Moving Boston to Atlanta

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Grace

Moving Boston to Atlanta

Postby Grace » Thu May 06, 2004 9:55 am

I've looked at this board a lot over the past couple of days. It's great. Thanks to everyone who participates.

I'm moving at the end of this month (5/28/04 - if I can get movers lined up) from just outside Boston, MA to just outside Atlanta, GA. It's 1,100 miles. I won't need any interim storage or car transport, just a direct furniture and belongings move.

I live alone in a two-bedroom apartment with a small storage room. Some of the estimates I've found online suggest that I have 800 to 1,000 cubic feet of stuff to move, which would weigh 5,200 to 6,500 pounds.

The online Monster site estimated that a two-bedroom apartment would hold about 5,000 pounds of stuff and that a full-service move should run somewhere between $2,300 and $2,850. (That would be between $0.46 and $0.57 per pound for an 1,100 mile move.)

I saw the postings related to nay's move from Boston to San Fran. So I've ruled out Isaac's and Gentle Giant. I've also ruled out Bekins based on one of the scam stories on this site. Seems I've also gotten an unfavorable impression of Wheaton somewhere along the way. And I've ruled out every company in Allston/Brighton/Watertown. Parhaps there's a good mover there somewhere. But I figure why risk it when there are so many other options..

Frankly, I don't know what to make of nay's estimate experiences. I didn't particularly like any of them. Not to mention how amazing it is that 6 different moving "experts" can look at the same small amount of furniture and come up with such widely varying weight and pricing estimates. I mean, one guy at 1,983 pounds and one at 3,500 pounds? That's almost a doubling of weight!

Despite my misgivings, I'm currently leaning toward estimates from:
- Duggan/Atlas
- United Van Lines/Humboldt
- Mayflower/McLaughlin
- Allied/Wakefiled Moving & Storage (in Danvers).

I had wanted to try North American/Rainbow but nay's experience with their guy was very offputting. So I may try:
- North American/Sterling Corporation (in Billerica).

The obvious question, does anyone have any recommendations / comments / feedback?

During my last move (which was local), I felt ripped off because of all the overpriced tape and boxes and other stuff that got tacked onto the bill. (I forget who moved me but if I find the receipt I'll post the company name.) Anyway.. I suspect that my question is answered somewhere on this site. Would someone mind pointing me to the place where I can read about how to avoid add-on charges?

I also want to know how to minimize charges in general. For instance, I can pack all of my own things into boxes. Most of my small breakable or fragile things I'll take in my own car. Will movers let me pack for myself? Will they let me provide my own boxes and tape? Are there other ways to reduce costs (besides selling / leaving some of my things in Boston)?

Thanks again for all your insight via prior postings.

-Grace

IMP
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Re: Moving Boston to Atlanta

Postby IMP » Thu May 06, 2004 10:10 am

Grace,

Not being from the Boston area, I know little about the movers you have named, but the people I know who work for Humboldt are good people.

You certainly can do your own packing - ask each representative you interview (and they truly are interviewing for a job and YOU are the boss!) to explain to you what your valuation options are when you self-pack. For self-packing you can buy your boxes and tape anywhere you darn well please.

For packing that is done by the mover on a long distance move, you should not be charged extra for paper, tape and cartons. This should be (if they are using the current tariff) included in the "per carton" price if you are having a custom pack done, or in the "all-in" price if it is a full pack by the mover. Custom pack means they are only packing a few things, otherwise the packing is charged on a rate that is determined by the entire weight of the shipment.

And if you are planning to move May 28 - get on this fast. You have selected one of the busiest weeks of the entire year for the moving industry. You will want to lock in your "pack and load" date as soon as humanly possible. Just and FYI - for the weight and distance of your move, count on them giving you as much as a 2-12 day delivery spread. Keep in mind that even at the high end of 7,000 pounds, that's less than 25% of the truck, and in this busy season trucks have to run at full or close to full capacity in order to keep the honest movers in a position to stay in business.

Also - register for this site so that private messages can be sent to you and from you, and keep us posted on how things go.

sdhughes
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Re: Moving Boston to Atlanta

Postby sdhughes » Thu May 06, 2004 3:11 pm

Imp, thanks for your advice. I'll defintiely use it.

An update: I've scheduled in-home estimates with Atlas, United, Mayflower and Allied. Graebel is booked from end of May all the way back to 5/16. North American hasn't called me back yet. Except for North American I've been pleased with the reps on the phone, and their responsiveness. The Atlas/Duggan guy is coming out tonight, on the same day that I called.

