A DISABLED man has been left devastated after removal men demanded hundreds of pounds extra to complete a job and found his precious family heirlooms smashed.

Steven Devote, 64, is severely disabled and enlisted the help of AnyVan to move his belongings into supported housing on May 16.

He was given a quote from the company based on an inventory, selecting the premium option which included a packing, moving, and unpacking service.

Steven paid the agreed £1,097 on May 14, two days ahead of the move.

He said the removal men arrived at 2pm, an hour later than scheduled, and began moving Steven’s furniture and boxes of his belongings.

The Argus: Removal workers left boxes piled highRemoval workers left boxes piled high

He said they stopped working when they reached the tenth box, arguing with Steven that they were only obliged to remove ten large boxes. Steven said he agreed 20 boxes.

After disputing the ten-box limit with AnyVan customer services, the company informed him that he would need to pay a further £300 in order for the two men to move the remaining boxes.

He was forced to pay the amount, as there was no alternative method of transporting the items from his flat in Richmond Place, Brighton, to the new property, approximately one mile away in Somerset Street.

The removal men transported Steven’s items to the new address. But he said rather than unpacking them, they left boxes and clothes piled on top of one another around the flat, on the sofa, the bed, and even in the bath tub.

He said they also left boxes in the corridor outside the property, forcing Steven to drag them in, which he said harmed his health.

Steven’s doctor said he is “more or less housebound, and only able to go out if necessary”. He has chronic prostadynia and chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as cognitive problems.

He later found that the leg of an antique lamp snapped, and precious chinaware given to him by his grandmother smashed.

“The plates had managed to live in Wales, then London, this was my third move in Brighton – a lot of the stuff isn’t worth anything, but I’m 64, and all this stuff is sentimental,” he said.

The Argus: The green plate given to Steven by his grandmotherThe green plate given to Steven by his grandmother

“They packed the boxes, and in the boxes they put some of my ceramic stuff which has smashed.

“At half past nine, seven and a half hours later, I was beyond any reason, just totally over my limit of doing stuff, I had to eat.

“I said to them ‘can you just tell me where the kettle is?’ And he just said, ‘it’s in the box’.

“I’ve spent all this time since opening these boxes just to try and find things. He didn’t write on the box what was in them. I have a feeling they didn’t intend to unpack them.”

Steven was charged a total of £1,400.20; £1,100.20 for the move, after it was increased slightly from his initial quote, and a further £300.

The Argus: A small cupboard packed with Steven's belongingsA small cupboard packed with Steven's belongings

He contacted AnyVan, who advised that he should pursue a claim for the broken items via the insurance he purchased. AnyVan added that the inventory held by the driver on the day of the move was different to that held by Steven, and apologised, though made no mention of returning the £300 surplus.

A spokeswoman for AnyVan said: “We would like to assure you that AnyVan take matters such as these incredibly seriously and we would like to express our disappointment in hearing that Mr Devote had such a poor experience when using us.”

She said that drivers “try their utmost” to arrive on time, but this cannot always be guaranteed due to “the nature of the logistics industry” as delays “do occur”.

AnyVan said that it has “little information” to provide on Mr Devote’s broken items, and that he should contact his insurance provider to resolve this. The company apologised, and advised that employees go through training to prevent such occurrences.

The spokeswoman said: "With regards to the damaged items, unfortunately, as Mr Devotee had a comprehensive insurance policy via Zurich Insurance Plc, I have little information pertaining to the damage, as the matter would be sat with Zurich, however, I would like to express my apologies for the damage at hand, and assure you that in order to be permitted to conduct such home moves, Transport Providers must demonstrate the required level of knowledge and skill. They will also be expected to undergo competency-based questions and testing. 

“With regards to the additional payment on the day, I can see that Mr Devote had a substantial amount of additional items which had not been listed. As AnyVan are an inventory-based company we do base our pricing structure on the number of items listed, the distance being travelled and the manpower/labour required, therefore should additional items be present an additional payment would be due to cover this cost, however, I do apologise for the confusion caused,” she said.

The Argus: Mr Devote's quote, including 20 large boxesMr Devote's quote, including 20 large boxes

“Mr Devote stated the items on his list were not correct, and I would politely highlight that he was supplied with a copy of the inventory list upon booking on May 5.

“Therefore, he did have an 11-day period to review his booking and highlight any missing items, and whilst I am not stipulating that the onus sits solely with Mr Devote, AnyVan have charged for the items listed, therefore had the missing items been included at the point of sale, Mr Devote's cost would have increased in line with the pricing structure detailed above.

“Unfortunately, in light of this, AnyVan would not be liable to refund the payment taken on the day.”