that day.
Now, mind you, this was the third truck they sent to our house that day. On the morning of our move, the driver showed up with the wrong truck (a logistical problem they forgot to account for) and the crew had to stand around for an hour while he drove back across Houston in morning rush hour traffic to get another vehicle. The rest of the day the work crew worked their asses off, loading up our apartment. That was until the driver had to go back across town for another van to fit everything. One of the Graebel people returned my call from earlier that morning, and she was quite apologetic. I did mention that adding the additional shuttle vans wasn’t part of the plan and we shouldn’t be billed for their mistake. She countered with, “But you’re not paying for it” which made me annoyed, because I don’t want to have to go back to my new employer with additional, padded costs.
Later that day, the crew stuffed all our belongings into a storage unit and we were off to Florida to find a home. When we finally closed on our new house, we contacted Graebel to arrange for the truck to arrive. We were given a window of dates when to expect the truck, which they didn’t make. We gave them our phone number, which they didn’t use. And when my wife finally got the answer of when our truck would arrive…it was through email because the moving coordinator didn’t have the courage or respect to talk to my wife on the phone.
The truck arrived that morning, followed by the local Graebel crew. The guys were all really hard working and nice, though they kept unloading boxes clearly marked FRAGILE and stacking a half-dozen, heavier box on top of them. The driver and the movers would occasionally just let boxes tumble off the truck onto the driveway. I watched my wife’s sewing machine box drop twenty-feet, from the top of the pile in the moving truck to the hard pavement below. Sadly, this is to be expect of just about any moving company, but our Graebel driver soon took it all up to the next level. He waited until the end of the move to unload the broken furniture.
They unloaded an antique piano bench and a chair, each with a leg busted off. I also noticed that one of are really nice dining room benches had DEEP gouges across the top, and that the movers arranged it in such a way, so that we wouldn’t notice it until they were gone. I got suspicious of the way it was stacked, and on a whim, decided to inspect it. When I mentioned it to the driver, he got worried. He explained that the “didn’t care” about the broken furniture because he picked it up at the warehouse that way and he was covered. But the damage to the bench happened by him, or on his watch, so he could be held accountable. That’s when he tried to pay me cash if we didn’t report it. He started speaking in a really low, sad voice, saying, “Please, sir. Will you allow me to buy the bench from you? You can keep it, and you can buy a new one. Just, please don’t claim it.” My wife was livid, and explained to him that the dining room benches each cost over $200. After I couldn’t take any more of his pathetic begging, “Please, sir. How much?” I said, “I don’t know…a hundred dollars.” His pretend sad face went away, and he said in a don’t-give-a-crap tone, “I don’t have that much money on me. I guess you better claim it. It probably won’t do you any good anyway.” The packing team in Houston was clever, writing multiple ‘scratches’ on most furniture items, even if they didn’t have any. That way, they’d be protected, or at the very least, enabled them to be careless.
Moments later, he has me sign a stack of forms, and I made notations of the damaged items. I then was asked to sign a form stating that we received all of our inventory, despite the fact that I couldn’t account for a few remaining boxes. So I signed the form, but made notations of all the items that I was unable to verify before they left.
Anyway, it’s been almost two weeks since the moving fiasco came to an end, and we still haven’t gotten the courtesy follow-up call from Graebel that any other moving company would have attempted by now. Unable to talk to a real person, my wife sent an email wishing to address some of our concerns with the relocation, to which she received a complaint form to fill out. The saga continues. From here, we continue unpacking boxes and making note of shattered glass items, so that we can fill out our forms, likely to never hear from Graebel again.