When I got to my final destination...it was a different story. The first thing I got was my car. I saw a scratch on it but was told, "oh it's probably dirt". Despite my efforts to stand my ground, it was dismissed. My car had been hit by a drunk driver before my move so the back of it had been completely repainted...so when I got the car washed and saw the scratch in the back, I knew I was right. She had told me I could add any damage to my household goods when it got there. Well I got stuck in training at work. In the meantime, my household goods arrived. The two men unloading what 6 men had packed were very careless and rough. They dropped lots of boxes and said, who cares, they will replace it anyhow. Some things are irreplaceable. I was not happy. I finally started slowly unpacking and at the end, I found I had FOUR pages of damaged items! I was very upset. As the result of my training..I did not get my sheets off until literally my nine month deadline...as much as I was upset about my damages. However, my car damage was categorized in a different time context since it was delivered earlier. So, even though I was told to include it with my household goods, it was declined.
Over the course of the next year or so, I had to fight and fight, did I mention fight? to get my damaged items taken care of. My stereo and computer both stopped working after my move. I was told that since they had no external damage they had no liability. I looked through all my paperwork but did not find such a rule. Also, they had a furniture repair person of sorts come out to fix what they had damaged and anything else would be noted as irrepairable...well those items were ignored and deemed as being fine. I ended up getting my HR department as well as the Better Business Bureau involved. It took almost 2 years for them to finally cooperate but ultimately they did. They made no apologies but they did give me what I requested to take care of/replace what they ruined/lost.
OK – NOW I am at the crux of why this industry is so confusing to figure out. Most of us don’t “shop” for this very often & it’s unlike other purchases that are, well, easier to compare for us non-industry types. One estimate I don't even feel I can count – the guy ran through my home without writing anything down (sure, some might say he’s done it so long he can simply glance & be correct, but it didn’t make me very comfortable when I had taken the time to clearly separate what is & isn’t being moved). Then he sat down, said “man, you have a lot of stuff” and wrote me an estimate for 10,000 lbs (3 total stair carry - I asked and he affirmed he used old tariff), full replacement value insurance w/no deductible for a total of 3,626.94. I asked him about discounts from the tariff and how that worked & he just said “we all do that” but when I asked if this included a discount he said “no – hopefully you’ll find someone that can move you cheaper” - and then, he left! He never explained the services or gave me literature or anything besides the final sheet. The odd thing is this same guy gave a friend of mine an estimate & was bending over backwards to get their business just a few weeks ago (but she admitted she didn't ask any questions and in fact went with someone else). Should I get another estimate (I was going to do 3) - I was nice to the man, I swear!!
My friend & I have very similar moves, besides the fact she is going from Chicago to Philly and I am going from Chicago to Charleston, WV. But we both have a 1,000 sq ft 2 bedrooms, 3 people (me & my sons; her, her husband & son), and we're from the same grad program (so same amounts of books/files). We’ve determined my kids have more hobby/lego-type stuff while her family has heavier furniture (e.g., huge wood entertainment center, a heavy spin bike, etc. – my goods are almost exclusively target/ikea light weight stuff besides some metal bunk beds and a wood dresser). Yet her estimates have been mostly 5,000 lbs (she took a guaranteed not to exceed from Hollainder United for $2,800 (not sure what insurance that had). I have added some stuff since I last used a mover 7 yrs ago but I don’t think there is any way I DOUBLED my things
(last weight move was 5,100) Our new home will have 3 bedrooms, so we purchased an ikea futon, closet wardrobe and shelf we’ve left in boxes to move- guy from Armstrong looked them over & added another 600 lbs to cover them, not sure what weight the other estimate added).
For the estimate from Armstrong United, he didn’t add up while here but said eye-ball it looked about 8,000 to him, but he wanted to add it up with the computer & take into account my furniture weights, etc. He called back and then mailed me the typed up estimate, saying he came up with 6,000 lbs, not to exceed $2, 382.45 (without extra insurance figured in yet). He was very nice and professional, seems to truly want my business & be proud of his company, etc. He said his estimate includes a 62% discount.
