Why won’t North American Moving Company deliver my belongings?

After a difficult relocation from Georgia to Pennsylvania, Lori Nelson’s moving company won’t deliver her belongings. What can she do to shake things loose?

Question: I recently hired North American Moving Company to relocate from Atlanta to Boynton Beach, Fla. We agreed on a price of $3,500.

My house purchase fell through and left me homeless. I was forced to put my possessions in storage. Then I found a new home in Pennsylvania. North American jacked my costs up by $10,000. Now they are stalling on the delivery and asking me to pay “storage” charges. How do l make them return my belongings now? — Lori Nelson, Monroeville, Pa.

Answer: I’m so sorry to hear about your moving disaster. I’ve had a few of those myself, and I agree — being homeless is no fun. At a time like this, you’d expect a moving company to be compassionate and to bend over backward to help you. Instead, it looks as if North American not only helped itself to more of your money, but also refused to reunite you with your furniture and personal belongings
But a closer look at the rates you were charged suggests North American wasn’t trying to unjustly enrich itself. After you showed me your paperwork, it quickly became clear that the rates you were paying were in line with what customers normally pay for storage and moving. In other words, North American wasn’t trying to take advantage of you.

What seemed odd, though, was that the company was holding your belongings and seemed to refuse to deliver them to you. That seems to run contrary to North American’s promise of delivering “outstanding quality” from a company you “can rely upon.”

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A brief, polite email to one of North American’s executives might have shaken things loose for you. I list their names, numbers and email addresses on my a helpful brochure on how to avoid these swindles. Fortunately, your case did not involve any kind of fraud. Only a little incompetence, maybe.

I contacted the company on your behalf. Even though you had a confirmation with a delivery date, it hadn’t delivered your personal belongings. The only explanation it could offer was that “sometimes schedules change.” Of course they do. I asked North American to change its schedule so that it could deliver your things promptly, and the company did.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org.

  • SirWIred

    I’m a little puzzled; is she saying that the moving company should store stuff (and move stuff twice) for free? $10k doesn’t seem out of line to load the truck, move stuff from Atlanta to Florida, unload it into a warehouse, store it for some period of time (the article doesn’t say how long) and then load everything back up and take it all the way to PA (and unload it again.) It’s not as if all this unloading and reloading can be done by one guy with a forklift and an hour.

    I guess the big question is: Did she pay the bill, and they were stalling on delivery, or was she refusing to pay the bill, and the moving company (understandably) wants to get paid first (or at least get payments worked out.)?

  • BubbaJoe123

    “I guess the big question is: Did she pay the bill, and they were stalling on delivery, or was she refusing to pay the bill, and the moving company (understandably) wants to get paid first (or at least get payments worked out.)?”

    I first thought it was the latter, but it sounds like (given the commentary at the end) that it was the former, and the “they charged me too much” and “they didn’t deliver my stuff” were two separate issues.

  • Annie M

    Again an incomplete story. Did she pay or not?

  • Jeff W.

    Did she pay any extra fees to the moving company beyond the $3500 original charge. Because there is a HUGE difference between moving from GA to FL compared to moving from GA to place things in storage and then moving items out of storage to PA. HUGE. North American is entitled to more money for more services, GA to FL can be done in less than a day. GA/FL to PA takes longer.

    Furthermore, the article is not clear on how long the household items were in storage. A day, a week, a month? That is also an important detail to leave it. It is not as if storing items is free.

  • LDVinVA

    We just moved from south western Virginia to Florida with 3 weeks of storage. Cost was about $5500. Also moved a small load from southern Indiana to Florida (no storage) for about $1500. $10,000 sounds perfectly reasonable for a double move (in opposite directions) with storage.

  • Mel65

    Atlanta to Florida is a much shorter haul than to Pennsylvania so it makes perfect sense to me that the price would go up significantly. Does “I was forced to put my things in storage” statement, mean with North American, or she had them unload it into a storage facility elsewhere and then expected them to pick it up, load it again, deliver it and unload it again, without paying them again. If they were waiting for her to pay the fee before delivering, I get that. Once she has her stuff, the incentive to pay is lessened. Seems some stuff is left out of the story but it appears the OP had some unrealistic expectations!

  • Mel65

    Do you have to change your moniker to LDVinFLA now? :)

  • Noah Kimmel

    I really wish there was a link to more detailed content like paper trails on these stories so we could dig ourselves…

  • Noah Kimmel

    “My house purchase fell through and left me homeless. I was forced to put my possessions in storage. ”

    Like many other stories, I have deep sympathy for people in their time of need. Especially when dealing with high costs and unfamiliar businesses. However, North American is a business entitled to make money too. If your plans change, then so do theirs. Their price is based on those plans. So if they need more storage time, more labor effort, more miles on their trucks and the rest, it is not unreasonable for the price to change and North American shouldn’t pick up the tab for something that isn’t their fault either. If the total is ~3x the original quote, and the items had to be moved basically 3x distance + storage, it doesn’t seem too far off.

    It sounds like North American has some culpability in slow delivery, and hoping she isn’t charged for any time past her confirmation delivery date.

  • LDVinVA

    I guess so! Thanks!

  • MarkKelling

    It has been too long since I used a moving company to move long distance so I am not up to date on moving costs. But the total seems acceptable given what amounts to multiple moves.

    The only thing I really have an issue with is the statement that the agreed upon delivery date has passed and the moving company keeps telling her “Schedules change” and, if I am reading it right continue to charge her storage fees. I can understand a day or so delay in when the truck might arrive, but if this is because the moving company had issues there is no reason to charge the OP more because of the delay. This is undue enrichment. On the other hand, if the moving company is not delivering because the OP refuses to pay the new amount, then it is on the OP to pay up.

  • joycexyz

    I’m wondering the same thing. And a move to Boynton, then storing the stuff, then moving it to PA sounds pretty costly. Not quite sure what the problem is, but it doesn’t sound as if the moving company is in the wrong.

  • joycexyz

    I also wonder why she arranged to move before closing on the FL house. Very odd.

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