Most companies have minimums that are below 2500 pounds at this time of year, so I don't think the size of your load should turn them off. Be aware that you may have to use a shuttle if you're in central Chicago and semi-trailers can't access your storage unit.
You could call Ms. Patricia McLaughlin, Executive Director of the Illinois Movers' and Warehousemen's Association, phone 217-585-2470 or 888-791-2516, to ask for suggestions about good full-service companies. I know that she often recommends using a broker called Betsy's Trans-Pack to advise about small moves like yours. Do a search on this website under Betsy for contact information.
Another, more economical, idea would be to hire a local mover to take your things from the storage unit to an ABF terminal and load them into an ABF mobile storage container (see ABF review #23). Some smaller companies that have been used for local moving and liked by people posting here are Dels Movers at www.delsmovers.com (2 reviews at http://www.movingscam.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3711 ) and Wolley Movers at www.wolleymovers.com (a review at http://www.movingscam.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5392 and see also this thread - http://www.movingscam.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4953 ).
Several other local Chicago moving companies are mentioned in this thread - http://www.movingscam.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5368 Also, you can check how the performance of companies is rated by the Illinois Commerce Commission on this website - http://www.icc.illinois.gov/hg/hglist.aspx
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1. How does payment normally work? Do movers expect some payment up front and then the rest at delivery? Or should it all be at delivery?
2. If I use an independent mover vs. a large van line, could the difference in price be due to the fact that I have to buy my own insurance for the independent mover vs. it being included with a large van line?
3. When a company tells me that I'll have to pay for them to wrap up some of my items (e.g. box my mattress, tv, etc.), how do I ensure that they're not going to charge me an exorbitant fee for this?
This is SO stressful!! Thank you!
1. Most legitimate full-service moving companies either charge the credit card prior to loading the goods or allow people to pay with a cashier's check at delivery. They do not collect deposits "to insure the space on the truck" or whatever, except possibly up to $200 in major cities like Chicago and NYC. In my opinion, any company that asks for a large deposit or wants half the money at loading and half at unloading is very suspect and should be rejected immediately.
2. "Independent" moving companies that are dubious or outright scammers very frequently tell people to get their own insurance with a company like www.movinginsurance.com. We do not know whether companies like movinginsurance.com even pay out on claims. Dubious moving companies have been known to tell people that they don't want to get involved with offering valuation coverage above the minimum 60 cents a pound, but the real reason is that they are a broker and they want to get their cut immediately and then palm the customer off on someone else if there is damage. In my opinion, any company other than ABF that does not offer its own valuation coverage but refers a person to movinginsurance.com should be rejected immediately.
3. Companies that are dubious or outright scammers frequently try to make money by jacking up the cost of packing materials. There is really no way that you can protect yourself once you are in the actual situation on loading day because they will refuse to move your goods unless they pack them.
If cost is a concern, you should go with ABF or BE--companies known to be safe and honest.
I've called two independent companies - one has recently received good reviews from the site, the other I knew to cross off my list when they told me that they charge by volume and not weight. I've also received one quote from a major van line, and am awaiting one from another, and received a van line quote from Betsy. The independent that had good reviews is the cheapest (and doesn't offer insurance) and expects half of the payment on loading and half on delivery, which sounds suspect, I suppose.
Unfortunately, ABF and BE won't work logistically, and I can afford the van lines, I just need a day or two to get over the shock of how expensive it is!
Thank you again for the tips and for this site -- this is my first time using professional movers, so I'm freaking out!
Out of curiosity, how much did Betsy quote you and how was she going to handle the move?
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