I hired AMJ in BC to move us across country to Ottawa and they did an amazing job - I did not regret a cent of the 18K I paid for it (packing included), and I thanked goodness we had such a careful and competent head mover in Jake. When a month later we had to move 5km I was horrified. The movers showed up an hour+ late, (it was snowing, to be fair) they did not bring nearly enough runners to cover their paths inside the house and the floors throughout the house were completely covered with salt, dirt, and water. They asked for our broom and to my surprise, took it outside and swept their truck down with it but did not touch our house. (We never did see that broom again.) The head mover told me if I cared about my floors in the new house I should go get a bunch of drop cloths or something to cover them for the move in. I would have thought a moving company in Ottawa would have enough experience to bring lots of drop cloths on a snowy day, and if not, they should have had someone deliver them when they realized they were grossly under-equipped.
Without thinking I did go out and buy some drop cloths, big floor mats and plastic tarps so that my new floors would not be treated in the way the old house's floors were, and by the time I got to the new house the movers had already been tromping through the house (new hardwood floors and all) and they were so fast they had already unloaded about 1/2 of our belongings. They were using the same soaking wet runners and some furniture blankets. The custom wood floor was full of salt and dirt. They were offloading the boxes into our garage, sitting them down in a puddle of water (even though it was the only puddle in the garage and there were lots of dry spots they could have used. Then putting them on their backs wet, and carrying them into the house. They had no slip-on plastic shoe covers like Jake and his crew had used and they were all walking throught he house from the truck and stopping in the puddle in the garage to pick up more wet boxes. I put a big mat down in a dry spot and they did eventually start using it, but not always, and by then it was too late anyway. The first thing one of the movers coming inside said to me was 'none of your boxes are labelled so you can't expect us to know where to put them and if we are carrying 3 or 4 boxes at a time you can't expect us to put them in the right place'. I said that most of the boxes were labelled but if they weren't sure they could ask me, or we wouldn't be too hard on them when we found an unlabelled box in the wrong spot. However, whether the boxes were labelled or not, they put them down wherever it seemed easiest. I kept having to tell them 'this says kitchen' it shouldn't be in the basement and such. I honestly thought they must have been illiterate.
I even found two large sized boxes labelled 'master bedroom' shoved into our tiny powder room downstairs, jamming it so that there was no way to get in the room. When I pointed that out one of the guys said to another - 'start putting boxes in the right place' - he got an offhand remark from the offending mover, with an intonation leading me to think he didn't care one iota about where they were to go and was having fun messing around with them.
After a while I gave up trying to deal with the crew offloading the boxes since they were not responsive, at least one had his earbuds in and the other two were less than helpful when I did ask them to do something. They grabbed boxes like it was a huge hassle to do their job properly and it was obvious they just wanted to get out of there fast.
When they brought my desk in, which they had partially disembled, one of them asked where I wanted it (which in itself was amazing) and I said he could assemble it right there. I said the other movers had mistakenly assembled it wrongly and the level on the desk was wrong. He got what I can only describe as 'huffy' and told me he had picked up a desk that was already assembled and had only partly disassembled it therefore he should not have to re-assemble it differently. I found myself mourning Jake - who was helpful in every way, kept an eye on his crew and kept everything in proper check. His crew would certainly have put together the desk differently if I had instructed him, but I did not see their error until they were gone (back out west). I was so tired of dealing with this crew's bad attitudes I just said fine - just leave it I'll do it myself. So he did.
I was actually relieved when they shoved the last box into the basement and left. I paid the bill but did not give them a tip and did not even really feel they had earned the price of the 1,300 dollars they charged me, even though they had moved the same 10,000 lbs that Jake had. The last thing Mike, the head mover (who had remained in the truck pretty much the entire time) said to me (pointing to the mess of slushy salty floors in our new house) was 'you should probably clean that up right away or it will (wreck) your floors.' Of course they had taken my broom so that was delayed until I could go out and buy another one. I thought of Jakes crew carefully sweeping throughout their move so that none of the floors got damaged, and putting on plastic booties when they were inside.
