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North Van Lines: Dishonest Movers
I recently had a horrible experience with North Van Lines, so I've documented my dealings with this dishonest moving company as a warning to others. Beside my own horror story, several others have written to describe their own bad experiences. If you've had a similar problem with this company, please contact me from my home page and I'll add whatever you care to submit. Common to all of these stories is that we were all so offended by the actions and bad faith of North Van Lines that we went to the effort to describe our experiences in detail.
If you see favorable reviews of this company online, I assure you they are fake. All of the reviews at MovingReviews.com are either scathing criticism or over the top favorable. Same for other "mover review" type web sites. None are moderate, so it's clear to me that all of the praise reviews were obviously written by North Van Lines, which is not only unethical but illegal.
Ethan Winer's experience:
On April 3, 2013 I sent a list of items to several moving companies for a move from New Milford, CT to Macon, GA. North Van Lines of Hackensack, NJ had the best rate, so I chose them and had several telephone conversions with their sales rep Vanessa. I told Vanessa I've had experience with movers before, and that I intend to give her a precise list of items and their sizes to avoid any surprises or extra charges. On May 3, 2013 I sent the final detailed list and received a detailed quote. Vanessa was extremely clear and coherent throughout the process, and I was certain we were both on the same page.
Vanessa told me her quote of $1,504 would be only as accurate as the box dimensions I provided. Since several items needed to be packed on site using custom made boxes, the final quote might change. However, I also gave Vanessa exact dimensions for those items, including the sizes of the custom boxes needed. Vanessa told me that custom boxes cost $25 each, and the additional items are charged at $3 per cubic foot. I agreed to that, and expected the final price would be about $186 higher than the quote due to these three custom boxes:
Floor lamp 16" x 16" x 54" high = 8 cubic feet
Mirror and long picture frame 21" x 20" x 59" high = 15 cubic feet
Additional picture frames 29" long x 42" high x 16-20" thick = 14 cubic feet
37 cubic feet total @ $3 = $111
3 boxes at $25 = $75
Total additional expected = $186
After the movers had loaded all of the items into the van, the driver told me he measured the space occupied and that it was 163 cubic feet over the quote rather than only 37 cubic feet! He also charged me for 6 custom boxes even though one of the boxes was included in the original quote. Further, 3 of the boxes were charged at $45 each instead of $25 as Vanessa had told me. Those exact same boxes sell for $7.35 each at Clayton's, a local shipping supply store.
So instead of a final price $186 over the quote = $1,690 the price was now $2,169.16, an increase of $479.16. When I objected, I was told my only recourse was to remove some items from the truck and not include them in the move. Of course that was unacceptable. I was also told the amount must be paid in full at delivery, so I wired the additional amount to Macon, GA.
When I complained to Vanessa, and then her supervisor Menatalla Elbakry, I was told they calculate cubic feet based on length markers inside the truck. This implies that empty space above the items is included. But Vanessa and Menatalla both assured me that empty space in the truck is not charged. Of course, measuring cubic feet based on length and width alone is mathematically impossible!
I was prepared for the final price to be 5 or possibly 10 percent higher than the quote due to various factors. But this was almost 30 percent higher. Menatalla told me that Vanessa is a long-time employee, so there's no excuse for such a large miscalculation. The only reasonable explanation is intentionally low-balling the price to get the job, and mis-quoting the custom box prices, then holding the items hostage until payment in full is made.
But wait, it gets worse. Much worse.
I tried to sue North Van Lines in small claims court, but they are not registered to do business in Connecticut which is illegal. So there was no way to file a suit without driving two hours to New Jersey. Next I filed a complaint with the New Jersey Better Business Bureau, but as expected they were useless. So I went to several "mover review" type web sites and posted a brief version of my experience. A few days later I received a threat by email from North Van Lines manager Menatalla Elbakry demanding that I remove my negative reviews or she will sue me for defamation. I knew I was within my rights to post negative reviews and told her so. We exchanged several more emails, then five minutes after sending my last email I received a barrage of phone calls and emails from other moving companies. Menatalla Elbakry had gone to three different moving quote sites and entered my name, phone number, and email address, and wrote that I want quotes to move a car to California!
All told I logged 34 phone calls and 22 emails over two days. So I filed a harassment complaint with my local police department, and they are working on that now. I'll update this page as my complaint progresses.
It's also worth mentioning that when I visited the various review type web sites, I noticed many favorable reviews that are obviously fake. The New York Attorney General's office recently fined 19 businesses a total of $350,000 for posting phony reviews on Yelp and other online review sites. So I reported North Van Lines to the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut Attorneys General and included links to their fake reviews.
