I followed the advice on the boards closely and promised myself that if it all worked out I would take the time to report so that someone else could benefit as I had done.
Anyway, the move worked out! Indeed it went better than well. I booked Suddaths in Miami who are part of United Van Lines. The CA side of the move was also Suddaths. Due to not finding this site until late and having to dump most of my short list (2 of my "nearly" companies are on the blacklist!) I was desparate to get a quote quickly. The sales representative, Tony de La Torres, returned my call promptly and squeezed in an inventory visit the very next morning at 8am. By the time he left I had a printed, binding quote which also accomodated the fact that I wanted a short delay in shipping to allow my husband and I to enjoy a road trip across the US without worrying that our belongings would arrive before we did.
Tony continued to be responsive over the following 10 days, appreciating that I was nervous about such a big move and handling my questions with professionalism (for those of you who do not know Miami, getting anyone to return a phone call is a miracle - Tony exceeded my expectations tenfold in this area).
Due to condo regulations and the elevator booking schedule we were to be packed on a Friday and moved on a Monday. On the Friday the packers arrived even before the building would let them in. Again, such punctuality is unheard of in Miami where over the last 4 years I have learned to be grateful if people turn up at all! Raul, Jose and Jimmy were awesome. They worked like Trojans and we had only one breakage - a $10 teraccotta pot. My cheap Bed, Bath & Beyond glasses were wrapped with the same care as my crystal and far better than I would have packed them!
Midway through packing the quality control supervisor arrived to check all was progressing OK and gave me his card. I did not need it but believed that he did take his job seriously and would be available if necessary.
On the Monday the movers arrived bang on time and 3.5 hours later our home was empty. wow! I had a full inventory of every box and furniture item (which I was in charge of crossing off on delivery) and all was more than fine ......until my husband and I discovered that we had left our bicycles in the condos storage facility! Panic. Completely our fault - we did not bring them in to our condo as planned or inform the movers. One phone call to Tony and a quick cab ride to their main facility and the bikes were added in to the inventory - and yes, they arrived in CA with everything else.
The good news continued when we arrived in CA. The delivery window was 3 days and it arrived on the first day. 95% of the boxes were put in the correct rooms although some boxes of books were mixed up between office and living room. Not the end of the world. As already stated we had no losses and no damage (except the 1 cheap pot).
In the interests of completeness I should outline a couple of negatives (but these are picky, picky!):
i) Some key parts of the master bed seemed to have been lost. I called Tony who immediately said he would send me a claim form and would chase up the driver. 3 hours later I found the bits in a box. It was not however the box where they logically should have been put.
ii) Tony did not inform me that Suddaths would collect the used boxes and paper (Jimmy the packer told me this). He was not terribly helpful when asked about this, telling me to deal with CA direct which I did. As a result I was charged $125 for the service which I think could have been included as free by Miami. That said, the people at CA end were vv helpful and the guys arrived on time this morning and took everything
iii) The only real complaint - I found out later that a wheel off the bottom of the spare bedroom bed frame has been lost and therefore the bed is not stable. this one does annoy me as someone put the bed together and must have noticed (?). That said, given the horror stories I read and was dreading it is minor, minor league!
One key factor of course is price. Suddaths, like the other professional company I was considering (Stevens in San Fran) are far more expensive than the internet quote companies initially appear. Roughly twice the price (and a bit more). But there are NO extras (unless you request something different). In fact, I was charged a little less than I expected due to weight differential. It was truly worth EVERY $$$. I felt relaxed as soon as I met the packers and was able to enjoy my road trip without a feeling of dread.
And what price your home?! One cheaper company was going to wrap my plasma TV "in bubble wrap & blankets" (they need expert crating). Another kept assuring me that the basic insurance was enough ($0.15 per lb or whatever it is - i forget) stating that I was insured up to $50k (no, the lorry is - at $0.15lb my Murano glass statue is worth $1.50. Great!). None of these companies would offer me higher insurance (Suddaths did) and one girl just assured me that "our movers are very careful". none asked me about a shuttle or mentioned the ridiculous extra distance charges that can (and would) have mounted up to $,000s if your street does not fit their huge vans.
Thank you to all the people who post to this site - your advice helped me to look beyond price and at the service I required when transporting my life 3,000 miles. I hope that someone else benefits from my rambles!
Do you mind telling us what the price was, and how much weight your load had?
Anonymous wrote:. . . your advice helped me to look beyond price and at the service I required when transporting my life 3,000 miles.
How right you are. It's one thing when all you are moving is cheap IKEA stuff or books and quite another when you're moving expensive and fragile items. I'm glad that Suddath did so well for you and I'll add your comments to all their other good reviews here.
If all that's missing from the bed frame is one of those caster wheels that clicks up into the frame, that can be easily replaced at Home Depot or similar. Disposing of packing materials is something that is charged for by all van lines, I believe. I think it is a tariff item.
Our costs are being partly covered by my husbands new employer but I am 100% converted - when i next move i'm going to pay the extra for peace of mind and quality.
I know my company does it all the time.
As for getting rid of your packing material, if you just recently moved, contact the local Suddath agency, and they will be happy to come get it if it is in a reasonable distance.
otherwise, post on craigslist.org under the free section, because people are always looking for packing material in the Bay Area.
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