Settling Into Life in Detroit

blue berkley bullock homeOur family has been in Michigan for a few weeks now, and I feel like we’re settling into normal life. Well, as much as possible.

November was a month of transition. Packing, driving cross country, starting a new job, finding my way around, and trying to catch my breath. We were fortunate to be able to stay with the Mero Family in Plymouth for a few weeks, who we knew from our time in Michigan back in 2008. We did the one-car double-commute thing for two weeks, where we’d leave Plymouth, drop Taylor off at the airport in Romulus, I’d drive to work in Troy, and then go back to Plymouth. It was 120 miles round trip, and very exhausting and time consuming. I flew back to Salt Lake two weekends in a row to pack, attend a going away party, and get some last visits in with friends and family. On the second trip back, Rosie returned to Detroit with me.

I began working as an SEO specialist at Moncur Associates, a digital branding agency. I will be focusing on SEO, but working with the social media team to integrate social and content strategies for our clients. It’s been an interesting transition to go back to SEO after doing full-time social media at my last job, but I know that my social media experience makes me a better SEO, and vice versa. When I began working, the office was in Troy. Three weeks later, the office had relocated to Southfield. It’s a convenient location to my house, and a pretty snazzy contemporary office.

wooden dining room setOn the last day of November, we got the keys to our new house in Berkley. Our house is a cozy blue 1920’s bungalow with a white porch, squeaky wood floors, and a good backyard. Berkley is a suburb 11 miles north of downtown Detroit. I know this because we live off 11 Mile Road. When we drove out from Utah, we packed as much as we could into the cars. Because we had to coordinate the moving truck with Taylor’s company, we knew it would be a while before our stuff was delivered. Right now, the estimated arrival date is December 30th.

Our Black Friday was spent furniture shopping. We got some fantastic deals, and purchased a dining room set, couch, and beds. Other than our new furniture and the miscellaneous STUFF we’ve purchased on our multiple Target/Meijer/Costco/Walmart runs, the house is otherwise empty. It will be nice to have all of our dishes, kitchenware, dressers, linens, decorations, and clothes, but for now…we have enough to get by.

7 foot artificial christmas treeWe debated over a real vs artificial Christmas tree this year. I was set on getting a real tree…until I went shopping for a real tree. I don’t consider myself OCD at all, but I started getting frustrated at the “fresh” trees I saw in tree lots. Most were severely asymmetrical and patchy, and really didn’t look very pretty. The ones that were full and looked nice had very sharp needles. Four lots later, I gave in to Taylor’s pleadings and got an artificial tree. As a consolation, we bought a lovely fresh fir wreath. With the tree set up, full of lights and ornaments, this alone has helped our house feel like a home.

Christmas will be simple this year. Taylor will be on a 4-day trip, so Rosie and I will be on our own. Luckily, many new friends and people in our ward have invited us to celebrate with them, so we’ll have ways to be merry in our new city.

I’m Moving to Michigan

detroit map pinLast night I updated my Facebook status, and mentioned our family’s move to Michigan at the end of the post. The general reply?

“Whaaaat? No! You’re Moving? Did I miss your announcement?!?”

Although I’ve been talking about our upcoming move for several months, I guess it’s never been official because I didn’t make a big to-do on social media.

So here’s the official announcement. Through the months of November and December, our family is moving back to the Detroit area. Taylor and I are driving out one car full of stuff on November 3rd, and the moving truck will probably come the first week of December once we’ve found a place to live. In the mean time, I’m going to stay with a family from our old ward for the days I’m in town. I’ll be in Salt Lake at various times through the next 5 weeks, but it’s going to be pretty busy with packing and moving preparation.

michigan mitten map print

To address the fact that it’s DETROIT I’m moving to: Yes, I know the city is bankrupt. Yes, I know the winters are cold. Yes, I know that it’s far away from Utah. Yes, I know you don’t like X sports team. But I’m okay with it. Our family needs this. And we’ve lived in Michigan before, so we know what to expect.

