My blood sugar level rose to unprecedented levels the other day, and I speed-walked to the library in record time to burn off some of the anger brought on by the crappy sales ethic of Josh Redmond, the guy who sold me on SOUTHERN GROUP INC. in south Florida - for all my shipping needs.
Here's what happened: When Josh initially quoted me the $860 fee for shipping my 11 measly boxes door to door from Tallahassee to Inverness, it was the lowest rate I had gotten thus far - even though the rate was based on a 100-square-feet minimum and I was shipping a mere 30 square feet of cargo.
I jumped on the deal making sure to pay careful attention to the "exclusion list" in big print in the body of the quote document. Said "exclusion list" includes documentation fees, palletizing fees, extra fees for having to haul the boxes more than a certain amount from your door to the nearest location the truck can be parked, etc. About 10 exclusions in all.
Having read horror stories on the Internet about moving companies that quote one fee then tack on a myriad of additional charges after they've got their grubby hands on all your shit, I took special care to go over this "exclusion list" item by item with Josh. I didn't want this happening to me.
Josh assured me that none of the items - except possibly port security charges - would apply to my shipment. I was satisfied and filled out the credit card authorization form and the inventory list and sent them back to Josh in an e-mail reiterating what he had said about the quote being the exact rate I was to pay - except possibly port security charges. Though Josh had offered to put this in writing on his end, and though I said OK, I never got said e-mail, and I never got a reply to mine asking him to confirm this agreement.
Red flag, anyone?
That day, I received two quotes lower than what SOUTHERN GROUP INC. was offering, but I didn't cancel with them because they seemed to know what they were doing. Little did I know that was going to be the last I was going to hear from Josh except for when he tried to fuck me with the final bill.
So, a couple of days after e-mailing back the required documents, I'm waiting for the bill of lading to come via fax to give to the driver who would be hauling my shit to Miami. The day before the driver was to come, I still hadn't gotten said bill of lading. After eight or so phone calls to SOUTHERN GROUP, INC., I finally got my bill of lading, a couple of hours after I was told it would be immediately sent. The word "immediately" doesn't mean jack shit to SOUTHERN GROUP, INC., as you will see shortly.
OK. The Federal Express freight guy is super nice. He takes the information off my bill of lading and puts my boxes on his truck. I learn all about his pregnant wife and his young daughter in the process. Hurdle one jumped. My stuff was on its way.
After that, I was waiting for information on the company overseas that would be receiving my stuff. Name? Phone number? Not too much to ask. I requested this information twice from SOUTHERN GROUP, INC. Twice, I was told by someone named Jay that this information would be e-mailed to me. It is now weeks later, and I have yet to receive this e-mail.
Of course I took it upon myself to call Omega Shipping in Miami, the company that actually owns the ships that will be carrying my cargo. The lovely woman who answered the phone there was prompt, kind and courteous, I might add. She confirmed they received my 11 boxes, that they were currently being loaded onto the ship and that Eurousa was the company handling my shipment in the UK. She even gave me their phone number. Now was that so hard?
So, all that was left was to wait for the final invoice to be e-mailed to me so I could authorize payment on my credit card, after which I would supposedly be receiving all the information about the ship (vessel number, docking day and time, etc.) The final invoice came on Friday, the only time since sending my credit card number that I have heard from Josh, and it was $170 more than what he had initially quoted.
This final invoice included two items from the "exclusion list" that I was told didn't apply to my shipment: a $95 documentation fee and a $75 palletizing fee. WHAT?!
I e-mailed Josh back immediately asking why these charges were added to my invoice considering he told me they wouldn't apply. I even forwarded him the e-mail I sent him on October 2, the one I sent trying to confirm everything we had discussed:
Good to hear that my shipment is on schedule. I had called Omega, and they verified that all 11 boxes were on board. Regarding the price, I was quoted $860.00 plus $120 for insurance and was told those would be the only charges. You told me that yourself on the phone. What are these documentation and pallet fees?
This was sent to you by me on October 2 to confirm what we talked about. You did not reply:
Please confirm that the $860.00 USD quote includes all fees, charges for door-to-door service of my shipment except the port security charge you say could be added. Please also confirm that this rate includes $1,000 of insurance on my shipment. I have not added any additional insurance. Attached is the contact form and the CC authorization form. I will e-mail you a list of boxes/items/values first thing in the morning. Thank you so much for your help.
I didn’t get a response that day. The next morning, I called SOUTHERN GROUP INC. to talk to the little weasel who chose to hide behind e-mail and seemed to be running when I dared to call him out. Josh was on another call, I was told, and, after waiting for about five minutes on hold, I talked at length to the guy who had answered the phone. I told him my problem, and he assured me that Josh would call me back.
"No he won't," I told him. "Josh never calls me back."
He swore, though, that he, personally, would see to it that Josh call me.
Three hours later, Josh still hadn't called. I called my husband to complain and to take him up on his offer to call the little scumbag.
C* called, and it was Josh who answered the phone. C* talked to him about my issues, and Josh denied ever telling me that items on the "exclusion list" wouldn't apply to my shipment. He said, however, that he would talk to his supervisor and take off the $95 documentation fee and would call me in the next few minutes. Those were his words. In a few minutes.
One hour later, I asked C* to call again. Josh answered again and said he would be calling me immediately. Tick tock.
Then, I get another fucking e-mail:
Dear Ms. Blakley,
I do apologize about the delay in getting back to you. Unfortunately I have been in and out of the office for the past week assisting on local shipment we have going out.
In regards to your concerns we do not include any documentation or pallet charges in our cost.
This was clearly mention in all of our exclusion and was not specified in the included items on your rate.
We have to pay these charges out to the steamship line therefore we have to bill the customer. There are many unforeseen issues with shipping overseas therefore we have to keep an exclusions list just like any other company.
The balance of $1150 will still stand at this time.
Please let us know if you have any further questions.
By this time I was seeing red.
On the phone to C* again, reading the e-mail and asking him to talk to Josh's supervisor. While he was on the phone talking to a Mr. Levins and accusing Josh of saying what he had to say to get my business and then scamming me later, I got a wild hair up my ass to call the supervisor myself. He called me back when he was done talking to C*, and I let him have it. I told him the whole story, and all he could say was that Josh was one of his best employees and that the "exclusion list" is written in large print on the invoice. I told him I knew all about the damn list but that Josh had told me blah blah blah.
Long story somewhat shorter, he took the documentation fee off the cost, leaving me stuck with only $75 in extra charges. Since I knew my only other option was to pay the entire cost quoted (within three days or face additional "surcharges" - how convenient) I happily chose this option.
They better hope I don't stumble upon any message boards having to do with moving companies, though, because I have more than $75 worth of venom to spew about their shitty service.