My 80 year old father was planning a move from New Haven, Connecticut to Dallas, Texas to be with myself and his brother (my uncle). He contacted A 21st Century Van Lines of Stratford Connecticut and was "helped" by salesman Ed LeCroix.
When he contacted A 21st Century, dad explained that he didn't think a big truck could get into the curved driveway of his apartment complex. Salesman Ed LeCroix told him, and put in writing, that they would use a smaller truck to "shuttle" items from the apartment to the big trailer.
The movers, who were supposed to arrive at 9am, decided to be fashionably late and didn't get there until 2pm, thus ruining dad's plans to visit friends and relatives whom he may never see again (I hope this isn't true). Also, they didn't bring a smaller truck as promised, so the driver, Chuck Gschwender (German for "s**t head") attempted to pull his trailer into the curved driveway leading to the apartments and got stuck under some tree limbs. He was stuck there for about an hour and held up all traffic to and from the apartments. Neighborhood children climbed the tree and cut off some tree limbs so he could turn around and back out! I can't imagine what would have happened if one of the kids was hurt during this.
Chuck said neither he, nor the moving company, were responsible for getting a smaller truck, even though my father had it in writing. Dad had to spend $70 on a Uhaul. When he called Ed LeCroix to see if he would be reimbursed for this he was told no, he would not. He was also told that he would "just have to understand" that these things happen. Chuck also constantly complained that he was "loosing money".
Ed LeCroix also said that payment by check on delivery was acceptable. He made no reference to payment by cash or money order. We know now that Ed would have eaten dog s**t and said it tasted good if there was some money in it for him (no offense to dogs intended). Going by Ed's instructions, my dad made sure there was sufficient funds available in his checking account. He also gave Ed a deposit of $200.
We were told to call Affiliated Transportation Systems in Lawton, Oklahoma when we arrived in Dallas to get the "final cost". They were supposed to be the "contractors" of this move. We also wanted to complain about the extra $70. We called and were "transferred" to some a*****e named Gene. He was extremely unfriendly and short-tempered with both my father and I. He interrupted us constantly and refuted everything we said as though we were making it all up. He finally said he would call us back.
After not hearing from Gene for several hours, two more attempts were made to contact him. He finally called back with the news that the final total was $2268; this was $768 more than the estimate given by salesman Ed LeCroix. Dad asked about the $200 payment he made and was told there was "no record" of it. However, they relented when they were told that we would have the deposited check as proof. Then they came up with new acceptable methods of payment; cash or money order only.
My dad tried to convince the dirt bag that his checks were good. When that failed, he told him there was no way he could come up with that kind of cash by Sunday, July 2nd, because he wasn't told about this; he was told they would accept a personal check. This was finally resolved by their acceptance of a credit card as payment, but not without a lot of arguing which caused my father much aggravation. Remember, he is 80 years old and was paying this company for service; not aggravation. As for the extra $768 over the estimate plus the $70 for the Uhaul, dad was ready to write it off just to have this move, and our dealings with this company, over. But we still hadn't taken delivery yet.
The truck arrived on July 2, 2000 at 9am; both Chuck and his helper were reeking of the same cheap cologne which may have been used to cover the odor of marijuana and/or alcohol. I would have rather they didn't use this particular brand of cologne because it smelled like dead fish. Anyway, I was given the task of checking off stuff as they were rolled off of the truck. Chuck and his helper were bringing in stuff and calling out the numbers for me to check off. They were calling out numbers too fast for me to find all at once so I started writing numbers down on a separate sheet. A lot of the tags had fallen off the items and so were unidentifiable on the inventory sheets.
Then we asked Chuck about putting the bed together as he was supposed to. He got upset. He said that he had to break off the bolts holding the head board to the frame to get it apart. He said he told us about this but he never did. He started arguing that he "didn't have to take any of this crap". He then confiscated the inventory sheets which were spread out on a table. At the time he confiscated these sheets, only 100 out of 376 items were brought off the truck. I stepped in at that point, saying that it was their responsibility to provide the service my dad was paying for, and not to loose his temper with us. Chuck replied that I should "keep him on leash", referring to my father. I told him, in so many words, to do his job and be quiet about it. Chuck told us they would put the rest of the stuff on the lawn but then changed his mind. He said they were just going to leave. I blocked his path with my pickup truck and called the police.
