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Old 02.10.2008, 15:58
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Relocating and its many joys (a bit of a sarcastic undertone!)

My husband (Swiss) and I (American) are moving in just a few days to Belgium for his job.

His company is supposed to be arranging the whole thing and I am working with tax people, lawyers, movers, and relocation agents. So far, I like the movers the most...by far!!

Within three days, I have had to call the Belgian lawyer office assigned to us 5 times and write 3 emails before we got a response. And the response was that they screwed up and now I am technically ineligible to register in Belgium until the documents they told me five weeks ago I did not need arrive. That is more than a little annoying since I was just in the USA for 5 weeks and could have picked up the documents in the blink of an eye.

The tax specialist is a blooming idiot. It took him 5 weeks to give us the anxiously awaited for answer to whether or not I can work. The answer that took 5 weeks was: `Sorry, but the company is not paying for that service and if you want it we will send you a quote for how much it will cost.` We asked for the quote and that took another 3 weeks to get. It turns out it will cost 4,000 to get the answer that I anyway figured out myself the week before.

We finally told the `moving relationship manager` that we could NOT work with this guy after not returning calls 10 times and then to top it off he falsified an email to make it look like he had sent a response two weeks earlier than he really did. That was on Monday and we have not heard from our Moving Relationship Manager since, except to tell us that she was very disappointed with my husband and that it was `not nice` that he requested the apartment cleaning services from his director after she told him that was not part of the package. WTF?

Our relocation agent went on vacation the day before we got back from holiday with no notice to us before hand and is gone from the week before we move (now) until 2 weeks after. She neglected to arrange the telephone services so that will take several extra weeks.

Her colleague who is taking over for her is super busy and has not been able to answer any of the questions that I have sent, including the one about getting medical care for the week we arrive.

Plus, to top it all off there is nothing even as remotely useful as English Forum to help us through our new start.

I would welcome any other moving horror stories. Certainly my is on the mild side of what could really happen, although irritating nonetheless.
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Old 02.10.2008, 16:31
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Re: Relocating and its many joys (a bit of a sarcastic undertone!)

If it was me, I would put the anchors on any move until your husband's company has resolved all outstanding issues. We had similar problems with a relocation agent on our move to CH which required us to play hardball with all concerned.

Surely questions like your right to work in Belgium should have been resolved long before your husband accepted the move and should have been made a precondition.

Cheers,
Nick
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Old 02.10.2008, 16:57
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Re: Relocating and its many joys (a bit of a sarcastic undertone!)

I'm feeling for you. After 10 long months, I've finally completed our move to Zurich from the US. The movers were my favorite too. Our relocation agent here in Zurich was/is a complete idiot. I finally gave up on having her do anything of importance and did it myself. What makes me frustrated is that when dealing with a corporate move, we are at the discretion of the company and whom they hire to help us. Many of these relocation specialist have never relocated themselves and are incapable of understanding the many facets of moving.

I wish you the best of luck.

It's nice to finally be settled.
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Old 02.10.2008, 17:27
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Re: Relocating and its many joys (a bit of a sarcastic undertone!)

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I would welcome any other moving horror stories. Certainly my is on the mild side of what could really happen, although irritating nonetheless.
Can I exchange horror for humour and make you smile? Sounds like you need it.

I moved here from Canada, but had a connecting flight to Geneva in Newark. Showing impeccable timing, I managed to break a rib just a few days before moving day, and it was causing a bit of trouble. The doctors were a bit worried, so they sent me in for a blood scan to make sure I didn't have any internal bleeding before letting me off to move to Europe. Scan went fine, no serious problems, and I was cleared to fly.

The adventure came while going through US customs the following day. US customs officers aren't known for being overly friendly at the best of times, so you can imagine I caused a bit of a kerfuffle when I set off their radioactivity alarms!!!! It turns out that they'd used a radioactive isotope for my blood scan (which is standard procedure), and the levels of it in my blood were still quite high. My husband and I ended up being carted off to a side room for some interrogation, and one of the funniest things was that it turns out there are radioactivity alarms at every desk in the US customs area of Toronto airport. You could literally hear where I was walking just from listening to the sequence of alarms going off as I passed by each one. And of course, because the whole situation of me being taken in for questioning by the Department of Homeland Security due to having radioactive blood was so absurd, once in the quiet room at the end of the hall, I got a case of the giggles. My husband was elbowing me to stop, because if there's one thing you probably shouldn't do when being interrogated by the Department of Homeland Security on suspicion of smuggling radioactive goods into the US, it's giggle. But I giggled away, and eventually (after lots of questioning and signing some forms) they let us go.