A man from Graebel movers came yesterday & told me the OPPOSITE of what United told me about independent contractor drivers being to my advantage– Graebel talked up that only ONE company, all working together, would handle my move and any problems. He also discussed how their drivers are all hired from other movers with much experience and they are the only company requiring extensive criminal history checks because of their big contracts with Wal Mart. Microsoft, the Pentagon, etc. They also offer a free of charge little “welcome home package” where they set up your beds at destinations and unpack 5 boxes that you designate to your driver at loading (that’s kind of a nice touch). I liked the guy from United a bit better but I realize this isn't about that, and both were knowledgeable and professional.
ANYWAY – he estimated 8,000 lbs but says they always write a not to exceed that includes +10% to protect themselves. So his quote was for 8,800 lbs, with full value replacement insurance w/a $250 deductible =3, 229.41 with a 64% discount (he said any weight under his estimate I would be refunded at a rate of $40.00 per hundred lbs). Should I ask this info from United as well?
At first glance – bottom line United is less money, BUT, when you figure cost per pound on the estimates, I think Graebel is actually a better rate given the compare quote of 8,800 lbs to 6,000 (Help! This is where I can’t exactly tell). Both estimators stated they are “rarely wrong” although could be off by 10%. I showed them BOTH identical things but noticed some individual differences on how they tic things off (just as one example United said they counted my two small (5 club) golf bags as 1 together since they are not full size, while Graebel marked 2). I have no desire to “cheat the movers/over-work the drivers” but obviously want to pay as little as possible. I am trying to get a good estimate & am confused by the weights, the discounts, the “company owned” stance VS the agent stance. Also –Graebel included a $65 charge for a “shorhaul fee” for their drivers fund which United didn’t.
I also wanted to comment on some of the experiences described in this thread. I think it really highlights the fact that this is such a risk and, when you NEED to use a mover, you really feel a little stuck. I can’t think of ANY other consumer experience I’ve had that’s so up in the air. My last move with United (Fry-Wagner out of Columbia, MO) was GREAT! What is so concerning is the fact that I can’t in good faith simply pick up the phone and be confident I could simply call United and have the same wonderful experience in price, quality, people, service. I know there can’t be guarantees in life – but this sometimes seems like voodoo even if you’re doing what you should be on the consumer end!
Thanks to all for your thoughts and support. Sorry for the War & Peace length post!
My suggestion. If you like Armstrong, then ask him to quote you for 8800 pounds and to give your a Binding/Not to exceed. The max discount he can give, according to our summer rates is 62%, as he did.
Now as far as the sales person telling you about Graebel Drivers, well every company out there hires drivers from other companies. United, just like Greabel, prefer to hire drivers with at least 3 years of HHG (household good) moving experience, and are drug tested and most own their own rig, or lease it through United Vanliner. So no, I do not believe they do anything better or different then any of the other big names out there. The whole industry is hurting for drivers. One thing I would suggest. Which driver do you think will be happier, the one with a 64% discount, or the one with 62%. And dont say its only 2%, because people make a big deal out of a move costing 2% more than the next guy.
Now, lastly, I would suggest this. Graebel does not have a moving company in Charleston, therefore the driver, if he gets help, will get it from the street, a labor pool, or another moving company that does not have the same standards as Graebel. Their nearest offices are in VA. and PA. United on the other hand has 7 agents in W. VA, with your destination agent in W VA. being in Poco.
I never buy the fact that sales reps with only guarantee the move at 110%. Like he said, that protects himself. My feeling is, if your accurate, detailed, and take your time in doing a survey, then you should be more than comfortable with giving a not to exceed on what you see.
