Westbrook Moving was contracted to pick up and deliver a set of six fine antique chairs, from Atlanta GA to New York. Services were specifically to include "White Glove Delivery", the highest level of care and handling, which called for the chairs to be individually wrapped in protective blankets as well as any other steps necessary to avoid damage in transit. I also purchased damage insurance for the declared value of the chairs, $3000. The invoice was paid in full prior to pickup.
The shipment arrived, unannounced, on 11/5/15. The chairs were piled in the van in a stack, one on top of another, with virtually no protection - only shrink wrap plastic and no additional blankets or padding between the chairs. As a result, every chair sustained significant damage to the wood, and in some cases to the leather seats as well. The chairs came out of the van with multiple gouges and indentations to the wood, as well as scrapes and scratches to the wood and leather, and a cracked leg - exactly what one would expect from the failure to protect them on an 800 mile trip. The damage and mishandling was noted on the delivery paperwork, signed by the driver, and immediately reported to the company by telephone. Photos documenting the damage were sent the same day.
The response of the company and its owner, Justin Westbrook, was nothing short of outrageous. Westbrook claimed that the chairs had been padded, in direct contradiction to my personal observation. He claimed that all antique chairs show the damage that I described and documented, and that the damage existed prior to his company's involvement. The auction house, Ahlers & Ogletree, later confirmed the condition of the chairs - "Overall condition is very good. All six chairs are structurally sound. There are minor blemishes to the finish commensurate with age and usage and not distracting. There are no dents, gouges, significant scratches or loss of wood."
Despite the auction house's professional assessment, and despite the fact that some of the damage was unmistakably fresh, Westbrook refused to take responsibility for their error. I obtained three local bids to repair the chairs and submitted the low estimate - $1200 - to Westbrook for the insurance claim. Westbrook refused to submit the claim and gave me the option of returning the chairs to Atlanta for repair by them (fat chance) or accepting a settlement of $300. Neither option was reasonable or acceptable. The offer was insulting, the behavior unprofessional and, ultimately, hostile, the damage both significant and heartbreaking.
I am not a stranger to the moving business, having worked on trucks for Allied Van Lines throughout college. I have personally moved half a dozen times in my adult life. The behavior of Westbrook throughout this episode is, in my experience, unprecedented. Westbrook both misrepresented to me the service to be provided, significantly damaged my property, and, it appears, fraudulently sold me damage insurance. Both in direct conversation and on their website, Westbrook spelled out the details of their "White Glove Deliveries". Their promises bear no resemblance to the services provided. It is remarkable that a company so dishonest and/or so incompetent can stay in business. Caveat emptor.