Allied Pickfords . . .
The Not-Quite-So ‘Careful Movers’

This article will prompt you to be very, very careful the next time you select an international removalist.
After a brief but enjoyable stint in Brisbane, I returned to New Zealand in November of last year . . . making the regrettable choice of selecting Allied Pickfords to pack and ship my effects back across the ditch.
‘Tell Us the Three Most Important Things About Your Move’

Export packing and shipping. . . Allied Pickfords-style


  • For readers following this unfolding story, here’s the latest update, hot off the press. After ignoring all my communications for a full month, I finally provoked a “response”. Well, sort of. More the response you get when you’re not getting one.

This article will prompt you to be very, very careful the next time you select an international removalist.

After a brief but enjoyable stint in Brisbane, I returned to New Zealand in November of last year . . . making the regrettable choice of selecting Allied Pickfords to pack and ship my effects back across the ditch.

‘Tell Us the Three Most Important Things About Your Move’

When you ring to organise a quote, many international removalists’ frontline sales personnel endeavour to put you into a warm and fuzzy state by asking you the “three most important things” about your move.

I don’t remember if Allied Pickfords employed that specific tactic with me, because I was extremely clear about my requirements anyway:

1)  My computer equipment.

I’m an author and, while everybody’s PC is critical to them, my computer houses all my manuscripts-in-progress for my future books – of which I have up to a dozen in the works at any particular time.

(Although I assumed it would be a given for an international move, I nonetheless issued the crystal clear instruction that my PC be packed in foam chips, and the carton covered liberally in un-missable “FRAGILE” stickers.)

2)  My manuscript crates i.e. containing all the hard copy support material for my books. (When I write a book, it becomes a valuable income stream for the rest of my life. And in some instances, I’ve been collecting up, and putting together, my manuscript support material for more than a dozen years.)

3)  On a highly personal note, anything related to my beloved dog who had passed away, most especially his soft toys and a very large framed photo of him.

I not only told the frontline salesperson, I made sure I impressed each of these points upon every other Allied Pickfords staffer I came into contact with – from the sales guy that came to quote, to the shipment co-ordinator, through to the packers themselves.

I even put it in writing.

Allied Pickfords, the … um … ‘Careful Movers’

The packing took place over the course of two afternoons.

Here’s how it went:

First guy rocks up. I take him around the house, pointing out, specifically, (1) the IT gear (and explaining – again – the criticality of packing it extremely well i.e. with plenty of foam chips etc), (2) the book manuscript crates (their significance and irreplaceable nature), and (3) my dog’s toys and the large framed wall photograph of him (and the extreme sentimental value of these).

Interestingly, none of this had been previously conveyed to him.

I warmed to him when he assured me how respectfully and carefully he would pack my dog’s toys, and how the large framed wall photo would, of course, be wrapped, “like everything else, to international packing standards”.

First Sign of Trouble (But NOTHING on What Was to Come)

I’d also made previous mention (to all links in the Allied Pickfords sales chain) of my fondness for my clothes, many of which were vintage pieces hunted down from various corners of the globe. I’d specifically insisted, and sought an assurance from the visiting Allied Pickfords quotes person, that all my clothes would be packed in upright “port-a-robes”.

So I was somewhat concerned when packer No. 1 turned up with two port-a-robes (instead of six). I instructed him to ensure he called packing team No. 2 to tell them to bring the rest the next day.

Next day. Packing team No. 2 arrives. (No port-a-robes.) Three blokes – one a bit older and two younger blokes. One with a really, really chauvinist attitude. All proceed to whinge avidly about the heat – which is kind of strange, since they opt to live in Brisbane. It was also somewhat illogical, since the effects of the very powerful air conditioning system I had going flat out were nullified by their insistence that the door be left open for their own convenience.

I’ll spare you the interim details but, about an hour later, I ordered the young bloke with the extreme attitude out of my house. He exited with a few loud expletives beginning with “F”. He spent the day in my driveway, sprawled across the front seat of the Allied Pickfords truck, with his feet protruding defiantly from the passenger window.

Four thirty quickly rolls around, and I had an appointment at 5pm, a good half hour’s drive away. The two remaining packers hadn’t finished. Feeling guilty about their being one man down, I decided to make it easy on them by acceding pleasantly to their request to pre-sign their not-yet-completed paperwork before leaving them alone in the house to finish the job.

