Apologies for being away from the blog so long. But I had a good excuse! We were finally able to move into our new place in the Diplomatic Quarters in Riyadh. For the move we were planning to hire a moving company. Last time we moved the company destroyed many precious items I had brought from Finland and some things (like a huge painting) went MISSING.
So this time we searched for a moving firm we could trust not to destroy everything. A company was recommended to us that seemed really professional and even had a good website, but they would’ve charged us over 8000 riyals! For a days work I think that’s ridiculous, considering petrol is almost free and labor for such work is very cheap.
So we tried to find something we could afford and ended up using a company that seemed OK and signed the contract which included price, time frame and most importantly that any destroyed items would be reimbursed. The manager came to our house to evaluate how much stuff we had and how many men were needed.
When the moving day came, the moving crew arrived in the morning and we had hired two maids to help us pack, unpack and clean. I felt like I needed at least ten extra heads and sets of hands to be able to supervise and direct all these people.
The way the “movers” were handling and packing stuff was amazing. I mean we are talking about people who do this for a living right? You would assume they knew what they’re doing huh? Pack clothing nicely in plastic bags and other things in boxes with padding and wrapped in newspaper, labels and so on.
In reality what was going on was about six Afghani men were mercilessly throwing and stuffing random things into plastic bags and boxes as fast as they could while an Indian supervisor was leaning on walls and “managing” them. I didn’t have time to label anything despite my desperate efforts running around after the men from room to room trying to figure out what they were stuffing where.
They mixed everything together with no logic whatsoever. Like toilet bowl brushes, opened laundry detergent box, baby bath toys and uncovered toothbrushes in one bag, for example. Their idea of padding was a single sheet of newspaper placed between items, not around. No plastic wrap, bubble wrap nothing. Just a single sheet of paper. I’ve never seen anything that ridiculous in my life.
So next getting the things into the trucks. To my horror they’d shown up with open trucks that I’ve seen camels and sheep transported in.
The mindless movers had managed to pile the bags, boxes and furniture onto the trucks, in that order. Lamps were hanging out from the sides and an armchair had been placed on the top of everything, kinda like a topping on a cake. No padding or wrapping anywhere, of course. My husband had to show them how to secure the things with ropes so that we wouldn’t leave a trail of things falling out of the trucks behind us.
I took a deep breath, tired to think positive and thought with careful driving everything could still work out well. Careful driving? Who was I kidding? Did anyone ever see anything resembling careful driving in this country?
When we finally got to our destination, we realized the trucks were too tall to drive into the underground parking hall. This meant the load had to be carried from a nearby parking lot to our building and up one set of stairs. In other words the men were now forced to walk an extra 200 meters and instead of having to carry things up two sets of stairs (which would’ve been the case if the truck had been able to drive into the garage) it would now only be one. Just a minor set back, you would think. Actually, less work because of less stairs right?
Nope. This was the END OF THE WORLD. Suddenly the men became so lazy and slow, sloths would look like cheetahs next to these people. They dragged (not carried) one small bag at a time complaining about having to walk. In our apartment they tried to avoid having to take anything upstairs and kept piling the things in the foyer, blocking entrance to any other rooms. We had friends over to help supervise and carry stuff but even that wasn’t enough to make sure things got done. I swear for each one of these movers, a personal assistant was needed to ensure everything doesn’t break and that they do at least something!
The supervisor walked so slowly I could hear him coming from a mile away by the way his sandals dragged on the ground. He sounded like this: “Swoosh swoosh. Sigh. Too much heavy! Swoosh swoosh. Too much work!”
It was around 1 p.m and the supervisor was already giving up. He said “this will never finish!” Oh yeah? Well if you slouch around like a freakin SLUG it will probably not end even by the end of this year! But do your job and it just might! I saw him THROW a box into the laundry room, a good two meters across the room, upside down. He thought no one could see him but I was watching like a hawk. When I confronted him he pretended it was ‘an accident mam.’ How professional. Ugh.