I've reviewed the article on this site about how to pick a reputable mover. It has a short list of questions for me to ask the move estimators. Yesterday I ran across a much longer list posted on the forum but I've done a few searches and I can't find it today.

Any help appreciated, especially since my first estimator is scheduled to arrive in three hours. :)

-Grace

Diane
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Re: Moving Boston to Atlanta

Postby Diane » Thu May 06, 2004 3:17 pm


Grace

Re: Moving Boston to Atlanta

Postby Grace » Thu May 06, 2004 4:35 pm

Diane, thanks a bunch. Very timely response. : )

By the way, you were so right about the internet moving company thing. Unfortunately I hadn't found this site when I registered with MonsterMove or one of those sites. I've been literally inundated by calls and emails from moving companies. They actually sound like brokers or something on the phone, but I haven't typically listened to the sales pitches for very long. Thanks to this site I've turned them all away in favor of the big, local carriers I've set up to provide in-home estimates.

I decided to go ahead and get an estimate from Graebel even though it would mean shipping my things ahead of me and having a friend there in GA to receive the movers and check things off the list. Any concern if I can't be there myself to receive the movers?

Lastly, I generally like the Graebel sales guy. But he said a couple of things I'm curious about. For one, he asked to be my last estimator so he can best compete with the other folks. Any comments / insight about this?

The other thing that he mentioned was about large-mover quality. He said the NY Times rated Graebel, Atlas and United as the #1, #2 and #3 top movers based on their low complaints. And that Allied, North American and Mayflower are all of "suspect quality" nowdays because a New York company bought them and "fired all the folks with solid moving company expertise."

I'm not necessarily buying all that, but I do plan to check the NYTimes web site.. :)

-Grace

Diane
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Re: Moving Boston to Atlanta

Postby Diane » Thu May 06, 2004 5:02 pm

Grace,

Glad the list that was put together by Mike was the one you wanted.

If, among all the quotes you received, there is one from Leeways, I would appreciate it if you would post the address of the company.

Also, I'm not familiar with any NYTimes article that discusses moving companies as the Graebel guy states, nor could I find any such article on their website. Please try to get the actual reference (date of publication) from him. United is the highest rated moving company on www.epinions.com.

Personally I think it would be best if you were in Atlanta when your things arrive. But as for Graebel wanting to be the last person to give you an estimate--that general subject has been discussed on this website before and the moving professionals said it was OK.

IMP
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Joined: Fri Apr 16, 2004 4:36 pm

Re: Moving Boston to Atlanta

Postby IMP » Thu May 06, 2004 6:31 pm

he asked to be my last estimator so he can best compete with the other folks. Any comments / insight about this?
I am o.k. with this under two circumstances.

#1 - His being last in is not a stall tactic in that all the other movers will not have date availability by the time he comes in and does his estimate; and

#2 - He does not ask you what the other people estimated, or ask to see their estimates.

Truly - when I give estimates I don't see any benefit to being first or last or in the middle - I do my job the same way regardless of what order I come in to do my job - and personally it does raise a flag in my own head - but that's just me.

The other thing that he mentioned was about large-mover quality. He said the NY Times rated Graebel, Atlas and United as the #1, #2 and #3 top movers based on their low complaints. And that Allied, North American and Mayflower are all of "suspect quality" nowdays because a New York company bought them and "fired all the folks with solid moving company expertise."


While I have a problem with any moving rep who categorically badmouths other movers out there - this is flat out WRONG. UniGroup Worldwide, Inc. owns both Mayflower and United - so this statement is false whether it came from his mouth or whether he read it in the New York Times. In either case - as a sales rep for Graebel he should know this and know that it's a false statement.

Does this representative hold CMC (Certified Moving Consultant) designation? If so, he has breached the ethics he is supposed to be upholding . . . . what does that tell you about how he will ensure your belongings are cared for??????

I do not work for any of the companies you mentioned either pro or con, so I am confident in making these statements (and hope I haven't breached my own ethics by pointing out the breach of others.)

Ken
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Re: Moving Boston to Atlanta

Postby Ken » Fri May 07, 2004 8:14 am

Grace,

I actually do work for a moving company in the Boston area, and can speak for all of the companies you mentioned with the exception of Duggan (nothing good or bad, don't know too much about them). Humboldt, McLaughlin, and Wakefield Allied are all reputable companies and are among the best representatives in the Greater Boston area for their respective van lines.

It certainly does sound like you're on the right track. Please let us know once you've received some estimates.

