moving from VA to Santa Clara, CA - how are these movers?

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suzie
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2005 6:12 pm

moving from VA to Santa Clara, CA - how are these movers?

Postby suzie » Tue Sep 06, 2005 6:52 pm

Hello.

I've been researching movers and have contacted some of them already. This site has been an invaluable resource. However, I haven't found information on a couple of them.

So far I've contacted:

Hilldrup - DOT#077949
Von Paris
Quality Services Moving - DOT#819924
Safeway Van Lines - DOT #972145

I got Hildrup and Von Paris from this message board - I'm sort of treating them as control comparisons.

However, I haven't found any information on Quality Services Moving.

Quality Services Moving gave me a pretty good estimate quote on the phone, and will be coming to do an on-site. So far, their quote is similar to Hildrup. But I've been searching for comments on them from this message board but haven't found any. Has anyone ever heard of them?

As for Safeway Van Lines -- this is the one from Landover MD, not the one in the blacklist. Anyhow, there seems to be a lot of complaints about them here, but when I click on the links pertaining to the complaints, the documents don't come up. Also, the last comment post that I found on them was from 2003. Does anyone have any current information on them? Also, what were the complaints about?

Safeway gave me competitive rates. The rate for shipping my car was the same as for everyone else, but their rate for shipping my household items was about $1K less than the other two. Also, they were the only one who gave me a "per lbs." rate (65 cents per pound). Is this a valid way of doing an estimate?

Thank you so much for all your help! Sorry for being so long-winded...

Suz

P.S. One other question -- Hildrup said they could put my car in with all my other stuff, but Quality and Safeway both suggest a separate car carrier company. Any advice on which way to ship my car?

Oh, and background info: I'm basically moving one bedroom, kitchen and a living/dining room to a second floor condo. I sent a list of my stuff to all the movers -- they all estimate it to be around 3,000 pounds (not including the car, of course).

Thanks again. Sz

MusicMom
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Location: DC Metro

Re: moving from VA to Santa Clara, CA - how are these movers

Postby MusicMom » Tue Sep 06, 2005 7:08 pm

Quality Services Moving is a Wheaton agent, on Backlick Rd in Springfield. A co-worker of mine used to load for them and said they were good guys. See how their estimate based on the walk-through compares. I would bet that Hilldrup and Von Paris are pretty similar.

Safeway has complaints, I'd suggest dropping them.
http://badmovers.org/fom-serve/cache/236.html
http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/ripoff154073.htm
http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/ripoff102414.htm
They are Blacklisted at www.movingadvocateteam.com They've also been fined over $2160 by the FMCSA, in 2002, before they were licensed.

The "per pound" rate is actually how the big guys do it, too, only they give you the total rather than a "per pound" number. And given how gas prices are nowadays, low "per pound" rates will have to have a higher fuel surcharge to make a decent profit. Or they'll charge more for packing. Or some other way to get the total up.

Diane
Posts: 15824
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2003 12:18 am
Location: Los Angeles

Re: moving from VA to Santa Clara, CA - how are these movers

Postby Diane » Tue Sep 06, 2005 9:28 pm

suzie wrote:Safeway gave me competitive rates. The rate for shipping my car was the same as for everyone else, but their rate for shipping my household items was about $1K less than the other two. Also, they were the only one who gave me a "per lbs." rate (65 cents per pound). Is this a valid way of doing an estimate?

No, it isn't. A reputable agent of a major van line will never quote a move like this, but a scammer or dubious company will. It happened to me. Also, if you book an auto move with an outfit like Safeway you are really asking for trouble. Auto moves are subject to delay under the best of circumstances, so I can just imagine what kind of flaky bunch a company like Safeway would use.

MusicMom
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Location: DC Metro

Re: moving from VA to Santa Clara, CA - how are these movers

Postby MusicMom » Wed Sep 07, 2005 2:06 pm

Oh, I didn't see that a car was involved!

Safeway does not have the authority to transport vehicles, nor do they have a broker's license necesary to hire an auto carrier for you.

Rick
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Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2005 7:59 pm

Re: moving from VA to Santa Clara, CA - how are these movers

Postby Rick » Wed Sep 07, 2005 7:41 pm

Paxton Van Lines, an Atlas agent headquartered in Springfield, has been moving folks for over four decades and has a good reputation in the DC area. They have four offices nationwide.
www.paxton.com

Security Storage Company of Washington, another quality United Van Lines agent, as 7 offices around the Beltway. A lot of tenure at each of their branches.
http://www.sscw.com

Manassas Transfer, a Stevens Van Lines agent, based in .. yep.. Manassas. Like Quality Services, they are a smaller company with a good reputation among the both their government and commericial customers. Again, a lot very loyal employees.
http://www.manassastransfer.com/

Considering the amount of household goods you are moving, the vehicle will more than double your transporation expense if shipped inside the van. All three of these companies can arrange third party carrier service. which will reduce the cost of transporting the car by about 55%.