Mistake.

Oh, BIG mistake.

Sometimes, it just doesn’t pay to be nice.

Fast Forward Several Days

I’d already paid the bill for the shipment and associated insurance, and into my email inbox drops a demand for a further 500 AUD for additional space and packing charges. Although it didn’t seem right, I went right ahead and paid it. I mean, they’d done an on-site quote, and not only was nothing extra added but, in fact, I’d gotten rid of several large pieces I’d originally planned to take . . . so, in reality, the invoice should have gone south, not north.

Whatever.

Fast forward further to mid-December. I get one more bill, and finally . . . my shipment arrives at my NZ abode.

Well, part of my shipment, at least.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words:

Careful Movers

Above:  What HAD previously been one of the pride pieces from my wardrobe – a vintage pink and gold stiffened lace dress found in a Johannesburg antique shop – is now the rag you see in the inset to the main photo. A further vintage piece, a formerly fabulous 50s frock with roses hand embroidered – lies chucked in beside it.

Careful Movers 2

Above:  Suitcase featuring keyboard in amongst assorted chucked-in shoes, screwed-up clothing, paperweights, and other broad-ranging miscellaneous objects. No packing material in sight.

Careful Movers 3

Above:  Please view this photograph in the context of my numerously-repeated instruction to “pack like you’re packing the most fragile and precious item possible, and ensure plenty of foam chips”, because I’m a writer and (even though I had it backed up) years of manuscripts-in-progress are on that computer. Note the dent on top from something thrown in on top of it.

(I also have a second, smaller PC. That was chucked – literally – into another box, not a piece of packing paper in sight, landing and staying perched on its corner, atop of a massive bird’s nest of cords and cables.)

Careful Movers 4

Above:  I suppose I should be grateful the PC wasn’t packed upside down . . . like one of my printers. (This printer was new and simply had to be lifted back into its original box and packaging. Arguably, it would have taken more effort to place it back in upside down than the correct way up.)

Careful Movers 6

Above:  My other printer – no packing material whatsoever. Not a “Fragile” sticker (as repeatedly requested) in sight.

Careful-Movers-07

Above:  The primary component unit of my little stereo. (No packing material, of course.) Does Allied Pickfords specifically instruct its packers to pack sensitive electronic equipment upside down?

Careful-Movers-22-2

Above:  DVD player. Again, packed upside down. What minute amount of effort would it take to pack these electronics up the right way?

Careful Movers 15

Above:  More of the same.

Above left:  Believe it or not, even this is far from the worst of the IT gear “packing”.

Above right:  What you see on the carpet is exactly as it was lifted out of a carton. Every box of IT-related equipment had been packed like this; some worse. It took days to put my office back together. Cords had been removed from the associated appliances, separated as far as possible from them, and then almost, it would seem, deliberately tangled and turned into birds’ nests.

Above:  Yep. Allied Pickfords. The Careful Movers. The tangled mess depicted on the right is (or rather, was) three pairs of sunglasses.

Careful Movers 10

Above:  Leather jacket-packing, export standard.

Careful Movers 11

Above:  This WAS a hat. NOT a cap. A (expensive, designer-style) HAT. It is no longer a 3D object, since being squashed between the two wire baskets depicted in the photograph.

Careful Movers 12

Above:  I narrowly missed slashing my arm on this. This glass was separated from an empty frame and “packed” exactly as you see it here. In case the photo doesn’t depict it sufficiently clearly, it’s smashed and standing in broken panels and shards. Is it even LEGAL to pack unwrapped broken glass – and why would anyone with half a watt of functioning neural activity pack shards of broken glass anyway?

Careful Movers 13

Above:  Squashed at the bottom of the largest sized house moving carton, the toys that serve as my mementoes of my precious pup. The ones I was assured by the packer himself would be packed and treated with “the utmost care and respect”.

Careful Movers 14

Above:  The large glass-framed photo of my dog . . . “packed to international standards”.

Careful Movers 16

Above:  Now here’s a thing. You’ll remember I was served with an additional payment demand for 500 AUD, apparently for unbudgeted space, despite the fact that I’d actually divested myself of a considerable volume of gear between the time of the quote and the arrival of the packers? I guess this is how that was achieved i.e. packing rubbish.

