Local Move from Austin to San Antonio, TX

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Repatriated Texan2
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Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2008 9:06 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Local Move from Austin to San Antonio, TX

Postby Repatriated Texan2 » Fri Aug 15, 2008 2:12 am

I used movingscam.com for research purposes a few years ago when I moved from Brooklyn to Austin. I think I even posted once or twice under the name Repatriated Texan. At the end of this month, I’ll be moving again—from Austin to San Antonio. Since I didn’t find much in the way of specific, first-hand reports of people’s experiences with movers in central Texas, I thought I’d share my own. I hope no one minds that I’m posting a long, detailed report. That’s what’s helpful to me when I’m making major decisions about movers.

Right away I’ll share that this isn’t my first move. It won’t be my last. When I contact a mover, I’ve already done the research, and I know what I want. How hard is it to just tell me what your company will charge for the services that interest me? It must be pretty hard because two of the estimators acted like used-car salesmen. After consulting a few threads on this board, I contacted three local companies for estimates: Ace Worldwide (Atlas), Roger Ward (North American), and Austin Van & Storage (Paul Arpin). All three sent representatives to the house who surveyed the place and provided guaranteed-not-to-exceed estimates. I asked for an estimate for fragile-packing only and for not packing anything at all, which two of them provided. I also asked them to estimate the cost of moving my goods with replacement valuation of $100,000 and zero deductible. The distance between Austin and San Antonio is about 75 miles.

Chip Wright, of Ace Worldwide, didn’t show up on our first scheduled time because of car trouble. Late on a Friday afternoon. When he showed up for a 6 P.M. appointment on the day we’d rescheduled, he played the part of the better-than-the-competition salesman who wanted to warn me about what could go wrong—with every other company. He implied things like, “They shouldn’t have told you that,” or “you can’t trust so-and-so.” Unfortunately, it also took three tries before he would give me an estimate for the move plus replacement valuation with zero deductible. I’ve moved so many times that I feel like I’ve heard everything from employees of moving companies Well, I heard a new one from Chip. He told me that “the trend in moving is to get away from zero deductible.” Besides, they had so few claims filed against them, it really wasn’t worth it for me to pay extra. Oh, really?!? How convenient. After receiving his first estimate, I followed up reiterating my request for one with zero deductible. He sent me a second one that looked right. But then I noticed that even though the “no deductible” box had been checked off on the first page, the explanation of charges on the second page indicated that the dollar amount on page one was based on a $250 deductible. In other words, he took a second attempt to sneak through the $250 deductible. On the third try, Chip eventually provided me with the information that I wanted. However, if I hadn’t read carefully and insisted he cough up the right numbers, I would have been maneuvered into a deal that I didn’t want. Chip emphasized how long he’s been in the business, which might have been reassuring under different circumstances. Instead, his deceptive, self-serving style totally put me off. Who knows what else Ace would have tried to pull if they can’t even be trusted to provide a straightforward estimate? Although his final number came in as the lowest, he also was operating under the unique advantage of being told, before providing the first estimate, what the weight had been on my last move. (Three years ago, I paid for 8200 pounds worth of goods to be moved from Brooklyn to Austin.) Chip’s estimate was $3232.44 for 9060 pounds. I believe the amount Ace charged for replacement valuation—even after they finally coughed up the amount based on no deductible—was almost half of what anyone else charged. However, packing charges were slightly higher.

Paul Noel, of Roger Ward, was the salesman who acted like my new best friend. He was going to tell me how to save money. He tried to make things fun. He had a great spiel about Roger Ward and how well trained their employees are. Unfortunately, he estimated the weight of my load to be about 12,500+ pounds on his first guess. This wasn’t his official estimate; this just occurred as we were “chatting” about his numbers. I flat-out told him that I found that statement to be highly unlikely, since I’d paid for 8200 pounds worth of household goods on my last move. While a few more things have been acquired, just as many had been sold or given away. I’d understand if I had up to 1000 more pounds, give or take a bit. But I sure don’t believe that I have 4000 pounds more. He made some changes on his hand-held auto-estimator and eventually gave me an estimate for 9895 pounds at a cost of $3744.22. Because of Paul’s over-estimation of my goods, I almost immediately eliminated Roger Ward from consideration, but I know that the company has a good reputation. And Paul had given me the estimate I wanted without the usual song-and-dance. So I had lingering doubts about not going with them. Those doubts immediately evaporated once Paul called me back to ask if I’d made a decision. (He was the only one to do so.) Yes, I said, I’ve decided to go with someone else. Paul’s friendly-salesman act immediately hardened into something more befitting a resentful ex-spouse. Why? Well, your estimate was, by far, the highest out of all of them. Who did you go with? Are they a major moving company? That doesn’t make a difference, I said, meaning that it was none of his business and that I was ready to get off the phone. He thought I meant that I didn’t think there was any difference between major and fly-by-night moving companies. Oh, there is a difference, he said as though I was, sadly, but deservedly, about to get what was coming to me. I said the only reasonable thing one can say to get out of such a ridiculous conversation: I’ve done my research and am confident of my choice. Goodbye. Seeming to be a nice guy while getting basic things wrong is not the key to getting this customer.