After landing in the US without incident, waiting around a bit, and then boarding our second flight, the adventure continued: two customs officers came onto our plane after boarding was finished, marched straight to where I was sitting and demanded to see some photo ID, just to ensure that I had boarded the plane and was leaving the country. Of course, everyone on the plane was staring at me, no doubt trying to figure out what it was all about. I was half-tempted to stand up and shout 'Don't worry, they're just checking to see that I leave the country because my blood is radioactive!' but decided against it in the end, figuring it wouldn't make me many friends on a transatlantic flight.

After my brush with being labelled a terrorist during my move, anything else is a piece of cake.

Heather

PS-For the record, they don't seem to have radioactivity alarms in Geneva airport.

Last edited by HeatherM; 02.10.2008 at 17:46.
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Old 02.10.2008, 17:40
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Re: Relocating and its many joys (a bit of a sarcastic undertone!)

I'll try to add my piece to your smile...

We came here to Zurich from Malta in October 2007. Most of the things went smoothly, except the forwarding company. We were due to leave Malta on the 28/10. Somehow, the forwarding company insisted that they pick up our stuff on October 11. This meant we had a good two and half weeks without any TV, sofa, most clothes, toys, etc.. try explaining that to a 3 year old boy and three month old girl..... Day arrives.. we leave.. stuff had to be there by the 3rd or 4th November.. we got the apartment handover on the 2nd I believe...

Now I would have expected all sort of bad things happening in Malta but it somehow went fine.. Problems started in Italy.. Apparently strong winds delayed the ship a couple of days.. When it got to Genova, it happened to be a feast there.. The following day all trailiers had been booked so my containier seemed to be the only one left behind.. I won't even go into the countless e-mails trying to get an answer from the forwarding company. To cut a long story short.. we ended up getting out stuff roughly on the 17th November!!! We had been arounf 5 weeks living pretty much like the flintsones.. AARGGHh don't even want to remeber..

Hope you're smiling though... ;-))
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Old 02.10.2008, 22:06
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Re: Relocating and its many joys (a bit of a sarcastic undertone!)

Heather!

Thank you for sharing what is possibly the funniest story I have ever heard! My husband and I were laughing so hard our sides hurt. I had no idea something like that could happen and I am guessing you did not either. It reminds me of stories I have read on News of the Weird. If you haven`t every heard of it before, google it and read it some day when you are in need of a laugh. Thanks for being the source of a great laugh for us!!!!

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Can I exchange horror for humour and make you smile? Sounds like you need it.

I moved here from Canada, but had a connecting flight to Geneva in Newark. Showing impeccable timing, I managed to break a rib just a few days before moving day, and it was causing a bit of trouble. The doctors were a bit worried, so they sent me in for a blood scan to make sure I didn't have any internal bleeding before letting me off to move to Europe. Scan went fine, no serious problems, and I was cleared to fly.

The adventure came while going through US customs the following day. US customs officers aren't known for being overly friendly at the best of times, so you can imagine I caused a bit of a kerfuffle when I set off their radioactivity alarms!!!! It turns out that they'd used a radioactive isotope for my blood scan (which is standard procedure), and the levels of it in my blood were still quite high. My husband and I ended up being carted off to a side room for some interrogation, and one of the funniest things was that it turns out there are radioactivity alarms at every desk in the US customs area of Toronto airport. You could literally hear where I was walking just from listening to the sequence of alarms going off as I passed by each one. And of course, because the whole situation of me being taken in for questioning by the Department of Homeland Security due to having radioactive blood was so absurd, once in the quiet room at the end of the hall, I got a case of the giggles. My husband was elbowing me to stop, because if there's one thing you probably shouldn't do when being interrogated by the Department of Homeland Security on suspicion of smuggling radioactive goods into the US, it's giggle. But I giggled away, and eventually (after lots of questioning and signing some forms) they let us go.

After landing in the US without incident, waiting around a bit, and then boarding our second flight, the adventure continued: two customs officers came onto our plane after boarding was finished, marched straight to where I was sitting and demanded to see some photo ID, just to ensure that I had boarded the plane and was leaving the country. Of course, everyone on the plane was staring at me, no doubt trying to figure out what it was all about. I was half-tempted to stand up and shout 'Don't worry, they're just checking to see that I leave the country because my blood is radioactive!' but decided against it in the end, figuring it wouldn't make me many friends on a transatlantic flight.

After my brush with being labelled a terrorist during my move, anything else is a piece of cake.

Heather

PS-For the record, they don't seem to have radioactivity alarms in Geneva airport.
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Old 03.10.2008, 07:32
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Re: Relocating and its many joys (a bit of a sarcastic undertone!)