Another large carton held one of those flexible, brighly coloured rubber tubs that stack and a lettuce crisper. Three other tubs were packed in one carton, while the fourth (which should have been in the same stack) was packed separately, taking up an entire, large house-moving carton.

Careful Movers 19-2Items had been pulled apart and their components packed across numerous different cartons. In many instances, the related items are missing e.g. a butter dish has lost its base, one soup tureen from a set of four is all that remains of the set, and there’s no sign to be had of the shade of a 52-centimetre 70s retro table lamp (at right).

And, lest there be any argument about signing off packing lists, those lists are something of a moot point when cartons aren’t numbered or labelled (below).

Above:  Do you reckon there’s a reason they took the lids off sealed crates? Perhaps it was so everything would fall out.

Above:  What I can only assume are the gnawings of a hungry rodent. Seems he particularly enjoyed this book.

Above:  Just two examples of the deep dents and dings all over numerous items throughout the shipment.

Careful Movers 28-3

Above:  Damage to my gates by Allied Pickfords’ NZ delivery crew; no apology to me.

Just When You Thought It Couldn’t Get Any Worse

Remember my manuscript-in-progress crates? The importance of which I expressed, multiple times, to every Allied Pickfords staff member I came into contact with? A majority percentage of them are GONE WITHOUT TRACE.

Yes, folks. That’s right. Multiple lifetime streams of income. Lost in space. No trace. Nil. Nada. Zilch.

And here’s the sorry punchline: Allied Pickfords’ response.

Or lack thereof.

I send an urgent email. Then another. Then another. Finally, a response: A template email with an insurance claim form attached.

I email again: Is THAT the sum total of your response to this horrific mess you’ve delivered to me?

Comes the reply:

Hi Jordan,

Thank you for your email.

As the majority of your concerns are at branch level I have forwarded your previous email through to both the Branch Manager of Brisbane and Christchurch.

Kind Regards,

                Allied Pickfords (Brisbane)

Meantime, the other Brisbane parties I emailed completely ignore me.

In desperation, I call the insurer which, it turns out, is part of the same group corporate entity, Sirva Pty Ltd.

I explain the situation in detail to someone in the call centre there, who kindly furnishes me with the email addresses of several supposedly senior individuals, including someone, whom I am told is Sirva’s head of insurance for Australia and New Zealand. (His LinkedIn profile, however, states that he’s actually a “customer service supervisor”.)

No response yet, so I send a 1900-word email outlining the issues in detail. I direct it to numerous people that are the most senior I can identify … but that isn’t, I think, very senior. It’s very difficult to find out who actually sits in the upper echelons of this organisation.

I finally get a response – the briefest and most valueless of emails from someone in New Zealand.

I then receive a phone call from Allied Pickford’s / Sirva’s Australia/NZ err, insurance “top gun” . . . well, their customer service guy, at least . . . who suggests I put in an insurance claim.

I tell him that none of this is about insurance. I WANT my gear found. And I want some form of apology for the horrendous, seemingly malicious state of everything. I tell him I have photos that will appal him. He asks me to send them, ensuring me he’ll pull out all stops to find my gear and get back to me. He, too, he says, hopes the gear would be found, and with regard to whatever might not be found, he’ll help me compile a comprehensive insurance claim.

On the basis of these assurances, I spend four laborious hours collating the requested photos and emailing them, complete with detailed commentary, to he and the afore-mentioned email addressees.

Is Anybody There?

Well folks, none of that lot have been heard from again. I assume they received the photos.

I did hear, however, from the New Zealand chap. Keen to absolve his own branch of any blame, he wanted to send down his regional bloke. I was informed that this individual had graciously apportioned time to make the long, 45-minute drive to my house to “help me” . . . for which, by the way, I should be most grateful.

(Friends, correct me if I’m wrong, but is there something a little off here? The company that has lost my gear has “generously” offered to help me find it. Oh, why thank you. I am so very grateful that you would do this for me. How very kind of you to go to such trouble as to enlist the time of your representative to find the possessions I (over)paid you to ship to me here in full and in the condition in which I last saw them.)

Actually, I wasn’t entirely correct: Absolving the New Zealand end of the Allied Pickfords operation wasn’t the only motive for the generous gesture of sending the regional representative along. There was, in fact, another: to check me out.

Upon arrival, this representative eagerly informs me he’s “Googled” me. He knows what I do for a living, the type of books I write . . . indeed, he’s been very thorough. All this, it seems, is highly relevant to solving the case of the business-critical, and other, missing components of my international shipment.

Not so relevant, apparently, was viewing the photos of my broken and damaged gear – which I’d asked him to do upon agreeing to the visit.

But, well, he’d viewed “a few”, he told me, when I pressed him. I insisted he view the entire selection then and there, but after viewing a few more on my PC, he was clearly bored.

I Got ‘Googled’

Fascinated as to why he seemingly found me, my day job and my home more interesting than the matter at hand, I ventured: “Well, what’s your conclusion then, after ‘Googling’ me?”

The answer: I’ve written a lot of books. I’m a bit eccentric. But other than that I’m a “nice lady”. (Mind you, he probably doesn’t think so now.)

The “eccentric” thing had me beat. I’m about as ordinary and conservative as medium-sliced white bread, crust off. I dress ultra conservatively, run a neat and orderly house, BUT . . . aha! I know . . . I had classical music playing in the background. Someone of limited life experience might well consider that strange and frightening.

But no. It didn’t turn out to be that at all. I am eccentric, he advised, by virtue of being a writer.

As the visit wore on, he proceeded to furnish further evidence for his claim of my eccentricity: I have far too many clothes. I have far too much linen. Did I own too many books, too? I don’t remember. Whatever. I stand convicted.

Now, let me tell you the way I felt about this guy:

Having some stranger walk through your house, telling you they’ve “Googled” you, and voicing unwelcome observations about everything from your persona to the content of your wardrobe and your linen cupboard, leaves you with a really creepy feeling.

Other than that, it was a perfectly pleasant little visit. Didn’t achieve much, but he was keen to take away the newer Allied Pickford cartons, kindly leaving me with the buggered ones to take to the dump myself.

And Still It Gets Worse

In the days following the visit from the clothes-and-linen police, as I continued to piece together the ongoing disaster, I started to realise just how much of my manuscript material was missing.

I sent a further desperate email:

‘Sirs (I wrote, I’m paraphrasing here),

‘One of the manuscript boxes alone, contains a series comprising 10 books.

‘This series and (the material related to) all the other books in question represent significant long-tail, lifetime income streams for me.

‘I urge you to initiate a more thorough, more extensive search and to keep the intensity up on such a search until all this is found.

‘I trust that you have, for example, contacted all customers whose consignments were shipped in the same container as mine, to see whom my crates and other items might have been errantly delivered to.

‘Whilst my previous emails have met with no response, I ask that you acknowledge this email, providing an update on your actions to date, and on your intentions related to the advice contained herein.’

The response?

Nothing.

But it’s only been four weeks (as I write this article) since I sent the email, so maybe one’s still coming.

I’ll keep you posted.


  • For readers following this unfolding story, here’s the latest update, hot off the press. After ignoring all my communications for a full month, I finally provoked a “response”. Well, sort of. More the response you get when you’re not getting one.
15 Comments
  • Michele Kelcher
    January 28, 2016

    All I can say is thank goodness I didn’t use Allied Pickford when I moved home from Aussie a decade ago! These guys charge the earth and you would expect them to do a good job, for the money you pay. I know that they will never get my business and I will tell all my friends of the terrible job they did with your shift. shame on you alliedPpickford for your shoddy uncaring attitude. The more people that know about this the better!!

  • Dee
    January 28, 2016

    This is terrible, from any perspective you pay people to handle a move so that you yourself don’t need to, From this it seems it would have been easier to do it without them.

  • Jaye
    January 29, 2016

    I will never use this moving company after reading about your bad experience with them. I wonder how many other people have had a similar experience to yours?

  • Heather B
    February 2, 2016

    Marketing and size means nothing. Just because you’re familiar with a ” brand name” doesn’t make the company any good. Shame on Allied-Pickford for this appalling excuse for service. When I made a move within NZ I chose a family company with longevity -R F Symon & Son Invercargill- and I was very happy with the results. That said I did have the time to personally pack my really precious cargo. I sincerely hope you get the resolution you seek and deserve and within the shortest time frame ( although it seems that hope has already been dashed along with your items!).

