Monday, October 8, 2012

Movin’ on Up: The Quest for the Perfect NYC Apartment (Part 5)

See that?

That's what my room looked like when I moved out. I had to shove all of my stuff in the closet and center of the room. Why, you ask? Because I had to move out of my room on September 1st, but I couldn't move into the new apartment until September 4th. Long story.

Anyway, I was homeless for three days, during which I vacationed on the Jersey Shore (I know, rough life, right?), and I returned on September 4th to meet the movers.

Now, this was my first experience hiring a moving company, which intimidated me. Even though I got a recommendation from a friend for a group of hardworking Russians at a decent price (and they were also positively reviewed in New York Magazine), it freaked me out that they only took my name and phone number and told me they'd be there "sometime around 8/9 o'clock." Because they didn't require a deposit (which, in hindsight, was extremely nice), I convinced myself that they wouldn't show. So, being the worrywart I am, I invented about three different reasons to call between the time I first spoke to them and moving day, just to reassure myself they'd show up.

And show up, they did. Even though they had the wrong address and it took them three calls to find the apartment. (Apparently "nine" and "five" sound similar to Russians who speak English as a second language.) They were incredibly fast, polite, and thorough, which I really appreciated. They didn't break anything, they carried everything down 97 steps, and they gave me the job of sitting in the truck to make sure it didn't get ticketed. I felt incredibly awkward "supervising" as the "client," since I am completely able-bodied. But I guess that's what you do when you hire movers. You watch them move.

With only about 17 mentions of our new apartment being small, they efficiently brought everything up the elevator to our new digs, only went 30 minutes over the estimated time, and presented us with the bill.

I knew this moment would be awkward, so to make it as painless as possible, I asked the moving company fellow at the other end of my four phone calls about the tip amount. He told me to give 20% of the total in cash. Which is exactly what I did.

The moving company money counter counted the money. And paused.

And counted it again. And paused.

Finally, he said, "We do good job. Fast work. More money for each man?"

Even though I wanted to roll my eyes--actually, I probably did roll my eyes--I handed over more cash.

He went through his count-pause-count-pause routine a couple more times and said, "We work hard. I no charge you for full last hour. Forty dollar each man?"

"Forty dollars each? I called and was told to give you 20% from your supervisor. I've given you WAY more than that. I don't understand what this is all about." I was red-faced and angry at that point but was trying to rein it in since my roommates' parents were watching.

"Just give it to him," they said. "Here it is--give him this." And with that, they handed me the ridiculously inflated tip money, which was indescribably lovely of them.

But I was still mad at the movers. How dare they soak us for cash when I took all of the appropriate steps to treat them more than fairly??? I've been a waitress at Crapplebee's, and many of my friends work in the restaurant industry, so I pride myself on my 20%+ tips. Even if something goes terribly wrong with my meal, I never leave less than 15%. Ever. Ooooo, those movers really made me angry. Actually, even typing the story now makes me furious. They can expect a mixed-to-negative Yelp review from me. And a strongly worded letter.

P.S. I just did a little tip research that I wish I had done earlier. The Yelp consensus is that $15-$25 per man is the usual. Not $40. I'm fuming again. Though I suppose it's all water under the bridge. I would have to think really hard to tell you how much I spent total, so it didn't exactly break the bank. Live and learn. The more you know. Etc, etc, etc.


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