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estimates

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estimates

Postby lh1370 » Thu May 08, 2003 1:56 pm

Ok, my first in-home estimate visit for my Chicago to Charleston, WV move & I'd already like people's thoughts! (Michael, I would particularly welcome yours as I know you're familiar with United's policies & had suggested I contact Armstrong).

Armstrong, a United Van Lines agent, agreed to write me a "bound estimate", saying this means "a not to exceed given quote, but if actual weight is lower I will pay the lower amount, if higher I won't pay over the estimate". He differntiated the above from a "binding estimate" which = locked in at a quoted price or a "non-bound estimate" = exact charges based on weight (whether higher or lower than estimate). (so I guess my question here is are there THREE types of estimates?)

He also said he hardly ever does bound estimates because the "drivers don't like them"(?) and that their particular company, Armstrong (but not United in general) only uses independent contractor drivers rather than having them as employees. He stated this is beneficial for the customer as the driver get's a percentage of the move cost and it is in his best interest to handle the move well as anything broken/wrong with the move comes out of his pocket.

When asked he gave me a ballpark weight of 8,000 lbs (I don't have exact numbers yet as he was going to enter into computer & send me written price estimate) he told me that besides agreeing to the bound estimate he was also going to give me the maximum discount United would allow him (which he said he also usually doesn't do) appreciatting the fact I am moving mysef as a single parent & finishing grad school.

Does this all sound good so far? Anything alarming or that I should follow up on? I have two more companies scheduled for estimates, Graebel & North Shore Movers.

Thanks!!!
lh1370
 
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Re: estimates

Postby Michael » Thu May 08, 2003 7:33 pm

Yes there are three different types, if not four, of estimates United can offer. Estimate, non-binding, Bindind/Not to Exceed, and Binding.

Now my only question to you, is, did he come out and do a visual for you? From what you posted it sounds like he talked to you over the phone.

All drivers in Uniteds System, are termed independent contractors. Its just they have contracts to drive specifically for their particular agent, and United as a whole.

I dont buy the whole we dont give guarantee pricing usually, and so on about the discounts. When I worked for Armstrong, I always gave a not to exceed quote. It was never an issue with any of the drivers, just because I was accurate. What drivers dont like are the high discounts, but United does set discount levels during the summer season, so let me know what he is saying he will do for you. And yes, the issue of drivers being liable to an extent is true.

Armstrong has a better chance of self-hauling your shipment then the other two, for they have 18 agents around the country, primarily in the south.

But sounds good so far. Keep me posted.
Michael
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Re: estimates

Postby Guest » Thu May 08, 2003 8:23 pm

Never use United Van Lines if you can help it. We hired their agent Rossiter Relocation Service to move us from Berkeley, CA to Laramie, WY. When our shipment arrived the driver said he was unable to get any help to unload because there is no United office near our town. (Shouldn't they inform you that they may have problems delivering to cities without local United offices?) We just assumed he would wait until he could get some help, but he refused, saying he was expected somewhere else later that day! How exactly he was going to get all our things up the flight of stairs and into our apartment, (apart from dragging them,) was a mystery to us. After calling the Rossiter representative and being told there was nothing they could do, and feeling somewhat coerced, we agreed to help unload and inventory our own shipment. (By the way, practically every piece of furniture that we didn't personally pack ourselves was damaged in some way. When we were unloading the van we noticed our heavy book boxes were stacked up to the roof of the van on top of spindly legged pieces of furniture!) Well, it is months later, and after calling and sending letters and calling some more, Rossiter Relocation said they weren't responsible for anything other than damages to our furniture. They told us to call United Van Lines customer service. So we called United customer service. First they wanted to know why we took so long to actually call to complain. Then they said it wasn't their fault it was the driver's responsibility. When I pointed out that I didn't hire the driver I hire United Van Lines, they kindly offered to give us $50 as a "courtesy." I couldn't believe that United Van Lines was actually telling me they weren't responsible for us having to unload our own shipment! They said that it had been our choice! Talk about passing the buck. Needless to say, we told United to keep their $50 and we've now filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau against Rossiter Relocation as United's agent. A parting thought: although a particular agent may be great, just remember that it is United who ultimately shows up at your door. If they are unwilling to accept responsibility for the service you receive and for their driver's actions then what exactly are you paying for?
Guest
 

Re: estimates

Postby Michael » Thu May 08, 2003 9:34 pm

Guest,

How long did you take to file a claim? And it is standard procedure for customer to check off their inventories. Why did you help the driver if it upset you so much? Would you have preferred he hired help off the street? I would assume to get your goods quicker. Your things being damaged and not having an agent there to help I can understand your frustration.