Good Luck!

suzie
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2005 6:12 pm

Re: moving from VA to Santa Clara, CA - how are these movers

Postby suzie » Wed Sep 07, 2005 11:33 pm

Hello Everyone,

Thank you for all the great advice! I'm definitely dropping Safeway. I called them and they wouldn't do an on-site for me.

Musicmom, you mentioned them needing to have a broker's license to sub-contract a carrier to ship my car. Is this a requirement? Because Quality Services said they'd have to contract my car out -- is the broker's license necessary to sub-contract?

Thanks again for all the help! :D

Suzie

Rick
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Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2005 7:59 pm

Re: moving from VA to Santa Clara, CA - how are these movers

Postby Rick » Thu Sep 08, 2005 4:33 am

Quality Services probably doesn't have a brokerage license but would arrange the vehicle transportation under Wheaton's Van Lines authority. Like most van lines, Wheaton has transportation agreements in place with a variety of reputable third party carriers. As far as I know, Wheaton doesn't have any of their own carrier capacity. Some Allied and United agents still do.

MusicMom
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Location: DC Metro

Re: moving from VA to Santa Clara, CA - how are these movers

Postby MusicMom » Thu Sep 08, 2005 8:06 am

What Rick said. :wink:

suze

Re: moving from VA to Santa Clara, CA - how are these movers

Postby suze » Sat Oct 22, 2005 6:43 pm

UPDATE

Hello Everyone!!

I finished my move yesterday!! And I am very happy with my whole experience. So, I would highly recommend Hilldrup Moving & Storage and United Van Lines.

Here's a rundown of what happened:

DURING THE ON-SITE:
The agent from Hilldrup came and looked at all the items I was going to ship. He was really nice and really efficient: everything was computerized - he had a PDA and he had a computerized list that he just clicked. It added up all my boxes, furniture... everything. Then he took out his little printer and printed out my estimate that had all of my items listed in it. His estimate was for 5,000 lbs. and he gave me a binding estimate for around $4,700.00 -- this included packing my paintings and bed. He also answered the list of 35+ questions that I asked him (that list is in one of the threads I posted). And from my experience, most of his answers were true.

Note: I went with Hilldrup because they gave me the best estimate. I got estimates from Quality Moving Services and Paxton as well. Paxton is just as well known and established as Hilldrup. But only Hilldrup gave me the bound estimate. Quality gave me a cap -- they wouldn't go over 10% more than the estimate, but their estimate was 1K more than Hilldrup. Paxton was 1K more also, but that was because they wanted to crate my paintings -- which I liked because they are so valuable, but I couldn't afford the extra cost. Also, Paxton's estimate wasn't binding. But the agent that came was very thorough, and they are worth looking into - especially if you have very valuable items to move.


AT PICKUP:
The day before my scheduled pickup, my move coordinator from Hilldrup, Crystal, called and let me know what time the driver and packers were coming and made sure that all my questions were answered and that everything was in order. She assured me that I could reach her at anytime if I had any concerns about my move. That evening, my driver, John, also called and told me that he would be at my house between 8am and 10am the next morning.

At 9am, the packers came (3 of them) and packed up my six paintings (the only things I was having packed). They finished at 10am and were very efficient. They packed my paintings well -- they were "high value" so I was worried about them. They used the mirror cartons, and they actually had a double layer of cardboard padding the painting -- all in all, well wrapped and all my paintings came through unscathed.

At 10am, the driver came. He called me earlier and told me he was going to be a little late -- which was understandable since this was the week when we had the non-stop rain in VA. My drivers were with United, but were from another United agent: Mohawk (they weren't wearing the Hilldrup uniforms the packers were wearing). But, they were still United so I was happy that my shipment wasn't outsourced to some other van line (they assured me it wouldn't).

So, my "movers" were my driver and his wife -- there were only two of them. In the beginning I was really worried because there were only 2 of them and one of them was a woman (note: please don't take this the wrong way, I'm a woman and even if I had help, I would have a hard time carrying my stuff down three curvy flights - I lived in a townhome - of stairs). I had a couch and a very heavy 6 foot long wooden bench (family heirloom, hand carved, *solid* wood -- I can't even lift one side of it without losing my breath) so I worried how they would get it up and down stairs (I was moving to a second story condo).

