Friday, July 18, 2014

Moving internationally .... don't use Graebel

Think all international moving companies are about the same? Think again!

I promised I would write this post even though now it all seems like water under the bridge. However getting the word out about how bad Graebel is and how important it is to check reviews before selecting your moving company seems like a good thing to do.

Theoretically I should have had the option to choose among 3 moving companies, but our move was done in such a hurry up fashion (we needed to be in Australia by a certain date for my son to start school), that apparently my company had to skip that part of the process. One day the phone rang and a young woman who sounded about 18 said she was from Graebel and she would be in charge of our move. Things didn't get off to a great start when she told me that the first thing I needed to do was go through our 3,000 sq. ft. house and inventory every item in it, and assign a value to it. Somewhat stupefied at the thought of how time consuming this would be when I was so close to my departure date and didn't have a spare minute in the day, I said that surely I did not need to list every pair of shoes, jeans or T-shirts in the house, and she replied that actually I did. And every fork, plate and glass? Yes, every one. At which point I had a complete melt down and said that I simply was not going to do that, and if Graebel needed that, then they were going to get to be the ones to call my company and tell them I'd decided to decline the assignment.

Things only went downhill from there. And since it was 3 months before our belongings showed up in Melbourne, that was plenty of time to get really far downhill.

Cut to the chase - we had to file a claim for over $10,000 in damages. The packing job was unbelievably unprofessional and poorly done. The moving company on the australia end which was in charge of getting our belongings out of the container, moving them to our house and unpacking them, was stunned at the condition things arrived in. They said they would not pack things like that to go around the block, much less an international move.

Not a single piece of bubble wrap was used in the move. Not a single one. Just paper.
A colleague of mine who was also moved from NY to Melbourne with a different moving company said that his shipper arrived with huge rolls of bubble wrap, and rolls of cardboard. Each piece of furniture was first wrapped in bubble, and then in cardboard. Our furniture was wrapped in paper at best, and towards the end of the packing (it took them 3 days because they showed up late each day, moved slowly and employed people who did not know what they were doing), they just stuck them in the truck with no wrapping at all.

Needless to say, just about every piece of wooden furniture was scraped and gouged. We have a lot of antiques and the damage was inconceivable. Imagine the gouge in the chair below, times 30 to 40 pieces of furniture, with many of them being damaged in multiple places.

Of course ceramics and glass items shattered. Not surprising when you find out that Graebel used a cheap, thin box to pack our goods, instead of the thicker, stronger (more expensive) quality of box. This caused the boxes to collapse during shipping, and to tear, damaging the items in the box.

What we found endlessly ironic, is that at the start of the packing job, they were telling us about how we could not ship liquids (even in closed, brand new containers) or spices. Or gels. Or this, or that. Their list was very long. On the last day of the packing, when they were flat out of time, they had yet to pack the master bathroom. They ended up taking out each drawer of the cabinets and upending them into a box. All sort of open tubes, gels, and liquids, just dumped in on top of each other in a large box. And yes that is a mirror you see thrown in there with everything else.

We liked the box where they took the glass scale and just plopped it on top of all the toiletry items.  Or the box where they threw in the weights with the ceramic vase - none of them with any wrapping!

I wont continue to drone on about how absolutely terrible this shipping company is, but suffice to say - consider yourself warned. Do not use Graebel, and if your employer suggests using them, direct them to my blog about my experience with them.