A MOVING ODYSSEY

Perhaps you’ve noticed on my last post that our pickup truck had quite a bit of stuff packed behind the dog’s cages?  If not, go quick back and take a look.  Two bikes, an upside down table, and a few large boxes ready to go.  How could it be possible, when we’d already moved?    Well,  that’s because “there are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”   Sometimes a person needs to vent.  My time has come.  😉
Moving is never easy, no matter the distance or the size of the house. The fact that we face moving a home and a laboratory within weeks of each other makes it a more serious challenge.  Expecting a lot of stress and a ton of work, we made sure to hire a reputable, time-tested company to help us.   The company we selected, Continental Van Lines, is well-known for many years of service in this country.  Their estimate included packing and moving all our delicate stuff (crystal glasses, china, etc), and our furniture. We finalized the negotiations and made a down-payment 45 days before the move.

The first clouds in the horizon:  they gave us a window of three days (June 19th through 21st) to park their huge truck in front of our home and start working.  We were assured to have the precise time by June 16, three days in in advance of the earliest moving date, but June 16 came and went without any phone calls, emails or lightning bolts from the iCloud, despite our numerous electronic inquiries.  Finally, three days later they answered their phone and although the  information wasn’t easy to obtain, they assured us that their moving van would arrive mid-morning on the final day of the guaranteed window, June 21st.  We were ready for them since the 19th, and unwilling to sit and wait for 3 more days, so we began the packing ourselves, aided by U-Haul moving boxes.  One hundred and five boxes later, as June 21 dawned we awakened with excitement and the expectation of getting our show on the road.  But, we waited and waited and waited some more.  The truck did not arrive.  Then, after countless phone calls and left messages, we received a call from the Continental dispatcher informing us that our appointment with the movers had “slipped through the cracks.”   It’s an interesting English expression, and  I’d say that those must be some huge cracks. 😉  They’d forgotten about us, apparently for at least a week, while we were busy packing the 105 boxes.  It reminded us of Seinfeld’s “Reservations“…   Except that we were laughing when we watched the show. In real life it was not funny.
Facing this fiasco, Continental arranged for an alternative truck to pick our stuff next day, Friday, June 22nd.  It was a company from St. Louis.   I went to the internet and was shocked  by the horrible reviews I read,  some even included the word “criminals.”  Phil again got busy on the  phone to Continental to find out whether they did business regularly with that company.  The representative told us not to worry because “reviews online are for the most part very negative, and do not reflect the overall performance of a company”.  Yeah, right. But, one must admit,  failing to to find a single positive review was not a good sign!  We had no other option but to trust Continental’s arrangements.

The replacement movers:   Two guys in their mid-twenties arrived around 11:30am with a truck that didn’t seem large enough for the job. They looked at our stuff, and gave us a bunch of paperwork to fill out on the exact inventory of everything for relocation.  We offered to make them a sandwich before they started packing the few things left unpacked, but they declined and said they were going to get a quick bite to eat, grab some drinks and return to begin packing and loading.  An hour and a half passed with no sign of the movers, at which time we weren’t surprised when they would not answer our phone calls. They had no intentions of ever coming back, they were on their way back to St. Louis.  That’s when I broke down a little bit, sat down and cried.  Not for long, though.  Ain’t no rest for the wicked.

By then it was almost 4pm on a Friday.  We were distressed and exhausted. Countless more phone calls were made and messages were left on answering machines. When Phil ultimately got to talk to a supervisor, Continental arranged another company to come next day, on Saturday, June 23rd. At that point, we had packed all our stuff ourselves, and were beyond anxious to move, as Phil had meetings scheduled for Monday morning at KSU.
The company that came to our rescue, Quick Moves, is based in Dallas, and we could not have been more pleased.  The two guys, Mark and his helper Mike,  worked tirelessly and did their best to fit our stuff in a truck that clearly was not big enough for the job (through no fault of their own).  They had to rent a small trailer (the only one available on short notice at the U-Haul in town), and also helped us pack our pick up truck to capacity. Still, we had to leave quite a bit behind.  We finally arrived in Manhattan that night at 23:45hs.
The upshot of the saga is that Continental Van Lines never actually moved any of our stuff, but kept the $1,800.00 deposit we paid in advance.  We were relieved and delighted  by the outstanding work by  Quick Moves, and happy to pay them in full, but we still had about 800 pounds of items remaining in our home.  Some of it you can see in the bottom two pictures of the composite photo. Continental at first would not return our phone calls and emails, but after a “little pressure” from American Express, we hope they will refund our money and the saga will have a reasonably happy ending….

Obviously, they will not be moving our laboratory materials in August, we are negotiating with another company recommended from KSU.  As to our stuff remaining in Oklahoma, we are lucky to have a pickup truck and a crazy self-imposed schedule that takes us back and forth, living one week in our almost empty home in Norman, then one week in The Little Apple.  So every trip we make until the end of August we’ll pack the truck and face the road, with as much enthusiasm (and music) as possible!

This was a long post, unrelated to cooking, but one of the reasons to put it all in writing is to help get all facts straight in our struggle to get some money back.   If you made it this far, I might as well close the post on a lighter note.  In one of my many visits to U-Haul to buy packing supplies, I was standing in a long line, together with folks looking as tired and bored as me, all dealing with their own unexpected moving problems. An employee was having a hard time with a client.  Apparently, the man reserved a truck, but his reservation had “slipped through the cracks.”  Here’s what the guy said to make his case (and you must read this with the strongest possible Oklahoman accent):

Listen, sir… here’s the deal:  I’ve got a wife back home, she is 50% German and 75% crazy.  She is waiting to move today. You gotta find me a truck, and you gotta find me one now, or I’ll be in a whole lotta trouble….

He quickly got his truck, and the whole crowd in U-Haul had the best laugh of that day, me included!  😉

Moving: not for sissies!

ONE YEAR AGO:  Hoegaarden Beer Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Ancho-Chile Marinade: Pleased to Meat you!

THREE YEARS AGO: Shrimp Moqueca

36 thoughts on “A MOVING ODYSSEY

  1. Sally this is HORRIBLE!! I hope Amex refunds all of your money – we’ve had good luck with them in the past refunding our money and then fighting it out with the “offender” themselves. But moving is stressful enough – I’m so sorry you’re going through this! Moving is most definitely NOT for sissies! Now more than ever we need to sit down and have a glass of wine together! 😉 I hope you guys are hanging in there and are able to get settled in soon.

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    • It’s been “almost” more than we can handle. but we are starting to talk about it and laugh. There are tons of more details I could not write or this would turn into a book instead a blog post, but if Seinfeld was still on, I would offer a basic script for a show. 😉

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    • Thanks! You know, we have quite a few friends battling serious health problems, so we take our moving saga as a minor ordeal. It is not fun to go through, stressful, but… we are both healthy and happy and…. ready for battle! (I do appreciate if you cross your fingers for our lab move, though… don’t want to have to write another convoluted post in September!)

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  2. Hello Sally! As someone who moved from one coast to the other last year (albeit with movers who were perfect from start to finish, we were tremendously lucky in that respect), I can fully sympathize with your ordeal. We too packed all our boxes ourselves (to save money) and I am glad the movers picked them all up as we could never have driven back and forth from the Pacific Northwest to New England! I do hope you get your refund. If Amex doesn’t work, maybe small claims court will. More hassle, though! I love your bare bones Norman drawer but most of all, I love your U-Haul story. You are taking all this with your usual spunk but it sounds like you are going to have a very hectic summer. It is not easy to live (and work) in two places at once. Do the dogs travel back and forth with you or do you have someone to care for them in Kansas?

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    • Glad you enjoyed the U-Haul bit… I swear I laughed about it for days thinking about the situation of that guy and trying to imagine his wife…

      the dogs will do the travel with us – they are happy to be with us, and we don’t have Saint Pat here in Kansas. There’s an added complexity in our life, as Chief and Buck cannot be in the same space or they fight to death. So, we need to find a kennel we can fully trust to keep them apart but at the same time not leave Chief all alone, switching Oscar back and forth to keep all dogs happy… You thought our dog pack was a lot simpler than it is, right? 😉

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    • It was very odd. THe first sign we had that they really ran away, was the fact that they had placed about 20 flattened boxes next to our dining table to pack the glassware. When they left to “grab a bit to eat”, they took the flattened boxes with them.

      we only noticed about an hour later, but once we saw that, we knew we were probably doomed.

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    • Not sure what’s the limit, but I think it’s around 5 thousand. We are hopeful we won’t need to do this, it is a huge hassle, particularly when you are not living permanently in the place. Once they set the date in court, if for some reason you cannot be there in person or hire a lawyer (insert more cash spending here), you lose the case.

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  3. Wow. Sally, this should go viral. Continental should rue the day they ever let those cracks get so big. I am going to do what I can to let my circle of online friends know about this. You should do a short video about it and put it on YouTube. I am very serious. No company, especially a well-known one with a national reputation, should behave this way and get away with it. At the very least, they should refund your deposit and also pay for all of your moving costs with the other company. And your continuing costs as you have to keep going back and forth between homes, if that part is because of their incompetence.

    This is really criminal and cannot be allowed to stand. Show your post to Amex. I think there is some kind of US government website for complaints about moving companies. Also the BBB. Make Continental weep!

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    • Feel free to share with anyone! 🙂
      If we didn’t have so much going on with our life in so many fronts, we would probably work a little harder to hassle them, but we are quite tired of fighting at this point

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  4. OH Sally!!! I don’t even know what to say!!!! I hope you get your money back because that is terrible! How can they expect to treat their customers like that?!

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    • I suspect this type of problem happens with all companies, but the way they treat you once the problem happens, tells a lot about their standards, doesn’t it?

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  5. I hate hate moving period,but to go through everything you have is just plain horrible. I would do everything in my power to get the word out on this company including the BBB. Fortunately we have been very luckly with our moves,last one was Three Man and a Truck and they did a wonderful job.

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    • Yelp has reviews on pretty much anything, and we also decided to join Angie’s list, because apparently it is excellent, especially once you move to a new place and need to find all sorts of services, from dentist to carpenters… 😉

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  6. My friend,
    I told you I think you are courageous and heroic, and I admire you even more, in the given circumstances, you can still make jokes and be optimistic.
    I’m glad in the end you found a solution for moving and I hope you’ll get your money back from that awfull company.
    Too bad I can’t read with Oklahoman accent, but I had a good laugh anyway.

    Take care of you and looking forward to read the happy ending.
    codruta

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  7. Sally your story is both heartbreaking and hilarious, several times I didn’t know whether I was laughing or crying. So what scared off those two guys, were they grossly misinformed about the job? How does one ever expect an easy job with moving? Yes, to odd and strange.

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    • We think that they were not told the extent of the job and panicked. Continental probably had a huge ordeal to find someone ready to do a job in such short noticed, so they toned down the requirements for the job. That’s what we think. But, a professional company would have said – sorry, we cannot do this. We are not prepared, that’s not what we were told, you will have to find someone else.

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  8. 50% German and 75% crazy = HI.La.ri.ous!!! That line alone would have made my day. It’s those flashes of brilliance amidst the chaos that illuminate our lives. What an ordeal Sally… You and Phil and incredibly brave and tenacious. You came through the move no matter the obstacles and have some great stories to share with us ;-). Moving is not for sissies indeed. Now sit back, put your feet up and enjoy a refreshing cocktail with a toast to your new beginnings. Cheers! :).

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    • I love those types of moments too – stuff that when happens, you tell yourself, this could be the scene of a movie, but it’s happening right here, and I am watching it in real life! 😉

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  9. I am so sorry you had to go through all that Sally.
    When we bought our house we had such an odyssey with a furniture company, it makes mad mad to think of what they did, 8 years later and it is still not funny.
    I hope you are a little settled in now and things are looking a little brighter

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    • Wow, I am sure your story with the furniture company is worse than this, if you are still mad after 8 years! We had a small ordeal with a carpenter, it’s been 12 years and we are not mad anymore, but…. it was very very tough to go through. We went to small claims and won our case, but he never paid a penny. Long story, convoluted….. it seems to happen with us every once in a while
      (sigh)

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  10. Oh Sally! I want to sit and have a cry for you too! What a fiasco! Like moving isn’t stressful enough. I hope you get your money back. And safe travels on your back and forths. Reminds me of our last move. Hugs to you! (and Miss A could sing you “ain’t no rest for the wicked” if you like. 😉

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  11. I can’t tell you how sorry I am to hear that you “slipped through Continental’s cracks”.. in fact I’m more sorry than they were, I’m certain of that!! I think you should see if they have a Facebook page.. I posted on one of those pages so that the public could see my complaint regarding poor service.. and boy did they act fast after that. Anyway.. good riddance and I hope you get your money back!! xoxo Take care of yourselves!!

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  12. Hi Sally, I just had to stop in and comment as you know I’ve been gone way too long on my move! But oh my….I didn’t have any runaway trucks!! That would have certainly made me cry! I never, ever thought moving would have hit me so hard, but now I don’t feel so alone. You’re an inspiration! You were still with camera in hand taking pics of your move!! Hope you’re settled in soon!

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  13. Darling Sally what a pig’s breakfast (another english expression) and you tell the tale with such aplomb and lack of self pity too. Hope you are OK. England is such a small country to move in compared to your vast country. Waving madly to wherever you are xxxx and good luck !!!

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  14. Wow! What a wrench they threw into your journey! So glad you’ve kept your sense of humor. It’s just awful when inept companies control your destiny! I also love your story at U-haul! I once sat on the sales counter of an appliance store until they did something about repairing my refrigerator! It was out for a week in the summer and I was getting nowhere on the phone with them but once in the store they found a solution quickly because they didn’t want other customers observing my discord! So I guess you could say I took my 75% crazy to the source! LOL! Hope the last trips you have to make are less eventful! Looking forward to here the word “settled” from you soon. And I know it’s a pain, but fight for that money, they should have happily refunded you to save face! And definitely go the public media route, it’s very effective! Good luck!
    Keep smiling!

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