Are we being scammed?
March 12, 2019 9:44 PM   Subscribe

We had a reputable local moving company move/reassemble our furniture during a recent in-neighborhood move. A guy (the team lead) broke our mirrored doors on an (Ikea) armoire. He asked us to not tell the main company and instead he would go to Ikea, get replacement doors, come to our house on his day off and repair them for us. He didn't show up on the day/time he said he would, despite texting with us the day before, and now he isn't answering texts. What to do next?

This moving company is *the* most recommended in our city. This was the team lead, so I'm assuming he is a fairly trusted/higher up mover.
I assume that they get in trouble with the company for doing such things and this is why he wanted to avoid going through them formally.
He mumbled something about the company not liking to replace Ikea furniture. He also admitted that he wrapped the armoire incorrectly. He took our existing doors with him.

We have his cell phone number and his first name. We have photos of the armoire before/after.

How many days should we give him before we call the main company?
posted by k8t to Human Relations (30 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
This question has me wondering if I'm way more of an asshole than I think I am.

You already gave him the chance to make it right his way, and he failed to either fix it or communicate about the delay. That was already a favor to him -- I don't think you owe him any more than that.

So, which bit are you worried about here? Pissing off somebody who knows where you live? Getting him in trouble with his management? That the company will be even less likely to get you the resolution you want? From your wording, I'm guessing it's #2, in which case, 0 more days.
posted by Metasyntactic at 9:54 PM on March 12 [29 favorites]


You probably should have already called them. So, ASAP?
Because chances are, he's done this before.
posted by stormyteal at 10:25 PM on March 12 [4 favorites]


You were doing him a big favor by not calling it in.
And how did he pay you back? By not showing up, and now ghosting you.
Call the moving company now.
posted by blueberry at 10:48 PM on March 12 [19 favorites]


I would text him one more time and give him until say Wednesday at 3:00pm local time to make it right or you will make it right.
posted by AugustWest at 11:16 PM on March 12 [8 favorites]


How long has it been? How far away is the ikea? Others may not agree but those are the things I’d personally factor in. Nthing the advice above to give him a final deadline before contacting the company.
posted by Pretty Good Talker at 12:30 AM on March 13


He asked us to not tell the main company and instead he would go to Ikea, get replacement doors, come to our house on his day off and repair them for us.

In this (great) book about working as a house mover in the US, Finn Murphy says this:
"Moving companies require considerable documentation before paying a claim. Do you know why? It's because so many people file bogus claims. Lots of folks want to get the moving company to pay for a re-finishing job on Aunt Tillie's antique vanity. Guess what The moving company doesn't pay for these types of claims, not does some nameless insurance company. The driver pays them. Me, personally, out of pocket. My deductible is $1,600 per move. That's one reason why I'm going to be careful with your stuff".

I mention this to point out that the Team Lead does face the prospect of being personally out of pocket as the result of your breakage - and hence being motivated to take personal steps to make things right rather than have you make a claim and then lose all his deductible for this delivery (and therefore have less money to pay all his crew). Now - he may have made a calculated decision that if he claimed he was going to get you a new armoire and then didn't - that you would just let the whole issue go and he could keep his whole fee. But that does seem to assume he has a worse view of client psychology than I would expect him to have:. Yes, he knows where you live: but you have a damaged piece of furniture which was flagged as undamaged on pickup - and you have a clear motive to complain and damage the reputation of him and his company.

I would give him one more call.
posted by rongorongo at 4:52 AM on March 13


One final text saying "my next call is to the moving company. You have 10 minutes to respond."

You may be SOL with the moving company if you've already signed a document that says that your materials were delivered intact, photos or not. The moving company may be trusted, but that doesn't mean every employee they have is living up to their standard. One of the reasons a company would be trusted is that their policies and procedures protect clients like yourself. By letting the movers on your job skate them, you've bypassed the protections you hired them for.

Maybe the person had the best of intentions, then found it wasn't as easy to get replacement parts as they assumed. Maybe they were intending to scam you all along, maybe they've just been busy and figure that they don't need to rush now that you've already went along. Who knows? Whatever their reasons or motives, it's time to involve the moving company. They've had an opportunity to make right and have not taken it.

In the future, I wouldn't give a person an opportunity like this again. But, if you do, at a bare minimum I would get a video on my phone of them admitting fault and how they're going to make it right. Right now I fear it's going to be an uphill battle if the moving company decides it doesn't want to pay out.
posted by jzb at 5:24 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]


You know, if this were me I'd figure:
1. How long do I have to file a claim with the company? (Like, if you wait a week, do you lose rights in some way?)
2. How much are the doors and are they readily available on the shelf at Ikea?

Now, this guy may be both stupid and a scammer, and just ghosting on you in the hope that you'll drop it. However, if he's working as a mover and has to pay breakages out of pocket, it's possible that he's caught in some kind of poverty trap, where he doesn't have the money/credit to buy the doors due to some kind of unexpected expense, or his day off got changed, or his car broke down or his kid had an emergency out of pocket medical expense, etc etc, and he's panicked and ghosting you because he's panicked. On one hand, yes, it's his responsibility to manage those things, but a lot of people's financial/logistical lives are really precarious, and one expense (remember all those people who don't have any savings) or one shifted day off, etc etc, can cause a cascade of disaster. And people really do panic. I know someone who had terrible trouble with his landlord because his rent was late, and the landlord was willing to work it out if the guy had asked, but he just went silent because he was so afraid.

