I am an Australian who set out to move to Berlin in March 2007.
I found a removal company and based my decision of the response of the girl on the phone, and the price. I was happy with both. My 3 cubic metres of belongings left my home in Sydney on 8th March, 2007 and was told to expect them between 6-8wks later. I mentally allowed for 3 months just so that I wasn't impatient for them to arrive. I remembered the name of the good boat that was to bring my goods, The M.S(?) Rebecca.. and used the website to track her movement over the oceans. Imagine my surprise when at the end of April I found that Rebecca was still sitting pretty in Australia!
This is the story 4 months later and my first letter to AFRA and to The Manager of Australasian Relocations:
"There are of course many details in between, but at present I have been informed that the UK delivery branch, European Van Lines, who were to receive my goods in the UK and then send them on to me in Berlin, have frozen my delivery and those of others using the same Australian company as Australian Relocations has not paid their bill to European Van lines.
As it is told to me by the UK side(European Vanlines) this is a bill outstanding for many months with much communication about it and at last word were told that it would be paid on the 28th September. At this point UK side decided to freeze all deliveries until immediate payment was made.
This is where I ask you for advice and help?
What are my rights in this area?
The estimated time for my delivery was given at 8-10wks. That I never believed anyway, which is lucky because now it is almost 4 months. 4 months is too long! I have begun a new life here, and everything serious and special in my life that is worth moving to the other side of the world is in that shipment, and it is of the gravest concern to me that I receive them all in good order and now.
I have paperwork that should have arrived long ago that needs to be submitted here for visa applications, for tax reasons and to apply for jobs and generally begin a life here. I have items that are needed next Wednesday night as I have my first gig here and nothing to work with. I had to marry without my wedding dress which should have been here 1 month ago at the latest!
I have family treasures in there that I entrusted to good care on their journey. I have my bicycle that laying sideways with wheels and handle bars missing is not as strong to transport as if it was fully constructed. I have many things that are I considered special and important enough to spend good money to send a long way, right now being used as blackmail for a companies indiscretion.
I am hugely concerned at the amount of handling my goods have received due to this elongated transport route and extra wharehouses included to store goods that have now been frozen.
I am now also frozen in my new life as I can neither apply for very important visa's nor make a decent application for work as all the papers to verify my education and abilities are stored and held as blackmail.
This is the personal aspect to my story.
Back to the practical;
I have no interest in being part of a bungle between two companies, and I feel that 4 months is quite long enough to await my own things.
I would like to know my rights in this matter, and if I can organise another company to collect my goods and deliver them to me from the UK. The UK side has informed me I am perfectly okay to collect my goods at no extra charge to me, and with research it seems I can find an alternative load for approx £500 = $1500au.
Am I inside of my rights to order an alternative load and invoice The Au company (Australasian Relocations) and expect reimbursement?
I understand there is the chance that Australasian Relocations have gone bankrupt and in this case I can expect nothing, but if this were the case, then I could not expect my goods to be delivered at all, so perhaps it is a chance I have to take.
Please understand, we are newly married and most of our minimal finances have gone towards me moving here with my dog (3000 au alone!) so to pay an additional $1500 on a move that originally cost me $1250 is not an easy task and I most certainly would be looking for reimbursement.
Another Strange point to have emerged is that the UK side said that if I paid the Au bill then they would certainly send my goods on immediately, but that bill is £1295 for 3 cubic metres and again I tell you I paid only $1250 for my load.
How this works I have no idea, but is perhaps another piece to a puzzle?
I have asked both the UK and the AU side to release my contact details to anyone in the same position so that we can perhaps team up and get a load together or something, but have heard nothing back.
I have placed numerous phone calls to the AU side and done none better than the vigilant front desk staff who insist that you are unavailable right until the time that they close business and simply disconnect you, no return emails or phone calls from the Managing Director, Robert Briggs nor the General Manager -Keith.