A policeman arrived in about ten minutes. He was not very happy; it was Sunday and he was missing his sons' baseball game. We explained the situation and the movers were told to resume moving the stuff into the house. At this time, Chuck was checking items off the inventory sheets he confiscated. After awhile, the policeman told us all to "behave" and drove back to Mayberry. Chuck worked for another two minutes until the policeman was well out of sight. Then he said he was leaving. He said something about us checking to see if all the stuff was there. This was impossible to do as he had taken possession of the inventory sheets and we didn't know what was what. Also, there were a lot of inventory numbers that had fallen off. The only reason we have copies of them is because I demanded that we be given them in the presence of the police officer. We asked him if he was going to put together the bed and he flatly said he would not. He asked if I would sign his statement of delivery. Yeah, I got your signature right here, a*****e!
At first, dad only noticed the missing bed frame. This soon escalated into many items; some of which were very valuable and/or had great sentimental value to him. The most valuable items are a coin collection that was too bulky to be transported by car. Contained in the collection were "Indian Head" pennies, a collection of "wheat" and W.W.II pennies, collections of Buffalo head nickels, Mercury dimes, old quarters, ten or more Kennedy half-dollars, twenty or more Susan B. Anthony silver dollars, five or more Eisenhower silver dollars, six or more $2 bills, several Silver Certificate bills, several "mint error" coins and more. This coin collection is conservatively valued at $4500.
WE BELIEVE THAT THIS COIN COLLECTION WAS DELIBERATELY TAKEN BY CHUCK GSCHWENDER. IT WAS NOT A RANDOM MISSING ITEM. IT WAS IN A CARTON THAT WAS A LITTLE HEAVIER THEN THE OTHERS AND THERE WERE SOME COINS IN JARS THAT MAY HAVE GIVEN CHUCK A HINT AS TO IT'S CONTENTS.
Other missing items include my dad's gold wedding ring, clothes and bed sheets, art equipment and paintings, step ladder, folding grocery cart, prescription drugs (thus endangering his health), bath articles, clothes iron, various baskets (hamper, trash etc), hair dryer, calculator and desk items, assorted cleaning devices (brooms, mops, sweepers) and a memo recording device. We have had to replace all of this stuff, except the coins, obviously, which are irreplaceable.
Several items were found damaged including a bureau, TV stand and lampshades. Thanks for the lampshade advice, Ed. They were nicely trampled on by the morons. There is also a microwave oven with a large footprint on it. Apparently the movers used it as a step ladder to get other items.
I called Affiliated Scam Artists about these items. I was put in touch with someone named Lowell who said he would relay the "missing items" information to Chuck the thief. A day later, Lowell called us back saying that Chuck denied having anything belonging to us on his truck. Oh, big surprise Lowell! Lowell said he was stuck in the middle of this (of course you are you poor little cretin) and couldn't do anything about it and our only recourse was to fill out a claims form which he promptly sent us. We have filled it out to the best of our ability and returned it. However, the claims form asks for an impossible amount of "proof of possession" and "value at time of purchase". And, if the form wasn't filled out completely, it would be returned to us. By now, this is what we expected from them.
Considering all the missing items, bad customer service and anxiety we have had to endure, we believe Affiliated Transportation of Lawton, Oklahoma and their partners in crime, A 21st Century Van Lines of Stratford Connecticut, are, in fact, professional scam artists. They owe us several thousand dollars in missing coins and merchandise. Moreover, we think that charges of theft and transportation of stolen goods across state lines should be brought against Chuck Gschwender.
Using these people only enables them to continue their rip-off service. Avoid them.
Oh, one last thing. The license plate on Chucks truck read 867-1DA (Oklahoma). Public records were searched and came up empty which means it could be a lost, stolen or jerry-rigged plate.
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