Are there any companies there that represent any Van Line? There is an agent in Cheyenne, why didnt he get help from there?

I do find it hard to believe United would respond that way to a claim, unless you only had the minimum valuation of .60/lb/article, or waited past nine months to file a claim.

Needless to say, your experience was not a typical United move, yet non the less not good.
Michael
************************************

Forget yourself for others and the others will never forget
Michael
 
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Re: estimates

Postby Tyrone » Fri May 09, 2003 1:30 pm

Michael.... be reasonable! I can't believe you actually believe some of the things you said:

Why did you help the driver if it upset you so much?


They helped the driver move because their only other alternatives were:
#1 - have the drive dump their belongings outside on the ground and drive away. (bad)
#2 - have the driver drive away with their belongings still on the truck. (worse)

Neither of these options is acceptable. It is the responsibility of the company hired to complete the task they were hired for. This report illustrates the sad truth that hiring a major van line does not protect the consumer against a horrible moving experience.

Would you have preferred he hired help off the street?


That is EXACTLY what he should have done! It is up to the person hired to do the service, to do whatever it takes to complete the service. I can't believe that anyone would even ask this question. Of course, the best answer is that they would have "preferred" that the driver get off his lazy butt and move the furniture like he was supposed to. If he came alone then he had no intention of perfoming the move. Meaning that he knew before he left his house that day that he would be unable to perform the services required. Meaning that HE should have been the one to call in the support troops from the head office, and not the consumer. I swear I am so sick of this being the only industry where the customer is expected in every way to become the professional expert more than the so-called "professional".

All of the protections allegedly afforded by hiring a "major" are illusions. In this case, the promise that the mover would actually move the belongings into the house was an illusion.

The promise that if something goes wrong, the van line will intercede to protect the consumer, is also an illusion. It really shows that the parent company has no real control whatsoever over the agents. Otherwise the van line would have said "get off your butt and perform the move."

How long did you take to file a claim?


The consumer reported that they DID file a claim and went back for forth for months with the company that performed the move. Yet somehow in the parent company's eye's no claim was filed?! WTF! This is what happens when a consumer tries to take a measured, reasonable approach with a moving company -- even a major. A claim is a claim and I am sure that no one told the victim "by the way, a claim you file with the actual carrier does not count, you must file the claim with the carrier AND the parent company". There are so many hidden twists and turns that must be navigated to get your money back that it is simply not worth the hassle. If the moving industry wants a better rap they must actually stand by their product... but we all know the reason why they do not stand by their product, and why they continue to refuse to perform their morally and legally required obligations.**

The guarantee that if there is damage, negligence, failure to provide the services contracted, or intentional infliction of emotional distress, the van line will quickly and cheerfully provide a fair adjustment of the bill?? Don't be ridiculous -- of course that is an illusion also!

This is exactly why we say move it yourself... half the time you end up moving it yourself anyway. Why pay for a service that you have no guarantee of actually receiving? And if you pay for it and don't get it, you have no way of getting your money back? gimme a break

**Where there are no consequences, there is no deterrent.
Tyrone
 
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Re: estimates

Postby Michael » Fri May 09, 2003 2:20 pm

Tyrone,

Like you said the driver was to lazy to get off his butt. I am not blaming the customer what so ever for anything, or any part of this move.

But the whole labor part is a catch 22. I think if the driver would have hired people off the sides of the street, the customer would have been just as disappointed as she was. So he is damned if he does and damned if he doesnt. Thats my point. I would tell you that 9 out of 10 customers always ask me if we will hire help off the street. And I would be willing to bet that they helped the driver to get their things back that day so they didnt have to wait for another day, which of course I do not blame them. Not for fear of ideal threats.

The booking agent obvioulsy dropped the ball on this from the start. And secondly, it should never matter who is at fault for a claim. The shipper should contact her booking agent, get the claim forms and turn them in. The claim should be settled, and THEN, and only THEN, should United start to point fingers as to who is to blame for the damage, and go about their course of action. Not before, or during the claim process.

I liken it to a sports team. You handle the teams issues internally, and not in the press or media.

But forgive me if I came off sounding harsh, not the intention.
Michael
************************************

Forget yourself for others and the others will never forget
Michael
 
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Re: estimates

Postby Josh » Fri May 09, 2003 9:22 pm

Back to the point at hand.

The 3 types of estimates are true. You want the Binding option #2, which is "guaranteed not to exceed" actual cost. That means if the weight is less, you pay less. But keep this in mind, If a salesman binds the estimate with too low of a weight, when the driver shows up and thinks it weighs more, he will protest the order.

This means, he will have to call the salesman, the salesman will have to come back out to the house, and re-inventory everything to make sure you didn't add anything. Yes, we have had customers try to move their friends and family after receiving the estiamte from us. The saleman will then get you to sign an addendum stating the new charges before they proceed to load. If you do not agree, there is a chance your shipment will get turned down

That is why it is important to get a few estimates. Compare the weights before you start comparing the price. This will help you know who is low balling.

As for the salesman who said he usually doesn't give the max discount and usually doesn't bind his estimates, these are probably tools he uses in selling. Everyone has their own style. He was probably trying to make you feel special. (Nothing wrong with that I guess)

Do me 1 favor, when you have your estimates completed, e-mail me the weights from the other 2 and let me know what discount level United gave you. I will let you know if he gave you the max!

Hope this helps, e-mail me if you have any more questions.

:?
Josh
 
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Practical advice when hiring a major.

Postby AIC » Sat May 10, 2003 11:50 am

lh1370,

Others on this board have noted that contracting with a "major" will lessen your chances of getting scammed. Also, if you are scammed, the ransom amount will be lower. BUT keep in mind that contracting with a major won't guarantee that you will not be a victim of the crime. There are so many loopholes that moving companies exploit to charge more than the original estimate -- for example, driver protests (which the customer always loses; believe me, even if you did not add additional items and it was the salesman's fault because he intentionally or negligently underestimated the weight, you the customer will still end up being the one paying for it), "additional services" that the moving company illogically defines to be services incidental to the actual delivery itself etc. etc. -- so even a "guaranteed not to exceed" estimate is not worth the paper it's written on, in terms of knowing in advance the amount you will have to pay at destination to get your goods back (nevermind even the final amount). It doesn't matter that every human being outside the moving industry disagrees with the mover's view of a so-called "guarantee." Because the mover holds all the cards and there is currently no recourse for the customer who has been scammed, well, the mover could just as well say that "night is day and day is night" and you will just have to accept it. If you run into a crooked driver/agent of a major van line who is bent on extorting you, it is just going to happen.

Also remember that the majors, according to their mouthpiece AMSA, have expressly admitted that they think the 110% rule does not apply to them if, in the sole judgment of the AMSA mover, there are "legitimate circumstances" for demanding a higher amount at destination and just ignoring the requirement that they defer demand for payment of any balance for 30 days.

So if you absolutely must use a mover, go ahead and use one of the majors. But to stay on the safe side, have an additional $2000 in cash at destination (on top of the original estimate, whether it's binding or non-binding or not-to-exceed). This should cover the ransom the mover may demand of you at destination should you have the misfortune of running into a crooked driver/agent. If you are lucky, you will get an honest salesman, driver, and agents, and you won't need the extra cash. If you are lucky, the mover will unload for the amount the salesman quoted you. But it's better safe than sorry. The most important thing by far is to get your goods off the truck and not have the mover take your goods to storage on the grounds that you couldn't pay the mover. If that happens, the moving company will likely charge you THOUSANDS of dollars extra for storage and other re-delivery fees.

United's main office in Fenton, Missouri will be of no help whatsoever while you are getting ripped off. Even Michael admitted as much. You may think that contracting with a national company with a central customer service number gives you some protection, but it does not. After you pay the ransom and get your goods back, you can try complaining to United's main office, but they will deny you a refund based on the fact that you signed the addendum. (And it goes without saying that the crooked driver/agent will force you to sign an addendum before your goods are unloaded. If the crooked driver/agent cannot produce a signed addendum to United's main office, United will do a "chargeback" on the agent. That is, the agent will lose the money that was extorted from you. Kinda defeats the whole scam, doesn't it? But anyway, once United's main office has the signed addendum, United figures that's the end of it. United will tell you that you are not getting a refund and to stop bothering them. No one is going to come out to your house to even check, for example, whether the truck really could have fit in your street. If you aren't worn down by this point, your last option is to sue United to get your money back. But everyone knows that most consumers will not go through the hassle and expense of a lawsuit to recover the overcharge. Punitive damages for fraud and deceptive business practices currently are not available because of the Carmack Amendment. Trust me, the majors know all about this.)

I really wish I didn't have to give advice like this. Like I said, hopefully you will get an honest salesman, driver, and agents and your move will go smoothly. But better safe than sorry. Be prepared for the worst case scenario -- in the moving industry, even among the "majors", the worst case scenario happens regularly.

One last note -- write to your Congressmen to urge that they support Rep. Petri's bill, HR 1070. Consumers would not have to be so prepared to get defrauded and extorted when hiring a major van line once this bill passes. The major van lines will reform their practices then because they cannot afford not to. Right now, AMSA thinks "a little bit of hostage-taking" is OK. Of course, it's not OK. It's just that AMSA's major van line members can get away with it. For now.

Good luck.
AIC
 

Re: estimates

Postby Josh » Sat May 10, 2003 8:45 pm

I am sorry you have such hard feelings for United.

I will not try to change them, but I do offer you this:

If you or anyone on this board has a problem with United, contact me and I will do everything I can to help. I have never spoken with Michael, but I do believe you have two people that visit this site frequently that will help you and others.

So, just let me know if you need help!
Josh
 
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Re: estimates

Postby Guest » Sun May 11, 2003 12:01 pm

Josh, here's how you can help. Ask United and Mayflower for the complaint rates of its agents so we know which ones to hire and which ones to avoid. Also ask them how they investigate customer complaints about hostage situations. Do they really accept a signed addendum as end-all proof that the customer asked for or needed the additional services? Or got the services?
Guest
 

Re: estimates

Postby Josh » Sun May 11, 2003 3:18 pm

Guest,

I am glad you asked that. United has a customer service survey that is sent out to every customer that we move. (Interstate only) We have the most intensive survey in the industry. It is broken down into sales rep, packers, movers, agents involved, and even customer service reps. I have the ability to check ratings of any United agency based on these factors. We also rate our agents based on safety and claims. (Oh, as long as we have the destination address in the computer. Some people do not get addresses until we are about to deliver.)

I research our agents to find the most qualified to service my customers. I will try to scan and post a blank survey that is mailed out.
As for the addendums, no that is not the end-all truth. I have disputed a couple things with dispatchers (they control the drivers for the most part)
and have come out ahead for my customers.

Let me know if you still have questions! Hope this helps.
Josh
 
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Location: USA

Re: estimates

Postby Guest » Sun May 11, 2003 4:57 pm

Josh,

You wrote
As for the addendums, no that is not the end-all truth. I have disputed a couple things with dispatchers (they control the drivers for the most part)
and have come out ahead for my customers.


Are you the owner or manager of an agent? What if an agent agrees with the driver/dispatcher about the additional services and the customer still disputes the addendum? You didn't really answer the question regarding what happens when the customer's complaint goes "all the way up" to the headquarters office.

Can we get the information from the surveys? If we, the potential customers, could get a look at the compilation of all the scores of the various agents, it would be very helpful.
Guest
 

Re: estimates

Postby Josh » Sun May 11, 2003 5:07 pm

Guest,

The end of all truth means thats it, nothing else can be done. I was simply stating that it is not true. You can always notate on the addendum that you are disputing the charge or get me involved right away. Most of our interstate drivers are dispatched through headquarters. When you are a succesful booker like I am, I can contact people at headquarters that know me and will help me.

If you are inquiring about a specific agent, let me know, I will get you some survey results and gladly give you their scores. With about 700 agents, I would not be able to give you all of them!

Hope that sums it up for you!

And no, I am not an owner or even a manager, My wife and I are a straight commissioned sales team. I am obviuosly not here looking for business, just trying to give advice!

Happy Mother's Day!
Josh
 
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Re: estimates

Postby Michael » Sun May 11, 2003 6:26 pm

Guest/AIC,

I can tell you that my particular agent has an average score of 9.15, out of ten. We were winners of the 2002 Customer Choice award, that goes to agents that meet or exceed all ten standards established by United, meet or exceeded 9 of 10 standards, and had at least 85% of our customers willingness to recommend United.

That average score ranked us number two overall in our Category. We were the only United agent in North Carolina to meet all three standards. Other agents may have meet one or two, but not all three in North Carolina.

Now, in regards to the customer never wins. I have and will refute that claim again, and have said in the past, that a few of my customers have had things go in their favor. So believe it or not, it does happen, and I am sure its not the only one.

Josh, AIC's issue isnt with United as much as it is with Mayflower. The company that would not release his goods, until he agreed to pay for a shuttle at destination, and correct me if I am wrong AIC, before they even saw destination. Therefore, since Mayflower is owned by Unigroup, and United is too, AIC's disagreement with United.
Michael
************************************

Forget yourself for others and the others will never forget
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Re: estimates

Postby Josh » Mon May 12, 2003 3:30 pm

Michael,

Here are the scores from my agency quoted right from our survey results:

"For the cumulative period, based on the scores from all ten-point scale questions on the customer service survey, your agency's average score is 9.13. The total performance average for size E is 8.79, and the highest average score is 9.50. Your total performance ranking is 15 among 107 agents in size category E."

So there you have it, we also met or exceeded all of the standards set forth by United.

This information is avaliable to us for any agent United has.

Michael, side note... I am moving an elderly lady to Raleigh at the end of this month. I have selected your agency as my destination agent. I will let you know if I need anything!
Josh
 
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