Haunting moving horror stories from Reddit – and what you can learn from them

Moving is hard enough, but these stressful moving stories from the Reddit forums offer important lessons we can all learn from ... or maybe just cringe at.

Dejected-looking man in moving truck
Dejected-looking man in moving truck (Credit: Robinson Greig via Unsplash)

Whether you’re moving a few blocks, across state lines or to a brand-new country, moving home is almost always a stressful and challenging task. From planning logistics to ensuring that all your belongings arrive safely, many developments can result in a catastrophe.

The internet is littered with stories of people's moving day catastrophes. For some “Redditors,” or users of the popular forums on Reddit, everything that could go wrong did, resulting in truly terrifying moving horror stories. Their experiences can help you watch for red flags to avoid and ensure your move is a smoother one.

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As Reddit user u/biffybear1 painfully discovered in March 2022, moving services are not always what they seem. It's crucial to be vigilant for fraudulent websites as anyone can set up a page and advertise online.

After signing a contract with a moving company they found through a broker, u/biffybear1’s belongings were picked up on January 31, 2022, with an agreement that they be delivered to their new home on February 28. However, what ensued was a five-month ordeal.

Not a single item showed up by the agreed-upon date nor did they receive a call or update from the service provider, u/biffybear1 reported. Their phone calls and voicemails went unanswered and were ignored by the company. While they did have the number for an employee, he was rarely available and unable to provide any specific confirmation numbers, shipping details or delivery updates – except for vague promises that their belongings were heading their way.

After anxiously waiting nearly two weeks for an update, they took to Reddit to ask for advice. Ultimately, it became clear that u/biffybear1 had their whole life’s worth of belongings stolen from them in a callous scam.

Despite involving the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the Better Business Bureau and the consumer support agency MoveRescue, u/biffybear1 was never able to get more than empty promises from the moving company. Thankfully, their insurance company was able to offer them reimbursement for items for which they had valid receipts, though, in their eyes, compensation wasn’t the same as the items taken from them.

Today, u/biffybear1 is committed to using this experience as a lesson for themself and others planning to move. They said:

“Please, please do not be like me do your research before you move and make sure the company that you plan to have move you is reputable and legitimate. All I can do now is warn others and try to help them avoid the same fate.”

A year after the incident, u/biffybear1 still provides regular updates to other Redditors. They replied to one person asking if their things found their way home: “A little piece of me is still holding onto hope, but I’ve replaced most of what was stolen from me. Please do not use a broker. If you are planning on having a company move you, please make sure they are reputable and avoid brokers at all costs.”

Before trusting a company with your belongings, thoroughly vet them with independent research. Reviews on their websites can be fabricated. Use services like Yahoo Local, Yelp or Google to see verified customer evaluations. It can also be a good idea to ask friends and family members for recommendations. Finally, ensure that your move and your belongings are insured so if anything goes wrong, like in u/biffybear1’s experience, you can receive compensation for losses.

As with any contractor, your moving company should outline the services they will provide, a breakdown of all the fees and how those costs may potentially change. It’s not uncommon for the final price to differ from the given quote – there may be extra boxes, staff or trucks needed to accommodate the service, for example, or the actual time to complete the job may be longer than estimated. However, any reputable moving company will be upfront and honest about these fees and what triggers them, and they will work with you to avoid them as best as possible.

When Reddit user u/AllyDorie hired a moving company to help their family go from a three-bedroom house to their new four-bedroom house, they knew it would be a big move. They diligently investigated their options, shopping around for the best one. Having sent photos and videos of what needed to be moved to different companies, u/AllyDorie was surprised to find a very cheap quote of $800. The quote covered two movers for seven to eight hours of labor and waived the company’s truck and fuel fees.

Pleased with this bargain, u/AllyDorie agreed to hire the company … but had no idea the movers would completely disregard the prior arrangement. Upon seeing the belongings, they claimed Ally had misled them and the job would now need a third employee and take an additional four to five hours to complete. With the added expenses, they said the estimated $800 job would cost a whopping $2,500, more than 200% more than initially quoted.

