Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Joys of Moving

I always get three quotes for moving companies (or removal firms as we call them here in England) when we move. This is not an experience I enjoy very much to be honest. Having to walk through my house with a total stranger, opening every cupboard and perusing every nook and cranny, is an experience I find extremely uncomfortable. There are also other frustrations surrounding these quotes which make them very stressful. My experience this time has been fairly true to form.

Company number one’s representative was nearly twenty minutes late. Although he apologised, he did not phone to say he was going to be late. I know he had a phone because when I called the office to enquire where he was, they said they would call him. Not a very good start. Having said that, representative number one was very polite, reasonably accommodating and acknowledged that I did know a bit about the business of moving. He offered me choices as to the services I required. Content to have every other cupboard door opened, he trusted my description of the contents of those whose doors remained closed. As promised, his quotation arrived fairly promptly.

Company number two’s representative was very punctual and polite. He did not insist that every cupboard was opened and was happy to take my word for what was inside. (I’m not in the habit of lying about the contents of my cupboards to removal companies. It isn’t helpful when it comes to moving day.) When I mentioned our lovely geriatric cat I was pleased to see he looked genuinely concerned, although sad when I found out that the reason for this was that he had just lost both his lovely geriatric cats in quick succession. He then attempted to suggest everything he could to make sure that the move would be as stress free for the aforementioned feline possible. I was offered choices, and he spoke to me with respect and the acknowledgment that moving is something I have done many times before. When I mentioned the other companies we were getting to quote, he said nothing but nice things about them, but promised his service was better. His quote has not yet arrived, but I did not expect it until tomorrow anyway.

Company number three’s representative arrived very promptly this morning. By the time we had sat down in the living room he had put my back up by instructing me as to how we were going to formulate the quotation and telling me what I would be doing whilst he was there. He then pointed out my accent, speculated as to where I was from and looked dubious when I explained I had lived in England for some twenty years. “Still got that accent though, haven’t you?” he said in a vaguely accusatory way. I began explaining that we visit Canada frequently and that I speak to my parents daily before realising that I hardly have to defend accent or nationality to a total stranger, and one with a pretty heavy local accent of his own at that. When we did go through the house, this man insisted on the opening of every single blessed cupboard, and recorded every piece of furniture on his pad with a price beside it. When we sat down to discuss logistics, he told me exactly how I would be moving and did not offer me any choices. He insisted my china would be unpacked, whether I wanted it to be or not, and accused Company number two’s representative of lying when he said that I would have seven days to declare any breakages. He trashed Company one and two’s reputations and accused them of promising things they did not deliver on. As I have used Company number two four times in the past, I knew that they do deliver on their promises and they do allow you seven days to declare any breakages. By the time he left I was beside myself with trying not to tell him exactly what I thought of him. Needless to say, I don’t care when his quote arrives as I would move myself before I would use his company.

Chances are, I will choose company number two regardless of whether they are cheaper or not. I know this as I’ve done it four times before. A lot of the reason for using them so often is their attitude, both towards their customers and their customer’s possessions. I do believe firms who provide a service need to realise that the impression made by sales staff really does count for a huge amount. Let’s face it, company number three have already lost my business entirely because of their salesman.

Isn’t it funny how things work out though? I was checking through my receipts from previous moves this afternoon and I found that I did use company number three once before some twelve years ago. I recognised the move immediately as they left an entire cupboard’s worth of china behind in our flat. Luckily the people who moved into it were very understanding and (despite the English law that says if it is left behind after completion the purchasers get to keep it) willingly returned it to me. Later, when I was sharing my experience with my friend, she told me of an experience they had with company number three that involved a huge number of breakages. I guess company number three is one of those companies whose service, from the sales to the delivery, just never quite measures up. Thank goodness I have a choice. I just wish I had the nerve to call up company number three and explain to them exactly why they are not going to get my business. It would make me feel better anyway. Ah, the joys of moving!

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