The Move From Hell, Part 2 – Mexico Moving Company

We ended up selling the home we had designed and built just outside of Boquete, Panama to a very nice family from Germany. We negotiated a sales price and were waiting for funds to clear on the deposit before going ahead with shipping our belongings to Washington, where we wouldn’t be able to purchase a home until the sale closed. With Covid and worldwide shipping problems we knew that even getting a container would be a problem.

The folks from Germany have turned out to be really nice people who love our house and property and have made some great improvements including wisely giving up on growing coffee and turning that land into pasture for their horses. Unfortunately, they had linked up with a poor lawyer, who although he spoke both German and Spanish, gave them some poor advice and turned out to be a problem holding things up for both of our families.

Once we had the deposit, and the German’s container was already at sea, we moved ahead. We decided we were going to return to the States to live in Washington near to our kids. Real estate in Washington was going crazy with soaring prices and bidding wars for properties that went hundreds of thousands above the asking price. We couldn’t have picked a worse time. Supply chain issues resulted in US ports that were swamped with freighters tied up for weeks and that was getting worse by the day. We had decided we would move our valuable stuff back with us at the tune of about $24,000 and take our three rescue pups with us. Crazy, I know now, but at the time we thought it made sense.

I’ve already written about the “adventure” and challenge of moving three dogs from Panama to Seattle. It doesn’t sound that complicated, but it was. Had we just chartered a private jet it would have been easier, but of course we would have had nothing left with which to purchase a home in Washington.

I had asked the one person who knew more about folks moving to and from Panama than anyone else for a recommendation. She didn’t have anyone to recommend but had heard “good things” about Mexico Moving Company. Let me clear one thing up from the start: they are not Mexicans, but a company based in Texas (but the money ends up getting sent to their home in Alabama). It’s owned and run by father and son, Ronald Ponton Sr. & Jr., that apparently began moving folks between the US and Mexico and had expanded to their destinations including Panama.

The only good thing I guess is they didn’t drop our container in the sea en route!

It was tough getting space reserved on a freighter for our 40′ shipping container, so we took what we could get. We ended up fooling around with the buyer’s attorney which messed up our timing, so our stuff had to be loaded and shipped before I had the money to fly to Washington and buy a house. So the container with all our stuff was at sea with us, anticipating shipping delays, intending to buy a house before the container arrived, or, worst case need to store it a few weeks, something we had discussed with Mexico Moving Company.

Both of the Pontons were smooth talkers who promised all the right things and said all the nice things about taking care of our valuable possessions.

Here, from their website is what they promise:

Unfortunately for us, they failed on every single thing they promised. It was all just smooth talk. They made our move much more stressful than it needed to be. It was totally unprofessional. Just about everything they touched was scratched, damaged or broken, As we discover new damages and items which just “disappeared” we are again and again reminded of the distain Mexico Moving showed towards us and our treasured possessions. I would never again use Mexico Moving Company nor would I ever recommend them.

Unlike most moving companies there was no record or inventory made. We were told that the container was completely ours, so it was not necessary to number and record each item. We were told the container once loaded would be locked, and with the possible exception of a US Customs inspection, it would not be reopened until it was delivered. For a number of reasons, admittedly some over which they had no control but should have anticipated given their claimed “experience” and “professionalism”, a number of valuable items just disappeared.

Basically they had no packing supplies. They scrounged together some from others moves, but not enough. Their packing crew was mostly teenagers with absolutely no experience or concept of packing. An antique German wall clock was just stuck in two cardboard boxes taped together. The pendulum and weights were just stuck in the body of the clock without any packing. Naturally a container on a ship at sea is going to rock and roll. We spent $400 trying to have it repaired, which their representative who was hear for the unpacking assured us, since he was appalled at the poor packing, Mexico Moving would take care of. Despite promises and smooth talking they have taken care of nothing.

I am NOT a professional mover, although I’ve moved a lot. The four foot very fragile Carnival ship model that I PACKED ARRIVED WITHOUT ANY DAMAGE! Our collection of fragile shells and very fragile coral that I PACKED ARRIVED WITHOUT ANY DAMAGE!

They say they wrap furniture. Our furniture was wrapped with a single layer of cling plastic wrap. Pictures where stuck between cut pieces of old cardboard packing boxes including pictures with glass. Nikki’s valuable South Seas painted woven wood bark painting arrived with it’s glass cover shattered. Estimated cost to replace the glass in Anacortes was close to $600, $300 if we chose acrylic instead.

Don’t let these folks near your stuff!