Ally asked the team to leave and disputed this new price as “dishonest.” However, their credit card was already on file due to the $99 deposit, and as the job had started, they proceeded to charge them $680 for their time despite no work being started.

When u/AllyDorie eventually found another company to complete the job for a more modest $1,540 fee, they ensured that a contract was signed. Working with a more reputable firm, the final fee was eventually lowered to a flat $1,500 as the work was completed earlier than expected. It’s unclear if they ever received a refund from the original company, but, as many Redditors noted, u/AllyDorie could try to request a chargeback with their credit card company.

When picking a moving company, Redditor u/username-taken218 summed it up best:

“Don't get estimates over the phone. Have the movers show up - meet them, ask questions, make sure they aren't sketchbags. Get a written flat-rate quote. Don't pick the mover that is half the price of everyone else.”

And of course, always sign a contract to agree on the final price.

Quotes, given either in person, over the phone or via email, are not legally binding until you sign a contract. Additionally, if a quote is much lower than others you have received, it may be too good to be true. Always protect yourself and your assets by reading contracts in full and understanding the terms of an agreement. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions until you feel you fully understand what you need to about your move and what you may be charged.

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When u/ValuableDowntown7031 showed up at their new Brooklyn apartment, they expected a clean and empty space. Yet when they arrived to set up their internet, they had no idea the previous tenant hadn’t yet moved out.

Looking to see if any other New York Redditors had experienced a similar issue, they eventually shared:

“Our landlord told us our unit would be unlocked with the keys on the counter...I get there and put my hand on the handle to open the door, but it's locked.

“I called the landlord/management company, and they sent a maintenance guy over to unlock the door. He gets there and opens it up for me. I walk in and see stuff everywhere, including a drum set, and it's pretty messy. After a few seconds, I realize that it's clear that someone is still living there. And if there was any doubt, a dog walks out.

“I turn to the maintenance guy for an explanation, but he doesn't have one. I call the management company and they're acting surprised and the only thing they can think of on the spot is to just give me back my security deposit.”

Thankfully, u/ValuableDowntown7031 was able to quickly resolve the strange situation by reaching out to their real estate agent. They were eventually able to find another apartment and redirect their inbound belongings that were being delivered by the moving company. Despite a stressful 12 hours or so, they learned firsthand just how wild the New York City real estate game can be.

While this may not be a common occurrence, whenever you plan to take over a property with a previous tenant, always ensure that the landlord has inspected the unit between leases to be sure it’s clean, in working order and, of course, the last resident has left. It can be a good idea to ask the landlord to confirm these things before or on moving day.

Sometimes it’s not the landlord's, the moving company's or any one person’s fault that moving is a real pain. Unfortunately, you can just have terrible luck. Discussing their experience of moving from Arlington, Va., to Washington, D.C., Redditor u/jhasmonek shared this 2012 nightmare.

One of the deadliest thunderstorms in North American history, according to the National Weather Service, occurred the weekend of their move. The first day of their move was delayed due to a power outage and torrential rain. However, with their previous lease ended, u/jhasmonek had to be out of their apartment by the end of the weekend. Facing no choice but to pack up, they decided to brave the worst of the weather:

They shared, “The elevators were obviously not working. We ended up having to carry all the furniture through pitch-black hallways and down the stairs without A/C. Once outside, it was a cool 104°F. I believe the car thermometer read 117°F.”

Moving during a thunderstorm of this magnitude could lead to health risks. In the event of dangerous weather, the best course of action is to reach out to your landlord or building management company and work out an alternative move-out date for when it’s safe to do so.

In the event of extreme weather in the forecast, reach out to your landlord and moving company and see if they can be flexible with your moving date. There may also be issues with your insurance coverage if you attempt to move during dangerous events, and you could be held liable for avoidable damage or losses to your property that occur.