The following is based on our experience with Purple Heart Moving Group (PHMG) in the context of a move from PA to FL (contract signed in May 2019, move in June/July 2019). Do not choose PHMG, as you will most likely end up paying more in money, time, nerves, effort, and lost/damaged furniture than you would if you went with a) a reliable moving company that seems to be more expensive at first glance or b) a DIY move. It seems to be part of PHMG’s business strategy to:
– lie to customers on the phone and promise services that are not included in the actual contract;
– lure in customers with unrealistically low quotes (around 50 % of the actual cost);
– tell customers to go along with whatever unexpected charges come up, and that PHMG will recalculate everything and provide reimbursements once the move has been completed—but once the move is over, they tell customers that all the papers have been signed and that it is too late for any recalculations or reimbursements;
– sub-contract with unreliable movers, who may, in addition to being bad movers, not speak English and who may sub-sub-contract part of the move to yet other companies that PHMG does not know about;
– have terrible communication with both the customer and their sub-(sub-)contractors;
– defer any responsibility for delays, damages, losses, and false promises to the sub-(sub-)contractors, incl. providing a very tedious online claims system through which you will have to work out any reimbursements with the sub-(sub-)contractors,
– offer angry customers hush money, a sum much less than the actual damage or cost increase, to prevent them from posting reviews.
WHAT IT MEANS TO DO BUSINESS WITH PHMG
PHMG is a broker, no matter what they tell you on the phone (I was told by PHMG that they were not a broker), which means that they will not handle your move, and instead sub-contract with whoever can give them a good rate. In our case, this led to:
– difficulties in communication regarding pick-up and delivery as well as how to handle payments and reimbursements (in other words: when we told PHMG that the movers had arrived on site with an incorrect inventory of our move and were spending hours on setting up their own, new inventory, although I had provided PHMG with a complete inventory three days before, PHMG told us that we did not have any “actionable” complaints and that there was nothing they could do for us; then our furniture was virtually lost for three weeks and nobody knew where it was or when it would be delivered; and when I called PHMG to inform them that their sub-contractors had charged us incorrectly, they told me to do what it takes to please the movers and that PHMG would handle all reimbursements after the completion of our move, but when it was time for the reimbursements, I was told that I had signed the documents with which the movers had provided me and that there was nothing that PHMG could do for me at this point);
– having to deal with moving companies for pick-up and delivery on whose selection you have zero influence;
– having to make out personal checks and money orders to companies with whom you do not have a contract, and occasionally even having to make out checks or money orders to the driver of the moving truck;
– having our boxes and furniture loaded and unloaded three times (pick-up from our apartment, transfer to a large truck, transfer to a shuttle truck, delivery at our apartment), which increases the likelihood of damages due to improper handling, getting rained on, and/or soaking in dirt water on the floor.
PROBLEMS WITH ADMINISTRATION AND PLANNING
– We did not receive the promised 24-to-48-hour advance warning before the pick-up of our furniture. I called PHMG the night before the move to ask if there are any updates, and I was told that the movers show up in 14 hours (8 am the next day).
– Movers had an incorrect moving inventory, although I had spent almost one hour on the phone with PHMG three days prior to move to update the moving inventory. The inaccurate moving inventory resulted in the movers’ showing up with a half-full truck that was too small to load all of our furniture; a delay in loading because the movers had to create a new inventory; a different pick-up charge than the one with which PHMG had provided me three days prior to the move.
– Instead of the “estimated” delivery of 4–10 business days, it took 3 weeks and 3 days (from June 27 to July 21) for our furniture to be delivered.
– The movers did not know to which address to deliver our furniture because PHMG had not provided them with this information.
– We called PHMG frequently during the last two weeks of waiting for our furniture. We were first told that the furniture would arrive between July 11 and July 14, then it was rescheduled for July 15/16, then for July 18. When nobody had shown up by the evening of July 18, we were promised that the furniture would arrive on July 19. When nobody had shown up by the afternoon of July 19, we were promised that the furniture would arrive on July 20. The movers did show up on July 20, but they spent the day renting a U-Haul truck and loading our furniture from semi-truck into the U-Haul truck. By the time they had delivered a quarter of our things, they were tired and had to stop. They came back the morning of July 21 and unloaded the U-Haul until the afternoon.