But, all my worries were for nought. They pulled off my move very well. They were efficient and careful, and they did it all with a smile too! They were extremely nice -- and they were nice *all throughout* the loading. Even when they had to flip my mattress box spring over the deck. It was a queen and couldn't fit around the bend in the stairs. The driver, John, was down below the deck (he set out flat cardboard boxes because the ground was wet -- oh, yes, it was raining: a slight drizzle, but still raining. And of course, the ground was wet from the continuous heavy rainstorms the five consecutive days before my move day). And his wife, Belinda, was on the deck, holding onto the boxspring and slowly lowering it down. I wanted to help them, but they wouldn't let me (I guess for safety/liability issues). But they did pull it off. The cloth on the bottom of the boxspring tore a bit because it got caught on a splinter in the wood as it was being slid down, but it was minimal, and didn't really matter since I have an encasing for it. And after this, they were still smiling and nice.

Basically, when they arrived, I took them around the house and showed them all my stuff. Word of advice: make sure you tell them what you want. For example, if you want them to wrap anything a particular way, or if a box needs to stand a certain way, tell them. Even if the box has a "this side up" sign on it. I had bright red and white fragile stickers on my boxes, but since I re-used boxes, they had lots of other writing on them so it was confusing what to follow. Also, they'll be so busy loading and carrying your stuff that sometimes they fail to notice these signs. So if you see them carrying a particularly important box, let them know how you want them to treat them. I also pointed out which labels they needed to pay attention to. As well, tell them about any important pieces of furtniture -- I pointed out my paintings and the carved wooden bench. I also had some rolled up foam that I wanted them to use to wrap the top of the bench (it had carved roses on it that were fragile). They wrapped it with my foam and with their furniture cloth. But the bottom line, let them know if something is important to you, and not just during the initial walktrhough. I saw them carrying the box with my laptop and I politely asked them to keep it on its side. They were sweaty and tired but still did it. Of course, I was lucky because I got really nice people for my move.

They finished loading me in less than five hours: they arrived at 10am and were finished by 2:30pm. And after signing the paperwork, they were on their way by 3pm.

DELIVERY DAY:
My delivery date was spread over three days, but I needed to know the exact date of my delivery because of a change in plans. My father was hospitalized 5 days before my pickup day, and I was supposed to leave for CA three days after my pickup so I could accept delivery. Instead, I wanted to delay my trip as late as I could so I could stay to make sure my Dad was okay (which he is, thank goodnes! :D ). I told my driver about my dilemma and he was kind enough to name the exact day of my delivery. He assured me that he would deliver on the 21st and not earlier. That was really nice of him, and something that I know they didn't have to do, but they were really understanding. Because of this, I was able to delay my flight until after my Dad came home from the hospital.

The day before my delivery, my drivers, John and Belinda, called and let me know they would arrive between 8:30am and 9:30am the next day - the 21st of October. The next morning they arrived at 8:45am. The parked the truck along the street side entrance to my condo complex and we walked through the two ways they could get to my unit. One way had two flights of stairs with a wide walkway, the other had one flight of stairs, but they had to go through the narrower pathway and over a small bridge (my complex has a duck pond). Both ways had a walk of about 350 feet. They didn't complain one bit (or if they did, they did it out of my hearing).

They were careful when the unloaded all of my furniture. All pieces of furniture was wrapped. They had to unwrap my bench at the bridge because the furniture trolley could not go on it, and they needed a better grip to bring it upstairs. They were careful the whole way. My bench came in perfectly (no scratches or damage) -- and it was wrapped in the foam I asked them to use. All my paintings were perfect. There was a small dent in two of the painting boxes, but they were packed so well that there was no damage when I unpacked it.

Word of advice: On your labels make sure to put which room the box should be put into. I labeled my boxes this way -- they were large and clear labels. After showing them where all the furniture went and where they could stack boxes, the move went smoothly. They just called out the inventory numbers and didn't have to ask me which room each box went into because they could read it onto the label. This helped a lot -- I had 102 boxes.

They finished unloading me in five hours: 9am - 2pm. And again, they were nice *throughout* the move. And most importantly, *all* of my items came in without any damage. Even my glass curio cabinet -- there's another story:

My curio cabinet has seven glass shelves (the cabinet is about the size of a grandfather clock). I asked Crystal, my move coordinator if the shelves needed to be packed along with the paintings. She said the driver would take care of it. When the driver came, they said it should've been packed, because they didn't have the necessary boxes or materials to wrap it. But, they made do: they wrapped the shelves in paper and furniture cloth and placed it in my dresser drawers. All seven glass shelves came through the move intact without a single chip, crack, or scratch.

As you can tell by now, I am really happy with my movers. But of course, not everything is perfect, because I did find myself wishing there was another person to help unload. But, the couple showed that they could do it, because they were able to do both the loading and unloading in five hours.

I would definitely recommend my drivers: John and Belinda. And Hilldrup and United -- my move coordinator Crystal was nice and she always made sure to get back to me and answer any and all of my questions -- no matter how tedious they got.

