I've had three in home estimates so far from Vanguard, C&D Moving (an agent for Norther American Van Lines in CT), and Lake Country Moving and Storage (an agent for Wheaton based in NYC and Maine).
I've read the big thread on CT movers, and Vanguard is the only one mentioned there. My impression of the owner - Dave Anton - was all right. However, of the three, he gave the lowest estimate so I'm worried he may be "low balling."
C&D Moving gave me the best impression, as the co-owner Matt Chila, was very polite, professional, and was able to go into the most detail about how he moves. His storage arrangement was also the best of the three.
However, even though I insisted on a binding estimate, the one he sent was non-binding in the fine print. He described the non-binding as "not to exceed by 10%" and put the words binding in quotes. Also, he did not provide a copy of the "Your rights" booklet, calling it antiquated. He did promise to mail a copy on request. His estimate was the highest of the three, so he's not low balling. But his insistence on giving a non-binding estimate when I was very clear I wanted binding troubles me. (Vanguard gave an actual binding not to exceed estimate.)
Another red flag for C&D is that they insist on a "half up front" deposit to reserve the moving date (the check for this deposit is cashed immediately). Matt says it's to guarantee the date on both sides: he says he'll be contractually obligated to show up after cashing the check and it keeps me from backing out (he says people giving C&D the run around has been a problem). One point he raised was that a company that doesn't require an upfront deposit can cancel the move at the last minute if a bigger customer appears. I do not know how true this is, but am concerned because my own move is smaller than normal. Advice? Anyone have experience with C&D?
The last one was Lake Country Movers (LCM). The owner, Frank Landino, runs the Maine branch with a partner in NYC. I'm still puzzled why Wheaton sent a guy from Maine when they have agents much closer. LCM gave the middle estimate and provided the "Your Rights" booklet with their material. However, the salesman wanted to put my things into his own storage rather than Wheaton's. Is it normal for an agent to snipe business from the national chain on something like storage?
The price he quoted was in the middle of the three, but he hasn't sent me an estimate yet so I don't know for certain. I will say that as a salesman he tried way too hard to be ingratiating. He reminded me of a few used car salesmen I've had to deal with - the annoying sort.
Right now, my inclination is to try and find some other movers or to go with Vanguard. I'd like some second opinions on this. As I said, my biggest worry is that I'll have a date setup and the mover won't show because they scheduled someone with a bigger (and more profitable) move instead. I'm hoping that isn't a scenario I should be concerned over.
OutofChaos wrote:Right now, my inclination is to try and find some other movers or to go with Vanguard. I'd like some second opinions on this. As I said, my biggest worry is that I'll have a date setup and the mover won't show because they scheduled someone with a bigger (and more profitable) move instead. I'm hoping that isn't a scenario I should be concerned over.
This is a scenario that was suggested to you by the North American agent as a justification for his requiring a 50% deposit, right? In all the years I have been monitoring this messageboard, I have never seen a case where a van line agent reportedly didn't show up because he had a bigger, more lucrative move. I have seen it reported with small independent companies, but not with van line agents. (But then, I've never heard of a van line agent asking for a 50% deposit either.) I would drop the North American agent from consideration. If they contacted you as a result of a request you put in on the navl.com website, it could be that they are one of the weaker agents in the area. I have seen it happen that the weaker agents sometimes respond to such requests, regardless of the van line involved.
C & D has a serious complaint posted on the Internet dating from 2004:
http://www.stephanemaes.com/ESSEM/pub/2 ... _29_04.htm
The Wheaton agent showing up from Maine is also fishy.
I would go with Vanguard (a National Van Lines agent, although it may be doing this move under its own authority).
It's rather unusual for a person to send half the things with ABF and half with a van line agent. Have you considered sending all of it with ABF and just making sure to hire good loaders and unloaders? Might be simpler and less worrisome for you.
I don't know that they'd dispatch an empty truck to CT to pick up your load, but I bet they have a lot of Pittsburgh to NY shipments and are happy to pick up CT loads for the trip back.
Summary: do NOT use Vanguard.
The half I sent with ABF got to its destination no problems, with everything in good shape. I am very glad I used them, given what happened with Vanguard.
Here are the ugly details:
On moving day, the movers showed up a couple hours late; they claimed they were behind schedule. The overseer was VP of operations (I believe), who came out there himself due to the company being shorthanded because of absences. I thought we were in good hands since a senior officer was there. Far from it.
They showed up with a truck that was too small, so my move had to be split into two. This was despite telling them to send a larger truck and not a medium during estimation (apparently the owner wasn't as good as I thought).
Every major piece of furniture I had was damaged in one way or another. This was due to the movers not using ANY padding during the move, only paper. The worst damage came when they put my coffee table directly against a metal tool case. This caused half inch deep gouges on the surface. Both my end tables were also gouged and nicked, with the finishing on both tops scrapped off from friction.
My head board was scraped down to the wood. And one of my other bedroom pieces (not sure which one) had a whole chunk of wood knocked off. An Ethan-Allen bedroom set worth several thousand has essentially had its value cut in half due the damage sustained.
A computer table had the metal sleeve on the leg pushed up somehow. Even my rock maple desk - the toughest piece of furniture I own - was scratched, the first damage it has ever taken in a move (and it's a veteran of 3+ moves).
I've had my household goods shipped to Taiwan and back and never experienced as much damage as I have with Vanguard. And this was under the oversight of the VP. At this point, I could only think that he was either incompetent or malicious. Unfortunately, the next issue showed it was the latter.
On the bill of lading, I had paid for mattress boxes. Instead, they were given a single wrap of plastic (much cheaper and far less protective). Both mattresses arrived dirty, the wrap having been torn in transit. Since I wasn't going to pay for boxes they never used (they charged a couple hundred for boxes), I changed the Bill of Lading to reflect this. The VP's response, "Who told you you could change MY Bill of Lading?" When I then pointed out that plastic costs less than boxes, he threatened to withhold the damage claim forms.
This was not an empty threat as Vanguard never sent me the claim forms as they were supposed to. It was only after contacting the national office and telling them about this that I was able to get them.
On move in day, the people they hired showed up 6 hours late, leaving the driver the only guy. The driver was good, though, and I know he chewed out the help for slacking off like that. Also, the individual movers in CT were okay people.
So, if you deal with Vanguard, beware their administrators. They will not only try to charge you for services they don't provide, they will also withhold claim forms if you call them on it. And they don't know how to use padding to protect furniture (though given the VP's attitude, I would not be surprised if this was deliberate).
I'll post about my new move soon.
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