As most people know, I have very strict opinions on how those in customer service should treat their customer. The adage, “The customer is always right” may not always be true but it is your job as a manager / supervisor / business owner to convince the customer that they are right. Along those lines, if you are unable to do so, you should at least try to win the customer back over by making it up to them if you know you’ve dropped the ball.
We are all only human. No one expects perfection and anyone who does, well, that’s on them and they have to live with themselves for the rest of their lives.
Anyway, this post is about one company in particular who I have had the unfortunate privilege of doing business with — Progressive Relocation Systems. (Note: Their name links directly to the Yelp page I created for them because one did not previously exist.) According to their BBB page here, they have been in business since March of 2006 and yet when you do a standard Google search for them online, the oldest reviews only date back to October of 2012. Now, I know that the company is a Florida-based company and Florida is still ramping up into the technology sector, the 6 year gap in a digital footprint is questionable at best. With that said, I ask myself daily why I still chose to hire them. Perhaps, I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt.
In October of 2012 I had decided to move back home to the state of CA after residing in FL for several months. I had only recently moved to a new condo a month prior but CA was calling me home. I began looking for moving companies online and was contacted by Conrad of Progressive Relocation Systems (PRS from here on out).
We chatted a bit and I explained my situation. He offered to come over and do a walkthrough of my house and wanted to get a deposit immediately. His quote was lower than others received but I wanted a legally binding in home estimate to ensure that all the numbers were 100% accurate.
On Sunday, October 28th, 2012, I gave him a call and we set an appointment for the evening. He seemed to have confidence that PRS would be able to efficiently move my newly purchased furniture from one state to another. I didn’t have much furniture because I had only just moved so he didn’t seem to think this would be a “big move” (his words). I had nearly accurately reported everything on the initial phone call consult so we only had a few things to add to ensure the in-home estimate (legally binding) was correct.
The final quote was for $2600 ($2 under, but I’ll give them $2). The move was quoted for 583 Cubic Feet and 4081lbs. Not that it matters, but my furniture was recently acquired from places like Amazon.com and Ikea and while the wood furniture may be particle board, there was no indication from Conrad or the paperwork that this would be a problem. Remember, he was a guest in my house at the time of accepting and signing the contract.
I called him a few weeks later and asked to push the date up to the end of November (30th and December 1st). He sent me out a revised statement that included the updated date.
On Nov. 30th I was informed that PRS would arrive at 10AM. They showed up at 10:30AM but I let the 30minute delay slide, initially.
Immediately upon arrival the foreman began walking around and grunting while saying things like “oh boy” and “uh oh”. Then he informed me that my move price was incorrect and they would gladly move me for $3600 instead of $2600. I was taken a back and immediately pulled out my quote and pointed out that it was an in home legally binding estimate. The foreman seemed surprised and called the “corporate office”. I called Conrad, and it took a few tries to get him on the phone. Then the next few hours included several calls to and from Conrad, the corporate office and ultimately the owner, Clifford Agnant. They said that the in-home estimate was incorrect and I was responsible for the difference. I challenged this claim and asked what was missing or misrepresented on my estimate. They could not provide an answer.
After several hours of phone calls they revealed that Conrad actually worked for a booking agency and was not an employee of PRS. Then, a few minutes later, they said Conrad was fired because he had “done this before”. Then they tried to negotiate the price:
“We’ll move you for $3600”
“3150. That’s our final offer. We are losing money.”
“That’s not my problem. A representative of your company, regardless of in what capacity that was, provided a legally binding in home estimate. The highest I will go is $3000 and not a penny more.”
“Okay. Let me call you back.”
“Okay. We will move you for $3000 but you have to do a chargeback on your $650 as that deposit doesn’t count.”
Finally, the move began 4 hours later for the agreed upon price (which was now $400 more than the legally binding contract stated) and I began a charge back with my bank. (I was skeptical of this charge back because the contract says no refunds on deposits. But Daniel (president) and Cliff (owner) assured me that they would work with me.) Cliff also promised that they would move me quicker than usual due to the inconvenience.
SIDENOTE: The chargeback was subsequently denied because of the clause in the contract that says the deposit is non-refundable. I had to track down the booking agency, find their DBA and post a review about my experience with their employees in order to get a refund.