Taylor was transferred to Detroit back in March. He’s been commuting to Memphis for the last 4 years, but it hasn’t been too terrible because he could jumpseat on FedEx flights. Since he’s been based at DTW, he’s been dealing with two big stressors: living in a crashpad and commuting back and forth on standby. Both Detroit and Salt Lake City are Delta hubs, which means that a lot of passenger traffic gets rerouted at the last minute. He thinks he has a way home, then gets bumped. Or has to route through another city. It’s enough to take his 2-4 days home down to 1-3, and sometimes he’s home less than 24 hours before he’s gone another week. He’s hating crashpad life: 15-25 pilots sharing a hotel room full of crappy bunkbeds and one bathroom. Seven months of that torture has been enough to consider a career change. I don’t want him to quit his dream without giving life in Detroit another try.

michigan leavesRight now I’m being considered for a few different jobs, and will be flying out to Detroit for interviews in a few days. I’ve been job hunting for months, but earlier in the year didn’t turn out to be the right time to move. Now it is, and we’re being proactive. It’s scary to put moving expenses on a credit card and not know when I’ll have work, but sometimes a leap of faith is necessary.

It’s going to be difficult to leave Utah. We have such a strong support network for friends, family, neighbors, and former coworkers. We’ve been back in Utah 4 years, and it’s feeling harder to leave than when we left in 2006. But don’t you fret…we’ll still be back to visit. We’re planning to come back from Christmas.

Want to see us before we leave? On Saturday, November 16th, I’m going to hold a going away party open house. The location will be determined soon, but you can keep tabs on the event on the Facebook event. Hope to see you there!

 

Another Moving Fiasco – Lost and Beheaded

It’s been just under a week since our moving truck arrived, and much of my time has been spent unpacking boxes and reacquainting myself with my wardrobe and kitchen wares. But as we’ve been unpacking, a few items we love haven’t turned up. Most specifically, my Dad’s old antique 1960’s acoustic guitar, my purple bass guitar, and a subwoofer speaker.

See this picture, right in front on the right….MY GUITAR!!! Where, oh where, is it now???

We found our box of carefully wrapped, double-bubble-wrapped Willow Tree Statues, but most of them were BEHEADED!!! Moving 1 pulled a Marie Antoinette on us!!

We thought our small TV was lost too…but we recovered it in a box of Rosie’s clothes??? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. I don’t care too much about the broken mirrors and picture frames, the multiple cracked Rubbermaid containers, and a few other items that are missing. I want my guitars back! There’s a chance the moving company found a strange place to stash them, but in our survey of every room in the house….no strummable instruments found.

I called Moving 1 to find out how to file a claim with them. The receptionist bluntly said, “We are not responsible for lost or stolen items from your move.” If that’s the case, why on earth do they spend all the time tagging each packed item on the bill of lading? The receptionist sent me to a 3rd party claims company, who said that our lost and broken items will only be covered at $.60 per pound. Did you hear that???? My guitar valued at $1000 will only be replaced at sixty cents per pound!?! She said, “All movers offer full replacement insurance when you schedule your move.” Well, yes, they did offer additional insurance….but should we be responsible for THEIR EMPLOYEES losing our beloved instruments???

I am sooooo ready for this fiasco to be over.

The Moving Truck Came! Our Stuff is Here!

For the first time in 7 months, we have a full house.

Despite all the lies and disappointments, I have to admit that I was really excited when the moving truck pulled up in front of our house at 8:00 am Tuesday. Sure, it was a month later than we’d originally anticipated, but it did come. After 7 months, I’m pretty sure my heart did grow fonder.


When we moved out of our Atlanta condo in June, our stuff went into a very cramped 10X10 storage unit. We had to wait a few months for shipment (because we’ve been so tight on money) Our stuff was picked up 6 weeks ago, and finally made it to Spanish Fork yesterday. For a little perspective, our belongings took up the majority of space from the ramp to the end of the truck. Somewhere around 10 feet, and only about 25% of the truck. What a joke. We ended up having to pay $2900 instead of $1820.
Putting the house back together has been a bit of a pain (actually a lot of a pain in my back). Taylor’s first order of business was setting up the TV and entertainment components. I went for the boxes, bags, and crates of clothes. We only had a few hours to unpack before he had to leave for the airport, but we got a lot accomplished in those hours.
We did have some casualties with a few of our items. The above frame is from a large fancy mirror that broke, and we also lost the framing elements of one of my favorite Japanese prints. My saddest loss? The beheading of several of my Willow Tree statues. We’re going to attempt a claim on our broken items, but I’m not holding my breath.

As much as I have hated living out of boxes and suitcases the past two years, I have to admit that I really love having ALL my belongings in the same state; my linens, my dishes, my movies, my tech items, and my clothes! That hasn’t happened since 2003. Other than a short anxiety attack, the unloading process was pretty standard.

Now to find help Unpacking.

Another Moving Fiasco: Part 4


Today is moving delivery day. Or it was supposed to be.

Earlier this month, we decided to have the movers bring our stuff, despite the contract issues and having no idea how we’d pay the balance. I asked how quickly it could get there…Rob said cross-country transit usually takes 3-5 days (which to me is reasonable.) I told him we’d have the money on payday (Jan 16th), and he said they’d plan on delivering it the week of the 18th.
I talked to Rob last Monday, the 18th. He said our stuff would be there by Thursday, Friday at the latest. He promised to call by Thursday to give our firm delivery time. I called back and talked to a receptionist about acceptable forms of payment. She said certified bank check was fine, but they took credit cards and money orders as well. My dad agreed to lend us the money, found a bank branch open on the MLK holiday, and got the certified check ready for us.
Thursday came and went. Delivery didn’t happen. No call from Rob.
I called Friday morning. Rob said he’d get in touch with the dispatcher and call me back within 30 minutes. He didn’t call me back. After a few more calls near closing time, the receptionist finally let me talk to him. Rob called the truck driver. The truck was in Texas, would be dropping a shipment in Colorado on Sunday, and would deliver our stuff in Utah “first thing Monday morning.”
Sunday night around 9:00 PM, the driver Alex called us. He said that he would be delivering between 11 am and 2 pm, and to have payment in postal money order ready. (HUH?) I told him that the moving company advised us that certified check was acceptable…he said that I’d have to take it up with the moving company.
I called Moving 1 right when they opened this morning. Rob discussed methods of payment, and he said that Moving 1 has NEVER accepted a certified bank check for delivery. I advised that I called last week to verify, and was given incorrect information. Rob said, “If the driver gets to your house, and you try to pay in certified check, he’ll just turn around and drive away.” I looked at our contract, and sure enough…only acceptable payment on delivery was postal money order.
At that point it was 7 am, and we had about 4 hours to figure out payment before the delivery window. My dad (who is wheelchair-bound, btw) was preparing to leave on a business trip. We explained the situation, and we knew the only way we could fix the payment was to have him physically come to the bank to cash the check. Taylor drove up from Spanish Fork, and my dad drove down from Lehi, and they met at a Provo branch to cash the check. Taylor took the cash to the post office, got the money orders, and hurried back home to be there for the movers at 11.
Our 11 am to 2 pm window passed. No movers. We called the Moving company – they had no clue. We called the truck driver – no answer. As we were stewing over what to do next, the truck driver called. He said that his truck broke down “een esalta laka seety.” (in Salt Lake City) If he could get the truck fixed, he’d be there by 6 pm. If not, he’d come “first thing in the morning Tuesday.”
At 6:15, the driver called. He can’t come to “The Espanish Fork” tonight. He will come at 8 am tomorrow. We shall see.
At this point…I’m at a loss for words.
***
As for the dispute with the BBB, the moving company representative did respond to my complaint. It was written by Donna, the claims adjuster, poor grammar and all:
“First we would like to apologize for the inconvenience the customer may have sufferred during her move. However, we do not increase any shipment size or cost unless the customer has more items. Which means that even if we were mistaking in the estimation of shipment size, but the items list were the same, we would not have charged her more. We find it a little rude that the customer is only listing the increase in charges but not listing any of the adjustments that Rob the “rude” manager has authorized.

“Rob has authorized a charge for 750 at the same rate initially quoted to the customer which resulted in a discount of $378.00 discount. The customer shipment size was estimated by other companies the same 560 cu.ft. just like we have because of the list of items the customer provided. She also sent us copies of estimates she received which were for more than 500 cubic feet only. so to say we were the only ones is just wrong.

Furthermore, if the customer wasn’t just looking for bottom line price when comparing quotes she would have been able to pay more attention to details. We are very sorry the customer is not completely happy but trust our above explanation sheds some light over the REAL move details.”

I am composing my rebuttal as we speak…

It is true that when I sent my complaint to the BBB, Moving 1 had made no price concessions other than giving us “free” storage (while we came up with the the extra $$$ they overcharged us). After the complaint was submitted, I finally made some headway with Rob (see THIS post). I’m not sure what Donna was talking about when she mentioned the other estimates I submitted for comparison. (the ones submitted were for a 2 bedroom apartment, and for 760 cubic feet…nothing lower than the 560 CF we got from Moving 1.) The quote I am primarily concerned about is the one they “matched” from Bravo Movers…the 760 CF quote for $1820. The quote that would have saved us much of this hassle, had we dropped Moving 1 when we had the chance.

I am now working with a company called www.moverescue.com. Not sure if anything can be done at this point, but I’m not giving up yet.

Another Moving Fiasco: Part 3

Phew! I finally made some headway in MovingGate 2009-2010. It took bombarding Moving 1 with voice mails and emails for a few days before Rob would actually accept a call from me (I was really getting sick of the receptionist whispering to him that I was on the phone, thinking she’d placed the call on hold). After reviewing the emailed quotes I’d sent from other moving companies, (and sternly warning him with some legal mumbo-jumbo suggested from my buddy in law school,) Rob finally agreed to removed the $2/CF surcharge on the “extra” 190 CF. That brought down the price $360. Not terribly significant, but he said it was the best he could offer outside of court. Since I didn’t want to wait for my belongings through a lengthy multi-state court process, I accepted the arrangement. It’s still $1075 more than the binding estimate, but I don’t think I could have been any more successful without paying for a lawyer. I never heard back from Gephardt, but if he does contact me, I’ll see if he has any additional tips for me. I’ve reported the company to the BBB and American Moving and Storage Association. In the words of Mr. T: “I pity the fool who uses Moving 1!”One other bright spot: We negotiated with Taylor’s company to give us additional reimbursement towards our moving costs. They’ll cover the $450 in packing supplies. With the “discount” from Moving 1 and extra money from the airline, we are scheduled to have our stuff arrive in Spanish Fork sometime between January 16-22. We’ll have to do some mad pawning, Ebaying, and KSL.com selling to get enough cash this week (since the reimbursement will take a while). I’ve got a ton of Rosie’s baby clothes (newborn to 4T) if you’re interested….


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Another Moving Fiasco : Part 2


Ah, the continuing moving saga of the Bullock family. Part one of the Atlanta moving fiasco is here.

I was hoping that after two weeks I’d have more good news to report on the move, but we’re still in a stalemate. We’d hoped to have the issue resolved quickly, and to have our belongings delivered by Christmas or New Years’. I’ve talked to several receptionists, two reservation specialists and two managers, and have gotten the most information out of the manager Rob (but on only one occasion). When I call to ask for Rob, I am typically put on hold for 10-25 minutes before I’m told “He’s already left for the day,” or “He has taken the day off,” or “He’s meeting with a vendor in the warehouse and can’t talk for at least an hour.” All excuses are given with a promise to have him call me back immediately, but as of today, I have not had ONE email or phone call returned. I have messaged Erica the reservation specialist a few times, and she is no longer returning my emails or voice mails.

Currently, our items are sitting in their regional warehouse in Arkansas. We have gotten the moving company to agree to not charge us storage fees until we are able to pay enough to start transit (which we will do as soon as they give us an agreeable total price). But at the rate Moving 1 has been going, who knows if it will happen anytime soon?!?

I don’t know what else I can do. I just emailed Get Gephardt for help.

Yet Another Moving Fiasco

Moving 1 steals your belongingsThe storage unit in Decatur, GA that has held our earthly possessions since June

When Rosie and I headed out to Utah in June, all we brought with us was what fit into my Camry. We packed pretty creatively, so we haven’t been totally barren. Unfortunately, most of the clothes we brought with us were capris, tees, sandals, and light jackets. Now that it’s Winter, fleece jackets just don’t cut it! We’ve found some amazing finds online and at thrift stores. We’ve received calls from neighbors and family members when they were getting rid of something we might be able to use. But after 6 months of shelling out $100 bucks per month to Public Storage, we knew we had to get our stuff out to Utah sooner rather than later.

Over the past few months, I’ve gotten about 20 different price quotes from traditional moving companies, freight companies, cube storage/shipping, U-Pack, U-Haul, etc. We had chosen a broker called Moving 1 (who we did ultimately use this week) and we told them we weren’t sure when it would happen because we didn’t have the funds to pay yet. Once we got a quote lower than Moving 1’s quote, we asked them to match it. They DID match the total, but not the rate per cubic foot. We had reserved 800 cu ft (10x10x8 storage unit) but they way they scammed us was to only give us 560 cu ft for the $1820. When we used 720 cu ft, we got slammed with a higher price for that “extra” 190 cu ft.

In all, they charged us $3.75 per CF, and $5.75 for the extra CF (when all other CF quotes were between $2.15-$3.00 per CF.) Also, they charged us $530 for packing materials which consisted of 12 boxes and packaging tape, and a “dish packing fee” to put our bagged pots and pans into a box. When the truck was all packed, they movers said that the price was now $3200, not the “binding estimate” of $1800. We then found out was binding for weight…no matter how much it weighed, it would cost the same…but we’d have to pay extra for added volume. While at the storage unit as the movers packed, we tossed out dressers, mattresses, garbage bags full of linens and clothes, etc to make take down the amount of space used. We were supposed to pay half in cash at pick up, and half on delivery. We only had $1100 available to pay, so we have to wire them another $700 before they will ship it out to Utah. Our treasures will sit in a warehouse in Arkansas until we have paid half of the balance. Then we have to figure out the other half upon delivery. Hopefully we’ll get some cash for Christmas.

I have already submitted several comparable quotes I had obtained from various other companies to the manager at Moving 1 (and the “going rate” per CF obviously is nowhere near as expensive as Moving 1). I’ve also spoken with the manager of the dispatching trucking company to request an itemized bill for packaging materials, and will get rates from other movers to see how much our crew overcharged us. If the trucking company doesn’t help resolve this fiasco, we can go to small claims court over it. If we win, we’ll only have to pay about $200 out of what we recover. I am willing to fight, because I have no other choice.

With all of our interstate moves over the last 5 years, we’ve had varying luck with companies. We had something similar happen to us when we moved from California to Michigan, and luckily my in-laws bailed us out. Our Utah to California move was spot on with ABF U-Pack, and I wish we’d gone with them again. Our Michigan to Georgia move was fairly close to the estimate, but the movers took so long to move it out that we talked them into hiring a crew to unpack the truck for us for free. I’ll post an update on what happens with the GA to UT move as soon as we have any answers.

Merry Christmas, right?

Made It!

After four solid days of packing, and three solid days of driving, I’ve made it to the beautiful Wasatch Front. We traveled over 1900 miles through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, and Utah. I’m feeling a bit road weary, so I’m glad to be stretched out on my parents’ couch. There’s still much to be figured out, but it’s great to know I’ve got a lot of friends and family close by.


That’s my report.

Deja Vu

The majority of the last few days have spent packing like a maniac. Yes, you heard that right packing. I’m moving again. And I was just there six short months ago, preparing to move from Michigan to Georgia. It’s like deja vu…the same stress, the same mad box collecting, the same sorting, the same stuff..but this time it’s without all the same excitement. A variety of circumstances have occurred over the past few months – healthwise, employmentwise, moneywise, etc – necessitating a new living arrangement. All our stuff is going into storage here, and we head out on the road with a car full of things this week.

Rosie and I are moving out to Utah for an undetermined amount of time. We have offers for a free place to stay, and will be living in a home in Spanish Fork. We’ll also be spending a lot of time at my parents’ house in Lehi. I’ll be using this time to get my health back in check, spending time with family and friends, and figuring out the next step. I’ll then be looking for work, both in Utah and Georgia. Hopefully an Atlanta job will pan out, and our family can be back together soon. Taylor will be moving into a crashpad with some other pilots, and he’ll fly out to Utah whenever he can. We’re so sad that our family will have to live apart for a time, but we’ve got to do it.

Thank you for all of your kind comments over the past few weeks. Your concern and prayers mean so much to me. I’ve been feeling down for quite a while, and I tend to withdraw when I’m struggling. I hope that things will be looking up for our family soon. And in the meantime, I have all my favorite things about Utah to look forward to.