I am incredibly keen to have word or receive news of this matter, If this is something you have heard of already, or if you have you had anyone else contact you in the same boat as me (figuratively speaking).
I have been up early and to bed late to call the au team with no result.
Frankly, getting married and moving to the other side of the world is stressful enough without needing to take on the stress of a failing company and their inability to pay their bills and fulfill their contracts."
In the end I received my shipment at the end of 5 months! This story is particularly pleasant and fortunate compared to many others I have read of Australasian Relocations. I know of one lady who received her families antique furniture smashed into pieces and labelled "firewood" as well as the leftover lunch of the removalists in a special box of their own moldy and festering after many months journey. That poor woman sadly ended up legally having to pay Austrelo more for her destroyed furniture as when it went to court Austrelo simply said that she was a crazy hormonal woman who did it herself.. this poor lady was in London and unable to attend the hearing.
Whatever you do.. don't use these guys!
I recently moved from Canberra to London, and had an unpleasant experience.
Australasian Removals were fine...until they had my stuff, and then the standard slipped. They would ignore my emails for up to two weeks at a time, and they refused to provide me with a receipt specifying how many boxes had been collected. I emailed and emailed and emailed asking for some kind of inventory, and finally, over a month after my goods were picked up they provided one (long after it could be verified against anything except my own list, of course).
Oh, and then it gets better. It turns out that there were all these forms needed by UK customs including a detailed list of the contents of each of the boxes, which they hadn't provided to me. This caused me delays at customs and extra fees. They claimed that I was somehow supposed to know what was in each labelled box, even though they had labelled them after collecting them from my storage unit in Canberra.
I complained about this and received such incredibly rude email replies from the MD, who was also very rude on the phone to my mother. In these, he threatened to charge me extra money claiming that I hadn't given my credit card details and that I was delaying! NOTE - I had provided it long before they even took my belongings, and had emailed them again to the woman who I had been dealing with. Apart from which, I had not been the source of any delay! I even had to get my mother in Australia to ring them up three times just to get a copy of the documents. Obviously I told him that he had absolutely no legal basis to add additional charges onto my card and that I wouldn't stand for it, so he let that one go fairly quickly.
So, I put up a negative review on www.shipping-international.com, only to discover that the moving companies there can remove negative reviews, leaving only the (I imagine very rare) positive ones left. I've seen a number of other negative reviews appear and disappear after a day or so since I started checking.
Also, the boxes were packed so badly in the container that the company at the other end even commented on the incompetence of Austrelo.
My son and his family are caught up in this mess. The ship he was informed his goods were on is due to dock in Tilbury this weekend, however there is a major problem in that the forwarding agent appointed by AR understandably refuses to deal with it. In an effort to find some sort of solution I contacted a forwarding agent in Tilbury mainly to ask for advise. Keith, the guy I spoke to was extremely helpful and contacted the shipping company who confirmed that the ship is due and the container carrying the number we have is indeed on board. He then went on to contact the AR appointed forwarding agent who confirmed that due to non payment by AR he would not be dealing with it and he further informed Keith that there is already a container from AR sitting on the docks at Tilbury which nobody will touch.
Keith's company, Total Forwarding are able and prepared to sort out this mess but everyone must understand that any money paid to AR to get their belongings to their final destination is now lost, at least until the administrators have done their job, but all concerned must be realistic and accept that the likelihood of getting anything back is slim to say the least, therefore Total would charge you for their services, but at least you would get your possessions back!
In order to have the containers released to Total it is necessary for the shipping line to obtain authorisation from the administrators, Lawler Partners, Sydney +61 2 8346 6000. The contacts at Lawler dealing with this are Gavin or Dee.
If anyone affected by this feels that Total can help them I suggest that they put pressure on Lawler to give authorisation to Total as soon as possible. Lawler have nothing to lose in doing this.
Anyone wishing to discuss this or needing more information can contact me at tim.radcliffe at btinternet.com or mobile