A week later, my items hadn’t left the warehouse in FL. I was told I would get a phone call from the driver within 24 hours when my items were loaded and then within 24 hours when they would be delivered.
I never heard from the driver. I had to call several times and finally got them to say that I could expect my items on Thursday December 20th. Immediately when the driver arrived, he tried to charge additional erroneous fees and I had to call the owner several times again. He was on vacation and apparently the only person in charge so it took several hours to get a hold of him. I understand that this event occurred around the holidays but it is the owner’s job to either hire a manager (which he supposedly has but I have never spoken to or heard back from) or take the customer complaints yourself.
Finally, we came to another agreement ($150 more), and the delivery began. Here comes the current issue at hand: nearly EVERY PIECE OF FURNITURE I owned was damaged.
The METAL leg to my couch was severed off, my two dressers were damaged beyond repair, my breakfast nook table is in shambles, my brand new hardwood floors were scratched badly and they lost the parts to my bed.
I immediately contacted the company, filled out the claims form and submitted pictures. I asked several times for the owner (Clifford Agnant) to call me back or to speak to a manager (who is supposedly someone named Daniel King), I didn’t get a return phone call for over 2 weeks. When Cliff finally did call me, he wouldn’t stop talking long enough to hear my complaint as a customer — party foul #1. As a business owner, when dealing with an unruly client, you shut your trap for 10 minutes and listen to them. People want to be listened to when they have been wronged. You do NOT keep talking in an accusatory manner and make yourself sound like an arrogant ass.
Cliff had also sent the following email as an excuse / apology for not returning my request for a phone call for 2 weeks:
Finally I was allowed about 43 seconds to speak. I explained to him that in addition to the furniture being damaged, his employees damaged my hardwood floors. He instructed me to obtain 2 estimates and that he would “make it good.”
I took his words to heart and proceeded to wait for the settlement. It took another 2 weeks and then finally it arrived in the mail. For all the damage (featured in the pictures) they were offering an amount of $152.70 and refusing to accept liability for the hardwood floors. What a joke. I called him back and sent an email. It took 2 days this time to receive a response. Again, he wouldn’t shut his trap long enough to listen to what I had to say or what I wanted. He insisted that he did care about me as a customer and that they would make it right, only this time, he stated that I had particle board furniture and therefore his offer is coming out of his pocket. I digress, he promised to send a revised estimate and get back to me within 24 hours. At the 23rd hour and 59minute mark I received an email from him:
Let’s disregard the complete lack of sentence structure, punctuation and grammar. He plainly stated that a new settlement offer was going to be mailed out. I replied, thanking him for his email, and asked if he could disclose how much the new settlement offer was for:
I never responded as I thought it would be best to patiently wait for the new settlement I was promised. And then 5 days later, I receive the following email:
And here was my response:
I never heard back, so two days later, I sent another email:
I finally heard back this morning with the following response:
And here was my reply:
Within hours of sending my email, not surprisingly, I received a phone call from Cliff, the man himself! I, unfortunately, was on a conference call, so I had to let it go to voicemail. Please find his riveting voicemail for your listening pleasure:
I listened to the VM, chuckled and then proceeded to return his call. I couldn’t get more than a sentence out asking about his previous promise to send a revised settlement offer. He then began threatening me with lawyers and legal teams and that his grounds would be libel and slander. (He did realize that he already admitted he was in prison for trafficking drugs on a recording line, right?) He then went on and on about how I should read other reviews of other moving companies if I want to know what a really bad moving company is. In other words, “I didn’t screw up as much as I could have!” Among other statements he made, he wouldn’t shut up so I told him to have fun with the FMCSA and BBB and then I hung up. I never called or emailed him back. In the past 5 hours, I have received not 1 but 2 additional emails from the charmer himself:
Two key things: Spell check. And spell check. (His chances for understanding proper grammar, punctuation and sentence structure are shot.) Management.
Yeah. So that’s the long story. Needless to say, never, ever hire Progressive Relocation Systems unless you want to be taken advantage of and spoken to rudely. Oh, and for the record, here is the link to Clifford Agnant’s mugshot photo, personal details and physical address which is ironically the same as his business address. Let me just share the screenshots with you too: