I finally find some time to describe what happened when we decided to move from London to Volos (Greece) at the beginning of 2010.
As we have never done a house move before, we thought about scanning the web for offers and then settle with the removal company that seemed to offer the best service overall. To us, the main driver was delivery time, the shorter the better.
So, after some web surfing and e-mail quotations, we decided to choose Removal Group. It has been the worst ill-fated decision I have ever made in my life.
Keep in mind that none of the companies offered cheap quotes, and price was not really an issue: but keep also in mind that our house removal cost 4,000 GBP, and we did NOThave any furniture to move except 3 small drawer chests and a small library (1 meter by 1 meter more or less). It was all books, clothes, baby toys, kitchen stuff and so on.
After the first contacts via e-mail and phone, we fixed the removal date for the 8th of February. We asked for the professional packing service (300+ GBP) as we did not have time to pack all our stuff alone. Remember this issue of the professional packing, as it will be a recurrent point in my post.
They initially said our stuff would arrive in Greece after 10 days, 2 weeks at worst. Dream on.
This is what happened finally, in chronological order:
We declared a specific volume for the move (15 cubic meters), but after a conversation with the RemovalGroup agent she convinced us to reduce it (based on her experience, 8 cubic meters), but in the end the volume was closer to what we declared at the beginning (13.4 cubic meters), which caused additional delays in the procedure and further payments from our part;
No professional packing has been done, although we paid for it. The removal team (which consisted only of 2 individuals) arrived having no idea that they had to pack our stuff. Their worksheet reported that they just had to transfer boxes from our house to the lorry. As a result they had to borrow boxes and materials from another company from around the corner which caused additional delays in the procedure. We have been promised that the full packing service would last 2 hours, more or less, but in the end it lasted 6 hours and our stuff was randomly packed with no "professional" attitude. I currently don't have on my PC a picture of how the "professional" packing has been done, but my wife in Greece has taken one in which you can see our daughter's sleeping bag stuffed inside a metallic shoes rack with a shoe on top of it. Not to mention the mix of clothes and kitchen pots, books and baby clothes, shoes and bed sheets. It was a mess;
During the week following the move, we were never contacted by any of RemovalGroup agents, we were forced to call them to ask for information and updates and during one of these calls we found that we had extra volume that we had to pay for and that was 5 days after the packing day which also caused additional delays in sending the stuff;
After the stuff was finally sent to Greece and 5 days after the arrival to the deposit of the collaborating Greek company in Athens, we received a phone call from that same company informing us that RemovalGroup has ceased collaboration with their agent in London due to other financial/logistic problems between RemovalGroup and the Greek company: then they denied for days the delivery of our stuff although we had already paid the full amount weeks in advance. The Greek company said we were the unlucky ones that we had to interfere in order to force RemovalGroup to solve the problem with them. Moreover, the Greek company said that we have to pay deposit expenses for a week;
We have been promised by the RemovalGroup coordinator that our things would be delivered in 10 days: overall more than 5 weeks have passed before we saw our things;
3 of our wardrobes and the library arrived in Greece with extended damages. One of them has already been thrown away, the others have been fixed by a carpenter. Fragile things usually get at least bubble-wrapped, and wardrobes and wooden things do have polystyrene protections on the bases or angles to avoid damages. If I know this, surely the movers would have known that in advance, wouldn't they? All our fragile stuff was thinly paper-wrapped with no protection whatsoever. Even the Greek movers were surprised and astonished by the packing, and that says it all (!)
In conclusion the whole service of RemovalGroup has been awful from the beginning till the end (not to mention the e-mails we sent to the coordinator to which she never replied and thus we always had to look for her over the phone in order to try to resolve our issues).
This post and the signature in my e-mail are just small steps I implemented to save other people from doing the same mistake I made in choosing RemovalGroup. There is nothing I can do against them as they don't care at all about complaints (even written ones), they're not scared of bad publicity and I don't have time, money and will to bring them to court. The only thing I am doing right now is complaining with the Watchdog and trying to spread the news as much as I can.
I strongly believe that you, reader of this message, can help by making this post easier to find by Google and other search engines, or by sending the link to friends looking for a removal company, or using Facebook, Twitter, anything you like.