We used supposedly professional movers to get our household goods fromAlameda, CA to Madison, WI. The firm that we unfortunately chose was,Rossiter Relocation Services. Our instructions tothe movers were very clear:1. Pick up our household goods from our apartment in Alameda, CA on 27 Jun02. 2. Deliver those goods into temporary storage. 3. Deliver our goods to our house in Madison, WI on 02 Aug 02. We contacted several movers before choosing Rossiter and all the moversmade it very clear that these instructions were very clear and very easy toexecute on their part. Rossiter sent over a seemingly knowledge man toprovide us with an estimate (binding, thankfully) based on the inventory ofour apartment. This estimate was lower than some of the otherestimates that we got and higher than others. We weren't quitecomfortable choosing a mover that wasn't a "national" mover eventhough some of the local companies offered us excellent rates. So, wechose United Van Lines and their proxy, Rossiter Relocation Services.

The whole moved started auspiciously enough.

On the appointed day, and at the appointed hour, two friendly gentlemenshowed up at our apartment in Alameda and carefully loaded our householdgoods onto a moving truck. This moving truck headed out forLivermore, CA, where the goods were off-loaded into a storagefacility.

Time passed.

On 31 Jul 02, from the parking lot a friend's apartment in St. Paul, Icalled Rossiter on my cell phone. I wanted to check in with our"move coordinator" to find out exactly when our goods would bearriving in Madison. Imagine my surprise, rage, and frustration, whenthe move coordinator told me that our goods were still in the Livermorewarehouse and that it would take a few weeks to get them to us inMadison. The goods were still in the warehouse because it was too muchtrouble for the move coordinator to ship out the goods before wecalled. (If we never called, our goods would still be instorage!) The move coordinator told us that she had no idea that wewanted our goods on our about 02 Aug 02, it would take six days for a truckto be assigned to haul our load to Wisconsin, and then it would take many days,possibly a week or more, for the truck to actually deliver the goods toWI. So, after taking a few deep breaths, feeling my blood pressure gostraight up to levels that science and medicine can only imagine, anddeciding to avoid exercising my extensive profanity vocabulary, I calmlyinformed the"move coordinator" that I was frustrated with her failure tofollow through on simple tasks that are very clearly herresponsibility. Then, I asked for her supervisor. When I finallygot the supervisor on the phone, I explained that I would not be satisfiedwith the ordinary "six days for a truck, etc." nonsense thatpasses for a normal move timetable. The supervisor tried to sing me asong and dance about moving mountains and blah-blah-blah. My responsewas that I was not interested in their problems, and that this was the timefor moving mountains, not complaining about their size. Also, Iinformed the moving company that the next day, 01 Aug 02, I would bearriving in Madison with no furniture, no job, and nothing to do. However, I would have a phone. Who did they think I would callwhen I get bored? (Thanks, Josh!) The moving company countered withthe line, "If you didn't want your stuff in July, why are you so eagerto get it now?" This, of course, is just about the stupidest thing theycould have said. That's like saying, "Well, you didn't want yourstuff on 28 Jun 02, so there's no reason you could possibly want itnow." This was the sort of extra effort that I was getting fromRossiter Relocation Services: they were working overtime to blame thecustomer, pass the buck internally, and hide behind bureaucratichurdles.

Anyway, Rossiter managed to get our goods on a truck a mere six daysafter this conversation, 06 Aug 02! Wow, talk about speed! Theywere really moving mountains out there in Livermore. Ha, ha, ha,ha.

When I started telling the moving company that I wanted compensation forthe time we were going to be without our household goods, they told me thattheir national office wouldn't let them pay me because the national officedidn't have a piece of paper with my signature on it that declared what dayI wanted the goods delivered in Madison. When I pressed Rossiter aboutwhether or not this sort of missing paperwork would be unusual for a move,they declared that the missing paperwork would, in fact, be a key part ofany pre-move consultation between the mover and the movee. In thiscase, Rossiter's salesman failed to present me with this form to besigned. Not knowing that I was missing a form, I certainly didn't askfor it. So, now Rossiter was trying to screw me because they hadscrewed up again!