After long talks and persuasion, the mover-snails finally got to moving some of the larger furniture. My husband and his friend were helping them since things were seriously not moving along fast enough. However these movers would not listen to any advice. They completely IGNORED all talk. As if we did not exist.
Our staircase is quite narrow and some larger things are difficult to get upstairs, so my husband tried to tell the men how to turn furniture around to make it fit. Instead, the men kept turning the stuff around like it was the Rubik’s cube, until finally after half an hour of talking, sweating and some shouting they figured out what my husband had told them was in fact the only way to take things up.
So after they had thrown our stuff around and finally emptied the trucks they started refusing to finish the job. WHAT? We have an agreement! We signed a contract! They said it’s too much work. Excuse me, you knew exactly how much stuff we have and said it’s no problem. Plus most of the stuff had already been brought to the new apartment. They had left the heaviest things in the previous apartment to bring for last. We told them if they don’t finish the job today no money will be paid! It was only 5 p.m and there was still plenty of hours in the day, as agreed they were supposed to work until the late hours.
Truth is they were just too darn lazy. The laziest of them all was the boss or some sort of so called supervisor/manager. His job was apparently to finish all the food and drink we provided for his crew and to sweat like hell after carrying a pillow. His job description also consisted of CONSTANT whining and sighing. And the sandal dragging, of course.
So when they got back to the old apartment, they QUIT. Just like that. In the middle of the move. Without getting paid. They QUIT. WTH? How can someone’s laziness be so profound they even forget about money? So they did all those 8h work for free? I wanted to kill them, how can this be possible?
My husband started calling around for another company and finally someone agreed. They came that evening with the promise of finishing off that night, despite it being late already. This all-Pakistani crew seemed more professional in their packing techniques, plastic and padding was actually used. I was hopeful.
Oh and a small setback at this point, my husband’s car broke down.
So when the next truck was all packed up and my husband had managed to get another car they arrived at DQ at the parking lot. And guess what?
They REFUSED to work. So our stuff (including all beds, baby stuff and food!) were in the truck. They were holding our stuff hostage! They asked for more money. My husband initially refused but when it became evident the things were going to be held ransom, he agreed to pay a small amount more because we were getting desperate at this point. No luck. The asses locked up the truck and left. Just like that.
Grrreat! Now what??
Well we all ended up sleeping on a small mattress on the floor, exhausted, in the same dirty clothes with no idea where the baby stuff was. Not the best of nights. Our cats were howling like crazy and jumping all over the place the whole night. The kidnappers were supposed to arrive 8 am the next morning because the truck was parked in the blazing sun and it contained food items. it can get close to 40c at around 10. Surprisingly there was no sign of the men, when my husband called they said “Oh we’re still sleeping, maybe around 11.” MAYBE? 11? I was already sizzling.
The hauler-pirates arrived around noon. Same scenario as with the previous crew happens: After carrying a few boxes and things they start moaning and groaning. “Too much work. Too much heavy. Too much hot“. Well why didn’t you show up in the morning you morons, of course it’s hot in the midday sun!
The boss actually told us he’s going to just drop off the things on the street and leave. No motivation, no respect. Unbelievable.
I thought I had seen it all with the previous crew but these guys were in a whole other league. Reckless is an understatement. I had to watch them every second. Possibly the height of stupidity was when they started to fill the corridor outside the apartment with our things. It looked like the gypsies were moving in. So instead of carrying the said item five more meters into the house, they blocked the corridors and left the things in the blaring sun. Some things were conveniently placed inside the neighbors foyers. Nice first impressions huh?
When we complained to the manager he said it’s better and faster this way. Really? Isn’t that double the work actually? I knew why they were doing it, they wanted to do a half-assed move. Well I was having nothing of it.
I was so annoyed, enraged and embarrassed at this point that I started to carry the things into the house myself, which I normally would without hesitation but I happen to be pregnant so it’s not exactly advisable. My husband had to stay at the truck to make sure they didn’t run away and/or destroy our things.
