December 1, 2013
To Whom It May Concern,
This is an open letter to Colonial Van Lines, Real Movers, Able Auto Transport, Auto Star Transport, and their affiliates. My complaints with these companies are two-fold: on the one hand, concerning the move of my household goods from Louisville, KY to Seattle, WA, and, on the other, concerning the move of my car from Louisville, KY to Seattle, WA.
I signed two contracts with Colonial Van Lines on October 8, 2013. One was for the move of my household goods, estimated at $2590.13 total for 3573 lbs. with a deposit/binding fee of $1104.53. The other was for the move of my car, quoted at $1075 total with a deposit of $150. Both deposits were paid on my Visa on October 7, 2013 and I have notifications of payment for both. My moving coordinator was Michael Gould, and, at the time of signing, the drop-off address in Seattle was unknown.
The contract for my household goods had estimated pick up dates of 10/29/13 – 10/30/13 and delivery dates of 11/3/13 – 11/15/13. On October 25th, my leasing agent at Willowcrest Apartments in Seattle notified me that the expected move-in date of November 7th was at best tentative and may be, in fact, two weeks later. I immediately called Colonial Van Lines to notify them of the change, and, after discussing my options with Paul Hughes in the Quality Assurance department, I decided to delay my move to 11/1/13 – 11/2/13.
I had already bought my plane ticket to Seattle, WA for the evening of October 30th, but when I went to change the date of my flight I realized it would cost me an upwards of $900 to fly out on November 1st or 2nd. I then called Colonial Van Lines to change my move to 11/5/13 – 11/6/13.
On October 28th, I realized that Paul may have only changed the date of the move of my households goods and not the move of my car as well. Anxious, I called and left voice mails for both Michael and Paul asking about the move of my car. I then learned from the dispatchers at Colonial Van Lines on the 29th that the date for the move of my car had, in fact, not been changed and it was still due to be picked up on the 30th. I then sent out an email to Michael and Paul notifying them of this error and giving them a drop-off address of a storage unit on Delridge Way in Seattle, WA.
Also on October 29th, I spoke to a supervisor at Colonial Van Lines about the move of my car. The supervisor notified me that the auto transporters wanted an additional $25 at pick up and so Colonial Van Lines was refunding me $25 so that I could pay the transporters the correct amount. I never received this refund. The supervisor also stated that it would be no problem to find carriers for both my car and my household goods on 11/5/13 – 11/6/13 because Louisville and Seattle were both busy hubs.
On October 30th, I received by email an official Date Change Request form for the move of my car that I was to sign and return to Date Change Requests at #954-958-2232. This form specifies the original load dates as 10/29/13 – 10/31/13 and the new load dates as 11/4/13 – 11/6/13. I signed this on 10/30/13 and faxed it at 1:18pm. I never received a Date Change Request form for the move of my household goods.
I bought a new plane ticket for the evening of November 6th and continued to pack up my things. I received a call from the dispatchers at Colonial Van Lines on either October 31st or November 1st asking if they could confirm the pick up of my car for November 3rd. Since this date was outside of the agreed new load dates as stated on the Date Change Request and since I still had errands to run and wanted to pack up the trunk of my car, I declined the November 3rd pick up date.
November 3rd, 4th, and 5th came and went, and yet I had not heard about the pick up of either my household goods or my car. On November 4th, La-Tasha Bell at Colonial Van Lines became my Customer Service Account Manager. So on November 6th at 9am I sent La-Tasha, Michael, and Paul an email letting them know that I had called and left La-Tasha a voicemail stating that my plane was leaving that evening. I also told them that I assumed at this point that I would need to set up a proxy to meet the movers in Louisville, KY for the pick up of my goods and car.
At 9:12am, Michael emailed me the proxy form to fill out and fax back to them. At 12:19pm, I sent an email to La-Tasha, Michael, and Paul notifying them that I had faxed back the form making my father, Mark Jones, my proxy. I also notified them that the estimate attached to the proxy form was not updated and, thus, I would not sign it. The delivery address on the estimate was Willowcrest Apartments, but, at that point in time, our rental application had yet to be approved by the leasing agent and thus I had given the address of a storage unit (as mentioned above) as the delivery address. I had then confirmed the storage unit address with La-Tasha on the phone earlier that week.
That evening, I boarded the plane to Seattle, WA and left my household goods and car in Louisville, KY. On November 7th, our rental application was approved at Willowcrest Apartments. On November 8th, I spoke to Alex at Real Movers about the pick up of my household goods and gave him the delivery address of Willowcrest Apartments. On November 9th, we moved into our apartment and I received confirmation from my father that Alex was to meet him in Louisville, KY at 2pm that day for the pick up of my household goods.