I'd send him another text saying, "We don't want to go to the company if we can avoid it - give us a date and time that you can really commit to and let's make this right. A short delay is acceptable if you can commit to a resolution" and then see what happens. If he still ghosts, you can decide what to do then.

TBH, depending on how much the doors cost and how hard they were to replace, I might just write it off and replace them myself, because you're likely to have a lot of hassle with the company even if they arrange a replacement. This kind of thing sucks precisely because it's such a long slog to get it straightened out.
posted by Frowner at 5:45 AM on March 13 [23 favorites]


I hate to be a cynic*, but if you already signed off on it, team lead has no further reason to care. Next time, ask him to make it right before you sign, and without charging you for the overtime that occurs while he's making it right. He's asking you to say something's right that's not; that's only honest if he actually makes it right before you sign.

You might get some traction, or at least some satisfaction, by explaining exactly what happened in the company's follow-up satisfaction review (if they have one) or in reviews elsewhere, but though it may punish the guy if the company takes any notice, I doubt that this will get your armoire fixed.

*For your sake. Actually, I love to be a cynic.
posted by ubiquity at 6:08 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]


If you are going to offer a deadline, make it hours and not minutes. Many people keep their phones somewhere other than their pockets, especially if they do manual labor. If the situation is not resolved, review on yelp., google and facebook.
posted by soelo at 7:30 AM on March 13 [4 favorites]


I'm a softie for someone who will make their mistake right, but this guy ghosted on you WITH YOUR PROPERTY. Nope nope nope, call the company, he really, really fucked up.
posted by desuetude at 7:31 AM on March 13 [2 favorites]


If you’ve already signed off that there was no damage, then he didn’t break the mirrors—you did.
posted by spacewrench at 8:03 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]


I worked as a pro household mover, admittedly back in the 80s, for a small family owned company. The crew and driver were in no way responsible for damages. We had insurance. We paid claims. People tried to scam us. But not often .
posted by spitbull at 8:10 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]


He mumbled something about the company not liking to replace Ikea furniture.

just chiming in to say that it's worth checking your contract on this specific point before calling the company -- some companies (including my favorite movers, who are WONDERFUL) *do* actually include a provision that says they are not responsible for damage to ikea furniture... not referencing the specific brand, but something along the lines of "pre-fabricated user-assembled furniture" or some such.

I mean, he should definitely follow through and do what he said he'd do, but depending on the contract he truly might have been trying to help you as much as himself.
posted by somanyamys at 8:56 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]


Update:

My husband is much nicer than I am or metafilter is and wanted to give him another shot "What if some major emergency happened?" to which I replied, "We are the ones doing him the favor. It is his ass on the line, apparently, so he should prioritize this." My husband texted the guy around 8 this morning and said something like "You didn't show up and we didn't hear from you. What's up?"
(And yes, I am very sensitive to the fact that this man works in manual labor and may not be able to access his phone with ease during the day.) But the next text (end of day today?) will be Frowner's suggestion "We don't want to go to Company if we can avoid it - give us a date and time that you can really commit to and let's make this right. A short delay is acceptable if you can commit to a resolution."

We looked at the contract and the moving company reimburses 60 cents on the dollar and we have 90 days to notify them (although we'd obviously like to do it sooner). These mirrored doors are $60/each (and there were 2). [Also time/cost for installing them?] The contract says that they don't reimburse for particle board, but it was the mirrors themselves that broke, so there might be a bit of a discussion around this.

Other information:
He told my husband verbally on the phone that he'd be coming from part of town that is near Ikea. This is about a half hour to 45 minutes away in traffic. Specifically he said something like, "I get off at 7:30ish, so I should be to your house by 8:30 at the latest."

When this happened, he proposed this fix to us not in front of the crew and asked it in a "do me a favor please" "don't tell my company" way. This happened on Thursday. He said, "I can go to Ikea, get new ones, bring them either Monday or Tuesday and install them myself, cuz those are my days off, but on Tuesday I'll have my daughter." I said, "Oh, wouldn't your daughter be in school?" (I assumed this would happen during the day. And he laughed and said, "Oh yeah, of course." And I said, "Okay, we have each others' cell phone numbers. Can you text us or call us on Sunday and confirm what day and time you'll come?" He took the doors/mirrors. He didn't text or call on Sunday so my husband called him on Monday and he said that he'd come on Tuesday at 8:30pm (and again mentioned that he'd have his daughter with him).
posted by k8t at 9:43 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]


Did you pay with a credit card? If so, if this doesn't go well, just file a chargeback. The movers will basically be screwed and you'll probably get refunded.
posted by Slinga at 12:11 PM on March 13


I wonder if the guy was already canned by the mover. Something prompted him to make such a furtive request, and I'm betting he was already on shaky ground with his boss. Between then and your appointment with him, he was probably let go.