I couldn't believe this crew were actually finished so quickly, since it had taken Jake (who was not on the clock, and charged by the pound across country) had taken four careful hours to place our possessions so that we could access them all and in the right rooms. It also did not seem like all of our boxes were in the house after the few hours (2 tops) it took this crew to move us in. I realized why later when I went into the basement - they had put most of our belongings there (it was closest to the door through which they brought everything) and the towers of boxes were crushed, wet and almost falling over. We had packed our large collection of reference books (many of them rare and quite expensive) in 'book boxes' supplied by AMJ and they had stacked them on top of items marked 'soft top' or 'top load', with delicate items in them. The AMJ literature explains how the size of box should denote the wieght of it and we had packed according to that method. Now the book boxes were staked on top and the soft top boxes were on the bottom with their tops crushed by the books. We found many many (many!) boxes clearly labelled 'master bedroom' or 'kitchen' or dining room that were all put in the basement in a truely careless manner.
When I saw the mass of piled of boxes 5 or 6 boxes deep and about 20 long resting precariously on one another, stacked without any room to move betweeen them so that all our storage items were on top of, behind and surrounding our much needed items my heart dropped. The job had not even begun. What was the point of taking care to label things if they were not read?
I phoned my rep Kevin and he said that was not how things should have been done, but that that particular crew was popular with many people because of their speed - something that added up to savings for the customer. I however, had just paid 18K to have my wordly goods shipped in good order and would much rather have paid a couple hundered dollars and had my items arrive in the same condition they had been in before this crew got hold of them. (The money they 'saved' me was less than half the tip I gave to the first mover for doing such a great job.) Now all his and our efforts were inconsequential.
My rep offered to make ammends by sending the same crew back to put the boxes in their proper places the next week. (We moved on a Tuesday). I agreed but said I would prefer a different crew since this one had been so unpleasant to deal with. The rep said 'we like to make sure whoever made the mess has to clean it up'. Something that put me in the awkward position of having to deal with these guys that were difficult in the first place coming back after I had complained about them. So I was not looking forward to the day.
To make the situation worse our basement flooded that weekend due to a faulty sump pump. We found our 7K scanner on it's side (how the movers had left it) in a puddle on Friday and it just got worse from there.
I called Kevin in a panic on Monday telling him our basement was taking on water and that I needed the guys right away.
He told me he arranged for them to come the next morning between 8-8:30. I need not have worried about dealing with the same crew though, since they never showed up.
The next day I waited until 10 before I called Kevin asking where the guys were. Kevin said they were on their way and should be there soon. I explained it was my husband's birthday and I had to go out and make arrangements by noon. He assured me they were on their way. I waited. I called again when they weren't there an half an hour later, and Kevin once again assured me they were on their way. I waited. By 11 am I called Kevin back and he finally went to the trouble of checking on them instead of just telling me they were on their way, and he finally told me they had gone to the wrong address that morning. He said they were on their way again, but I was not convinced I could believe him after 3 false starts and I had to go out within an hour. At that point I told him I did not really even want those guys in my house again since they were so careless in the first place and now they were 2 hours late. He had many excuses and in the end I just said forget it, being too tired to deal with it anymore and needing to get out and to try to salvage the day. Kevin said he could still get them for one day that week but by that time I just didn't have the time or will to deal with it.
We ended up moving all of the (almost 10,000 lbs) of boxes ourselves up two floors, but didn't get it done until after our basement had fully flooded and destroyed many of our rare books.
I was so sorry that, not only had the move gone wrong, but that my faith in AMJ had disappeared. They had always been the one moving company I really trusted, and often recommended in BC. I usually stick to a company once they have proven to provide good serivce and it is such a shame I will have to find someone else when I move. If I go back to BC I will start using them again though.
I would warn anyone using AMJ in Ottawa who care about their move day running smoothly and their possessions being handled with care to beware using the Ottawa branch. I am not sure how the rest of the crews are, but that particular one is cheap for a reason.