Diane
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Re: Moving Boston to Atlanta

Postby Diane » Fri May 07, 2004 10:32 am

Grace,

Note that Ken didn't include Graebel in his list, which probably means something.

Ken,

In the interest of full disclosure, do you work for any of the three companies that you mentioned (Humboldt, McLaughlin, Wakefield Allied)? It's OK if you do, but we would just like to know.

Grace

Re: Moving Boston to Atlanta

Postby Grace » Fri May 07, 2004 2:35 pm

Diane, I did notice that Ken didn't include Graebel/New England Movers, nor did he mention North American/Sterling Corp. And I took note.

About the Graebel guy wanting to be my last estimator, he isn't delaying my decision. All of my estimates are occurring within a one-week span. His will be my third on this Wednesday, and final of the five companies. However, he does want to see (or know) the other estimates so he can bid against them. The advice in this forum has been to leave prior estimates out where the latest estimator can see them. So is the Graebel guy's request out of line or no?

By the way, I've been pleased with the Graebel/New England rep on the phone (with the possible exception of his negative comments about some of the other moving companies). He was very honest with me initially in saying that they're booked back to May 16. So when I spoke to him the first time we agreed that he couldn't help me with my late May move. At that time he did speak highly of United/Humboldt and recommended I try them. (I had already set them up for estimate.)

Meanwhile, I read a fairly positive review of Graebel on this site, and a friend told me that his major corporation uses Graebel for corporate employee moves. And Grabel/New England is the only company who has been so busy that they couldn't squeeze me in at the end of May. That made me think that possibly they're very busy because they're very good. So I figured out a way to accommodate an early pick up and delivery in my move process. Then I called the Graebel guy back to set up an estimate.

I'm still very open as to which company I will choose. I've had a positive experience with the Atlas/Duggan rep. He came out last night, on the same day I called. Most of the reps have given me a 30-minute window, like 7pm to 7:30pm, regarding when to expect them. That seems reasonable given their schedules, unpredictability of estimate time frames, drive times, etc. But Atlas/Duggan gave me a specific time (7pm) and he was here right on the dot. He was well dressed and friendly and professional. He gave me the "Your rights.." pamphlet and a number of other helpful move pamphlets in an Atlas Van Lines folder.

He committed to email me the estimate today, which he did. He also called me (as committed) to let me know he'd sent the estimate. He's also mailing me a hardcopy. The estimate is binding GNTE $3,685 for 7,000 pounds of weight (63% discount). I pack everything using my own boxes and tape except my king bed mattresses. The valuation is $35,000 for $340. (I haven't assessed that yet.) The estimate form is very customer-friendly and clear (and legible of course since it's printed from email). I can pay via credit card in advance, or pay with cash/cash equivalent on delivery.

He said they weigh the truck both before and after loading, then refund me (about six weeks after move) a prorated amount if the load is less than 7,000 pounds. But no charge if load is greater then 7,000 pounds.

** How do I know if I can trust their weighing of the truck / load?? **

I asked him about the possibility of me using UPS or USPS for my extensive books and paper files. He said for me to calculate the price per pound and that would give me a rough estimate of how much I could get back by using an alternate shipper. So his estimate is 52.6 cents per pound. I can ship my books and paper files via USPS media mail for about 35 cents per pound. I'm strongly considering doing that. It will depend on which mover I eventually choose and how much they charge per pound.

I would like to consider alternate shipping for my clothes, linens, almost everything (except furniture, fragile items or electronics) that I can pack into boxes. (I'm taking my own PC and fragile items in my car but movers will take televisions, stereo, etc.) I'd have enough stuff to meet the minimum mover requirements. But if I'm reading their site correctly, USPS non-media rate seems higher than 52.6 cents a pound. And so does UPS, though I'm not sure I understand their rates fully yet.

** Does anyone have any solid info about comparative rates for UPS, USPS, FedEx or other alternate shipping for boxed household things? **

Thanks a bunch.

-Grace

BigLeeCalif
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Re: Moving Boston to Atlanta

Postby BigLeeCalif » Fri May 07, 2004 2:47 pm

Grace, I work for United and Mayflower, and I will affirm the statement that Unigroup Inc. is parent Corporation of Mayflower Transit LLC, and United Van Lines LLC...

I don't know specifically what happened in the New York market. Perhaps a company has bought some AGENTS of Mayflower, which would not be uncommon... In this tough economical time, smaller agents are finding that it is too difficult to compete in a large market, especially one that is infiltrated with scammers.

Ken's decision not to mention a couple of movers might have no meaning, or it could mean that he has no knowledge of those particular companies in your area.

