Chicago to London move

A forum for questions and helpful information and advice about international moves and moving companies.
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Location: London, UK

Re: Chicago to London move

Postby lettezilla » Tue Jun 14, 2011 8:35 am

Noone wrote:Keep in mind that we need to wait for quotes from overseas agents (especially for more remote locations - meaning someplace we don't ship multiple times monthly), as well as ocean freight.

The only way I can get a quote out in 24 hours is if I already have the rates for origin, ocean, and destination before the survey is done. Not always practical.

See, I think that 2-3 days sounds totally reasonable, I just was surprised when 2 of the big companies had much longer delays, especially when I phoned one and said "it would be great if you can get this out to us as we want to make a decision this week" and it still wasn't there a full week after that!

My husband finally phoned them yesterday and they sent it right away. Sigh. Oh well, at least it wasn't even a tempting option, it was thousands more than the rest of them and didn't include any destination port fees, etc. That plus the lack of responsiveness meant that I put them on the "NO" pile right away...

LilaUK, hope you aren't finding it too stressful! We've made our minds up that we're making the decision this week, since we have 2 OK quotes at this stage, just need to follow up with some others to get a bit more info.

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Location: London, UK

Re: Chicago to London move

Postby lettezilla » Sun Jul 10, 2011 4:26 am

Hi all,

We ended up deciding to go with Suddath International, their price was pretty reasonable and they were the most responsive to our questions. I'll post all the detailed quote info soon but am currently away from home so don't have the info in front of me.

I've been reading through the terms and conditions of the insurance
for our move, and I have a couple of questions about them. I tried to get clarification, but our move coordinator is on vacation at the moment, and the person that was trying to help wasn't very clear.

The first question is about this sentence:

"Shipments on deck of ocean vessel subject to an "On Deck" Bill of
Lading are warranted free of particular average unless caused by the
stranding, sinking, burning or collision of the vessel; but to pay the
valuation coverage value of any merchandise and good jettisoned or
washed overboard."

I remember when we did an international move before we needed separate
marine insurance to cover ships sinking etc, so I'm trying to understand if we'll be needing it again - unfortunately, I can't understand this sentence at all! Does it mean we need additional marine insurance, or something else entirely?

The other question is about this sentence:

"12 Loss, damage or expense caused by insufficiency or unsuitability
of packaging or preparation of goods for shipment (for purposes of
this Clause "packing" shall be deemed to include storage of a shipping
container or lift van)."

This might or might not be under "exclusions" (the formatting of the document is pretty strange and numbers don't run in order) - if it is an exclusion, it reads as if it is saying that anything damaged because it's packed badly wouldn't be covered by insurance. Since I understood that "packed by owner" is a major exclusion for insurance, it seemed strange that "packed by professionals" might be as well.

Basically, we want to make sure that we have insurance that will cover any loss or damage to our stuff along the way, and these exclusions are making us pretty nervous...

Thanks in advance for any clarification that anyone can offer!

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Re: Chicago to London move

Postby Noone » Sun Jul 10, 2011 7:05 am

You need to verify this with Suddath's or the insurance company (or both) directly, however:

This is a pretty standard clause, which "limits the liability of an insurance company to only those losses that exceed a specified percentage of the value of the goods" in the event of a major catastrophe (burning, sinking, stranding, or collission of the ship). In short, it's like a deductible in the event something horrible happens. You can ask them what the percent is, and I'm sure they would need to check with the insurance company.

The second clause seems rather strange, unless it refers to owner-packed goods, or goods which require a crate and you choose not to have the crated.

I would definately want a more solid explanation on this, in writing.

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Location: United States

Re: Chicago to London move

Postby caitlin » Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:56 pm

Lettezilla, I would love to hear how your move went. We are about to move from Wisconsin to the Cotswolds (so our shipment will probably go via Chicago and London) and I am on the verge of signing a contract with Suddath International. Did you have a good experience? Thanks in advance!

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Re: Chicago to London move

Postby rydog444 » Wed Oct 05, 2011 9:18 am

Hi Caitlin,

If I were you, I would send lettezilla a private message as there is very little chance of her navigating these boards at this time. Alot of people have their setting set so that if they get a PM, they receive a notification email.

That said, I think Suddath is a good choice for an international move. My company moves our corporate clients from Chicago to London ALL THE TIME. Our top rated Chicago mover is Baillie Moving (Atlas Van Lines). If you are looking to get additional quotes, they would be my recommendation.

The President of their company, Chris Baillie, is an active member of this board under the name chrisatlas. They were already a top supplier for my company prior to me joining the company.
My job is to give the best domestic and international moving services to my corporate clients by using the best movers in the world, regardless of vanline affiliation.

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Location: London, UK

Re: Chicago to London move

Postby lettezilla » Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:56 am

Hi Caitlin, coincidence of timing, I just wrote up a really long (sorry) moving report that I hope will be helpful to you in making your decision.

And for anyone with questions, please do feel free to PM me with any questions, I get emailed when that happens, and am happy to answer wherever possible.

