Moving? If Hiring A Mover, Avoid Metropolitan Movers And Shuttle Moving North York

So yeah…about that Metro Movers mowdown we keep promising. Here it comes. Hope you like long stories…ah who am I kidding? You must like ’em, you keep coming back here, don’t ya?

So you’re probably wondering why the heck we hired movers anyway. Well, for a combination of reasons. Most of the people we would have asked to move us were either injured or occupied. Plus, we didn’t have a lot of time to mess around…we had to do it over a weekend, that’s all we’d get.

My sister had had movers, and had a really good experience. They were super efficient, good with her stuff, and nice. Sure it was a bit more expensive, but it was worth every penny. So we decided considering our time constraints, and the number of injured folk in our families, we’d go movers.

My dad had heard about some movers that were recommended on the Holmes on Homes show. I thought he had said the name of their company was Guelph Movers, so out to Google I went, and found them right away. If only I had checked again, I would have discovered the company he said was Guelph Moving, not Guelph Movers. And so began our road to disaster.

When I called the number, I found out they were not Guelph Movers, but Metropolitan Movers. They said they had a network of moving crews. But their machine said they had won several consumer choice awards, which at the time I thought fit with dad’s whole Holmes on Homes thing. “Phew,” I thought, “I’ve got the right people.”

We called another moving company, and it seemed like they were going to nickel and dime us for every little thing we might have needed. Plus, their hourly rate was a lot higher than Metro Movers. So, thinking this place came recommended, *gulp*, I went ahead and booked the move. What a fail of a decision that was.

So let’s see. What all went wrong? Perhaps a better question to ask is what didn’t go wrong? Hmmm…they eventually found our new home, and most of our stuff wasn’t broken…but what was broken, oh me oh my.

First off, they arrived at Guelph a half hour late. This isn’t good when we have an elevator booking only from noon until 2:30 at this new place. And this new place is a huuuge building, so if you miss your booking, someone else will be moving after you. Then you will be screwed.

I don’t know what these guys were doing, but they took a coon’s age to move our stuff out of our Guelph house…and they didn’t have to pack any of it. After starting at 9:30, they took until almost 2 p.m. to just get it all into the truck. Once, my dad came down and saw one guy just randomly sweeping the truck. Another time, we saw one guy just sitting and smoking. Sure they’re entitled to a break, but considering how long everything took, I think there was a whole lot of smokin’/sweepin’ goin’ on.

When they finally hit the road, they took nearly 2 hours to drive from Guelph to Kitchener. We clocked the distance. Between old home and new home is 31.3 kilometres. That’s 19 miles give or take. What in the name of all that’s holy could make you take 2 hours to travel that distance…even in crazy rush hour traffic…which there wasn’t?

When we asked them about it, they said the truck had to move slow and their phone, which was their GPS, went dead. If you’re a mover, and you do all your work on the road, wouldn’t you have a goddamn car charger? Especially since your GPS is what keeps you from, um, getting lost?

Not too much later, the one guy who had been doing most of the talking said, “I have bad news. Your TV. It’s broken.” Mom said “Ha ha ha, very funny…” at which point he said “Not joking.” He proceeded to bring the broken TV upstairs so we could take pictures of it. And yes, it was broken.

Photo of our broken TV
The shit…it happens. But you won’t be watching it on this.
See the jagged pattern in the middle of the screen? That, that be the broken! I hope that picture illustrates the broken…but if it doesn’t, we have 2 more.

We were not amused. They had taken two hours to get between our places, totally missing our service elevator booking, and now our TV was broken. We had moved all the computers over the night before, but we had left the TV…since we had hired movers after all. The TV was heavy, and they could move it better than us. And now the TV was broken.

When we asked what they were going to do about it, their response was they would go on Kijiji to look for the same TV, and it might take a week or two. Really? You break something and the way you handle it is go on Kijiji? Really? You think you’ll find the same one in a week or 2?

After seeing that we were still not happy, they said “The shit, it happened.” Yeah. Their attitude twoards our stuff is “shit happens?” Wow. And these are the same guys who said to us at the beginning of this move, “That’s why you hired professional movers.” This isn’t seeming too professional.

Although those are our big problems with these guys, that’s not all.

  • We saw them dragging our nice pillowtop matress down the hall. It wasn’t wrapped or anything. Just drag drag drag. This probably means that’s the way they carried it through the parking lot.
  • two of our four kitchen canisters were broken.
  • They took things apart in such a haphazard way that they lost the bolts to them, and tried to sub in bolts from their truck…that weren’t the right size.
  • wheels from things just fell off and they just threw them in random bins. We couldn’t find one of the wheels off one of our bed frames. Where was it? In a bin full of bathroom contents.
  • Things that didn’t have dents when they left Guelph were quite dented and rough-looking upon arrival in Kitchener.
  • Our dresser had one of its little feet broken off it that keeps it level.
  • Other people who saw them moving our stuff said we wouldn’t have liked what they saw.

