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Need help deciding between 2 companies

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Need help deciding between 2 companies

Postby bakewell » Sat Apr 23, 2005 5:05 pm

I need some help deciding which moving company would be best for my move. The decision rests completely on my shoulders, and it is tough to know who to choose.

I have tried hard to do my homework before posting here now. I read the different posts and recommendations on getting good estimates and consequently, 6 estimators came to my home for their surveys. I did a search here for info on the moving companies. The two finalists have given me GNTE estimates. I am not sure which of these two companies would be best, and any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I am moving this summer, so I looked in my local phone book and got estimates from major van lines: Atlas, Bekins, United & Allied. All but one of the surveys estimated my moving weight to within just a couple hundred pounds of each other. I plan to pack 99% of the items myself, but I have decided to have the high valuation items packed by the moving company, so there are some packing costs.

One finalist company's estimator was very helpful and gave me lots of good information. The other finalist company comes highly recommended and has great ratings, but it's somewhat more expensive. Although I like to save money just as much as the next guy, I am not wedded to the least expensive moving company--just the one that's best for me.

One estimator (not a finalist) asked outright who else I had gotten estimates from; he had no compuction about sharing his opinions about his competition--both positive and negative. I do not know whether to seriously consider/factor in one comment in particular. I will mention that comment later in this post.

Agent for: United Van Lines
Authority Type: Common-Active
Number of Power Units: 18
Number of Drivers: 22
Cargo: Household Goods
Interstate
Insurance & Cargo Auth. OK

Weight: 10,300 lbs*
Transportation $4,752
4% IR surcharge $190
12% Fuel surcharge $570
Orig Fee $158
Dest. Fee $123
Packing Fees: $131
Full-Value Valuation: $521
($60,000; zero deductible)
total cost (GNTE): $6,445

*64% discount applied to everything except valuation fee.

-----------------------------

Agent for: Allied Van Lines
Authority Type Common: None
Broker: Active
Number of Power Units: 37
Number of Drivers: 40
Cargo: Household Goods
Interstate
Rating: Satisfactory
Insurance & Cargo Auth. OK

Weight: 10,200 lbs*
Transportation: $5,131
4% IR surcharge: $205
12% Fuel surcharge: $615
Orig Fee: $174
Dest. Fee: $135
Packing Fees: $283
Full-Value Valuation: $511
($51,000; zero deductible)
total cost (TPG): $7,054

*60% discount applied to everything except valuation and cost of 3rd-party crating of one item.

The comment from the estimator (not one of these two finalists) was that the Allied company would be very likely to "get his truck under it" --which I interpreted to mean that they would very likely use their own drivers/power unit. That was very appealing to me because it seems that if that estimator sees/knows the drivers in his company (they are accountible to him), and that one of those drivers is likely to take my goods on his truck, then there is a connection that wouldn't be there if the agent needed to use another Allied agent's truck and driver.

I just don't know how to decide between the two. Any help or advice is quite welcome. Thanks in advance.

Bakewell
Last edited by bakewell on Sun Apr 24, 2005 9:05 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Need help deciding between 2 companies

Postby Michael » Sat Apr 23, 2005 9:05 pm

If your moving in the summertime, in my opinion there is no way the guy could be able to commit to one of his drivers. Its not his call to make.

Any agent that has the capability to self haul your shipment is going to try to do so, no matter who it is. Thier first priority is to give the business to their drivers, but again, not the sales persons call.

Of course more drivers within an agent, the greater the odds are that your shipment will be self hauled, but not guaranteed, especially in the summertime.

And there is almost a $600 difference in favor of United. Giving you a not to exceed, where as Allied is giving you a binding estimate. And for $10 dollars your getting more valuation for your goods then Allied.

I think United wins this one hands down. Just from what you have shown us.

Best of luck,
Michael
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Re: Need help deciding between 2 companies

Postby bakewell » Sat Apr 23, 2005 9:43 pm

Thanks so much Michael, I really appreciate your opinion; it helps a lot.

Bakewell
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Re: Need help deciding between 2 companies

Postby Diane » Wed Apr 27, 2005 9:49 am

Hi, Bakewell,

I don't know where you're moving from and to, but if you're in NYC and are considering Clancy Moving Systems, a competitor of theirs whose opinion I respect (Jon Stout of Moving Man, Inc.) told me recently that he thinks the owner of that company is highly reputable.