I do like the fact that he wrote 2 golf club sets, as opposed to one. Shows he is detailed and perceptive. You definitely want your inventories they did. Your quote is based on it, so why not make sure you have it, well before your move takes place.
Just my thoughts. But I think your doing great, asking the right questions and on the right track.
Forget yourself for others and the others will never forget
Good luck with your move. You sound as if you've done all you can to prepare for your move, which is good, but at this point, you will just have to pick a mover and hope for the best. The higher the amount (estimate) you are willing to pay, the lesser the chance of your goods getting held hostage. (I know this makes the whole idea of competitive bidding for your move nonsensical, but not much about this industry makes sense right now.) But like I said, have $2000 extra in cash (on top of the original estimate amount) as "ransom money," just in case.
Josh and Michael,
Mayflower Transit, through its agent Century Moving & Storage of Lombard, IL held my goods hostage. Century demanded almost 150% of the original "guaranteed not to exceed" estimate IN CASH (even though the booking agent, Admiral Moving & Storage of Atlanta, GA had said I could pay by credit card). Century repeatedly refused to take my credit card (even though I offered to pay the inflated amount on it). Because I could not come up with thousands of dollars in cash on no notice, Century took my goods to storage, and then immediately TRIPLED the bill. A "guaranteed" $1741.89 quote was now more than $5100. Because I would not give in to this blatant extortion, Century/Mayflower held my goods hostage for THREE MONTHS until I sued and sought a court order.
During the time that the criminals at Century/Mayflower were holding everything I owned hostage, Mayflower in Fenton, Missouri sent me one of those customer satisfaction questionnaires. I am not kidding. I did not fill it and return it. I figured that if suing Mayflower didn't clue them in on my "customer satisfaction", then nothing will.
By the way, a couple months after I sued, another C.O.D. shipper sued Century for inflating his "not to exceed" bid by four figures after the goods were on the truck. You will also find that epinions.com has a complaint by a Century customer on an intrastate move (again for overcharging). This must be one of the worst moving companies on the planet. And it's a Mayflower agent! Mayflower should be ashamed of themselves, but I guess they aren't.
Anyway, I have a feeling those customer satisfaction surveys count for nothing, especially if an agent can get sued twice in the space of six months and still remain a Mayflower agent. If Century's practices are indicative of the van line's idea of permissible business practices, Mayflower is indeed a corrupt organization.
Michael, I've said before that I believe you're an honest person, and I won't doubt that your agency is a good one. But does your agency owner know that he is subsidizing the defense of crooks like Century? In the end, Century gets to make easy money by scamming customers, while you work to provide good service and your agency pays (literally) for the misconduct of Century and any other extortionists who get caught. Your agency pays Mayflower its "cut" on every shipment, and that money goes in part to defend agents who get sued. At the end of the day, that arrangement is fine by Mayflower, and Mayflower wants to see the Petri bill defeated so it can continue this arrangement. Your van line doesn't need to care about that minority (I hope) of crooked agents. But this arrangement is bad for you and all the other honest ones. When an agent gets sued, it is the van line -- not the agent -- that is responsible for legal fees and any judgment rendered. Think about it.
My particular owner is actually on "The Board of Directors" for United Van Lines. And he also owns a Mayflower agency.
Unigroup Inc. purchased Mayflower in 1995. Primarily for the truck capacity and name recognition. Even though this company had filed for bankruptcy three times over I believe a 10 year period.
Since that time Unigroup and United have slowly brought Mayflower around to doing things the United Way. Its been a very slow process, but it is beginning to show signs of change.
I am on your side in regards to what Century has done to you. ANd I am in the same mood of thinking when it comes to "WHY" is this still an agent for Mayflower if they continue to pull this crap on customers.
But as you know, I do not have the answers your looking for, but can only make sound recommendations to people looking for help. Just like it took the FBI over two years to do something, what little they did, to these rouge movers, and are still trying to do, United is in the same boat with trying to convert Mayflower to Uniteds way of doing things.