Bottom line for anyone who doesn't want to read through all of this, I do not recommend Suddath. We don't have our stuff yet, and are 'negotiating' (when they can bother to return our calls or emails) over some final charges added on after a final bill, which was the last straw in a pretty stressful and unpleasant move.

I’d like to post an update on our moving experience with Suddath. Just for reference, our items were collected on July 16 by McCollister’s, the local agent. Their team was on time, very professional, and very quick. As we don’t have our goods yet we don’t know whether anything was damaged or broken, but it seemed like they were doing a good job and I would certainly recommend them to others in Chicago.

We picked Suddath because they have a good reputation here and Michael Renzella was extremely helpful, knowledgeable and patient. He answered all of our questions quickly and really seemed experienced with this kind of move. Of course, once the contract is signed, you’re then working with other people, which I guess is one of the challenges of selecting a company based on their sales staff.

Problems with Suddath began before the pickup. I know many people just sign insurance documents without reading all the fine print, but we don’t. Unfortunately, the insurance document that was sent was incomprehensible-- it appeared to be stitched up from multiple other contracts (as could been seen in the repeated numbering), and was a hard to read photocopy with some text missing.

When we sent our moving coordinator specific questions about this document in an effort to make some sense of it, we received irrelevant replies that did not address the questions. We pointed this out, and received further incorrect replies, before we were finally able to speak to someone who was actually familiar with the document that had been sent out. Which took almost two weeks of international calls and emails.

Despite having raised these points two weeks before the move, we still had problems with the insurance, which weren’t actually resolved until we were finally able to reach our move coordinator after repeated calls (within normal business hours) and emails on the morning of the move. This was really stressful, to be honest, and totally unnecessary since it would have been answered with one single returned call on the day before.

When we signed the contract, we were told (in writing, on email) that "our next Groupage should be leaving end of July which would put your delivery around the 1st to 2nd week of September." Anecdotally, we were told this was a common shipment line and usually took 6 weeks or so.

The signed contract had an estimate of 5-11 weeks. On August 4th, our moving coordinator told us that: "your goods are scheduled to sail on Aug. 21st 2011 and are estimated to arrive on Sept. 5th 2011." So we lost a month from the original quote, but figured it was fair enough, that would have worked perfectly for us.

We emailed our move coordinator on August 30th to check that the ship was still scheduled to dock on the 5th. We had communicated several times by email between the 21st and the 30th, and she had not mentioned any difficulties. On the 31st she replied saying that: "The steamship line advised that the manifest was over-logged and that this shipment would not make it on that vessel. " (AKA—“your stuff missed the boat”)

When we spoke to her by phone it transpired that she had only discovered this because we had pressed the point; I was left with the impression that had I not contacted her we would not have found this out for another week or more. Also at this point, she mentioned that she was changing departments soon and was handing us over to her supervisor. As we were literally flying to the UK that day, we really wanted to speak to this person just to check in. We called a number of times and never once got a call back, which was pretty unbelievable.

He did email once during the day to say: "I am very sorry you were not notified about the vessel scheduled in time and rest assure that we are working together with the steamship line to secure room in the next vessel available. We estimated the transit time to be between 5 to 11 weeks and we did not guarantee the transit time as we are subject to change to the steamship line discretion."

They didn’t manage to get us onto another boat until September 18, 4 weeks after the original sailing. And the supervisor couldn’t bother to phone us back once to answer our questions.

Now we’re in the fun situation of dealing with final charges. After our items were collected, we emailed the move coordinator when we would know the final charges would be. On July 21st, she replied saying: "We are just waiting for the UK agent to re-confirm her final charges and we will let you know as soon as we have that." On July 26th, she sent an email "I have looked over your final paperwork and I have the final charges for you on your shipment. "

So, at this point she had re-confirmed the final charges with the UK agent, looked at our final paperwork and given us the final charges. She confirmed on the phone on August 31st that these were our final charges. Nowhere in any of these emails is there any mention of any exclusions or further charges; neither is there any itemization of charges that would have made it possible for me to deduce that there were any errors in her calculations.

And now the local agent is asking for £50 because we’re on the 3rd floor. I don’t blame the local agent at all, this is perfectly normal and they had nothing to do with this. What I resent is that our move coordinator was supposed to have figured out all the final charges from the local agent, and indeed assured us that it was the absolute final bill unless something went wrong at Customs and items needed to be stored there for an unusually long time. We paid the bill immediately without question, even though it wasn’t written up or itimized at all. And now they want more money, which seems like classic fly-by-night mover behaviour, which wasn’t what I expected from a name brand like Suddath.

I have to say that I have been overall very disappointed with Suddath. They were pretty much dead in the middle on costs, and we picked them based on positive reviews here and so basically so we didn’t have to spend a ton of time worrying and chasing things up ourselves. Instead, we really have had to do a lot of work that shouldn’t have been required. It totally blows my mind that our ‘dedicated moving coordinator’ literally didn’t know our stuff had missed the boat until we explicitly asked about it a week after it was supposed to have sailed. She wasn’t helpful at all and caused a lot of stress because she didn’t return calls or emails, and didn’t understand a lot of things.

