TRILLIUM MOVING AND STORAGE / Overcharged/Damaged Goods
Hiring Trillium Moving and Storage has been one of the worst decisions I've ever made. I’ll tell the full story below, but here’s the condensed version for those in a hurry:
• Was quoted $1900 for shipment, then charged $5014 immediately before delivery. Goods would be held hostage until payment was made.
• All outgoing inventory was marked as broken and damaged, so Trillium would not be held responsible. Goods were in terrible condition on arrival.
• Communication throughout was deliberately poor and misleading.
I requested quotes from a dozen companies online, and Trillium came back with the cheapest quote by quite a stretch. I requested a visual survey, and was told that they do not offer them for smaller shipments, but they would provide an estimate if I give them a detailed list of our belongings. I provided this, and received a quote for $1900, which seemed reasonable. I agreed to hire them.
Our goods were collected several months later. Several weeks passed, and I had heard nothing from Trillium. I followed up to check on the final weight/cost, because I know that movers can hike up the cost later. Trillium responded, but my request was ignored. I followed up again, twice, and was again ignored both times.
Weeks later, and shortly before delivery was due, I received a call from the driver (not Trillium themselves, who were still ignoring me), saying the shipment would arrive in two days time, and I must have payment of $5014 ready to pay on arrival. This was more than $3000 higher than the original estimate. I assumed there must have been some miscommunication, so I called Kate Roberts (our customer service rep) who told me that the weight was higher than the estimate, so the price would be considerably greater. I asked why I was not told earlier, and she simply said they have no obligation to tell me at any specific time. I told her I could not afford that much, and asked her to return the shipment, but she said she could not do that, and that, if I did not pay, our belongings would be placed in storage, at the cost of $175/month. After a certain amount of time, they would sell our belongings.
I asked for the rate to be lowered and was told by Kate Roberts that she would have to speak to her manager, who would be away for the next few days. I followed up a few days later, and was told that the manager was still not back. This happened again and again for several days, until I researched the company and found out that Kate Roberts, our customer service rep, is the owner and manager, and she had been brazenly lying to me about needing to speak to her manager. When I confronted her about this, she denied being the manager.
I finally accepted that I had fallen victim to the classic mover’s scam: I was given a super-low estimate designed to prey on individuals without a great deal of disposable income, my goods were packed in the truck, and then the price was hiked up, and the goods were held hostage. Sadly after a bit of Googling (too late), I found I was not the first person Trillium had done this too. See below for just one news story:
I refused to pay, knowing that something illegal was occurring. I contacted the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, who affirmed to me that this was an illegal act, and that it is against the law in Canada and the US for any company to charge more than 10% higher than an estimate. I told this to Kate, who said that the quote she provided was a non-binding quote, rather than a binding quote, and the law doesn’t apply to such quotes. I contacted the Ministry again, who said that, under Canadian law, there is no such distinction between binding and non-binding contacts, and it was clearly an illegal act, and I could easily pursue legal action. I went back and forth with Kate, and she offered to reduce the price to $3500. I again refused.
Once I had filed an official complaint, and sent Kate a letter confirming this, I received word that the goods were not being held in storage after all, but were on the way to me in Los Angeles, as she was unable to stop the shipment. She said that she was willing to lower the price again, but not to the original estimate, or to within the 10% window. She said that, because the goods were already on the move, if I refused to pay the driver would now drop my goods somewhere in Los Angeles, and return back to Canada. I had no choice to agree to this, because the legal process would not be completed in time, I needed my shipment, and I didn’t want my goods abandoned in the city. We eventually agreed on a lower price ($2880, rather than the original $5014, but a great deal higher than the $1900 I was quoted), and the goods were delivered.
The driver eventually arrived, and I saw the state of my shipment. Trillium had used a company called Vega Line to transport their goods, and Vega Line is currently running a 2.9/10 ranking on Home Stars. The goods were stacked so high in the van (floor to ceiling, see photo attached) that the boxes and crates on the bottoms were completely crushed. To my surprise, there was only one man to both drive and unload the truck It is common sense that one person cannot properly unload a large shipment, including large pieces of furniture, without doing damage to the goods. Because he could not lift the goods on his own, he has to use a dolly for all the pieces, and actually pulled the dolly up a flight of stairs with the goods on top. One of my dressers had a huge hunk of wood ripped out of the base when he pulled the dolly out. I told the mover what he had done and his response was “you have to expect that to happen when you use a dolly to move heavy furniture.”
Many of my goods were damaged, and some items were completely missing. I went to file an insurance claim, and then I noticed the next part of the scam: on the inventory form that was made at pick-up, the movers had marked every single item on the inventory as “chipped, ” “scratched” and “worn” so they would not be held responsible for the damage they would later do to the shipment. They even marked the mattress as being “mildewed” and “stained, ” even though it was in pristine condition. If I had been there for pick-up I would not have signed off on this, but sadly my father-in-law, who supervised the pick-up, did not notice this. Consequently, it’s very unlikely that my insurance claim (which is for over $1000 of damages) will be honoured.
I can imagine Kate Roberts responding that I’m not providing her side of the story, and that there was more in my shipment than in the original breakdown. While I made every effort to be accurate, it is possible that there were slightly more goods in the shipment than on the survey (although much less than what Trillium claims). Regardless, the problem could have been avoided entirely if Trillium provided the visual survey that I requested. Mostly importantly, if the shipment was truly substantially larger than the estimate given, the time to tell me this information is either at pickup or shortly after, so I have the option of changing my mind about the delivery. It is not ethical to do so once the shipment has already crossed North America so that my belongings are in a position to be held ransom.
The truth is that, regardless of Kate’s arguments, both the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services in Canada, and the Attorney General’s Office in the United States have told me that hiking the price more than 10% over the estimate is against the law. I will continue to pursue legal action against the company, and will update here if there is any progress.