Friday, 20 May 2016

Yard Improvements

Our garage was getting too crowded for PChad to be able to have enough room to work on his car, so it was time to look into getting a shed in our backyard.

First we scoped out a spot.  With a long narrow yard the options were few, so the lone tree had to go.

We discovered 36 hours before our shed was being delivered that we had to prep the ground ourselves, or there would be grass underneath it!  So before dropping the kids at school I called for a load of gravel while PChad worked on tree removal.  After I dropped the kids off I ran into the garden store for a tarp, landscaping fabric & a wheelbarrow.  I had to hurry, the gravel was on it's way!

PChad got to work & after he had taken all the grass out I told him, "that wasn't where I thought we were putting the shed," but apparently I was mistaken, he wasn't going to move it, ha!

The gravel was all put in place & ready for the shed which would arrive the next morning!

Our shed arrived!

I tried not to be in the way while I took pictures, so you'll have to excuse all the reflections in the window...

Walls are up!

Roof on!

Decorative trim, this thing is fancy!

Doors going on!

In 3 hours our shed was built, now it's time to put some stuff in it!  The price was right, & Rainforest Sheds did a great job!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Don't Move With Canadian Moving Systems!

Buckle in, it's going to be a long & bumpy ride, but if you are planning on moving anytime in the future, this is important (& it will explain why I might need to be checked into the loony bin).

*Disclaimer:  Normally I would not call a company out like this, but Canadian Moving Systems have claimed that this is the best their company could have done.  All of the information below has been reported to the company previously, & yet they stand behind it proudly.

About a year ago, when we made the decision to move from Prince Edward Island on the East coast of Canada, to British Columbia on the West coast of Canada, we decided that since we were doing such a major move that would involve putting our worldly possessions in storage for a few months, we'd use a moving company.  We have moved 12 times in our 16 years of marriage, 4 of those being major cross-country moves, & we have always packed & moved all of our stuff ourselves.  This time we decided to treat ourselves by having a company do it for us.  I contacted 10 different companies asking them to quote me a price which would include shipping my car & 2 motorcycles, packing our 6 bedroom house (including disassembling & reassembling furniture), moving from PEI to BC, & the price of storage for the first month, with additional storage rates (since we had not bought a house in BC, we knew we'd need to store our stuff for 1-6 month).  After I received all the quotes, I started with the cheapest company, read reviews, & picked the best deal according to reviews & prices.  We ended up choosing Canadian Moving Systems because their prices were reasonable, & the reviews were quite good.  If only I had known then what I know now...

All of my interactions with the customer service representative were great.  I would be a reference for her if she wants to go to a different company.  The problem is that when you have terrible service, having a good customer service rep doesn't always fix things.

The packing crew arrived 5 strong on a mild day in August.  They surveyed the scene & set to work.  One man spent the whole day just packing the kitchen.  He did an awesome job.  He should get a raise.  The only item broken from the kitchen was my crock-pot.  That seemed like a reasonable amount of damage.  If only the rest of the house had been packed by the same man...

At the end of the day, it appeared they were preparing to leave.  I asked what time they would be returning the next day, & the man in charge informed me they were finished.  I had noticed the laundry room closet still had not been packed, so I asked them about that.  "Oh, we must have forgotten," he said.  While they were quickly packing that I checked & they had also forgotten the cupboard over my desk, the cupboard above the fridge, the rug by the back door, & the drawers with the kitchen linens (which were near the living room).  They then asked me to check around the house if there was anything else they had missed.  The next day I discovered they had left a guitar, the leaf for our dining table, & six folding chairs which had all been behind doors.  Those items then had to be packed in our van across the country.  Customer service apologized for the missed items & credited us $157 for our troubles.

Other than the missed items, the day went well as far as I could tell.  I felt that customer service did a good job of handling the situation, & she was always very kind & helpful whenever I had to contact her.

When we received our household goods from the company, then the trouble started.  We discovered box after box of poorly packed items resulting in breakage which easily could have been prevented.

For any item damaged, since we did not take out additional coverage, they reimbursed us at $0.60 per pound, minus a $450 deductible.  It did not matter to them that much of the damage would have been avoided had things been packed properly, or that at $0.60/lb, I couldn't replace many of the items that were broken by their poor packing job.