The Rossiter people also lost a form that authorized them to charge mycredit card for the long-distance portion of the move. Of course, theytried to blame me for this by saying that I had never sent it to them. Of course, this was easy to refute since I had faxed the authorization formsfor both the local move into storage and long-distance move to WI on thesame day, and under the same cover page, which I still had. Since thecompany had successfully charged my credit card for the local move tostorage, it became obvious that they had received both forms and had lostone of the two. Not only was moving my household goods across thecountry proving to be a challenge for a "moving company," simplykeeping track of paperwork was proving to be beyond their abilities! Istarted to despair for our goods that were in Rossiter's fumblinggrasp.

About this time, I started talking to the United Van Lines nationalcustomer service center. This center is apparently staffed by onereasonably competent, informed woman who seems to answer every phone call. This woman told me that she could pay me $200 as a "delay claim,"but that she would need approval from Rossiter to do so. So, Rossiterlied when they said the national office wouldn't pay me. Rather,Rossiter chose to blame the national office to try and cover their own asseswhen it became clear that they were missing paperwork about my move. Even more interesting, the nice woman at the United Van Lines nationaloffice found that a bill of lading (a federal requirement for every move)had never been created for my move. Oops! Yet another screw-upon the part of Rossiter Relocation Services. Well, I finally got thecheck for $200 in the mail, but when I turned the check over to endorse it,there was writing on the reverse. I paused to read the fine-print, auseful habit to cultivate if you don't already have it, and found out thatby endorsing the check, I would unburden United and all their evilchildren from any further claims for damage or whatnot with respect to ourmove. The check remained unsigned until I got the shipment.

Our household goods finally arrived on 12 Aug 02. The goods wereunloaded into our house and we kept a strict inventory of what came into theresidence. Before the driver left, we noticed that we were missinga bookshelf. "Nope. It's got to be here somewhere. Wetook everything off the truck," the driver insisted. We continuedto insist that we were missing a bookshelf. Finally, the driver andhis assistant went out to check the truck. Lo and behold! Themissing bookshelf was on the truck! Now, we went back to our list ofboxes. We were missing five boxes. We had the driver and hisassistant help us dig through the boxes in every room and the basement tofind the boxes we were missing. This process winnowed the list ofmissing boxes to three. Of these three, two were subsequently foundduring our unpacking process. So, we're still missing one box and haveunpacked every box. Beyond that, the movers broke one of our carts(pressboard furniture). The movers tried to explain this away bytelling us (no kidding!) that we had no business moving cheap pressboardfurniture and that having pressboard furniture moved wasn't worth themoney. When I gave them the look that said, "Do NOT feedme that line of bullshit." they backed down and agreed to mark the cartas damaged. When we took the inventory tags off our kitchen chairs,the finish went with the sticker. Apparently, it never occurred to themovers to put the stickers on the bottom of the chairs where there was nofinish and any blemishes wouldn't be seen. We also found a stapleembedded in the seat of our nice wooden bench.

So, now I'm glad that I didn't sign the United Van Lines check. Weare going after them for losing a box, damaging our kitchen chairs, andbreaking one of our carts. I'll post more in this space as theseissues are resolved.

One of the best moments of this whole affair came the day afterour goods were delivered. The supervisor at Rossiter called me up tosay that our goods were going to be delivered the next day, 14 Aug 02.


Update on my claim - 25 Oct02 It has been more than a month since United Van Lines received my claimforms via the United States Postal Service. Fortunately, I sent them with arequest for a return receipt. From this, I learned that United VanLines received my claim forms on 12 Sep 02. According to a letterdated 03 Sep 02 signed by a "Rhonda Jones" at United Van Lines(UVL, hereafter): Once we receive your completed claim form and the abovereferencedinformation, we will move forward with our review and response to yourclaim. You will receive a letter acknowledging receipt of your claim whilewill provide you with the name and the telephone number of your assignedadjuster. In typical UVL lines style, I have yet to receive such a letter. However a week or so after getting the return receipt in the mail, I got acall from a gentleman at a local furniture repair and refinishingbusiness who explained that he had been assigned by UVL to come over to ourhouse and ascertain the extent of the damage to our goods. This nicegentleman came over, examined our damaged and broken furniture, our damagedgarden implements, and the like. He left us his business card and saidthat he would be in touch.