Forget yourself for others and the others will never forget
I guess with the golf club thing I had a different take: to me it felt like the United guy was the one putting more detail & care into the estimate by saying “these 4 clubs & 2 putters don’t weight the amount of “golf clubs” which is what is designated on the sheet, he explained to me where he was marking it separately to note the clubs. To me, THAT seems more accurate!?
One thing I noticed is differences b/w the quotes on origin & destination service charges: United listed: $426.60 for Orig & $154.80 Dest= $581.40 Graebel listed: $306.98 total (both used rates of 7.11 for org & 2.58 for dest). Should these be that different? Are these company-specific charges?
I do have some general comments that will likely sound naïve to those of you in the industry, but I’ll put it out there as a voice from the consumer point of view – the impression I’m getting is it is all about making sure the driver is a happy camper so your move goes well. I wanted to point out that if the difference between 62% & 64% is a big deal to the driver because it is money – well, then it is likely a big deal TO ME, as well! (It looks like I’ll be spending almost a quarter of my next year’s stipend from the hospital just on the move to get there!) I am a consumer, trying to get the most for my money and am looking for a company to provide a service. If the companies are indeed as competitive as they purport then they should want my business. A poor analogy here (but, hey my area of expertise so I’ll use it!) – I, too, am an independent contractor, but I am a professional doing a service. If someone comes into the clinic and I am involved with their care and they have no insurance/low income we do a lower fee = I get the same percentage “discount” in my paycheck. I NEVER would treat the individual any different based on what the payment contract for therapy listed, that was set up by the office and my job is to do my services in the best way, period, whether the individual has full coverage insurance from their company paying or they’re coming in off the street. And –maybe better example than health care - when shopping during sales or with coupons people working on commission get a lesser amount than if bought at full price, but service shouldn’t change. I know when I worked retail we would have been fired if we based our work efforts just on if an individual purchase was lucrative enough for us!
Ok, I’m rambling here… My point would be that there are many types of moves – huge corporate accounts on one end and elderly people paring down and single parent grad students like myself on the other. Like my above example, it’s a mix in the end. The premise almost sounds like if you’re willing, (and/or financially able) to take less discount you’re more likely not to get terrible service (or even out & out taken advantage of?) From a consumer point of view – I want the very best service at the very lowest price – and yes this is a balance. But to feel like one should tiptoe around the driver or have to worry about the accuracy of the quote you were given BY A PROFESSIONAL COMPANY seems insulting. If I get a bound not to exceed quote with a 64% discount then the service – start to finish if I uphold my end – should be steadfast & honored with courtesy and professionalism by everyone involved. That’s just good business. Maybe I am misinterpreting some of what is being discussed, but I would assume I’m not the only one out there feeling like this! Also – to me this would seem to make the case against going with the independent contactor – if a company employee will be paid the same they will have more consistency regardless of an individual move’s costs?
I know the point of this website is to discuss problems, but again, some moves (I hope most!) go well. I actually loved my last move! The driver & his men were so helpful and kind to my boys & I, efficient in cost and time but really went out of their way to make our move seem like their only concern. And I had a huge discount and they probably didn’t make a lot off my 5,100 lbs (I provided them water & snacks, too, but I know that’s not like lots o’ cash if I was a fancy company move!) Doesn’t it all seem like it should just be, well, simpler??!! (Okay, I’ll stop my incessantly annoying optimist thing now). Need to just decide & pick a mover, I know.
"C.O.D." stands for "collect on delivery" and is a term of art in the industry. It is a label for individuals who hire a moving company and pay for it themselves, directly. I was a C.O.D. customer, and so are you. C.O.D. customers are distinguished from the two other main segments of an interstate mover's business. The other two main segments are the military (the industry's biggest customer) and "national accounts," which are contracts between a big national corporation and a van line -- the corporation has a contract with a van line to pay for the relocation costs of employees who get transferred to other parts of the country, and it is the corporation that pays the moving bill. So, as you can imagine, the military and the national accounts have the leverage get the best service and protection from scamming. For example, if a van line messes up a national account move, the corporation may take its account elsewhere.