Part of our contract with the company included furniture reassembly.  When our goods came, the moving men told me they were not the people who assemble things, & I'd have to contact head office to have an assembly crew come out, so I did.  I was told they would do their best to try to get a crew out, but I should have called them to alert them I'd need furniture assembled (even though it was part of the contract).  I was finally told I'd have to wait 4 days before they could send a crew.  We eagerly awaited the assembly of our beds, the dining room table, my jewellery cabinet, 8 shelving units, the couch legs, & the desk.  They were scheduled to come between 4-6pm.  By 5:50pm I started to worry & called the local office, but it was closed for the day, so I contacted head office again.  Canadian Moving Systems apparently couldn't get their crew to come back, so they had to hire a local handy-man company instead.  After 7 days of waiting, we finally had beds to sleep in, & a table to eat our meals at!

However, the handy-men had some problems assembling a few items.  Apparently instead of unscrewing the legs from my jewellery cabinet, the movers had ripped the skirting off, so it could not be fixed without a strong dose of wood glue.  The men tried, & tried to put the desk together. Then they tried to put half the desk together, then they said, "the desk wasn't taken apart.  They ripped it apart. You can see where they just broke it rather than taking it apart correctly."

I told the customer service representative that we were finding a lot of broken items, her response was, "I am sure we will get this all resolved and make this a positive ending for you and your family."  If only that were true! 

Scroll to after the photos to find out how their claims department works!

Here is my list of grievances:

1. They used as many wardrobe boxes as possible, but they did not use them properly.  They just packed as much into them as they could.  These are the contents of my closet packed in a wardrobe box.

Another example is this box we found that didn't seem to have any rhyme or reason to it.  We took pictures progressively as we got further into it.  Nothing was wrapped.

At the top you can see the bag of golf clubs, & some hubcaps. 

Under the hubcaps we reveal a computer keyboard that was missing a key,
and the vintage Fisher Price airport 

Though difficult to see, a bookend nestled against a hatbox full of Beanie Babies 

A little further down are my garden decorations, a painting tray, & a Ducati motorcycle part which is now scratched.

Under the motorcycle part is a halogen light which was broken.

2. Most things were not wrapped, & many items were shoved into boxes.

Trying to straighten out that rug was quite difficult. 

Our desk files...

Wall clings that may never cling to Chancery's wall since they are so bent.
Proper packing would have prevented this.

I was told that complaining about a bent fly swatter was "exaggerating" the damage, but it was indicative of how items were packed.  If they didn't fit, they were shoved in.

 Apparently complaining about bent books is also exaggerating according to the claims department.

That is a hardback book. 

Auto Decals that were thrown in a box.

These were also put into a box with other items.  It makes me wonder why they bothered to pack them at all. 

Chad drew this.  We got less than $0.60 for it.

Here's the one that irks me the most...
Chad & I bought this mask when we were backpacking through Europe 13 years ago.  We bought it in Venice as a souvenir, & packed it well enough in our backpack that it did not get damaged.  Upon returning to our home in England, we then packed it well enough to ship it to Alberta, Canada without damaging it.  Since that time it has moved to Michigan, Ontario, & PEI, all without damage. When we hire a professional moving company to move it.  They don't wrap it at all, but instead put it in the top of a box, then fold the flaps down on it & damage it beyond repair!

3. The Lego was not put into boxes at all, & the movers repeatedly turned the drawer units upside down when I was nearby.  When I asked them to be careful with them, the men were indifferent.  Many pieces fell out & I retrieved all I could from inside the moving truck, but we still lost a lot of pieces.

We have 5 of these drawer sets full of Lego.

 These are all pieces I retrieved from the truck upon delivery.

Some of the pieces were broken due to the men walking on them.

4. I had set all of out artwork in one room so that it could all be packed together.  It was all packed together without proper padding.  I guess I should have specified that they should be individually wrapped, but should the customer have to instruct a professional moving company?

They consistently put 3 paintings together, then wrapped them in bubble wrap as a set, so that those 3 pieces rubbed against each other without any protection.  Many of our paintings were painted by Chad's grandmother, or art that we had picked up on trips we had gone on.  Again, like the mask, we had moved these many times ourselves without damage.  If you come to our house, & our walls look bare, this is why.  22 of our paintings & photo frames were damaged.

This canvas had a smaller photo frame shoved in behind it, so the canvas is now stretched. 

This is a small portion of the frames that were damaged from rubbing against one another...

5. They were not careful with the items they had to disassemble, & half of the desk was not salvageable.

They left this part of the desk together & packed it in a wardrobe box with other things inside.
The side piece ripped away from the fasteners damaging the wood. 

 Many fasteners were left in place & bent during shipping.

 Looks like they ripped it apart...


So, with all that damage, the next piece of business was the claim form:

Notice the last 4 columns.

Purchase Date: They want to know how old your item is.  That's fair.

