Until a few months ago, I was blissfully naive about “junk removal services.” Sure, I’d seen the garishly painted “Got Junk?” trucks in my neighborhood, but if I thought of them at all, I assumed they were in the business of salvaging old cars, tires, and similar debris. You know, “junkyard” stuff.
I was wrong. A big part of their business is emptying homes of items that are no longer needed. Either because a tenant has abandoned them, or because the occupant is moving and doesn’t want to/can’t sell or giveaway their belongings.
It was the latter situation that brought me to seek their services. I had several pieces of furniture that weren’t being moved to a new residence, but I had no appetite for an endless parade of Craig’s List looky-loos, hagglers, and no-shows — and especially not anyone incapable of safely removing the items from my home. So, I decided to find a service that I could hire to take the furniture away.
Many of these companies, as I discovered, advertise that they will donate or recycle your items whenever possible. The first company that I selected put a strong emphasis on the donation angle, and even specified that they work with the Chicago Furniture Bank — which serves refugees and low-income households. That sounded good, so I paid a couple of hundred bucks and booked them to remove the first batch of discards.
The results were at best disappointing, and at some level, horrifying. The crew showed up late, understaffed, and struggled to remove the items gently from the house.
But worse yet, observing what happened when my pristine and beloved furniture was loaded on the truck broke my heart. The heavy items were literally dragged down the sidewalk. One piece, a lovely cherry Ethan Allen armoire, fell off the truck’s lift and onto the street. (I later found pieces of it in the gutter.)
Clearly, none of my furnishings were going to be offered to other families. I concluded that the removal service was probably just a way to generate funds via the “donation fee” that they charged. My items became “junk” not because I no longer wanted them, but because of the way they were handled by the company.
After this experience, a friend referred me to a local company called Gone Guys. I wish that I’d called them the first time. Their crew was professional, courteous, and treated my home and belongings with respect. Did my items still end up in a landfill? Perhaps. But their behavior was far preferred and when the truck pulled away, my furniture was still perfectly usable.
If you’re in Chicago, call Gone Guys, and don’t even consider booking one of the franchise crews. But, like surgery, it’s still best if you don’t watch while it’s happening.