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Frustrating experience but they tried hard maybe

Submitted this review about Budget Van Lines
Review made Live: 7/23/2015 10:35:00 PM
I moved long distance from New York City to Boston. I used the online tool at budgetvanlines.com- filled out the online form, got a "soft estimate," and then got bombarded with email's and phone calls from local moving companies. I called the 800 number to speak with a real person. Keep in mind BUDGET VAN LINES (BVL) IS AN AGENT. That means they don't move your stuff--they sub-contract. BVL charges a non-refundable agency fee of $195. The sales agent at BVL went over the inventory, logistics, sent me a quote, and provided a 2 day pickup window a few weeks away. The quote was lower than others, so I signed a NON-BINDING estimate. The agent then charged me the $195 non-refundable agent fee and an initial deposit on my credit card. I was instructed to pay 50% of the balance directly to the movers at pickup ($525) and the balance at dropoff ($525). CASH or a POSTAL MONEY ORDER only (no credit cards). Moving out of a full service (doorman/elevator) building in Manhattan is not a simple task - you need to reserve the elevator - so the 2 day pickup window was tricky. Fortunately, the building let me reserve both 2 days. The building requires a certificate of insurance and proof of workers comp from the mover, so I contacted the sales agent at BVL and emailed him the info. Fast-forward to 1 day before the pickup window: I hadn't heard anything from BVL and needed the insurance. They're supposed to call 24 hours in advance of pickup to give me the time. I called BVL and got a moving agent. They were well organized and my documentation was readily on file. The agent provided me with the name of the moving company (Available Movers) and followed up on the insurance. 24 hours in advance of the "window," I get a call from Available Movers directly. The nice man emails me the insurance info and says they'll be picking up on the second day of the window between 9-11AM. I scheduled the elevator. Less than 24 hrs later, I get a call - they'll now be picking up between 12-2PM. I reschedule the elevator. On pickup morning I'm awakened at 8AM by a phone call from Available Movers. They'll arrive in an hour for pickup. I scramble out of bed in a frenzy. They show up promptly at 9AM, pack the furniture in moving blankets, and wrap the mattress/box spring in plastic, I sign some paperwork, hand over a Postal Money Order and they're gone in 45 minutes. The guys were polite and efficient. Everything got out without a hitch or damage. Now that the stuff is gone (Thursday). I get a call from my BVL agent to make sure everything went well. Available Movers calls to schedule drop off between Friday and Monday. I was expecting 7-14 days based on our discussions so I ask if they can push it as to not ruin the weekend. They move it to Monday-Wednesday (free of charge). I really appreciated that because I was supposed to go away. Now, I'm supposed to get 24 hours notice for drop off and I get a call at 1PM on Monday from the BVL agent saying they'll be dropping off TODAY between 4-8PM. I was 3.5 hours from home. The driver then calls to tell me they're on the road. To avoid additional expenses included in the paperwork I signed at pickup with Available Movers ($75/hr of wait time or $350/day) I jump into the car and drive 3.5 hours home. I arrive home at 4:30PM and call the driver. Traffic was bad getting out of NYC --they'll now arrive closer to 8PM. They finally arrived after 9:30PM. The 2 moving guys were grumpy... understandably. They had been working since 7AM and still had another pickup 40 minutes south and had to drive to Maine. That's insane! And did I mention that Available Movers had sub-contracted to Best Movers? So now I'm dealing with Best Movers. I hand over a Postal Money order before the truck gets unloaded and sign some papers. The guys sort my stuff out of the truck by the light of an iphone and somehow found everything. I helped them carry smaller furniture in. My wife made them some burgers to take on the road and I tipped them each $20 because my furniture is heavy. They left happy and my stuff arrived OK. Everything was still wrapped upon arrival although the plastic around the mattress/box spring was torn so they got dirty. The next day, my BVL agent calls to make sure everything arrived OK. I provided feedback on the experience and she apologized for the insanity. Based on my experience, I would not recommend or use BVL again. Having a middleman makes things more stressful. Budget can't really control their sub-contractors. As for the moving companies that actually did the work, Available Movers was ok, but Best Movers is working their people into the ground.