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I'm feeling for you. After 10 long months, I've finally completed our move to Zurich from the US. The movers were my favorite too. Our relocation agent here in Zurich was/is a complete idiot. I finally gave up on having her do anything of importance and did it myself. What makes me frustrated is that when dealing with a corporate move, we are at the discretion of the company and whom they hire to help us. Many of these relocation specialist have never relocated themselves and are incapable of understanding the many facets of moving.

I wish you the best of luck.

It's nice to finally be settled.
Glad you are settled in, finally. I hope you told your company what you thought of the relocation company. They hired them, but perhaps they have no idea about the services they delivered. So you really ought to tell them. I know what it is like to move around the world with pets and children, having done so more than once. If you have walked in your clients' shoes, you certainly have a better understanding of what they are going through.
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Old 03.10.2008, 08:19
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Re: Relocating and its many joys (a bit of a sarcastic undertone!)

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Glad you are settled in, finally. I hope you told your company what you thought of the relocation company. They hired them, but perhaps they have no idea about the services they delivered. So you really ought to tell them. I know what it is like to move around the world with pets and children, having done so more than once. If you have walked in your clients' shoes, you certainly have a better understanding of what they are going through.
Thank you for your advice. I did send as "non emotional" summary of the issues that we were having to the person in control of hiring the relocation company. I hope they will take my comments seriously as I believe they were constructive. We shall see.
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Old 03.10.2008, 11:45
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Re: Relocating and its many joys (a bit of a sarcastic undertone!)

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Thank you for your advice. I did send as "non emotional" summary of the issues that we were having to the person in control of hiring the relocation company. I hope they will take my comments seriously as I believe they were constructive. We shall see.

Good for you. All too often people complain but won't put things on paper. Moving is an emotional affair and let no one tell you otherwise. You are not just leaving bricks and mortar behind, as some might have you believe. A relocation specialist is supposed to be there for you. The mover looks after your household effects, and in some cases, they will look after moving your pets, sometimes with the assistance of a pet shipper. They don't look after everything else which is why many of the moving companies have formed relocation divisions. This is the more difficult aspect of relocation.

I hope your company takes your comments seriously. Lately I have heard several situations where incoming employees were extremely disappointed with the relocation services provided. Some members here have posted names of providers they felt were good and others they felt were not. For the benefit of others, you might consider naming the relocation firm. At the very least you can warn others. Some people are paying for these services out of their own pocket.
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Old 03.10.2008, 12:08
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Re: Relocating and its many joys (a bit of a sarcastic undertone!)

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Can I exchange horror for humour and make you smile? Sounds like you need it.

I moved here from Canada, but had a connecting flight to Geneva in Newark. Showing impeccable timing, I managed to break a rib just a few days before moving day, and it was causing a bit of trouble. The doctors were a bit worried, so they sent me in for a blood scan to make sure I didn't have any internal bleeding before letting me off to move to Europe. Scan went fine, no serious problems, and I was cleared to fly.

The adventure came while going through US customs the following day. US customs officers aren't known for being overly friendly at the best of times, so you can imagine I caused a bit of a kerfuffle when I set off their radioactivity alarms!!!! It turns out that they'd used a radioactive isotope for my blood scan (which is standard procedure), and the levels of it in my blood were still quite high. My husband and I ended up being carted off to a side room for some interrogation, and one of the funniest things was that it turns out there are radioactivity alarms at every desk in the US customs area of Toronto airport. You could literally hear where I was walking just from listening to the sequence of alarms going off as I passed by each one. And of course, because the whole situation of me being taken in for questioning by the Department of Homeland Security due to having radioactive blood was so absurd, once in the quiet room at the end of the hall, I got a case of the giggles. My husband was elbowing me to stop, because if there's one thing you probably shouldn't do when being interrogated by the Department of Homeland Security on suspicion of smuggling radioactive goods into the US, it's giggle. But I giggled away, and eventually (after lots of questioning and signing some forms) they let us go.

After landing in the US without incident, waiting around a bit, and then boarding our second flight, the adventure continued: two customs officers came onto our plane after boarding was finished, marched straight to where I was sitting and demanded to see some photo ID, just to ensure that I had boarded the plane and was leaving the country. Of course, everyone on the plane was staring at me, no doubt trying to figure out what it was all about. I was half-tempted to stand up and shout 'Don't worry, they're just checking to see that I leave the country because my blood is radioactive!' but decided against it in the end, figuring it wouldn't make me many friends on a transatlantic flight.

After my brush with being labelled a terrorist during my move, anything else is a piece of cake.

Heather

PS-For the record, they don't seem to have radioactivity alarms in Geneva airport.
Thanks for that story Heather. Now I know why the room seems to light up when you arrive !
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