– We did not receive the promised 1-day, 3-hour, and 1-hour advance call before our furniture was delivered. Instead, the movers called once they were standing in front of the gate.
– We were not informed until the delivery crew arrived that we would have to pay a shuttle fee (from the semi-truck to our apartment). It was a late Saturday afternoon in Florida, and we were unable to obtain the required postal money order, as all the post offices in our area were now closed. (PHMG arranged for us to be allowed to use a regular money order, which was, I believe, the only time that their customer support was helpful).
– Nobody had arranged for a shuttle truck to transfer our belongings from the semi-truck to the apartment. The truck driver had to rent a U-Haul truck, which was only available after a 3-hour wait. Combined with the time it took the movers to transfer our belongings to the shuttle, this resulted in a delivery beginning at 7 pm on July 20, although we were told that the delivery would begin in the morning.
PROBLEMS WITH CHARGES AND PAYMENTS
– The original quote that I was given when I first called PHMG was way too low and PHMG “adjusted” my payment three days before the move. The new quote was twice as high as the original quote. Here is what happened: Although I had provided PHMG with an accurate account of the amount, type, and size of our furniture during the first phone conversation, PHMG estimated that we would need 30 boxes. I insisted that my books alone fill 30 boxes, and so PHMG increased the estimated number of boxes to 50. We ended up moving 125 boxes. Furthermore, although I had provided PHMG with the dimensions of our furniture, they entered every bookshelf as a small bookshelf, our extendable dining table as a kitchen table for two, etc. The original quote was hence completely and (in my opinion) deliberately unrealistic.
– The payment due at pick-up was higher than the sum that PHMG had told me I owed that day. PHMG told me to pay whatever the movers asked me to pay, and that they would sort it out later (which they never did).
– Packing materials are, according the contract with PHMG, included in the charge. Nonetheless, the movers charged us for packing materials. PHMG refused to reimburse these costs.
– Two different reps from PHMG told me on the phone that all of our furniture would be disassembled and reassembled for free by the movers, and this is also stated in the contract (all furniture that is required to be disassembled for a safe move, and since most of our furniture got severely damaged, it was obviously unsafe for the pieces to be moved as-is). Disassembling all furniture makes sense because PHMG charged us by volume, not by weight. However, the movers did not disassemble our furniture except for two tables upon pick-up, and the movers who delivered the furniture did not even have tools to reassemble the two tables. When we asked to be reimbursed for the air transported inside of our non-disassembled furniture, PHMG refused.
– The movers refused to disassemble our wardrobe. Consequently, it did not fit in the elevator. The movers gave us two options: either pay them $ 140 in cash to carry the wardrobe down the stairs, or have them leave the wardrobe behind. We did not have the cash and had to trash the wardrobe because it was too late in the evening to find another solution to the problem and we could not reach PHMG on the phone. Note: Most likely, the wardrobe would not even have fit into the moving truck, which arrived half-full of other people’s things, so it seems to me that the movers weren’t even trying.
– We were told that the down-payment and the pick-up charge were calculated based on an extremely generous estimate of the volume of our move, and that the actual volume would be measured on the truck, and that our final payment (on the day of delivery) would be adjusted to reflect the difference between the actual volume and the initial overestimate. This should, according to PHMG, have brought our final payment close to zero. However, we had to pay the full price that was based on the original (over)estimate. I called PHMG to inquire about that, and they told me to pay the full amount that the movers request, and that they would reimburse me later on. After the move was completed, I requested an adjustment of the bill that was based on the actual volume of our move. I was told that the actual volume was never measured, and that I signed off on the estimate when the movers first picked up the furniture, and that we would not receive any reimbursement for any overestimates.