When Alex arrived in Louisville, he asked for $700 from my father. Accordingly, the contract I signed on 10/8/13 states: “Upon pickup carrier may collect up to 50%, payment will be due in form of cash, certified check, or cashier’s check. Upon delivery: the remaining balance must be paid in full.” My father only had $200 on him at the time, and so Alex accepted that and my father signed a receipt which he retains a copy of. To summarize, I had paid $1104.53 for deposit and my father paid $200 at pick up. Thus we had paid a total of $1304.52 so far.
On November 11th, Alex called my father to ask for an additional deposit and instructed him to deposit money into a personal banking account. Since this struck my father as a bit strange, we both called La-Tasha to confirm and left voicemails. Around the same time, I was called by James at Colonial Van Lines who told me that the auto transporters wanted an additional $75 at pick up. James told me they would refund me $75 so that I could pay the correct amount. Accordingly, the contract I signed on 10/8/13 states: “It is the customer’s responsibility to have full payment arrangements made when the transporter’s driver arrive.” I never received this refund.
When I spoke to La-Tasha, she confirmed that James had refunded me the $75 but she told me that I was to pay the auto transporter $950 at delivery not pick up despite what the contract said. I also asked her about the amount that I owed for the transport of my household goods. I told her that my father had paid $200 at pick up and she said she would let me know how much I would owe at delivery. I also asked for an invoice in writing stating what my total was, what I paid as deposit, what my father paid at pick up, and what I owed at delivery.
On November 12th, my father was notified that my car could be picked up between 11/14/13 – 11/27/13. They later called him to schedule the pick up with Ivan from Auto Star Transport on November 14th at 7pm. On November 14th, my father called to confirm the pick up and they changed it again to November 16th. On November 15th, my father received a call from #509-998-3668 telling him that they would pick up the car on November 17th and would call him on the 16th to set a time.
On November 14th, I spoke to La-Tasha on the phone about the amount I owed for the move of my household goods. Alex from Real Movers was set to deliver my stuff on November 16th and I needed to know how much to get the money order for. She told me she would get back to me. I received a call later on that day from someone else at Colonial Van Lines notifying me that I owed $1763.18 at delivery for a total of 3720 lbs. On November 15th, I got a money order for that amount.
When I spoke to my father on November 15th, he asked if the $1763.18 included the $200 he paid at pick up. The estimate I received from Michael that same day clearly shows that it does not include the $200. I emailed La-Tasha on the 16th and reiterated that my father had paid $200 upon pick up and she claimed that she did not know that he had paid anything even though I had notified her of this a few days earlier (as mentioned above). She said that she would notify Alex at Real Movers that he was to give me a $200 refund at delivery, and she would deduct the $200 from the final amount and send me an invoice via email.
I told her that I had already gotten the money order and asked, again, for a written invoice stating “the estimated amounts for weight and cost, the actual weight and cost, what I paid for the deposit, and what my dad paid at pick up.” In response, La-Tasha emailed me a couple of documents from Real Movers. This included an Interstate Revised Written Estimate that had no total on it, a Packing Materials Order Form for 8 boxes at $27 each and 1 box for $16, a Post Contract Services Order Form with no total, a Valuation Addendum for 60 cents per pound insurance, and a Household Goods Descriptive Inventory. She also said that she would send me the invoice with “all payment made with balance due” on Monday, November 18th.
Alex arrived around 4pm on November 16th with my household goods. While unloading my stuff, he asked if I would tip his workers because of the number of steps leading up to my apartment door. I told him that the contract I signed on 10/8/13 states: ”3 flight of stairs up to 21 steps at origin and destination.” There are 15 steps leading up to my apartment. He said that only applied at pick up in Louisville, KY. I told him that I didn’t have any cash, and he said he would accept a personal check made out to him. I made a check out for $50 just to get him to leave my apartment.
Additionally, the movers asked me why my “boyfriend” was not helping me move in. This was inappropriate, unprofessional, and sexist. One of them even stuck around after they were done to ask me on a date. That is blatant harassment and sexism, and I never received the $200 refund.
At 8pm PST on November 16th, I received a call from Ivan at Auto Star Transport saying that he had tried to call my father to let him know that he would be in Louisville between 9 – 10am on the 17th to pick up my car. Since 8pm PST is 11pm EST, my father had already gone to bed for the night. So I texted my father to let him know, but he did not see the messages until 8:30am EST the next morning.
I had told La-Tasha in a phone call the previous week that since my father lived in Cincinnati, OH, we would have to know the meeting time in advance. Since my father didn’t leave Cincinnati until after 8:30am on the 17th, he didn’t arrive in Louisville until after 10am. Ivan, as a result, was angry, and was very rude and unprofessional to my father when they met for the pick up.