Regarding paying by credit card: My booking agent told me I could pay by credit card. The destination agent demanded cash, for what should be obvious reasons. So just be careful -- the mover can demand cash for whatever additional services he wants to tack on at destination, even if everything up until then was put on a credit card.
From a consumer point of view – I want the very best service at the very lowest price – and yes this is a balance. But to feel like one should tiptoe around the driver or have to worry about the accuracy of the quote you were given BY A PROFESSIONAL COMPANY seems insulting. If I get a bound not to exceed quote with a 64% discount then the service – start to finish if I uphold my end – should be steadfast & honored with courtesy and professionalism by everyone involved. That’s just good business.
Yes, it sure is insulting. It boggles my mind how a national company can ALLOW its agents to demand 150% of a "guaranteed not to exceed" estimate. It boggles my mind how the industry's national trade organization, AMSA, simply DECLARES that the 110% rule doesn't really apply to them.
lh, PLEASE write to your Congressmen to urge their support for Rep. Petri's bill. PLEASE tell your family and friends to do the same. This insanity has to end.
Michael, I did as you suggested and called United back to ask for a quote on 8,800 lbs. The salesman wasn't in but I talked to his assistant. She said she thought it was strange I called & that "I shouldn't worry about what another estimater thought" since United had me locked in not to exceed at 6000 lbs - if it was somehow 8,000 lbs then that was the company's problem, not mine to deal with and obviously to my advantage. When I mentioned the possibility of an unhappy driver, not enough room on the truck, etc. she reassured me that is in no way a problem to worry about with a good company. She did agree to have the sales rep call me, but said "we could re-run estimates for you all day to compare but it shouldn't make a difference if you're getting a good deal."
And I have already written in about the bill! I will work on friends & relatives to do the same.
I worked for Graebel for a few years, and yes I know what it means, "they have a company in the area". I dont think its a Graebel agent though, it is probably another van line. Just check.
Your doing the right thing and asking the right questions. It doesnt hurt you to be opver protective of your move like you are, in regards to getting Armstrong to quote you at 8000.
Look at your inventories, where do you see the differences. 2000 pounds is a room and a half. So is it in total boxes??
I think both companies are good, otherwise I wouldnt have recommended them to you. And yes, just like 2% makes a difference to you, it does to the driver. But you hit the nail on the head, if you do your part, then they should uphold their part and provide you with quality service. And yes, the sales person and the coordinator can do their job and be the greatest people in the world for you, but the drivers really make or break how a move goes, cause they are the ones actually hauling it.
The only concern I have with what Armstrongs coordinator said to you about the weight is this. Lets say you go with Armstrong, well when the move is assigned to a driver, it could be assigned to a driver with just enough space for 6000 pounds. So the driver gets out there, and bam, you do have 8000. What happens in this case is what we call a G-11. Armstrong then needs to send out a local crew to pick up your goods, place them in storage (at their expense) and then find a driver to come get your extra 2000 and deliver it to you. Thats called an overflow. So as you can see, it can be a problem to you, having to wait for your goods.
Thus asking for a quote at 8000 pounds is smart and protecting yourself.
As far as the Origin and Destination Service Charges, its odd, that Graebel would be less, with just a 2% more discount and 2000 more pounds. But to answer that, I know United does not discount those charges, where as it looks like Graebel did. But at what rate they discounted it, I dont know, cause I dont come up with the same numbers.
I think your safe any route you go with these two companies. My questions to you inregards to the companies, were to make sure you understood, the in's and out's, and not to be surprised by anything.
There are good companies out there, and I feel you have two of them and will be fine. And YES, people do have good moves, some have great moves and some even have excellent moves. Imagine that.
Forget yourself for others and the others will never forget
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