The most frustrating thing was the lack of communication. We would have to email or phone repeatedly to get even a simple answer. We both work full time, so this was a burden neither of us really needed. A pretty large percentage of the time, when we did get an answer, it was incorrect or referring to someone else’s move. Even when we elevated it from our move coordinator to her supervisor, it was just as bad if not worse. It doesn’t take a lot of time to return a phone call, and it would have saved us a ton of anxiety.

Maybe it was just bad luck that we got a dud coordinator, since I get the sense she’s been moved along to a different area. However, at the moment, I do not think that Suddath should be a MovingScam recommended international mover. They did not meet our expectations, they did not offer good customer service, and we still don’t have our stuff and it’s now October. I’ve moved a lot over the last five years, and this site has been an absolute godsend. I’ve had 3 really good cross-country or international moves in that period, and this has been a really stressful process. I wouldn’t recommend Suddath to a friend, and I wouldn’t recommend them here.

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Re: Chicago to London move

Postby lettezilla » Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:42 am

I just wanted to follow up as we now have our stuff!

Abels was our local agent in the UK. They have been really great since we were handed over to them. Their coordinator let us know what was happening with timing, when the ship arrived, when it cleared customs, and arranged a time for delivery soon after clearing customs. I believe they had an agent look around our street to make sure the truck would fit, after we had a problem with a delivery from Ikea. There were only 2 guys, but they were friendly and efficient and the whole thing only took 3 hours or so including a full unpack. I would definitely work with them again, and it was a relief that of everything we shipped, only one box of books was crushed with some of the books inside damaged.

Here are the final numbers, as far as I can tell.
The actual weight came to be 1,740 lbs., which was a little more than estimated. This was a small one-bedroom apartment's worth of stuff, which apparently pretty easily fit into two lift-vans.

The total cost for your shipment is: $ 3,995.00
The total cost for your insurance is: $ 1,433.31
Equaling a total cost of: $ 5,428.31 USD

Plus a £50 fee at the last minute.

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Location: London, UK

Re: Chicago to London move

Postby lettezilla » Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:51 am

Sorry for double posting, but I wanted to separate out my thoughts about Abels from the Suddath followup.

I just wanted to clarify a few things about my long review. Things go wrong in moves, it's almost unavoidable. I know that, and we planned for it (and it was nice that we had thought so carefully about what to bring in our luggage, since we were able to live an OK life for the last 13 weeks).

For example, it wasn't that our items repeatedly missed the promised ship dates that I want to complain about, it's the way that Suddath handled that situation. When that happens, you get stressed. You want reassurance that someone there actually is paying attention to your stuff at least minimally, and is going to make sure it happens next time. But we couldn't even get someone on the phone or to return an email! When we finally got an email a day later, it was defensive and abrupt, not reassuring at all. The fact that we spent ages listening to the hold message at Suddath, which went on about 'we know moving is a stressful time, and do everything we can to help make your move stress free!' seemed to only add insult to injury.

Yes, we got our stuff and it didn't fall off the boat or get lost. But those are the minimums I would expect from a 'full-service international relocation specialist,' and I don't feel like we got a lot more from Suddath.

If one single person had reached out to us and just said 'Look, I understand you had a hard time communicating with your coordinator. I'm going to look out for your shipment, will send you an email when it sails, and you can phone with any questions,' it would have gone a long way. Instead, it's felt a lot like as soon as they got our money, they wanted us to leave them alone with our silly worries and questions, and let them do things in their own time in their own way, even if that wasn't what was in the contract we signed.

So, yeah, the bottom line is that I would recommend both of the local agents we worked with-- McCollisters in Chicago and Abels in London, but wouldn't recommend Suddath.

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Re: Chicago to London move

Postby Noone » Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:23 pm

Thank you for coming back and posting. Can it be summed it up like this:

Suddath's was much more responsive during the sales process then during the move itself.

There was a 50 GBP charge for going to the third floor, which wasn't included at the time the "final bill" was sent.

Did Suddath's know the final address when they sent the final bill?

The shipment took 13 weeks, instead of the 5-11 on the pricing (and the average 6 weeks you were told).

All of the goods arrived in good condition, except for 1 box of books. (Is it worth it to file a claim? If so, are they responsive in the insurance process?

So the bottom line is that I would recommend both of the local agents we worked with-- McCollisters in Chicago and Abels in London, but wouldn't recommend Suddath.

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Re: Chicago to London move

Postby lettezilla » Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:42 am

Hi Noone, that's fairly accurate. They did know the final address when they sent the bill, so not really any excuse for it. That was just the straw that broke the camel's back in terms of being frustrated with them.

The difference between responsiveness during sales and actual move was like completely different companies. I've very rarely experienced such terrible customer service, which is especially bad in an industry that is at least slightly focused on customer service and acknowledges that it's a stressful and emotional time.

We're going to look into whether it's worth pursuing the insurance. It feels like we need to try, since it's several hundred dollars worth of damage. But just imagining dealing with them again on anything feels a bit like going back to start bashing my head against a brick wall again!

And yes, I was pleased with the local agents at both ends.

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Re: Chicago to London move

Postby Noone » Sat Oct 15, 2011 3:56 pm

I think it makes sense to file a claim if the damages warrant it.

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