What really was the last straw for me was whenever one of these useless movers came around they would refuse point blank to listen to me. The men would walk past me as if I were a piece of furniture. You don’t take orders from a woman eh?! I could strangle you from your balls right now because I’m so angry so you better listen to me jerks!
One of them was a total CREEP he would stare at me with no shame even in front of my husband. No use telling him off, the staring would continue. The same guy destroyed the house by dragging our outdoor pool, which was full of mud and dust, up to the rooftop. He went through the house and staircase leaving a trail of mud all over because he was holding it the wrong way. He got a good shouting for that one but it didn’t brighten up his attitude one bit.
I asked one of them to carry a box containing food (left in the +35c sunshine in the corridor) inside to the kitchen before it gets ruined. The guy just looked at me and said with a poker face I don’t carry boxes.
WHAT? Did you just say you don’t carry boxes? Here’s a newsflash for you: You’re a MOVER. You know, the guy that carries boxes for his living? If you don’t carry boxes, what DO you do, stare at women? And then, he just ran away and I didn’t see him for a good two hours.
Many of the men just ignored me when I asked them to do something. The worst was when they just turned around and left me standing there like an idiot, and an idiot I was for even trying to get some sense into these men. They were lucky I didn’t have a rifle.
I saw another moving-hero carry a box labelled Fragile UPSIDE DOWN and then drop it on the floor. I opened it and found a broken expensive glass item inside. Showed it to him and said “you can’t carry stuff like this look what you’ve done, it’s broken.” His reply? “Mafi malom” (I don’t understand) then he laughed and left. He was lucky I did not have a bazooka on me.
The creepy mover peed in all of our bathrooms, on the floors and the rims, so disgusting. Probably on purpose. I was going bananas. Then I went up to the rooftop to check if he’d done what I asked. The a-hole had actually left everything half-way in the staircase, entirely blocking the way up. He obviously thought I wouldn’t go up and check. You’re in no luck CREEP-O, get back here right now to finish! “Mafi malom.” again. He tried to escape but I blocked him from going out of the house and forced him to carry the things in their places. He was not happy. I was furious.
So after thousands of similar scenarios that day all of the things were finally in the house. Most of the stuff was carried inside from the hallway by us. Next the moving geniuses needed to re-assemble the wardrobes and beds. They tried to run away but we took revenge and kept the supervisor hostage upstairs. The rest of the crew vanished into thin air. My husband was left to assemble everything with the supervisor who was completely clueless. That took a good three hours.
When they were leaving the manager of the company came to our house because we had complained. We showed him all the things they destroyed like one chest drawer ruined because of rough handling, the broken glasses and scratched items and guess what he has to say? More money. Oh yes, more money, for this SUPER DUPER professional, swift and personal service. More money.
NO WAY. We won’t pay you another halalah for this crap service. In fact, you should pay US for what your crew destroyed because of lack of respect, unprofessional attitude and by handling everything the wrong way! And apologize for your staff’s totally frivolous working ethics!
In the end all was OK, since we only ended up paying a very small amount for the “half-assed-move”. Things are just things and at least we are finally here. Forget these slimeballs and unprofessionalism that is flourishing in this country. I’m happy we’re in our new home now.
P.S. Two days after this chaos we managed to pull off my daughter’s 1 year birthday party ;)
P.P.S After we had emptied all the boxes we realized that all the expensive kitchen appliances had gone missing, altogether worth over 3000sar.
P.P.P.S I realized a few months after the move when things settled that the movers had also stolen some cutlery and vases.
P.P.P.P.S NEVER hire a moving company in Saudi Arabia. Ever.
Hello there! I’m Laura, the founder of Blue Abaya- the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia, established in 2010. Travel has always been my passion- so far I’ve visited 75 countries and I’m always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia! Follow my adventures in Saudi and beyond on instagram: instagram.com/blueabaya