Thursday, July 24, 2008

Reader Participation: Come, Merry Pranksters!

This could be fun. Here is the background story.

An empty corner stands here at our burning house, a space for Sarah's piano that should have been filled several days ago. Where on earth is Sarah's piano? I will tell you. Sarah's piano is sitting in a warehouse somewhere in the Los Angeles area. It has been there since July 9, when the movers picked it up. According to our contract, it was to have been delivered in no later than 7 business days. That would have been Monday, the 21st.

Let's back up a little bit. Sarah got some quotes for moving her piano from Los Angeles to our new home in New Mexico, and she went with Budget Van Lines. Only later did we look more closely at what kind of enterprise this is.

Budget is not the company that moves your stuff. Budget is just a broker: they subcontract, and what they do to make money is negotiate cheap rates by finding space on trucks with other cargo. It's like a ride-sharing service, except for your belongings. The subcontractor may or may not be any good. Consumer websites like this one relate some horror stories about Budget and their subcontractors which you would hope are the exceptions rather than the rule. There are more tales of woe here and here.

Budget subcontracted Sarah's piano job to a company called Ben Hur. They picked up the piano on July 9. The contract with Budget specifies delivery from 1-7 business days and once that time had elapsed with no word about Sarah's piano, I started calling.

Would you be surprised if I told you that Budget's customer service is a bit lax? Multiple voice mails and emails unanswered until I had to leave messages in my Angry Voice. Someone from sales finally gave me the number of the subcontractor. You realize what that means? That's right. Budget essentially abdicated its role as broker and made ME follow up with the carrier.

"Why am I doing your job?" I asked into somebody's voice mail. "I should invoice you."

Following many phone calls to Budget AND Ben Hur over the last week, here's our situation:

After eleven business days, Sarah's piano is still sitting in Los Angeles, and the carrier cannot tell us exactly when it will leave the warehouse. Today, the carrier said they are "trying to get a truck together" to bring the piano to New Mexico. Trying to get a truck together? Did it fall apart? What's going on over there?

Several employees from Budget have gotten an earful from me (I started calling back random extensions until I reached people) about the fact that Budget failed to follow up with its own subcontractor or communicate with us, and giving them a hard time about making me follow up with them myself. I've been demanding a rebate based on how late the delivery will be.

Our contact at Budget promised he would negotiate this with the carrier, and have the carrier contact me with the amount that would be rebated per day the piano is late. Surprise, the carrier didn't call, and seemed surprised when I called them asking about it.

Ready for the reader participation? Come, merry pranksters, let's have some harmless fun and make the world a lighter place. And be a part of reuniting Sarah with her beloved piano at last.

What we are asking for from our cherished friends reading this blog is a happy cavalry - a polite, upbeat, friendly cavalry. We're not asking you to make trouble (that's why Sarah keeps me around), we just want you to be your wonderful, friendly, optimistic and intelligent selves and send Budget Van Lines your encouragement and support. A love note, if you will.

To wit: we'd like you to send a short and friendly email to our contact at Budget. His name is Adam. Sounds like a young guy, must be very busy because he never answers his phone. When I get through to him he's nice and sounds like he wants to help. I'm sure the fact that his promises don't come through has to do with other nefarious forces at work, and the guilt must keep him up at night. Poor guy. Please be nice to him.

The email should be in your own words, but something like the following. The friendlier it is, the funnier this will be.

"Hello Adam! I'm a friend of Sarah and Algernon. It really is a shame that Ben Hur is so late with their piano. Did you know it hasn't even left Los Angeles yet? I'm sure you're working hard to get that piano delivered and to get these kids a rebate for their trouble and their lost income. Just wanted you to know I'm rooting for ya!"

That's plenty. Click here to email him directly.

And if we are still dealing with this a week from now, I have the carrier's toll-free number. *Wink.*


DeeAnne said...

Dear Adam,

I'm a friend of Sarah and Algernon. I am sure you know that Ben Hur has not yet delivered their piano. I know you are working really hard to help them to resolve this issue and I wanted to let you know how very much that is appreciated!
Did you know that Sarah is a new mom? Their little baby was born back in the second week of May. Do you the one thing that sends tiny little crying babies off to sleep quickly is the sound of pleasant music? Do you know that parents deprived of sleep by cranky babies do weird things? Like give out e-mail addresses of random people who they fell might be able to help?
What's that? You didn't know that about babies and parents? Wow! Glad I told you. You don't even want to know what happens when mom starts getting PMS again after the baby is born. This starts around ten weeks postpartum and this is no time for mom to be sleepless and cranky... who knows what might happen then!
Well anyway, wanted to thank you for your efforts and all!


So I exaggerated a bit... or a lot.. whatever! It was fun...

Hope it helps!

DeeAnne said...


The original message was received at Fri, 25 Jul 2008 00:50:14 -0400 from []

----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors ----- "< >"
(reason: 550 sorry, no mailbox here by that name. (#5.7.17)

----- Transcript of session follows ----- ... while talking to
>>> DATA
<<< 550 sorry, no mailbox here by that name. (#5.7.17)

550 5.1.1 "< >"... User unknown <<< 503 RCPT first (#5.5.1)

Spaces and quotes added around e-mail to pass html rules....

Algernon said...

Aaah, I made a typo on my post. My fault, all my fault.

Funny email, DeeAnne. Sarah appreciated it. (As long as Adam doesn't feel like he's being threatened...)

Ji Hyang said...

Dear Algernon,

my computer isn't set up with built- in mail service, if you send me the address I am glad to play a role in this adventure...

Pam said...

Perhaps they are waiting on an available chariot that's large enough to transport the piano.

Remind me to tell you the story of my move from San Antonio to Mahwah NJ and Mayflower van lines. How my dog and I sat in my condo for days playing phone tag, getting the runaround about where all my worldly belongings were.

Long story short...driver turned around mid-haul and started back (who the hell knows why!) had a wreck in the van. Didn't bother to tell the company for over 24 hours...

It wasn't pretty.

I'll send a friendly note later. :)

joyfulmom said...

If all else fails, you can ask Duppy for the name of a good attorney. I'm sure many of them play golf at Rio Mimbres. LOL

I hope the piano gets to NM safely and soon. I know how much Sarah loves it!