Between their slow loading process, and the slow unloading process because the elevators weren’t available, and the extra 2 hours on the road, it took these two, who we have not so affectionately nicknamed Larry and Curly, 9 and a half hours to move a 2 bedroom apartment. Uh-huh. I’m sure they were enjoying this since they were being paid by the hour.

Then, at the end, they had to call in their hours, and whose cell phone do you suppose they used to make this call to Toronto? That would be mine, since their cell phone was dead as a doornail. They knew we weren’t happy, so then said to the dispatcher “I guess we’ll take the 5% Visa charge off too…”

wait…what? I was never told I would have to pay a 5% visa charge. That was not in the paper I signed in the morning, that was not explained on the phone, and both Steve and I phoned in several times for various reasons. It was never mentioned. Next the guy lied to the dispatcher, saying it took him 45 minutes to drive from point a. to point b. Um nope. I can find references to text messages sent and phone calls made that corresponded with when they left Guelph and when they got to Kitchener, and calls made by Steve to dispatch saying “Um? Our moving crew? With all our stuff? Where is it?” Unless they went through a timewarp, that wasn’t 45 minutes.

The dispatcher told them to take a half-hour off the bill, and when they did, they didn’t recalculate the HST to remove the HST on the half-hour that was deducted. At this point the mover who did most of the talking got really defensive and ugly. I’ll admit my dad was in a foul foul mood, but I think we earned the right to be a bit snarly. At the end, they left without giving us more than a visa slip. No bill, no record of what we signed, no paper showing proof that they wrote down the broken TV model, nothing to speak of. Just a slip with the total.

And then things got really fun. Neither moving crew member would give his full name. The one who did most of the talking kept saying “I’m just an employee.” Well, employees have to be accountable, cough up your name. I suspect that the first names they gave us weren’t even real either. Who talks all day to a guy quite fluently in a language that’s not English, and then can’t think of what his name is or how to pronounce it? Without a word of a lie, when we asked for this fellow’s name, his partner said “His her name is…um…sounds like Fell-lix.” Yeah. Uh-huh. Real believable. We even said “Um, you mean Felix?” at which point he sputtered, “Yes, Felix! Yes!”

I don’t know if these guys have a strange sense of humor, but their jokes sure didn’t seem funny. At one point, the one guy said to Steve, “Sir, you have nice stuff…but you have too much of it.” Later, one of them said “Usually our customers pay for our lunch.” This was after they la-dee-daed their way to Kitchener and had broken our TV. If all this stuff hadn’t happened, I would have thought they were joking. Now they sounded like a couple of whiners. You’re movers. Move! I’m not paying for your lunch after you spent 2 goddamn hours on the road for no reason.

One more little tidbit that I should write here that will become very important later. Steve’s sister called us at one point hearing about our disaster move and asked who we had hired. When we said, she said “Oh, those guys. I’ve seen their trucks around town.” When we told dad that, he said “She wouldn’t have seen these guys’ truck, it had no logo.” Buh?

And that was just moving day. Like the cheery fellow says in those infomercials we see so often, “But wait! There’s more!” I’d split it here, but I want this to be in one solid mass.

Feeling quite guilty for failing to do my research on these fellows since I was in such a panic to get things rolling, I decided to do a wee bit of research, to see if I could have discovered problems and prevented this whole disaster. At first, things appeared to be showing me that no, research wouldn’t have been helpful. They had an extremely high rating on homestars.com, a site that my sister had used to pick her movers, who were quite good. Then, I looked at the reviews. I don’t usually bother with reviews because they’re either too vague or look like they’re written by the company. You often don’t get much good information, just opinions on the extreme ends of the spectrum. But these reviews…oh lord. They looked a. fake, b. badly written, and c. written by the same person. Don’t believe me? Have a gander at the Metropolitan Movers review page on Homestars. Or, here are a couple served up right here.

Metropolitan Movers is the number one moving company for me. I already used these movers 3 times and they never made any disappointment at my part. They just come on time, started their job right away after few conversation with us. Their moving men are fantastic they don’t want much time to be wasted.
They packed all my things in a most secure way and It was fast and efficient. It was a positive experience with them I was very impressed by their service it was a definitely fine, smooth move an effortless and stress free move. If I got plans of moving my stuff again I would definitely use them again without any doubt at all. They have all my trust and I feel so comfortable with them they were friendly, approachable and they were the most affordable moving company that I have used ever. If I am going to compare their work from the other moving companies they were the best among others. My loyalty is on you guys. I will definitely recommend you company any of my friends and even to my boss.

Hi guys, I am very happy of our output during my move together with my family last week. It was really a good experienced with your company. You really take good care all of my belongings which are really important for me and to my wife. Really, you were great since you are responsible and really know what to do with your job. To the movers who helped me a lot, thank you so much you two are well organize, friendly, and approachable. You are all very professional the way you carry all my things and belongings. I know it, the way they handle their job, they are very careful and always systematic and that is what I need from a moving company. Definitely, you will be one of the best moving companies someday worldwide.

Here’s my favourite…of all.

Claudine Webb from Toronto
I was very happy when I made business with you. It was a very good decision that I made to make you as my official moving company. You never give me any problems and it was my 2nd move using your company. The best thing about you is you are always on time and making your job so perfect, solid and smooth. You always help me to prepare all my stuff and belongings by wrapping and packing and make sure all are safe and ready for move. My wife is very happy with our move and you all are always approachable. Well what I can say is that you are always professional and hardworking. I can always observe that you all are responsible as if you owned the things. Definitely I will recommend you to all of my coworkers and friends.

Ok, sure, some people’s English can be less than stellar. But one fellow’s name is Melvin. Sounds like Melvin perhaps? And…Claudine? But she has a wife? I don’t mean to be closed-minded, I mean there is gay marriage and all…but it seems a little fishy.

But even if Melvin came from some other part of the world and Claudine does in fact have a wife, let’s motor on over to the Guelph Movers testimonials page.

This is my 3rd move but this is the first time that I hired this company. I admit I wasn’t sure about hiring a moving firm again because of the bad experience I had with my previous companies. Now I Thank God that I did avail of their service. This company gave me the most hassle free move ever. My belongings are handled perfectly that they arrived at my new house complete and damage free. The moving men are friendly, uniformed, on time and industrious. The best thing about this company is that their rates are reasonable. Good job! ——Rafael, 42, Guelph

Industrious? Avail of their services? But this feller can’t get his tenses right? Kinda like…those other reviews I mentioned. Hmmm.

Not far down in my googling, I came upon a page full of Better Business Bureau complaints about them. Oh damn it. Damn damn damn it.

The next day, we got a call from a fellow from Metro Movers wanting to ask us a few questions about the service we got. Oh. The poor fellow. He did not like what he heard. Steve said he sounded o so happy until he answered his first question.
Survey fellow (cheerily): How would you rate the service you received? Was it very professional, somewhat professional or less than professional?
Steve: Definitely less than professional.
Pause
Survey fellow (markedly less cheerily): Oh…boy. What…happened?

Steve said his demeaner sounded like someone had dragged him to the centre of town and made him watch as he shot his puppy. Either that or he was a balloon and Steve had just let the air out of him and he was sputtering around on the ground.

The fellow told us to make a formal complaint and told us where to send it. And oh we did.

At first, I was hopeful. The first message I got back, although it looked like it was written by the same people who wrote the testimonials, promised they would investigate what happened, and work to find a resolution, actually the word they used was “resolve.” But anyway they said they would get back to us in 3-5 business days.

The woman whose name was in the email called us, and she sounded like a perfectly fluent speaker of English. Why would someone who seemed to speak perfectly well write an email like the one we got? Hmmm. Are there two people doing her job, one sending the emails and one on the phone?

The one on the phone seemed genuinely appalled about what happened to us. She said that this was not the way they wanted to do business. What she said in that phone call was that the price of the TV would come out of the crew’s pocket, and they would take some time off the bill and fix the HST, and send us a proper bill. She also didn’t think getting a TV through Kijiji was proper, but that was up to the crew manager. She said she would get back in 20 minutes or so with a time frame on when we could expect our TV and a friggin’ bill!

But, the email that was sent between the time she tried to call us and the time Steve got a hold of her was far more stern and unyielding. After detailing the replacement of the TV and taking an hour off the bill, It said the following: “We find the above resolve satisfactory; this offer is firm with no option to contest.”
Excuuuse me? That’s the way you treat people who your moving crew hosed over? Really? And I’m to believe that the person on the phone and the person in the email are the same? For real? They don’t talk/write with the same level of skill, and their messages don’t quite match.

I didn’t like the way this was going, so I called Visa wondering if I could put a stop payment on the charge. They agreed that while the service we got was crap, they couldn’t really put a stop payment since I authorized the charge. They then told me that it came through on my bill as “SHUTTLE MOVING NORTH YORK”. Uh? I didn’t contract with Shuttle Moving, and my visa slip says “Metro Movers.” I even had someone check.

So yeah…about that phone call we were supposed to get re: a time frame? Steve talked to her on November 8. There was not a peep out of the phone, still hasn’t been one, since. The emails flew, though, and things vastly degenerated.

I wrote an email responding to hers re: the “resolve” she was offering. For the most part I was nice, but I had a few questions, like can I have a bill please, and when will this be all wrapped up, and what’s with the charge coming from Shuttle Moving? Suddenly, the emails I was getting were even more unyielding, saying that they reserved the right to subcontract and that I should contact Shuttle Moving for any further questions. Excuuuse me? Just because I asked for clarification didn’t give them the right to just wash their hands of the whole thing. I have my suspicions that if I hadn’t mentioned Shuttle Moving, they wouldn’t have told me to go deal with them. It was like by asking questions, they thought I had somehow given them a way out. Hmmm fishy.

We tried to reach this person who called herself Nicole Millar by phone on Monday the 12 but the voicemail box we got didn’t actually mention her name on it. So I sent another email sounding a little more pissed off, basically saying no, we’re not dealing with Shuttle Moving, we dealt with you, you deal with Shuttle Moving. Just fix it, please.

I’d also done some reading, and this company claimed they had insurance, so I asked why they were nickel and diming over things, why not just put the claim through insurance? The email I got back was rather bizarre.

a. It claimed that insurance wouldn’t cover a broken TV.
B. It claimed I should have known this because I agreed to their terms and conditions when I scheduled the move. Um, I scheduled the move over the phone, never received anything by email and was never told to consult a link to terms and conditions. Also, all they left us was a visa slip. I asked what I was signing and neither the moving people, nor my mom who was there, mentioned any terms and conditions. Only now that we’re going back and forth am I givena link to their terms.

She then told me to refrain from contacting her any further.

So…I had been talking to a lawyer from work. *I* didn’t contact her any further, she did. It was almost amusing watching my lawyer friend flame broil this woman by email. She’s awesome. Then Metro Movers got into rather stupid antics.
A. They claimed that they called us 3 times to get a hold of us, when they called us once and didn’t even let our answering machine pick up or the caller ID finish reading off their number. I have reason to believe this was happening while this 3 attempts email was being sent to the lawyer.
b. they tried to tell the lawyer that they didn’t have their own crews, they’re just a broker. Meanwhile we have another email from them saying they have their own crews but reserve the right to subcontract if their own crews are unavailable.

And finally, when they were trying to totally recant the offer and the lawyer wasn’t having any of it,
c. Ms. Millar told the lawyer to stop talking to her, and this was bordering, no, boarding, on blackmail and harassment. I have to get my words, although incorrect, correct.

In the end, I think our poor lawyer friend was confused into talking to the subcontractor, but they did agree to give us an adjustment to our bill, and they have come through with that. I got a TV from another coworker. My dad fixed the dresser, and we’re going to get new canisters. All things were reassembled. In the end, the remnants of our horrible move are disappearing. But good lord what a royal shmozzle.

I have been amazed by some other big companies being quite kind to us when they hear our story. Visa gave us a break on interest while we wrangled things out of the movers. Rogers, because we didn’t have a TV for nearly 2 weeks, gave us a good will discount on our TV part of our bill. Visa and Rogers, who aren’t usually known for their generosity, were good to us. This was kind of refreshing amid the chaos.

So, here are some lessons we’d like to pass along to anyone else who’s planning a move and wants to get movers.

  • Take it slow. Do a little digging into the movers who you’re choosing. We did a bit of comparison shopping, but not a lot of research, and we’re usually the researching type. But we were in a panic and a hurry, so we paid for it. So even if you don’t have much time, you have time to hit the google for a while.
  • Even better, get more personal references. After we moved, we heard all about the wonderful movers our friends had used. Damn it! *slaps head*
  • bother them more than once to see if their story about pricing changes. We did that, and when things went sideways, that turned out to be the best thing we could have done because we had notes of what they said.
  • If a company tells you something is binding and final, there’s probably more wiggle room there than they’d like to have you believe.
  • and most importantly,

  • Even if Metropolitan Movers, or maybe Shuttle Moving North York, is cheap, there’s a reason they’re cheap. You don’t want them within 10 miles of your TV or other valuables. And I doubt this is the first time their company has received a complaint. Hell, we know it’s not. Look at that BBB page I linked to before.

Ug. I started writing this Wednesday. It’s Friday now. Sure I had work and things to do, but this took a looooong time. See why we didn’t write this sooner? Hopefully it was worth the wait and will save some other poor sap from going through this ordeal.

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