Purchase Price: How much did you pay for it when you bought it?  I have no problem with that either.

Weight in pounds: This is the only part they pay any attention to.  No matter what the item is, they take the weight of it & multiply it by 60 cents.  Those lampshades might as well have been thrown out the window of the truck.

Amount Claimed: They don't care what you put in this column.  I even asked why it was on the sheet if they had no intention of paying it.  I did not get a response.

I filled out this form in  full detail as requested.  I dutifully checked how much it would cost to replace my Lampshades ($20 each), Crock-pot ($23), Computer Keyboard ($17), all 82 of my damaged items, but the only column they care about is weight.

The total amount that I claimed was $4879.

I received their email with an offer of "974 lbs @ 60 cents/pound = $584.40"

But WAIT, there's a deductible for $425, so the total amount I would get is $159.40.

Remember, we were reimbursed $157 for the items they forgot to take in the truck.  This hardly seemed like fair compensation for all the damage, so I politely pleaded my case, that things were not packed well & they should take more responsibility.  Here is the response:
"Unfortunately I don’t agree with you that there was any negligence on the part of the crew in relation to packing.  A lot of the damages that you submitted were exaggerated and I went through the pictures myself.  Please keep in mind that the goods were in storage for over 5 months and this can happen during transportation and long term storage.  However, based on the photographic evidence submitted I don’t see that there was any negligence on the part of the crew in packing."
I decided to ask about how the paintings had been packed:
The issue with the paintings was instead of wrapping them in bubble wrap individually, they piled 4 paintings together, then wrapped that as one set.  Then those paintings would rub up against each other every time they move.  I don't believe that wrapping paintings in this way is the proper protocol.  If it is, then something definitely needs to change in the company's protocol!

She said:
Normally we do wrap painting together to ensure that they are a larger bundle and don’t get lost during transportation.  Again normally this does not case any issues or damages.

I then contacted 3 other moving companies to ask how they would pack paintings & received replies from 2 of them, both verifying that paintings should be individually wrapped to prevent contact damage.  I informed her that Canadian Moving Systems standards were not up to par.  In another email she did admit:
 I am not saying that what happened is right and that this is acceptable, however, without proper coverage there is only so much that we can do.
I had to point out once again that my stuff was broken because they did their job poorly:
Company negligence caused an extreme amount of damage.  What I keep getting from you & Canadian Moving Systems is that nothing was done wrong, & this is all normal.  No apologies, no acceptance of blame.  It seems that for your company, this kind of damage in a move is normal.  My point of view is that this damage could have been avoided if things were packed properly (which I know, because I have personally packed our items properly in our previous moves)  When it's company negligence that causes the damage, shouldn't the company be responsible for it?  I think it should be.

Then 3 weeks passed with no reply, so I sent another email stating that I had not heard from her in awhile.  She responded:
I didn’t receive any emails from you until today.  Perhaps it went into junk.  I would like to offer a fair resolution but please understand that I am not able to offer you replacement value or the amount that you are requesting.  What are you looking for as a resolution? 

Nice to know where my emails are going, isn't it?  In my final email to the company I laid it out.
I would like your company to take responsibility for the damage that they caused to my possessions.  I trusted Canadian Moving Systems to pack my items well, knowing they would be shipped across the country & stored for several months.  As I have said before, the kitchen boxes were packed extremely well, if the whole house had been packed in such a way I would be very pleased with the job your company did.  So far, all I have heard from your end is that my move was a standard move.  If that is so, there is a huge discrepancy in how different rooms were packed, & I wonder how many more items would have been broken if the kitchen had been packed to the same standards as the rest of the house.  If you look at the photos listed as "Garage Box", that's all one box, & things were all thrown in randomly with nothing wrapped.  Why is there even a column on the claim form for "Amount Claimed" if you have no intention of paying any amount other than 'standard liability'?  Standard liability is for covering damage that can't be helped.  Packing things improperly can be helped, & items would not be damaged.  What I'm looking for is an acknowledgement from you that my move was done to the best of your companies ability, & if you stand behind it.  If so, I will accept your settlement, but I also feel that I need to let others know that those are your company's standards. 
She responded a few days later with:
Hope that you had a good weekend.  Canadian Moving Systems stands by our work and I am happy to re-send the settlement form for you to sign.   Once we receive it signed I am happy to arrange payment right away.

 So there you have it.  Canadian Moving Systems is proud of a job well done.  However, I would have been better off having a garage sale in PEI.  We have definitely learned our lesson.  Next time we'll be packing & moving ourselves!
Canadian Moving Systems Inc. Reviews in Caglary