PROBLEMS WITH MOVERS ON-SITE
– Upon pick-up, the movers were 4 hours late, upon delivery, several days (see above).
– Both groups of movers spoke barely any English, and the designated person on the pick-up crew who was supposed to speak English didn’t really; the delivery crew did not even have a designated English-speaking person. This led to: extreme delay of creating a new inventory upon pick-up; creating a wrong inventory upon pick-up (e.g., “iron table” instead of “ironing board” and “stool” instead of “toolbox”); impossibility to contest any demands in payments or refusals to provide services that are part of the contract with PHMG.
– Handwritten inventories are ineligible, but we had no choice other than to sign everything.
– The delivery crew consisted of only two men, for full two-bedroom apartment. If we understood correctly, the crew was supposed to consist of four people, but two had taken off with the money from the previous job and gone drinking.
– The delivery was extremely slow, which is understandable considering that two people had to carry the contents of a 2-bedroom-apartment to the third floor of a Florida apartment in July. They had to take frequent breaks lasting 10 to 20 minutes, and some of our belongings were sitting in the rain while they were taking breaks.
– The slow speed of delivery caused the delivery to become an overnight ordeal. The delivery crew started unloading at 7 pm, got tired by 11 pm, and asked to come back the next morning at 8 am. They promised it would only take them another hour or two to finish. They showed up at 8:30 am and completed their job at 1 pm.
– Both moving crews left behind trash in our apartment and on the stairs.
– The delivery crew damaged our apartment, including severe dents and deep scratches in two doors and multiple walls, ceilings, columns, and base boards.
– The delivery crew did not unwrap or reassemble our furniture. We had to unwrap the furniture ourselves and carry the moving blankets to the truck.
– The delivery crew did not put furniture where we wanted it and/or put it against the wall sideways or backwards and still in blankets and plastic wrap.
– Both crews literally threw our boxes into and out of trucks, including items that contained “FRAGILE” stickers.
– One quarter of our boxes and two thirds of our furniture got damaged (scratched, torn, dented, broken, drenched, and/or soiled), partially completely destroyed. The movers had placed large items at the bottom and smaller items on top, which resulted, for example, in a wardrobe box’s being at the bottom of the stack and getting completely smashed—and my wedding dress with it. Part of the boxes and furniture also sat on the ground in the rain.
PROBLEMS WITH PHMG CUSTOMER SUPPORT
– PHMG employees lied to us in various ways. First, they told us that they are not a broker, which they are. Second, they told us that all furniture would be disassembled, which it wasn’t. Third, they told us that we would only pay for the actual volume of our move, but we ended up paying for an estimated volume that was created via phone by a PHMG employee who neither set foot in our apartment ever nor saw the moving truck, and who told us himself that his estimate was an extreme overestimate. Fourth, they told us that cashier’s check and credit card were acceptable payment methods upon delivery, which they aren’t. Fifth, when confronted with these lies, they told us that nobody had ever told us the things on this list, i.e., they lied about lying.
– When we called PHMG and informed them that the pick-up crew did not have the correct inventory for our move and was going to charge us a sum higher than the amount with which PHMG had provided me, we were told that this was not an “actionable” complaint.
– PHMG was frequently unavailable over the phone and did not call back when we left voice mails requesting calls back.
– PHMG customer support reps were frequently rude and disinterested, and almost always unhelpful.
– We requested five times in different phone calls and voice mails to speak to a customer support supervisor, and our requests were denied or not answered. Excuses included that the supervisor was too busy, in meetings, and sick. We insisted that all incorrect charges be sorted out before we have to make our final payment (upon delivery), because we knew that we would not be reimbursed. Nothing was handled before delivery and the supervisor never called. Weeks after, the supervisor emailed us and we were offered a tiny reimbursement that does not even begin to cover our financial damages and inappropriate charges.
– This small “reimbursement” would not have come without strings attached: it was hush money. We would have had to sign a contract that would not have allowed us to publish any online reviews or publicize our bad experience with PHMG in any other way.