  • Andrea Mcivor
    February 8, 2016

    A company that I will not ever use let alone recommend.
    The treatment of this customer is totally disgraceful !
    What ever happened to” people treating others as they would like to treated”

    May be the staff should move one of the directors belongings this way, then some form of staff training may happen to teach RESPECT of peoples property!

  • Arlene
    February 14, 2016

    Why do big corporations just NOT care about the consumers that have made their business so big. They need to remember that looking after every customer is what keeps their business going. There are sonmany competitors out there that one bad experience from a customer can cause them to lose so much future business from potential clients that hear about this one bad experience. The least a multi million dollar company can do is fix up their mistakes promptly before the comments of a very upset customer gets out. How hard is it to pack someones stuff with respect and care? This is their job!!! You dont see florists delivering headless flowers with weeds or a dress shop selling half made garments. Your business is what the customer experiences and if you cant provide a quality service/product that the consumer will be satisfied with then you shouldnt be in business. Shame on you Allied! Fix the drama you have caused poor Jordan and all the other unhappy customers you have screwed and now ignore.

  • Angela
    February 16, 2016

    This is totally disgusting and doesn’t surprise me at all. I had terrible service, well actually, there was no service! They don’t communicate, they ignored me and are still ignoring my emails. They destroyed property of mine that had been cleared and awaiting collection. They destroyed my things without notifying me and without having the right to do so. One item was extremely precious to me and irreplaceable. I am terribly upset. I have sought legal advice and am now waiting (yet again) for a final resolution. I have my doubts if I will ever see any compensation though. I will not let it go. I will go public and tell as many people as I can, NOT to use this company! I am so sorry for you, Jordan, I understand exactly how you feel.

  • ashley
    March 2, 2016

    wow are you fucking kidding me….
    and you guys call your self Allied Pickfords
    and jordans stuff comes back like this… really you guys are really winning?
    I’m telling you know you wont last and if this was my stuff I would cut u down at the knees this stuff was ment to come back in perfect condition and you guys fuck it up wow all I can do is laugh at what you call your self being as blunt and honest as I can I hope your Allied Pickfords business goes under….. all I hear is bad stuff about you guys any ways haha Jordan I think its time to tell the world and pick a new place to change the company you go with 😀 and losing the manuscript crates LMAO you guys are to fucked to function lmao all I can say is you guys are NOT the place people will go for I will spread the word about this and pray it goes viral like a fucking STD!

    much love ashley

  • Maggie
    March 6, 2016

    Wow I’m so glad that I came across this information. We are in the process of looking for a removal company to relocate and I will now definitely cross them off my list. Your story has highlighted just how little you can trust a well known company. Thank you so much for sharing this. I will be telling everyone to avoid using Allied Pickford’s too.

  • Rob McBeath
    March 7, 2016

    wow, unbelievable! Just as well we are not having them shift us north.Come on Allied Pickfords front up and sort this nightmare out!

    Rob

  • Tracy
    March 22, 2016

    This is shocking, I cant believe a company as big as allied pickfords as succeeded in business for as long as it has with this digusting service..or have they got to big for there boots.. and as for customer service well that obviously is not in there vocabulary.
    Where is the accountability. Someone should be hung out to dry..
    I will spread the word not to use this company..
    Thoughts are with you Jordan
    Tracy

  • John Guthrie
    March 31, 2016

    Well not only the pictures tell it all but the response of Allied Pickford’s is nothing short of disgraceful. There is no excuse for the lack of professionalism, it seems malicious ni a way, as if there was an intent to cause some one hardship, emotionally and financially. And yes one does need to discuss this issue with the head people who conveniently hide themselves away pushing those lower down in the hierarchy forward. It is a deplorable attitude and response. .

  • Mel
    April 21, 2016

    Ha.. They packed our computer equipment in with the Bathroom liquids!! And also had the audacity to pack their own lunch rubbish (IE empty cans of coke, orange peel, sandwich left overs) in with our towels! I won’t go into the amount of stuff which was broken, even with the ‘International’ wrapping. This was from Sydney to Wellington.

  • John Guthrie
    May 6, 2016

    Now in these various communications with Allied Pickford, I read that one of their less than professional staff referred to Jordan as eccentric based on the fact of her being a writer. Making such judgement calls like this shows a lack of disrespect for a client seeking outcomes to find her work and to compensate for the damage they caused. Essentially they are looking for excuses to avoid responsibility for the actions of their company.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *