Question: Last fall I made a temporary international move from the USA to Santiago, Chile, using Allied Van Lines. When I was in the US, they gave me a quote for door-to-door service, which I paid in full.
Then, when I arrived in Chile, they told me that I had to pay an extra $1,195. At the time I complained because I had already payed for door-to-door service and all charges should have been included in the initial quote. But they gave me no satisfactory explanation and told me that if I did not pay I would not receive my belongings and, on top of that, they would begin charging me for storage of my belongings until I paid in full. So I felt I had no choice except to pay.
Afterwards, I filed BBB complaints against both Allied International and their local contractor in Maryland who handled the US side of the move, but neither complaint helped.
The subcontractor basically said that was the price of doing business with them and Allied Van Lines said it was Allegheny’s fault. Allied offered to pay USD $188 and I refused that offer because it was an insignificant part of the money that they unfairly charged me.
Now both of the BBB complaints are closed and I still have no refund. I also contacted the State of Maryland Consumer Protection Division, but they told me they couldn’t do anything because I had already filed BBB complaints and they generally don’t act on complaints that have already passed through BBB because they have basically the same process as BBB. They told me if I wanted to I could go to small claims court, but since I’m currently out of the country, I can’t do this – they could call me to court anytime and the plane ticket back home would be at least as much as the money they owe me.
The other thing that’s problematic is that Allied is a huge international company that’s divided into several international and local contractors and it seems easy for them to have one part of the company blame the other and nobody actually help me.
I’m now completely frustrated and feel taken advantage of with no idea what to do. — Melanie Freed, Santiago, Chile
Answer: The price you were quoted by Allied is the price you should have paid. No two ways about it.
You may be the victim of a moving scam. Here’s how it works: You’re asked to prepay for a move, but when you arrive at your destination, the company says your furniture was “overweight” and that you owe it more money. If you don’t fork over the money, it will keep your personal belongings and charge you for storage.
As the veteran of many moves, I have some personal experience in this area. First, there’s no worse feeling than being in a home without your furniture, so movers know they have you over a barrel. They literally have your life in the back of their truck. You feel terribly vulnerable.