Time passes...


From: David BogenTo: mail_uvl_claims@unitedvanlines.comSubject: Claim Status?

Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2002 18:01:09 -0500Hello:What is the current status of my damage claim on order number xxxx-xxxxx-x? You have been sitting on this claim for a month now.

Also, a letter I received from a Rhonda Jones dated 03 Sep 02 that reads:"Once we receive your completed claim form and the above referenced information, we will move forward with our review and response to your claim. You will receive a letter acknowledging receipt of your claim while will provide you with the name and the telephone number of your assigned adjuster."Of course, in typical United Van Lines fashion, I have not received such a letter. In fact, I sincerely doubt that such a letter was ever generated, much less sent. I know that you received my claim form because I sent it with a return receipt which the postal service has delivered to me. A gentleman was dispatched to my residence several weeks ago to ascertain the damage to my furniture and other goods. However, since that gentleman does not work for United Van Lines, but for a furniture restoration company, it seems unlikely that he is my "assigned adjuster" and that he would know the status of my claim.

Sincerely,David Bogen


More time passes...


Date: Tue, 22 Oct 2002 13:13:39 -0500From: David BogenTo: mail_uvl_claims@unitedvanlines.comSubject: Claim StatusTo Whom It May Concern:Since you are apparently ignoring the message I sent to you last week, that message is attached to this message for your convenience. Obviously, the issues raised in that message remain unaddressed.

David Bogen-------- Original Message --------Subject: Claim Status?

Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2002 18:01:09 -0500From: David BogenTo: mail_uvl_claims@unitedvanlines.comHello:What is the current status of my damage claim on order number xxxx-xxxxx-x?

You have been sitting on this claim for a month now.

Also, a letter I received from a Rhonda Jones dated 03 Sep 02 that reads:"Once we receive your completed claim form and the above referencedinformation, we will move forward with our review and response to yourclaim. You will receive a letter acknowledging receipt of your claim whilewill provide you with the name and the telephone number of your assignedadjuster."Of course, in typical United Van Lines fashion, I have not received such aletter. In fact, I sincerely doubt that such a letter was ever generated,much less sent. I know that you received my claim form because I sent itwith a return receipt which the postal service has delivered to me.

A gentleman was dispatched to my residence several weeks ago to ascertainthe damage to my furniture and other goods. However, since that gentlemandoes not work for United Van Lines, but for a furniture restorationcompany, it seems unlikely that he is my "assigned adjuster" and that hewould know the status of my claim.

Sincerely,David Bogen----- End forwarded message -----


Time passes, again...


Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 09:33:25 -0500From: David BogenTo: mail_uvl_claims@unitedvanlines.comCc: webmaster@unitedvanlines.comSubject: Claim StatusTo Whom It Apparently Doesn't Concern:My original message to you, now over one week old is below. Obviously,every issue raised in that message is still open since you have been soastute is either ignoring that message or failing to respond in a timelymanner.

David Bogen----- Forwarded message from David Bogen ----- Date: Tue, 22 Oct 2002 13:13:39 -0500 From: David Bogen Subject: Claim Status To: "mail_uvl_claims@unitedvanlines.com" To Whom It May Concern:Since you are apparently ignoring the message I sent to you last week, that message is attached to this message for your convenience. Obviously, the issues raised in that message remain unaddressed.

David Bogen-------- Original Message --------Subject: Claim Status?

Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2002 18:01:09 -0500From: David BogenTo: mail_uvl_claims@unitedvanlines.comHello:What is the current status of my damage claim on order number xxxx-xxxxx-x?

You have been sitting on this claim for a month now.

Also, a letter I received from a Rhonda Jones dated 03 Sep 02 that reads:"Once we receive your completed claim form and the above referencedinformation, we will move forward with our review and response to yourclaim. You will receive a letter acknowledging receipt of your claim whilewill provide you with the name and the telephone number of your assignedadjuster."Of course, in typical United Van Lines fashion, I have not received such aletter. In fact, I sincerely doubt that such a letter was ever generated,much less sent. I know that you received my claim form because I sent itwith a return receipt which the postal service has delivered to me.