As the anonymous estimator suggested, it's best if the company you deal with will haul your shipment using its own truck and driver. If your move is relatively short-distance (for example if you're in NYC moving to Boston), it should be possible for the company to tell you whether this will happen or not. Most companies would try to haul such a move themselves. Not only do they retain quality control that way, but if they put the move into the van line system, they have to give the van line around 20% of the amount billed.
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Re: Need help deciding between 2 companies

Postby 23 » Wed Apr 27, 2005 12:15 pm

Diane wrote:Not only do they retain quality control that way, but if they put the move into the van line system, they have to give the van line around 20% of the amount billed.

My van line retains on avergae 8.5% of the revenue.
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Re: Need help deciding between 2 companies

Postby Diane » Wed Apr 27, 2005 12:25 pm

Thanks, 23--I knew I would be corrected if wrong! I was giving the figure for Wheaton agents in the NYC area. Do you know whether it varies from region to region or is it the same nationwide for each individual van line?
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Re: Need help deciding between 2 companies

Postby bakewell » Wed Apr 27, 2005 1:16 pm

Thanks so much for the input. I am glad to hear the company I am looking hard at comes well recommended.

One thing I was told is that as long as the weight is 10,000 lbs. or more, the 64% discount applies. If the truck is weighed, and the poundage comes in less than that, then a lesser discount will be applied, so it is in my best interest to simply have my billing weight be 10,000 lbs.

I interpret that this way, if the move weighs more than 10,000--I will not be charged for that additional weight, but if it weighs at 9,500 (or less--), I will not have the price reduced, either. However, if the discount goes down considerably (say in the high 50s), when the weight drops below 10,000, then the actual price for 9,500 lbs could be MORE than the price.

This seems to be a BINDING estimate--or price, actually. Should I be worried about that? All but one of the estimators came in at the 10,000-10,300 mark (he was at 9,200), so it doesn't seem like a big deal. I had thought to take the time and effort to ship my books media mail (to save some money if the price would be lessened due to less weight), but with this stipulation, it wouldn't be worth it ( time, money and hassle-wise)

thanks for all the advice/comments. I will have more questions as the time gets closer.

Bakewell
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Re: Need help deciding between 2 companies

Postby 23 » Wed Apr 27, 2005 1:20 pm

Sounds legit to me.

Kind of like going to the grocery store and pricing a bulk pack of hamburger which is $1.99/lb for 5 pounds, then trying to buy 1 pound of it for the same price.

The weight can also have the same affect on the delivery spread, customer might be promised a 3 day window for a 10,000# shipment, but if the actual weight comes in less than 10,000#, it might be a 5 day window.
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Re: Need help deciding between 2 companies

Postby Michael » Wed Apr 27, 2005 1:29 pm

I dont thing you should see a lesser discount for if your weight comes in less. If they give you a guaranteed price and the discount id 65% and your weight is less, then you should still get that 65%.

I understand what 23 is saying but I dont agree with the company saying they will lower your discount if your weight comes in less. Maybe thats their way of trying to explain why a Binding estimate is better than a not to exceed.
Last edited by Michael on Wed Apr 27, 2005 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Need help deciding between 2 companies

Postby bakewell » Wed Apr 27, 2005 1:40 pm

So should I argue with the moving rep? Should I call him back and ask for what Michael is talking about?

The Allied company gave me 60%--the lowest was 66% (Atlas)--but that guy wanted to also charge me $2,500 for a shuttle that 5 other estimators didn't feel was necessary. From what I've read on the boards, too, the higher the discount, the more the driver isn't happy. 64% seemed a happy medium.

I was told that the 12% fuel surcharge would stay that way--even if it went up. I am also going to be allowed some free moving boxes.

I did ask the rep if the number of boxes he estimated PBO was more than the 135 (like if I don't pack tight), if that would be a problem. He said that it could be if it got a lot higher. Since I am not a professional packer, I don't know how much to worry about that.

It's so terrific to have this place to discuss this. Thanks for all the input and suggestions.
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Re: Need help deciding between 2 companies

Postby Diane » Wed Apr 27, 2005 1:49 pm

I don't know about quibbling about a discount, but on the basis of what Michael has posted in the past, I don't think you should worry about a driver protest if you have only a few more boxes.
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Re: Need help deciding between 2 companies

Postby Michael » Wed Apr 27, 2005 3:31 pm

I think we have said its better to error on the right side in regards to the shuttle, then to say no way and then have your driver request a shuttle on move day. In most cases the driver wont be happy with the high discount, but if your a large shipment it should be alright. And I dont think the driver is going to take it out on you in this case. But I wouldnt quibble over a high discount. Heck if your concerned about it ask him to lower it. You would be the first to ever do that but hey. :lol:
Michael
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Re: Need help deciding between 2 companies

Postby bakewell » Wed Apr 27, 2005 4:03 pm

About whether to have a shuttle at the loading or not.

My road is narrow; the speed limit is 25mph. One estimator got out a measuring tape and measured the width of the road, and it seems well wide enough (at least to him)--his only concern is that it has a solid yellow line in the middle of it; not a dashed one. There is a decent line of sight from both ways.

The one estimator who happened to have been a previous driver/loader did not blink an eye at the roadway. Three others said--"I'm only concerned whether the neighbors will complain to the police about a truck being parked here for 5 hours...". Another one suggested that I hire a flagman for the day. The "I recommend a $2,500 shuttle" estimator said, "Our warehouse is 10 miles down the road, so I am going to have a small truck load here, and then take all your stuff and reload it into the trailer at the warehouse. I think that is what is safest for our loaders." My offer to have a flagman instead didn't change his mind. I don't fault him one bit for caring about his loaders safety; that is a very good thing! It's just that it was 5 "no" to 1 "yes" on the shuttle question; had the ratio been higher, I would have given it a lot more thought.

All of that led to a good thing--I hope! In the interest of making the van line driver and the loaders feel comfortable, and to keep my neighbors happy--or at least complacent--and to help things go smoothly, I plan to hire a local police officer (in uniform) to act as a flagman for the duration of the loading. I can have a parked police cruiser nearby, too, with flashing lights--a visual SLOW DOWN sign for on-coming cars. That should give the truck driver a higher comfort level, as well. It will only cost me about $250--and that seems to be the best of both worlds.

I really love the comments ideas. It is helping me feel comfortable and as if I am understanding the process better. Thank you so much.
bakewell
 
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Re: Need help deciding between 2 companies

Postby bakewell » Wed Apr 27, 2005 4:19 pm

On the topic of whether the driver will care whether I have more than the 135 boxes estimated PBO by the agent... that certainly gives me the incentive to use more of the 3.1cf boxes than the 1.5cf boxes!

Or do you think that if I end up with 175 boxes that I can point out to him (her?) that 100 of them are 1.5s--so if I had used the 3.1 ones instead, that I'd have fallen within an acceptable range??? [I'd put a smiley face emoticon here, but I don't know how to do that]

Bottom line in my thinking is that 5 estimators said that all my stuff weighs 10,000 lbs. Since I am packing myself, I will do the best I know how, but because I haven't taken Professional Moving Packing 101, I might use 3 dishpacks where 2 would have sufficed. If that theory of expansion is used throughout my packing--you can see why I would be worried about seeming to be over a limit--but in reality--I wouldn't be. However the driver wouldn't know that until the truck was weighed... sigh...

If anyone knows where I can take "Professional Packing for Moving 101," please let me know. [smiley face, again.]

bakewell
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Re: Need help deciding between 2 companies

Postby GNWtransplant » Fri Apr 29, 2005 6:48 pm

Bakewell,

I used Allied (North Coast Moving) for a cross country move from Seattle to Chicago last February. The estimator came to my house and they provided me with a guaranteed quote. In addition, they were kind enough to bring me "gently used" boxes at no charge. This was especially helpful as garment boxes can run you as much as $30 a box. They gave me a quote as if they may need to use a shuttle as I lived up a steep hill. They ended up not needing it, they did my 3 bedroom townhome move in about 2-1/2 hours, they told me when they would arrive and the truck driver gave me his cell number. He called when near Chicago to see if I would like my things a day early! I was ecstatic. Because my belongings weighed less than they expected, I was also charged less. I cannot say enough good things about my experience with Allied. I would recommend them to anyone doing a long distance move. They were extremely professional and knew where my shipment was at any point in time.

Unfortunately, two months later I decided to move back to Seattle and didn't use Allied because my timeframe didn't allow it. Instead I used Planet Cargo. They picked up my belongings on April 6th and my stuff has still not reached me as of April 29th! No one can tell me definitively where my belongings are and NO ONE can guarantee when I will get them. I am beside myself at the thought that my things are lost forever. Planet Cargo has done nothing but give me the run around and make me empty promises of return phone calls and ficticious delivery dates.

My recommendation would be to use a company that gives you a guaranteed quote, is willing to give you the phone number of the driver for confirmation of delivery, can tell you within a day or two when your shipment will arrive and one that is willing to accept credit cards as payment (Allied does, Planet Cargo does not).

Kudos to Allied for the outstanding service I received and shame on Planet Cargo. I fell for the song and dance that they were a woman and minority owned company. Next time I'll do more homework.

Jenn
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