Compared to the other two, Dave Cook, of Austin Van & Storage, was much more low-key. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I would think he didn’t even want my business. Unlike with Chip, I had no problems scheduling an appointment with Dave. He called to tell me he was on his way; he showed up on time; he was very professional. When he got here, he pretty much just got down to the business of trying to figure out how much everything weighed. Then again, I was on hold on the phone. Dave asked a few questions as necessary. When I ran through my long checklist of questions that I now ask every potential mover, he answered them thoroughly. He emailed the estimate the same day that he visited—and for the exact services that I requested. Dave estimated that I had 9600 pounds and the cost to move would be no higher than $3624.55 if they did the fragile packing, or $3160.42 if we did it all. [If we end up pack it all ourselves, Dave said he would be happy to use the lower number. I just would need to let him know beforehand.] I haven’t read any specific online reports about Austin Van & Storage, but they have been in the business as long as anyone else. Dave informed me that hey have an office in San Antonio, too, which would serve as a back-up on the off chance that they found themselves short-handed on the delivery day. Overall, they appear to have a solid reputation in central Texas.

You must have figured out from my long report that I went with Dave Cook because he did not seem like a used-car salesman. And his estimate landed right in the middle. If my stuff weighs less, as I think it does, then I’ll end up paying about the same to Austin Van & Storage as I would have paid to Ace Worldwide. Plus, I think Dave Cook reminds me the most of the wonderful Chris Blank at Dahill in greater NYC. Talk about your straight-shooters. More moving companies should realize how much of a bad impression can be made by their employees on the phone or in person. At that point, they are essentially salesmen. Of course, decisions are also made based on the companies’ reputation for hiring experienced drivers and movers as well as for paying off any claims in a timely fashion. There’s usually not much info available about the drivers and movers; even if there is, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be assigned a “good” team. I try to pick reputable companies to increase my odds of getting the run-around should a claim be necessary. All things being more or less equal, my experience with the estimator can make or break a deal.

Now that I’ve shared my long saga, I have two questions for the experts on this board. Dave sent me a revised BNTE that had the delivery address and the pick-up and delivery dates listed under “preferred dates” in the agreed pick-up period area. When I asked about signing a contract, he said that they don’t usually do a signed contract, since the estimate stands in for one and the move is short enough for our goods to stay in their system (rather than get assigned to a random line driver and end up who knows where, etc.) Should I ask for a signed contract anyway? The second question is: How do I ensure that I will be present when my goods are weighed? As I said, I think the final weight will come in under 9600 pounds, so I have a vested interest in making sure the weigh-in is strictly according to Hoyle. I emailed Dave that I wanted to be present. He has not responded. Is there anything else I need to do?