A gentleman was dispatched to my residence several weeks ago to ascertainthe damage to my furniture and other goods. However, since that gentlemandoes not work for United Van Lines, but for a furniture restorationcompany, it seems unlikely that he is my "assigned adjuster" and that hewould know the status of my claim.

Sincerely,David Bogen----- End forwarded message -----


Finally, a sign of life from UVL!


Subject: Claim Status U xxx-xxx-xTo: David BogenFrom: Phil_Petersen@unigroupinc.comDate: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 13:21:07 -0500Sir, I am your new adjuster on your claim for damages related to yourinterstate relocation with United Van Lines. I have reviewed theinspection report provided by Heartland Furniture ( received in our office10-21-02) and have giving their office authorization to make repairs toyour claimed items. Someone for their office will be in contact with you. If you need to contact me, I can be reached at 636-305-4783.


Hey, Phil. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule toanswer my third e-mail. Your e-mail, of course, is just chock-full ofuseful information. My favorite bit is your defensive little statementabout how you didn't get the inspection report until 21 Oct 02. Ofcourse, this doesn't excuse the fact that UVL ignored me for nearly aweek. But hey, among corporate flunkies, what's a week, right?


From: David BogenTo: Phil_Petersen@unigroupinc.comSubject: Re: Claim Status U xxx-xxx-xDate: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 16:19:55 -0500What about items that were either lost in transit by UVL or damaged beyond repair? How will be compensated for those items and in what timeframe?

Also, just because did or did not receive a report from an adjuster, that is not an excuse for ignoring my messages for over a week.


Subject: Re: Claim Status U xxx-xxx-xTo: David BogenFrom: Phil_Petersen@unigroupinc.comDate: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 16:55:35 -0500Sir, The items that are damaged and can not be repaired will be settledafter the repairs have been completed. At that time the results of thetrace for missing items will also be addressed in a letter with thesettlement check.


Wow, one thing at a time. How do you folks get to work, Phil? It's pretty clear that you couldn't possibly drive to work because it isdoubtful that you could concentrate on keeping the car "between theditches" (a phrase I recently heard), keeping the speed below the legalspeed limit, and listen to the radio, all at the same time. Of course,the longer you sit on money that rightfully belongs to me, the more interestUVL makes off that money, don't they Phil? Interest like that can keepa corporate monkey like yourself pseudo-gainfully employed, right,Phil? Anyway, it's getting hard for me to write letters to theseclowns without letting sarcasm nearly drip off the letters.


From: David BogenTo: Phil_Petersen@unigroupinc.comSubject: Re: Claim Status U xxx-xxx-xDate: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 17:14:32 -0500Dearest Phil:Is the letter you mention below going to be like the one UVL was supposed to send me upon receipt of my original claim form, that I never got and that I suspect was never generated or sent?

Perhaps the letter you mention below will closely mirror the letter detailing who would be handling my claim, which I also never got.

How quickly will repairs be made to the damaged items? You've been sitting on this claim for nearly a month now and, quite honestly, I'm sick and tired of thinking about it. I'd like nothing better than to finish this ridiculously long process, and get on with my life, after filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, of course.

How quickly will items that "are damaged and can not be repaired" be settled after the repairs are made to the merely damaged items? Will it be another month of you folks sitting on your hands, followed by a month of ignoring my queries, before anything happens?

Yours in complete disbelief at United Van Line's complete disinterest in correcting their mistakes and complete lack of surprise at the same,David BogenOn Friday 25 October 2002 04:55 pm, you wrote:> Sir,> The items that are damaged and can not be repaired will be settled> after the repairs have been completed. At that time the results of the> trace for missing items will also be addressed in a letter with the> settlement check.>


So, it's now 6 PM CDT on a Friday. I have absolutely no delusionsthat I'll hear back from UVL before sometime Monday afternoon. So,until then, I'll just enjoy the weekend.

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