I'd call the mover and explain you were trying to be nice to the guy, but make your claim. If they are reputable I bet they will honor your claim.
posted by citygirl at 1:39 PM on March 13


This was the team lead, so I'm assuming he is a fairly trusted/higher up mover.

Nah. Operations like movers have people flow in and out pretty regularly. He may simply have been the senior team member due to him having been there a month, rather than a week like the rest of the crew.

My guess for the reason he wanted to keep things on the downlow is that he was already on probation or otherwise in-dutch with the management. Heck, he may have already been let go by the company, and that’s why you can’t get a response from him.

You gave him plenty of time. Turn to the moving company. Though, given that you said he took the doors with him, and now you have no actual physical proof, you may be hosed.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:10 PM on March 13


This is way less bad than genuinely skeevy movers, who are legion. My sister has tons of stuff missing and ended up paying to get stuff and it was a mess. Call the moving company, but be calm. He blew his opportunity.
posted by theora55 at 4:07 PM on March 13


Husband called guy. Guy said he didn't get husband's texts.
He said he got into a car accident. But he is not hurt. He says he is busy running around trying to fix his Porsche.
He said the earliest he can come with new doors is Monday or Tuesday.

My husband said that he did not seem apologetic at all for not letting us know what is going on.

I'm going to call the company in the morning.
posted by k8t at 6:38 PM on March 13 [2 favorites]


Porsch????
posted by SillyShepherd at 8:20 PM on March 13 [4 favorites]


This is textbook Pacific Heights I tell you!

Call the company the second they open, and give them names.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:20 PM on March 13


I also had an idea that we can call him and say, "look, we need this done right away. Since it doesn't seem like you can do this now, how about you venmo us $(price of new doors and installation) and we'll be done, otherwise we can go through Company."

If not telling the company is worth it to him, he can just give us the money.
posted by k8t at 10:22 PM on March 13 [2 favorites]


I've been given the run around by movers in almost exactly this way, and I want to urge you to contact the company immediately. You need a documentation trail. The longer you wait, the weaker your chances for restitution get.

For your sake, I hope the movers are in-state and within the jurisdiction of your local small claims courts.
posted by Aarti_Faarti at 9:36 AM on March 14


> I also had an idea that we can call him and say, "look, we need this done right away. Since it doesn't seem like you can do this now, how about you venmo us $(price of new doors and installation) and we'll be done, otherwise we can go through Company."

If not telling the company is worth it to him, he can just give us the money.


If not telling the company is worth it to him, he could have KEPT HIS WORD AND HANDLED IT without being flaky and evasive. And he blew it, and is no longer trying with any sense of urgency.

You're coming up with ideas for how he could stick to his plan to not tell the moving company?

Staaaahp. You are not complicit just because you agreed to this side-deal. You are not responsible for supervising the moving company's employees. The only remaining authority you have in this situation is as a paying customer of the moving company.
posted by desuetude at 10:00 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


In case anyone is curious as to what happened next...
My husband called and asked him if he wanted to just give us the money. Lots of more detailed excuses. Mover guy responded that the moving company isn't going to pay us out much for this. He also said that he doesn't have Venmo or a bank account.
He also said that he was no longer planning on going to Ikea and buying new doors, but rather he was going to remove the mirror from the old door, paint the door black [my husband said that is not what we want]. He offered for us to drive ~45 minutes to come get the doors from his house. [Note that it might be a challenge for these doors to fit in our car]. He said that he is just trying to help us because we're not going to get much from the moving company.

So I called the company and told them the story and I noted that while it is a piece of Ikea furniture (the contract says no replacement of particle board), it was a mirror that broke and a mirror is a mirror. The (nice) person on the phone from the company said, "Look, we're a moving company. A huge portion of what we do is mitigate what happens when things break during a move. And when things move, stuff does break."
I did say, "I don't want Person to get into major trouble for this, etc." and the person on the phone said, "What I bet happened is that Person is way too nice of a guy and he wanted to do this for you all."
Person on the phone is going to talk to his manager and to Person and get back to me.
posted by k8t at 12:54 PM on March 14 [4 favorites]


He has a Porsche but no bank account. Right.
posted by spitbull at 3:30 PM on March 14 [4 favorites]


Person is going to lie his ass off to Company. Y'all need to get prepared to be stern.

(I have no idea why "you don't want Person to get into major trouble for this," as he has obviously repeated lied to you and has, for time being, stolen your property.)
posted by desuetude at 6:45 PM on March 14 [3 favorites]


There are used Porcshes for sale under $10K and foreign cars can make it hard to source parts in some areas. Yes this guy is shady but the car issue is a non-starter. At this point is does not matter if the guy lied about all the excuses or not. The company needs to make this right.
posted by soelo at 7:44 AM on March 15


The (nice) person on the phone from the company said, "Look, we're a moving company. A huge portion of what we do is mitigate what happens when things break during a move. And when things move, stuff does break."

What?! No. A huge portion of what you paid them for is the service of moving your things without breaking them. Call back and ask for a manager or ownership and have them make this right.
posted by kyleg at 9:08 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]


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