Unfortunately, this is the time of year that competition is the fiercest, and you are going to hear somethin akin to politics in some areas. Rather than sales people touting their own capabilities, there will be those who choose to belittle the reputation of competitors. Remember, that good sales people might comment that another salesperson's estimate seems out of line with what they see, but they (generally) won't come out and flatly start with "he blew that one".
"It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt" Mark Twain

23
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Re: Moving Boston to Atlanta

Postby 23 » Fri May 07, 2004 2:52 pm

And Grabel/New England is the only company who has been so busy that they couldn't squeeze me in at the end of May.


It is much easier to keep 100 drivers busy and booked up than it is to keep 500 drivers busy and booked up.

That shouldn't be a decision factor due the fact the Graebel is a much smaller major than most other companies.

However, he does want to see (or know) the other estimates so he can bid against them.


What he wants is to see the other estimated weights to make sure he hasn't overestimated and also see what other discounts you are getting. Not necessarily bad, but I can assure you if all the other movers were to give you a 51% discount, he would probably go with a 52% when he knows damn well you should be getting at least a 60% discount.

If it were me, I would make him print his estimate first, then open the other estimates for discussion.

Diane
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Re: Moving Boston to Atlanta

Postby Diane » Fri May 07, 2004 2:59 pm

Grace,

Tyrone knows a lot about UPS and he can answer best on that topic.

My impression is that in the past, Graebel has done HHG moves mainly in association with corporate accounts. They're booking a lot of COD moves now, but they're not really built for that. The Graebel offices are not franchises; they're all controlled out of Denver; and my impression is that there are far, far fewer of them than there are United agents, for example. I believe that there are only four Graebel offices in all of California. So if they're heavily booked, it may just mean that they have booked more corporate moves rather than household moves and that their capacity is smaller than that of other major van lines. In other words, I agree with what 23 just posted.

I personally am troubled by the fact that the Graebel rep badmouthed other companies and especially that he implied that United and Mayflower were under different ownership. That is so clearly wrong that to me it throws his competence into question. I'm also not convinced that there is any NY Times article like the one he described. You do have to be careful not to choose a company just because of an agent's charming manner.

The professionalism of the Duggan rep sounds good to me.

sdhughes
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Re: Moving Boston to Atlanta

Postby sdhughes » Fri May 07, 2004 4:53 pm

Thanks folks. Very useful info and insights.

** If anyone knows, please do tell me how I can trust or verify the truck / load weighing process. **

For instance, is it reasonable for me to request to watch the truck being weighed before and after loading? Even if reasonable, I see lots of challenges with that. For instance, the inconvenience of going to the truck weighing place twice, not having a clue about what I'd be watching and whether they're doing it correctly, whether they're actually weighing the truck that'll be used for my move, etc, etc.

On the other hand, I don't know any other option. I know I'll get a ballpark correct weight from comparing all five estimates. But I also know from others' postings that weight estimates can vary widely. If an estimate is 1,000 pounds high, at 52 cents per pound, that's $520 too much. What incentive would the moving company have to contact me and say"Congratulations! Your load was 500 pounds light and we're sending you a check for $520." ??

This question is especially applicable if I want to ship a bunch of books, papers, clothes and stuff via USPS or other shipper. If I go to all the trouble to save 17 cents per pound (52-35) by carrying 1,000 pounds of boxes to the post office, then I want to get the $170 savings. But if I pay USPS $350 and then the moving company doesn't credit me the $520 for 1,000 pound lighter load, then I'd actually be PAYING $350 for the privilege of all that personal trouble of getting all those boxes to the post office.

I hesitate to ask subsequent movers to exclude books and papers and stuff from their estimates, because I haven't made a firm decision about using alternate shippers. When I asked the Atlas/Duggan guy to give me two estimates (one with books, papers and stuff, and one without), he declined, saying he'd give me the whole estimate and I could calculate the reduced cost on a prorated, per pound basis. That puts me right back to the question of whether a mover would weigh me in at less than the GNTE and really give me a refund.

Thanks!

-Grace

Tyrone
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Re: Moving Boston to Atlanta

Postby Tyrone » Fri May 07, 2004 5:06 pm

You have the federal right to request and witness a free re-weigh for any reason or no reason at all. Use it -- that's what it's there for.

Is the hassle of making two trips to a certified weight scale (which are everywhere) worth saving yourself hundreds or thousands in charges?

This topic has been discussed several times. Use the search function to find many essential tips for preventing "weight bumping" and other fraud related to weight.

You can start by reading this thread. (The weight bumping discussion starts about halfway down the page.)
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