Let me start out by saying that we should have known better than to hire this company. While we tried to do extensive research before choosing a long-distance mover, we now realize that there are many things that a company can do to make the information that you uncover look quite different from the reality. One site that we somehow failed to turn up was this one: http://movingscambusters.blogspot.com/ -- and we highly recommend that anyone researching a long-distance move read the information there carefully!
Our experience with FSVL/FSM began in mid-September when we talked to a salesman there named Pete. He was super-eager to get the sale, calling and texting us multiple times even after we told him we'd decided to go with another company -- to the point of being almost stalker-ish. Most of his follow-ups were links to sites we should check out to see how BAD other movers were and to verify that no "hostage complaints" were on file for FSVL. We hate ourselves for eventually being swayed by this -- but FSVL's assurance that they'd pick us up on Oct. 20/21 and deliver our stuff in 3-5 days ("likely even less but we can't guarantee") finally won us over. We backed out on the mover we felt better about and decided to go with FSVL after all. Shame on US. We should have gone with our gut to stay away from anyone so high-pressure on the sale - who talked more "smack" about other companies than positive about FSVL.
Nevertheless, we contracted with them and made our 1/3 deposit payment on 9-18. We were told that as our move date neared, we'd get updates on exact pick-up time/date. On Oct.6, when we'd heard nothing, we sent an email inquiring about the status but were told it was too early to know -- they'd call us a week out. Okay, we could understand that.
But a week out and still no contact from FSVL made us antsy. We called them and were told we'd know more a couple of days out. Okay, kind of tough to plan days off work, packing, etc., but what could we do but wait? (Each time we called, we spoke to someone named Derek/Derrick (sp) or Matt.)
A couple of days out and when we called them (they still didn't contact us), we were told pickup would likely be on the morning of the 20th -- the driver would call to verify. He didn't. We called back and were told there were mechanical issues with the truck and the move would likely be the second day -- the driver would call to verify. He didn't. We called back and spoke to Matthew, who said he'd find out something definitive and call right back. He finally called back 5 hours later to say that the truck was broken down and our move probably wouldn't happen until late on the 21st -- if at all. By that time, we had everything packed and ready to go, our cable/internet disconnected. If we didn't get picked up on the 21, we'd be stuck hanging around in an apartment full of boxes with access to virtually nothing. Also, we had to be in FL for my husband's business by the 23rd, so we had to get out of there.
I was so frustrated that I contacte FSVL via Twitter, and we also began a series of phone calls to FSVL (with lots of promises of return calls that never came) to try to get them to give us a definitive pick-up date and time. When we finally got Derek on the line, we informed him that we were recording the conversation - which we were -- and that since we paid the 1st third of our deposit for a reservation for pick-up, we expected it to be honored. At first, he said he didn't want us to be unhappy but couldn't "help it if trucks broke down," but then he quickly decided to send a crew "that he calls in emergencies sometimes" to pick us up on the afternoon of the 21st after all.
The crew was 3 guys in a U-Haul. They brought ENTIRELY BLANK paperwork from FSVL for us to sign. Instead, we wrote on the paperwork that it WAS presented to us blank and that we couldn't agree to/sign regarding any of the terms on the paperwork. We MADE COPIES, which we kept. The plan was for our stuff to sit in the U-Haul at the home of the driver (Mike) until the 23rd, at which point the real FSVL driver would show up with the real (repaired) FSVL truck, transfer our stuff, and head to FL. Mike assured us that he had rottweilers at his house and our stuff would be safe sitting in his driveway in the meantime. OMG. As you can imagine, we were SICK by now, but we had no idea what else to do except keep good records, take photos of the U-Haul, and hope we'd ever see our stuff again. We called Derek after they left to inquire about why they'd expected us to sign blank paperwork, and he said that it was because of the "special circumstances" and they'd get us the right paperwork later. He also promised to keep us fully informed about how the entire process was going.
We never heard another word from anyone at FSVL, so on the 23rd, we called to find out whether our stuff had indeed been transferred to the FSVL truck. Surprise -- we were told Derek was unavailable would have to call us back. He didn't. We actually called Mike, the guy who'd picked up our stuff in the U-Haul, and he confirmed that the stuff was still sitting in his driveway in that U-Haul.
When we finally got in touch with Derek, he said the truck was still under repair so he didn't know when the transfer and trip to FL would happen, but he'd call us on Saturday. We figuredhe was just stone-walling and wouldn't call since FSVL doesn't have office hours that day, and sure enough, we were right. On the 27th, we still had no clue about the whereabouts of our stuff, and I again went to Twitter -- tweeting both @bestfloridamovers (FSVL) and owner Maxx Socher himself (Be sure to google his name when doing moving research), and asking them to please help us get our stuff!
Late on the 27th, we finally got a call from the real driver of the real FSVL truck. He said he'd arrive with our stuff on the morning of the 28th -- after unloading another family's stuff a few miles north. He did indeed show up as promised (much to our relief). He was driving a FSVL truck, but none of our stuff was in that. Our stuff was in a second different U-Haul driven by his one assistant. The driver brought the same paperwork that we'd seen at pickup -- only now it was completed (as the law/DOT requires). He encouraged us to backdate it to the actual pickup date, which we refused to do. Instead, we wrote on the paperwork that the real pickup came with BLANK paperwork. He asked us what FSVL had told us about why our move was so delayed, and when we told him, he said that what they had told us was about "80% truth" but didn't elaborate on the other 20%.
We got everything back, which at this point, quite frankly, was a happy surprise. However, our sofa had a large grease smear on the front, and our dresser and coffee tables both had large, deep scratches. We later discovered that two decorative knobs were missing from our tansu as well -- we hadn't noticed because when they delivered it, they turned its face toward a wall. Strategically perhaps? We don't know.
A few hours after the delivery, we got a follow-up call from Matt asking how everything went. Needless to say, we were in no mood to speak with him at that moment and told him we really didn't think he had enough time to hear all we had to say about the damage our stuff had incurred or how we thought it went! We also received an email from him later saying that he understood we had some damage and to please call him to initiate the claims process. Oh, and I even got a Twitter reply -- the day AFTER the move -- asking me to please call FSVL. Wow. Too bad nobody at FSVL cared to speak with us until it was all over with!
The truth is that we are just so happy to be done with this experience that we'll suck up the damage if it means NEVER having to deal with these people again! Plus, if their claims process is anything like the rest of their operation, we'd expect nothing from them anyway! Their lack of professionalism truly made our move the move from hell! BE SMARTER THAN WE WERE! HIRE SOMEONE ELSE TO DO YOUR MOVE!