What I'm curious about is this -- are there certain national carries that are better than others? For example, is United typically more reputable than Wheaton or Atlas? And with that, are there any national lines such as Mayflower or Allied or perhaps another that I overlooked and should make sure to include for an estimate?
Thanks so much everyone for your help. I look forward to updating everyone throughout my process in order to help others with their decision down the road.
doctord33 wrote:. . . are there certain national carries that are better than others? For example, is United typically more reputable than Wheaton or Atlas?
Hi - although others may disagree, I think that United is generally considered to be the strongest van line. Its agents haul at least a quarter of the shipments in the U.S. Its sister company, Mayflower, is also strong. It's not that the others aren't reputable, but United and Mayflower are likely to have more resources (trucks, agents) than others. Atlas and Allied are also van lines with large market shares. Wheaton is highly reputable but it is a much smaller van line. The larger van lines are likely to choose strong agent companies as their representatives in the marketplace and in general I feel that they are less likely to tolerate weak performers.
HOWEVER, the van line isn't everything. In my mind, the most important thing is the character and hands-on involvement of the person(s) running an individual moving company. There are many good companies that aren't van line agents at all. Also important is whether the moving company is going to be able to self-haul your shipment to its destination using its own truck and driver. This isn't always possible, but it is the ideal situation. The fewer people who handle the shipment, the better, to minimize the possibility of damage and delay. Second best, in my mind, is a situation where a driver from the van line will pick up your shipment directly from your origin residence and deliver it directly to your destination residence with no transfers. Again, this isn't always possible, because a shuttle (smaller truck) may be needed due to access problems.
As a first comment on your list, I would advise you to drop the Wheaton agent and Werner (too small for a move of this distance and quotes by cubic feet) to focus on the others for the moment. Joyce might be a good choice because it has generally good comments here and it is HQd in Indianapolis, not too far from where you are going. It has its own trucks and would self-haul. The only report we have on Kaster was a move botched by its driver, but Atlas is a good carrier.
I think the United agent would probably be a safe choice, especially if it would self-haul, but even if it couldn't, comments on this messageboard indicate that most of the United Van Lines drivers are pretty good. Also consider using Moovers, Inc. at www.mooversinc.com, an independent company that would self-haul your shipment using its own truck and driver and that has dozens of rave reviews here - http://www.movingscam.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4655 It wouldn't be able to give you an in-home estimate but I know the owners personally and they are completely trustworthy.
I also looked into Ammodio, a Mayflower rep, but they had a handful of iffy reviews that worried me as well.
Thanks Thanks Thanks Diane. Please know I'm going to tell everyone I know who's moving about this fantastic resource.
Where did you see good comments on Braun? I saw one thread where a person was considering them but that's all. Their quality scores at that time were lower than Siracusa's. I would tend to stick with the three you have now, and (as I said) also consider Moovers. Note that one person in CT was set to go with Moovers - http://www.movingscam.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7723 - although he never came back to report. You could send him a PM to ask how it went.
Joyce in CT has had 13 BBB complaints over the past 36 months, which is on the high side. You might ask the rep about them. The office in Indiana has also had 13 complaints, and I don't think they were the same 13.
As he went through the house, he barely said anything, making me wonder if he even wanted my business. When he saw the folders for Meyer and Kaster on the table, he made a disparaging remark about what they were likely to offer me.
But what probably topped it off was his inability to explain the 12 BBB complaints in the past 36 months. As he was pulling out a BBB certificate that said Joyce hadn't had any complaints in the four year period leading up to 2005, I pulled out the laptop and showed him the 12 complaints in 36 months on the BBB website. He was dumbfounded.
How is he pulling out a certificate about how perfect they are when the BBB website is telling me something different?
I think I may have figured out the discrepency. "Joyce Moving and Storage" in Oxford, CT has had one complaint in three years. "Joyce Van Lines," listed under the same phone number and the same address in the same town on the BBB website has had 12 complaints in 36 months. I'm not sure if this is an intentional error, a way the company is trying to get around its complaints, or if its just an unlikely coincidence, but it made me nervous. Especially when he's showing me a certificate for how perfect they are when the BBB website is telling me otherwise.
He didn't dispute the online complaints, offering the basic explanation that, "things happen" and "people like to complain about stupid stuff." But it just didn't leave me with a good feeling.
The reps from Meyer and Kaster both seemed great. I'll include more on them along with the final estimates when I get them all and update everyone along the way.
Anyway, Kaster has had only 1 complaint and William B. Meyer only 2 complaints over the past 36 months, which looks much better on the surface. Be sure to ask each of them who is actually going to haul your things - their own driver or a van line driver - and whether the driver and truck that pick them up are going to be the driver and truck that deliver them. Regarding Kaster, Atlas agents used to offer free full replacement value valuation coverage to people who have AAA and are shipping more than a minimum number of pounds - I think around 4000. I don't know whether this program is still in effect, but you should ask.
Have you ruled out Moovers?
Regardless, here are the two estimates (I don't have the Joyce one with me right now, but it was slightly over $5,000 and because of the above issues I likely wasn't going with them anyway).
I'm still waiting to hear if either of the companies below will be able to accomodate my window of dates as well as confirmation as to whether or not the same crew will be taking my stuff door to door or transferring it to another truck/crew. Based on those answers I will probalby go with one of these two companies. I really like both of the estimators. The Atlas guy especially shined -- I thought it was a class move when he saw the United paperwork on the table and complimented them as a "first-class" company and told me I couldn't go wrong with them or Atlas.
Anyway, here's the figures. Both of these are guaranteed not to exceed estimates.
Kaster Moving and Storage (Atlas)
Full pack and load and unload
Valuation up to $30,000
William B. Meyer (United)
Full pack and load and unload
Price does not include valuaiton (add approx. $300)
doctord33 wrote:I really like both of the estimators. The Atlas guy especially shined -- I thought it was a class move when he saw the United paperwork on the table and complimented them as a "first-class" company and told me I couldn't go wrong with them or Atlas.
Thanks for all of this excellent information. (I assume you asked Atlas about the free valuation with AAA.) If you could post the names of the estimators that you liked at some point, I would like to include them in the Superlist linked to below.
I actually forgot to ask Kaster (Atlas) about the AAA estimate, but it's pretty much irrelevant as they told me the way the national schedule is it's going to take about two weeks to get my goods to Chicago and that's just not going to work. I appreciated their honesty though. The excellent estimator, John Stanley, was upfront and honest with me from the beginning and told me outright that if United or another strong competitor could better meet my dates, I might be better off going with them. I liked him a lot -- if their schedule would have worked out better, I very well would have gone with them.
As it stands, I'm probably going with either Meyer (United) or Moovers. My United estimator, Bill Harner, is out on vacation, but I left him a voicemail which was prompty returned by another Meyer employee, who had my estimate out and prompty answered all my questions today.
I was told they won't be able to guarrantee that they're going to be able to deliver my goods door to door (not transferring my goods to another truck) until the delivery date gets closer, but they insisted that's what they're going for and what they do 85-90 percent of the time.
After I explained that it wouldn't, they later called back and told me they were going to put me on a Mayflower truck who would be able to deliver within the window. I had mixed emotions about this, especially since I chose Meyer based on theirs and United's reputation.
Having said that, the Meyer packers arrived Monday morning and did a great job. The driver, Steve from a Mayflower outlet in Kentucky, was also very hard working and professional. We'll see how the move works out in the end -- Steve said he'll be delivering some time on Sunday or Monday. But so far things seem to be OK. I'll send another update once things have been delivered and all the dust has settled.
Anyway, I have nothing but great things to say about the way my move worked out. Although William B Meyer was unable to move me and pawned me off to this Mayflower outlet from Kentucky, things worked out quite well.
Steve delivered my goods first thing Monday morning, as promised, and his family helped unload the truck and set everything up in the new house. Nothing was broken, nothing was lost. And William B. Meyer kept calling throughout the day to make sure that everything was working as smoothly as possible despite the change in companies.
If I had a friend or relative moving from Southwestern Connecticut again, I wouldn't hesitate to reccomend WB Meyer.
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