Also on November 17th, I notified Michael, La-Tasha, and Paul that Real Movers had damaged some of my household items, I had not received the $200 refund, I had been harassed by Real Movers, and Ivan from Auto Star Transport had been rude to my father in Louisville. In response, I received a Standard Proof of Loss and Damage Claims Form from Michael via email on November 18th.
On November 20th, I responded and asked if there was a timeline to fill out the form. I never received a response. On November 25th, I spoke on the phone to someone else at Colonial Van Lines and reiterated that I wanted a written invoice stating what my total was, what I paid as deposit, what my father paid at pick up, and what I owed at delivery. They said they would send me an invoice within 24-28 hours. I also asked about the timeline for the Standard Proof of Loss and Damage Claims Form, and they said I had 9 months from date of delivery to fill it out.
On November 27th, I received a voicemail at 10pm PST from Ivan at Auto Star Transports saying that he would be able to deliver my car either the next day or the day after. Since the next day was Thanksgiving, I was unable to get a money order until the morning of the 29th. I spoke to him on the 28th and told him that I had to leave for work by 12pm the next day. So we planned to meet at 11am on the 29th.
I waited until 11:30am on the 29th to call and ask where he was. He told me that he was at the mechanic and wouldn’t be out of there for another hour. I reiterated that I would have to leave at 12pm to get to work, and he asked to meet that night after I got off of work. We set the time for between 10 – 11pm. I got home right before 10pm and checked my voicemails. He had called to confirm that I would be paying $1000 at delivery. I called back and told him that I had confirmed multiple times with Colonial Van Lines that it was $950 at delivery. He told me that he has a contract stating that I would pay $1000 at delivery and he could not deliver my car unless I paid that amount.
I never signed a contract stating that I would pay $1000 at delivery and so I assume it is a contract he made with Colonial Van Lines. They never notified me of this. Since it was too late to get another money order and I had hit my ATM withdrawal limit for the day, there was no way for me to get the extra $50 that night. So we arranged to meet sometime on November 30th.
Also on November 29th, I received a generic email from Customer Care at Colonial Van Lines to “advise” me that “your refund request is still in process.”
On November 30th, I called Ivan and left a voicemail at 2:15pm letting him know that I have the extra $50, and he called me back at 9pm and told me he was “too tired” to deliver it that day. We then arranged to meet between 12 – 1pm on December 1st.
On December 1st, Ivan called at 2:50pm to let me know he was on the way to my apartment. My car arrived at 4pm, I signed the receipt and gave him the payment. After he left, I noticed a dent on the top of my roof. Because the car was on the trailer at the time I signed the receipt, I could not see the roof. Only after he left and I looked over the car did I see the dent. The dent has scraped off the paint and has rust underneath. I have taken pictures and will take it to a mechanic for an estimate. I expect full reimbursement for damages.
After updating my complaint letter, I emailed updates to La-Tasha, Paul, and Michael as well as a full copy to Auto Star Transport. The emails to La-Tasha, Paul, and Michael came back as undeliverable as spam even though I have been communicating with them on their emails for two months now. I called and left voicemails for them notifying them of this error at 5pm.
To summarize, the contract that I signed for the move of my household goods on 10/8/13 is an estimate for $2590.13 total for 3573 lbs. with a deposit/binding fee of $1104.53. That is $0.72/lb. The final weight was 3720 lbs., and thus my final total is $2678.40. Plus the $232 for packing supplies makes it $2910.40. I paid $1104.53 on 10/7/13, $200 on 11/8/13, and $1763.18 on 11/16/13 for a total of $3067.71.
The contract I signed for the move of my car on 10/8/13 is a quote for $1075 with a deposit of $150. I paid $150 on 10/7/13 and will be paying $1000 at delivery for a total of $1150.
By my calculations, my refund from Colonial Van Lines should be $157.31 for my household goods and $75 for my car for a total of $232.31.
Additionally, I will be expecting payment for the items on the Standard Proof of Loss and Damage Claims Form at 60 cents per pound. I will be expecting full reimbursement for the damage to my car and I will also be exploring my options for emotional damages.
I am not only sending this letter to my contacts at Colonial Van Lines, I am posting it on multiple websites and sending it to the Better Business Bureau, the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Utilities and Transportation Commission, and to some lawyers I know.
The contact information for the above companies are listed below:
Colonial Van Lines
2000 North State Road 7 Suite #300
Margate, FL 33063
3220 Bordentown Ave.
Old Bridge, NJ 08857
2845 Washington Blvd.
Bellwood, IL 60104
Able Auto Transport
RR 1 Box 20
Kahoka, Missouri 63445
Auto Star Transport
P.O. Box 7151
Spokane, WA 99207