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Do Not Use Flat Rate Moving & Storage

Submitted this review about Flatrate Moving & Storage Inc.
Review made Live: 2/23/2015 1:43:00 AM
DO NOT USE FLAT RATE unless you want: all your belongings & your new home permeated with a strong musty odor for months on end after using their NJ storage facility; a couple of broken pieces of furniture; and a laughably small 'courtesy' reimbursement for your troubles, after their citing a policy of only one claim per move (not documented anywhere). Details follow: My furniture/boxes were moved from Queens, NY to a Manhattan apt, after 6-month's storage at FR's Newark, NJ facility. They were delivered to a pristine, newly renovated, freshly painted & empty apt. The musty odor was definitely not there before the items went into storage. The 1st items brought into the empty apt were 2 large cartons packed by Flat Rate. The moment they were brought in, a very strong musty smell was released, acknowledged by the head mover. As more items came in, and as upholstered furniture was unwrapped from FR's moving blankets, the odor increased. I naively assumed this was temporary & would air out in a day or two. For the 1st week, the odor drifted into the common hallway. Over the last 3 months, I have: researched corrective measures extensively on-line; vacuumed & cleaned the apt, the upholstery & all the stored contents many times over; aired out the apt & all the items with window, exhaust & circulating fans for hrs. on end; air-conditioned to remove any humidity/turned on the heat for the same reason; used over $95 worth of mold/disinfectant/deodorizing/air-sanitizing sprays, odor absorbers & other products in repetitive and labor-intensive cleaning of every item, large & small; washed down furniture; quickly disposed of all the cardboard cartons & packing materials since they smelled especially musty; threw away many items where the smell could not be removed; & aired out & laundered all soft items repeatedly (comforters, blankets, pillows, linens, etc.) As each carton was opened, more musty smells were released & more items had to be cleaned, aired or discarded. This processed continued for weeks and weeks and weeks. My expensive Tempurpedic mattress & boxspring still retain some odor, although not as strong as initially, but I cannot afford to replace them; so do a few upholstered pieces. I had to throw out a costly foam mattress topper, however, because even after cleaning it, after sleeping on it one night, I had a severe reaction (coughing, sneezing, throat closing up, etc.). I was unable to live in the apt for 2 months, although I was paying for it. I finally moved in but still smell an odor, although reduced, but I am concerned about the quality of the air I was & still am breathing. (After hrs of unpacking & cleaning each day at the beginning, my clothes retained a faint musty odor brought into my temp quarters.) When I wrote Flat Rate a letter about this problem, they informed me that I was only allowed one claim, but they would send me a 'courtesy' check for $150. As to that one claim, on the day of the move, the head mover took full responsibility for a broken chair leg, notified the office & sent in a photo. When I called FR a few days later about that broken chair, they told me to fill out a claim form, which I quickly did & was reimbursed for that damage (they kindly waived any deductible). At that point, a few days in, I still thought the odor would soon dissipate & didn't realize the extent to which it permeated my possessions. (I did raise the musty odor as a potential unresolved issue in FR's survey I sent in shortly after the move.) Also, at that point, I had not yet discovered a 2nd broken chair so obviously could not include it in my claim. And since one has 90 days after a move to make a claim, how could one possibly know what else is missing/damaged just a few days after a move when everything is still packed & stacked up? In none of FR's documents do I see mention of only one claim being allowed per move. I paid FR close to $6,000 which included $3,000 for storage (described as 'climate controlled' on their website). Why not reimbursement of my storage costs instead of the $150 "courtesy" check? (And beware: mid-way through the storage period, FR increased my monthly charge: I had no choice but to pay, rather than a costly move to another storage place.) Suffice it to say: I DO NOT RECOMMEND FLAT RATE. Also: Be aware that when you do cash a claim check from FR, you simultaneously sign a legalistic statement releasing them from any and all future claims/responsibilities, now & forever. UPDATE: FR agreed to evaluate my situation via a new claim. I am awaiting their response. Sorry this is so long, but since FR caused serious disruption to my life, I felt compelled to provide the details. Thank you for reading.