Several weeks ago, I announced plans to write articles that join the private sector vs. public sector debate.
Much of what is to come will look at various aspects of this debate from a technical perspective. However, we will likewise pause at times for not-so-serious looks at the zany news and encounters we have with organizations private and public. Send me short stories of your experiences. I will include future articles. Provide your written approval and I will be sure to credit you.
The suits in Washington, DC wax ad nauseam about the virtues of the private sector and why we must move wherever possible away from those inefficient government bureaucracies to corporations/small businesses. The latter’s capitalist interests, as the story goes, makes them better suppliers of goods and services.
Really? Well, meet:
The Disappearing Moving Company
I was assisting someone on a large residential move that required several days to pack, box, and otherwise prepare. The actual move would require two days of services from Dallas-based Condor Moving Systems at a cost of $1,700. On balance, day one ended fairly smoothly. So, we ordered pizzas and drinks to show our appreciation for the crew’s hard work well beyond nightfall.
Day two plans centered around transporting larger items. My friend had specified that the rather expensive furniture be tightly sealed with protective plastic wrapping to avoid tears, scratches, and dents. It turns out, however, that the crew arrived with none of the necessary materials. Their plan of attack involved the use of ordinary felt covers.
My friend, not risking damages, expressed considerable concern. The crew chief that was jovial just the evening before while chugging down bears and pizza grew hostile. But my friend was not budging, “I cannot let you move my furniture without the necessary supplies.“
What began as an relatively fluid move came to an abrupt stand-still. My friend contacted the corporate office, extremely concerned and persistent about protecting valuable items. Pacing the floors, my friend maintained, “Listen, I am not going to allow this. The first item you crew is moving is a floor lamp that cost over $1,000!“
At some point, the office manager requested to speak to the crew chief. And as the two talked, my friend exited for the upstairs to view the progress of bedroom furniture dis-assembly. The crew chief removed himself momentarily to the front of the house while continuing the phone call. Meanwhile, movers were pacing up-and-down the stairs, transporting items in preparation for loading the truck. A few minutes later, the crew chief returned and signaled for crew members to meet with him outside. I assumed they were planning the order of moving items that did not require special wrapping. While they talked outside, I joined my friend upstairs to see how things were coming along.
While inspecting the bedroom, I looked through a large window and noticed that the moving truck was leaving!
I yelled over to my friend, “Hey, what is going on. The movers are gone!“
Initially, we assumed the home office had summoned the crew to return to get appropriate supplies and a truck suitable for moving delicate furniture. However, my friend rushed out of the room and immediately called the office to confirm. The office manager had another idea — call the crew off the job!
What I later learned was that my friend had paid one-half of the fee after the first day’s work was completed. Condor was not inclined to properly wrap the remaining furniture and unilaterally resolved to turn the two-day job into a one-day arrangement, followed by a disappearing act. Repeated calls to the office yielded nothing. The movers were gone. And to make matters worse, it was the weekend. Thus, we would unlikely find a replacement.
We were stuck.
What seemed odd to me when the day began, I now shared with my friend: “I know you have been planning this move with the home office of what was supposed to be a trusted company, but I thought it strange when the truck appeared without any artwork. No branding. No logo on its exterior!“
Ultimately, we hired a replacement. But replaying in my head for the rest of the day was the sight of that moving truck , leaving the scene and the face of my shocked friend when I broke the news!
PRIVATE vs. PUBLIC
For all the negative images that surround government services, politicians that seek to privatize conveniently avoid stories like this one. And is there any among us who have not had their share of wrong treatments by companies despite commercial interests? Too big too fail, ineffective communications between consumers, and a host of other factors result in companies routinely taking advantage of John Q. Citizen. Privatization, then, is not a panacea, but ushers in a whole new set of problems where controls readily available in government are not as accessible in the private market.
This story is not to suggest superior public-sector delivery, but simply challenges the myth of private-sector superiority. At a time of sweeping public-to-private conversions, we cannot categorically endorse one options over another, but must vet the implications of the choices before us. Condor illustrates one such implication — resolution of consumer complaints
How can you avoid nightmare from hell moving company experiences?
1. Visit the local office rather than rely on the “friendly voices” over the phone. Ask for photographs of moving jobs. A company that cannot produce photos of its preparation, truck-loading, and truck-unloading is like seeking a dentist with no teeth.
2. Obtain a list of customers. And not a list of friends and family members. Preferably a randomly generated list from the company’s computer system, provided as you watch!
3. Inspect the vehicle fleet and supplies that will be used for your job.
4. Obtain guarantees. Be sure the company is sufficiently bonded. Confirm the company does not employ undocumented workers. Ask to not only see the company’s Wokers Compensation certificate, but also require a photocopy be included with your moving agreement. Check the certificate with the State agency. And have full refund exit clause that allows you to cancel the project if you find irregularities. Also, discuss the refund policy and circumstances that would result in full refund e.g., crew not showing up as scheduled that could cost you time and money.
5. Negotiate a pay-upon-completion contract, if at all possible. If not, find a company that requires a minimum amount for a deposit. Reputable firms are not so cash-strapped that a large up-front fee is necessary. Further, on a multi-day job, you should not pay at the end of each day. The company has a written contract and various legal means to respond to non-payment issues. Remember, paying by the day can leave you with a disappearing act in the event of a dispute.[/important]
If you have a LOL story, please submit it at Contact Us. I will respond within 48 hours.
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