Added August 26, 2015: The New Jersey Better Business Bureau recently acted on yet another consumer complaint, and they finally assigned North Van Lines the "F" rating they deserve.
Added November 27, 2015: Unable to control herself, Menatalla started sending me more harassing emails complaining about this page. From her last email: "Winer, you are a weaner, whiner, and a KIKE with a huge problem."
Added July 4, 2016: There are many more bad reviews on Yelp you can read. They tried to pull a fast one on Yelp by changing their name to "Chris Van Lines" but you'll find the same bad reviews under both names.
The following was sent to me by Ms. Brown in July 2015:
North Van Lines has lied to me from the start. They told me they were a family owned company with their own trucks; not a broker. The truck that delivered our stuff was not North Van Lines (see photo).
The ad this company posted on Angie's List states:
We guarantee our pricing, the rate will NEVER increase. Our method eliminates the questionable pricing practices that many moving companies impose on customers, while at the same time providing quality service at competitive prices. North Van Lines perform every type of relocation service and stand committed to integrity and goodwill to customers. Our customer's complete satisfaction is our number 1 priority.
Yet I have three different estimates from this company, all with the same date and three different rates. I gave them an accurate list of inventory of items as seen on the estimate. Sent an email prior to pick up with a few changes listed below:
+1 air conditioner
-2 kids bikes
-1 bathroom cabinet
+1 19" TV
-1 flat screen 15-32
+1 wheel barrow
+1 plastic sandbox
This should have taken the original estimate number of items from 231 to 230. There were several items on the original estimate that did not get shipped: these items were taken with us (chainsaw, dog kennel, 2 kids bikes, small bathroom cabinets, 15"-32" flat screen TV, microwave cart), these items were boxed (2 kids chairs, microwave, plastic storage rack, toy bin), and these items were left behind by the movers for us to deal with (dehumidifier, dvd rack, small drafting table, dosimer (musical instrument), wall shelf).
They state on their website that you can leave clothing in the dressers (FAQ). The movers emptied every dresser I had (4) creating more boxes. Even after all of this I still had 42 boxes left over. I returned most of them to uhaul. Only counting the boxes that I returned was 112.4 cu ft of space that was included on the estimate and not used. The total number of item loaded on the truck was 230. So my question is how on earth was the estimate so far off? They told me I went over my estimated cubic footage by 650 cubic feet. They also stated that I would NEVER fit all of my items in a 26' truck and that is exactly what they used. I could have rented my own 26' truck for $4300. They charged me a deposit fee twice (one on 5/7 and one on 5/8). Yes they did credit this toward my balance when I called them on it but I'm sure I paid addition fees for this.
As they showed up at 6:30 in the morning I still needed to pack a few items including bedding. As I went to pack these items I was told, "Don't worry about it I'll get it and felt chased out of my own home while they worked. They told me I was going to owe almost $6,000 more than my estimate and I went into panic mode. I had an exact budget of $10,000 which they knew. My estimate of $8,800+ was ok because that gave me a little room to play. Worst case scenario I would think maybe $1000 more (Not $6000). The movers also left garbage everywhere in my house (empty tape rolls, water bottles, etc). He tried to charge me the credit card transaction fee on the 70% which I made him correct. I feel extremely lied to and taken advantage of.
When I first contacted the company about this they told me the driver said you used this much space and this is the space that you must pay for. I was asked during this phone conversation to remove a review that I had posted about the company if I was satisfied with the resolution of my complaint. They told me the best they could do was take off $650 from the remaining balance. When I told them I was still not satisfied they said they would leave it up to me if I wanted to remove the review or not. Later when we discussed delivery they said they would not be giving me the discount because I didn't take the review down. I tried contacting the company several times to take it down because the email I used was no longer available. I was then told if I posted a new review saying the first on was a mistake it would all be good.
I do have some damage which will be submitted with North Van Lines which their insurance is of course a joke as well.
This was sent to me by John Woodley in August 2015:
I am writing this letter to inform other people about the horrible experience I had with North Van Lines moving company. I spoke with Joseph Ferrari from North Van Lines in regards to a relocation to Florida my family was doing in July of 2015. I received an estimate from Joe of $2,700 to move my furniture, TVs, clothes and 60 boxes, our antique hutch, antique bench, and other household items, and also my 4 tool boxes due to me being a semi mechanic and it's how I make my living. I walked through my house and went over all these details with Joe and he assured me I would have plenty of room for all my family's belongings. He assured me he had a A+ with the BBB and his references were all good, which when I checked it was A+ so I went ahead and gave him a $600 deposit.
In July the movers showed up and that's where all the up charges came in. They wanted to charge me extra to pack my TVs, my antique hutch, antique bench which was on the estimate, which brought it up over $3,500 now. Then they showed me where the estimate in truck which was 1/4 of a 26 foot truck and the small storage above the cab of the truck, and they had lines marked in the truck and each line was an extra $288 which I filled up a 26 foot U-Haul so it would have brought it up to well over $5,000. Then they wanted to take my belongings to New Jersey and remove my items from the truck, put them in storage until a semi came available and could take up to 2 weeks before I got my belongings. I told them thank you but I can not afford that much and explained this to Joe and they said well do it yourself and got in their truck and left.
After numerous times calling Joe he finally called me back yelling and cursing at me telling me I was taking food out of his kids' mouths and I shouldn't worry about the food in my family's mouth, and laughed that I signed a contract which I was smart and never signed contract electronically like he wanted me to. So I laughed and said no I did not sign contract and wanted my deposit back, and he told me he drives a $250,000 Mercedes and isn't worried about my money and to sue him. I then contacted the BBB and they sent a complaint which North Van Lines never responded to.
I wrote this letter so people don't got ripped off by this company and hopefully somebody changes a law to protect customers that don't know about these scam artist. Don't use North Van Lines and deal with Joseph Ferrari out of Hackensack New Jersey, they will rob you!!!! I give my permission for use of this letter.
This was submitted by Tikola McCree in January 2016:
PLEASE READ if you plan on using North Van Lines. North Van Lines is a moving company that I do not advise anyone to use - especially if you are trying to have a stress free and honest move. This company uses dishonest practices to take advantage of their customers and is very arrogant about their dishonesty.
My experience began as I needed to move from Englewood, NJ to Charlotte, NC. I called 5 other moving companies and this one seemed to want to match the price that I received from another company. Fast forward - I accepted their quote of $1800. They explained their entire use of cubic feet, so I made sure I outlined and even overestimated my move, which Matt the customer service person said was all right because if it is less, "you do not get charged for it". He talked endlessly and nonsensically about how he liked me (and thought I liked him) and beer in a cooler, which I thought, was completely irrelevant. He made the transaction and then I was to wait for moving day.
Moving day comes and the movers arrive almost 2 hours early. At this point, I am still organizing and trying to get ready for my 11:00 appointment. They come and tried to explain their system and all that they do. They got to work and started packing. They told me some things that needed repacking (they were already packed). So, they bought in gargantuan boxes and started throwing my stuff in them. Tape, tape rolls and paper were all over my floor and when they left there were blue tape tabs stuck to my wall. Nevertheless, I figured I would simply clean up after them.
They ended at around 2:30 pm and upon completion I was presented with a bill for almost double my quote! They told me I owed them close to $3500. This was from an original quote of $1800. I had put down a deposit of $450, had the remaining half for them of $675 and had planned to give the other $675 (approx.) upon arrival of my belongings. I asked why my quote was so drastically high and the guy who I could hardly understand (Wilson I think) began scribbling multiplication facts on a piece of paper. I told him I did not understand and he said that I "could look in the truck". When I climbed into the truck alone, I looked around and I did not understand what "markers" meant and what the measurement was per marker. I didn't even know what a marker looked like. I looked around and was completely baffled at what I was supposed to be looking at. They asked me for $1000 dollars in addition to the $675 I had in hand. They took the tip envelope I had on my counter without asking if they could take it, and they left. I was actually planning on taking some of the tip out to pay for the extra costs incurred. Upon leaving he said, "Don't say that we gave you boxes." I thought, "I didn't need boxes". My things were all packed! I bought hundreds of dollars of boxes before hand so that I would know exactly how much was being packed and it certainly was not the 75 boxes and other items that I told Matt on the phone.
I later called and emailed Matt, the guy I initially dealt with and received a very ambiguous email that answered nothing and then never heard from him again despite various attempts to contact him. I then called the office on multiple occasions and spoke with a woman who is the office manager, Olga. She listened to my issue. Basically, I told her that I did not understand the extra charges. I also shared that the mover proceeded to scribble multiplication facts on a piece of paper, while rambling on about the markers. I also shared that I got in the truck to look at what I thought would be clearly marked so that I could understand this mix up. She said that she would present the situation to her bosses, not seeming surprised at all about the complaint and now I know why. She said "Oh I know about him, I look at that all the time". I guess the scribbling. In my second conversation, Olga later called me back and said that the owners will NOT re-examine this issue and this is the price. They will not do anything about this issue. We talked for a short while and then we hung up. I later called back and asked what options I had because I was not able to pay this inflated price; I simply did not have it. She said that I could come from North Carolina and unload the truck if I wanted to. That was an interesting solution and pretty unrealistic! There were a lot of conversations back and forth and I was noticing that they did not care about customer satisfaction at all.
Olga was very cordial but would not at all advocate for the customer, after later admitting to me that this happens all the time. I asked her if they cared about referrals or reviews she didn't answer. I let her know that this company had very poor practices that they knew they were completely wrong in their actions and that it was terrible how they were treating their customers. I asked her why she would stand by and watch this happen, especially after I mentioned all of the negative reviews I found online, subsequent to my pick up. She said that she was trained to handle these issues and it would make her look bad to her bosses if she asked them to do things that the policies "do not allow." She said that she just could not do it. I assume this means calling out the wrongdoings or maybe providing a little customer service. I quickly said to her that she was a manager and that that included also managing the issues regarding honesty and customer satisfaction. She happened to be very nice but just did not seem to have much say as the Manager. She did finally mention that she knew this was going on and that she also worked for another moving company that did honest business. She knew that this was going on and that she did not agree with it and that there was really nothing she could do about it. So as a customer, I felt trapped if the manager could not even help to fix this situation. I am now waiting for my belongings to get to my new destination almost a month later after all of this.
Belongings came 6 weeks later and was delivered by a third party. This person had no ties to North Van lines. This guy received no tip extra compensation from me because of the atrocious service I received from this company.
The point of this summary is not only to share my experience, but also to help any potential customers of North Van Lines Moving Company to look elsewhere for their moving needs. The stress of dealing with this company is not worth it especially because relocating is stressful enough in itself. They seem to do the same thing to all of their customers and dishonesty is never the best way to retain business. Therefore, I will obviously not be referring any business to this company because I don't want anyone to go through what I went through with them. Please look for other reviews and they all sound very similar because we have all had the same miserable experience.
This was submitted by Cynthia in January 2016:
I got your email from your website after reading your review of North Van Lines. I am in the process of writing to the owner. I was hoping for a Corporate Office but after reading your post, I guess "that woman" is who I'll have to deal with. Luckily, I did not use them but I was pressured into signing a contract by [North Van Lines representative] Mathew Wolf. My father had just passed away and I wasn't in a great frame of mind. I ended up not using a moving company at all, and when I tried to cancel within a few hours I was told my $317.75 deposit would not be returned. It's not much but it's the principle. I'm soooo mad!
The following was submitted on March 13, 2016 by Robin Jones:
I am contacting you in regards to North Van Lines. I am at my wits end. I am not a very smart person on a computer but I'm not stupid either like North Van Lines make me seem. I called plenty of moving companies, this will be my 3rd moving company. I called North Van Lines in February. I talked to a representative by the name of Mike Brian. I was on the phone with him for 2 hours explaining to him how I was ripped of by 2 other movers and it was very sad there is so many dishonest people in this world. I told him I had 2 storage units. Living room furniture, 4 kitchen chairs, filing cabinet, 2 cedar chests, a few boxes, 4 plastic chairs, 1 large crate filled in styrofoam boxes and more. He stated it was a family owed company and they will take care of everthing, don't worry, we have a 4.3 star rating. Very nice guy. Then he talked me into giving him a $523.00 deposit. I told him I'm disabled and only get so much a month. I gave him $150.00 and will give him the rest of the deposit of $323.00 which I did on March 1, 2016. He first gave me a estimate of $2,599.99. I told him I didn't have that much money and I would look around for other movers. He put me on hold then came back and said the cost would total $2,093.00. I was thrilled so I gave him $523.00, and Mike told me I did not have to pay the rest of the money until delivery to Georgia. He said I would get 1 month storage for free in their warehouse. I thought great, it will help me save some money.
On March 5, 2016 they picked up my things, but when they got back to New Jersey this woman by the name of MEME called and said my total cost is $3,793.00. I almost fell off my seat. I'm trying to do everything possible. I'm at my wits end. I am not a very good person on the computer so please call me with suggestions. I'm lost and sad at my wits end. Please call with suggestions. I've been crying since Saturday. Thank you Ethan. Look forward to talking to you, this has got to STOP.
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