By Michael Coates Sunday, April 28, 2002
I hate moving. I hate the padding and the packing… the lifting and lugging… the coordinating and updating… and, of course, I hate the cost.
I have no doubt the intensity of my feelings is directly related to how frequently I go through this hassle. Just days ago – 14 months after settling into a home in Blacklake Village – I moved for the fifth time in seven years… this time to Arroyo Grande. I approached this latest move with greater anxiety than usual due to the dreadful experience of the last move.
I thought Eileen and I had taken most of the worry out of the equation when we relocated from Los Angeles to the Central Coast. The Santa Maria Times was generous enough to pay for our move, so we hired a nationally known company to handle everything for us, including all of our packing. We even bought extra insurance to cover the full replacement cost of our belongings.
You know what they say about the road to hell being paved with good intentions? Well, in this instance, so was the road to Santa Maria. Every piece of cookware we owned vanished. Of course, we didn’t know anything was missing for several days, because movers don’t stand around waiting for you to open and inspect every box. If they did, it would have been a long wait anyway, because everything was so poorly labeled that unpacking became a nightmare.
When we realized we had no kitchenware, we were annoyed, of course. But we weren’t particularly concerned, because we had all that extra insurance. Actually, I felt kinda smug about it… until the moving company rejected our claim outright.
Seems missing items weren’t covered. And the nice estimator who sold us the extra coverage didn’t mention that fact. If the moving van had rolled over a few times on the rain-slick highway or plunged into the ocean, well, then our rubble would have been covered.
But not our missing kitchenware. Why? Because it was missing, of course. We had no proof that company crew members ever packed and loaded it on the van, so as far as the company was concerned, it never existed. Very convenient policy for the moving company.
I don’t have much in the way of sentimental possessions, and I never developed a bond with the kitchenware, so I didn’t get emotional over the loss of our George Foreman grill.
Since my “toys” survived the trek in good shape – a carousel horse, some prized rock memorabilia, and a jukebox that I had shipped from the Wurlitzer factory in Germany – I probably would have let the matter drop. But Eileen tenaciously wrote letters and made call after call to the moving company. After six months, we received a decent settlement… not enough to cover our losses, but far better than the original offer of nothing.
I’m not sure what made them finally give in. It might have been the way Eileen called their bluff when they asked if we’d like them to polygraph the moving crew.
Anyway, after our bad experience, I was apprehensive about the move from Blacklake to Arroyo Grande. Because it was necessary to hold down expenses, I ended up using a small, Central Coast moving company that employs college students. I admit I had doubts, but my worries vanished minutes after the three-man crew showed up to begin loading. These guys were courteous, personable, enthusiastic, organized, thoroughly professional, extremely hard-working and quick. They didn’t break, damage or lose anything. They didn’t pad their time. There were no late efforts to jack up the price. In short, there were no surprises… unless you count they way they jogged to and from the truck when their hands weren’t full. Or the way they asked if the process was going well for me. It was the smoothest move I’ve ever undertaken.
So, who were these guys? I really shouldn’t promote a specific company, but I can give you a clue: Just think of Archie Bunker’s favorite name for his son-in-law.