If there’s anything else that I need to consider, please share your thoughts. Thanks again to this board for all your help over the past few years. I promise to do a follow-up report on my Brooklyn-to-Austin move with Dahill/Mayflower. Quick overview: There were a few minor issues with one packer who broke something and then acted mad at me and two movers who were trying to hustle me for tips (including the hostile guy who broke my stuff the previous day!). My goods ended up staying in their warehouse for a week because of a delay with the truck and line driver; at some point, some clothes packed in wardrobe boxes were ruined from what appears to have been caused by the box sitting in standing water. On the Austin end, the driver Ramiro (Ram) Garcia was an incompetent nightmare who jerked us around for an extra day, even after our delivery day had been revised to one week later. The driver did not have enough help; he ended up parking two miles away and using a shuttle. (We were charged extra for this, of course, which we paid to the destination agent—who forgot to file the paperwork with Mayflower, which delayed our claims). The result of the shortage of manpower was that Ram made several trips back and forth from his truck and single-handedly tossed all our stuff into the shuttle, resulting in a lot of breaks, scratches, and similar damage. Mayflower did end up paying us for delayed delivery (which seems like a good reason to have a signed contract with specific delivery dates), dry cleaning and then replacement cost for the ruined clothes, and replacement or repair of all damage that we claimed. We were satisfied with the result of the claim process. I’d like to make sure to commend the Dahill office in Brooklyn for all their help as we filled out damage claims and then for their work in pushing the claims through the system. They were as fully committed to our satisfaction as others on this board have reported. The adjusters on the Mayflower end were decidedly less helpful. The driver (Ramiro Garcia) and possibly even the destination agent (Shapkoff Moving Services, out of Killeen, Texas) should probably be totally avoided.

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Re: Local Move from Austin to San Antonio, TX

Postby Diane » Fri Aug 15, 2008 5:58 am

Thanks for your lengthy, if disappointing, report. I'll let more knowledgeable people comment on your questions.

Unfortunately, people can't avoid a particular driver. Drivers are assigned by van line dispatchers.

Here is one of your prior threads - http://www.movingscam.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7699 You noted there that with regard to your move from Brooklyn to Austin in August 2005, Dahill was the only good part of the move. I responded at the time that Dahill doesn't haul anything farther than 500 miles except on the Eastern Seaboard (e.g. to Florida), and once a shipment goes into the van line system, the agent loses almost all control of it. That's why MovingScam.com has hesitated to endorse any van line agent. With the best will in the world, the agent can't do anything for the customer if things go awry down the line.
Check out domestic companies on this thread. Click here for a detailed, authoritative article on international moving.

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Re: Local Move from Austin to San Antonio, TX

Postby PMueller » Fri Aug 15, 2008 6:56 am

I believe Dave is indicating that this will be a self hauled shipment performed by his company and driver. I know TX is far more regulated than my state so I'm not an expert in that area. However, I would never ask a customer to sign an order for service without the dates complete on it, unless they were signing to secure our services and they themselves had not settled on dates yet which means they are moving with me, but the shipment is in will advise status, waiting on customer.

It certainly seems you have dates you want services performed on and he has indicated your preferred dates but he has not committed his company to provide services on any specific dates. You need to get that commitment from him. They may not be your exact preferred dates but should be very close to them, a realistic compromise between you and the company, i.e. Pack: 8/25/08 Load: 8/26/08 Deliver 8/27-28/08. However with your move being so close (approx. 80 miles) and over 8000 pounds I would think they could guarantee a one day delivery of 8/27/08 if you requested it.
"Amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they can't get it wrong."

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Re: Local Move from Austin to San Antonio, TX

Postby Rick » Fri Aug 15, 2008 9:50 am

Last edited by Rick on Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

Repatriated Texan2
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2008 9:06 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Local Move from Austin to San Antonio, TX

Postby Repatriated Texan2 » Fri Aug 15, 2008 8:37 pm

Thanks for all the helpful feedback, everyone. This board has been so useful to me. I'm happy to be able to do my part.

PMueller, thanks for your advice on nailing down a specific window. I have emailed Dave Cook to ask that we fill in exact dates in the proposal for services/BNTE that he provided. 8/28 is listed as the packing date and the preferred pick-up date (with 8/29 the preferred delivery date), but I'd like an earliest and latest date to be filled in for both pick-up and delivery. I've made a note to myself to follow up with Dave on Monday. We need everything packed up and out of the house in Austin by Friday, August 29, but otherwise there’s room for compromise.

Rick, thanks for your kind words and your great tips. Texas has such a wild-west mentality in many ways. Who knew that in-state moves were so well regulated? If I read the TX-DOT website correctly, the dates and figures from the proposal for services will become part of our contractual agreement along with the signed bill of lading, work ticket, or work receipt. It would seem, then, that I don't need a separate signed contract in advance. But it is in my interests to nail down the pick-up and delivery window in writing on that proposal. I've also made a note to call the office the day before the move to find out when and where I should meet the driver for the weigh-in.

It's good to know that I can follow up here should I have any additional questions. Even if I don’t, I will certainly report back in September—on what I hope will be a positive moving experience.

Thanks again!

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