That's about it for my whole experience. I'll post another with a list of tips that I learned from my experience. This posting is getting a bit long.

MusicMom
Posts: 19323
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Location: DC Metro

Re: moving from VA to Santa Clara, CA - how are these movers

Postby MusicMom » Sat Oct 22, 2005 6:47 pm

Yay! Thanks for the update!

suzie
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2005 6:12 pm

Re: moving from VA to Santa Clara, CA - how are these movers

Postby suzie » Sat Oct 22, 2005 7:16 pm

Hello again -- the other post was quite long, so I thought I'd put this one here. Also, I didn't notice -- I forgot to log in before posting, so the UPDATE post above this one is mine - sorry.

TIPS AND OTHER THINGS I LEARNED FROM MY MOVE:

1) ASK: THERE IS NEVER A STUPID QUESTION: If a question pops in your head, ask or write it down to ask later, but make sure you ASK each and every question you have. Sometimes it brings out other important issues. Most of the time, its the questions that don't seem important that bring these issues to light. Anytime I had a question I called Crystal or asked my movers. They always answered me, no matter how ridiculuous my questions became. Like the time I asked if I could open my boxes...(don't ask, I don't know what came over me)...

2) COMMUNICATE: Make sure you tell your movers how you want them to handle any special items you might have. Do it both during the initial walkthrough with the driver and when you see them working with the item. Just do it politely -- like "Please make sure to keep that box standing, my laptop is in it."

3) LABEL, LABEL: Make sure to label your boxes clearly *and* point out the labels to the driver and movers so they know to look for it on the box. Also make sure to put on the label where the box should go -- make it a one word label, easy to read: its easier to read "Bedroom, Box #3" in a label than to read: "Packed by, contents.... bathroom" Makes it easier for them to read, and you too... which brings me to:

4) LIST: Make a list and number your boxes -- makes it so much easier to unpack if you know what's in which box. If you can't inventory, then make sure to write on the box what's in it.

Note: I know I mentioned clear one word labels -- but its also good to make sure your name is on the box. Basically I had three labels on my boxes. One label had the room and box number. Label two had my name and destination city, state, and zip on it. And the third were my fragile labels. I used big labels: 4 x 5. I got a great deal on eBay -- I was able to buy UPS shipping labels (4.5 x 5.5 -- four labels in one landscaped 8.5 x 11 page). I got 6,200 labels for $6.96 total. The labels cost me a penny, but the shipping was 6.95, because there were 1600 pages of labels to ship.

5) DURING DELIVERY: If you can, try to have at least 2 people with you during delivery. I was lucky because I had four: my husband, his parents, and his best friend. My father-in-law stayed with the truck to watch it while the movers were moving my stuff. My mother-in-law listed down the inventory numbers as the stuff came it. I was checking them off on the inventory/"bingo" sheet, but its good to have a backup since sometimes they'd bring four boxes in at once and the numbers get confusing. My hubby and his best friend directed the movers and checked the boxes as they came in. I know -- I'm really lucky to have had all of them there, but if you can have at least 2 people: one to help check inventory and direct where things should go and one to stay with the truck.

6) THE GOLDEN RULE: This one, everyone has probably already addressed, make sure to have water, gatorade and snacks (veggie plate, etc..) for them. My movers had their own, but they appreciated my having refreshments for them.

7) LAST BUT NOT LEAST: If they do a good job, tip as well as you can. This is a very labor intensive job and they do deserve the extra tip.

That's about it.

Thank you to everyone here, especially MusicMom, Diane and Rick, for helping me find a great mover! And for all of your advice!! I truly appreciate it!!

For those reading my experience with my move, I hope this helps. PM me and let me know if you would like the contact info of the people I worked with!

All the best,
Suzie :D

Diane
Posts: 15824
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2003 12:18 am
Location: Los Angeles

Re: moving from VA to Santa Clara, CA - how are these movers

Postby Diane » Sat Oct 22, 2005 7:20 pm

Thanks for this terrific report, Suzie. I have actually seen the Mohawk trucks on the road here and thought they looked great. I gather they are HQd in Minneapolis. If anybody knows anything else about this company, I would be very interested.

I did want to ask you what date your things were picked up, just to give us an idea of how long it took them to cross the country.

Also, this is not for you to answer, Suzie, but I noticed that you said this about Quality Services Moving, a Wheaton agent:
Quality gave me a cap -- they wouldn't go over 10% more than the estimate, but their estimate was 1K more than Hilldrup.

This interests me because another Wheaton agent in a different city said the same thing to a customer--that the total charge was guaranteed not to exceed 110% of the estimate. This is a type of guarantee that I am not familiar with, and I am wondering whether the sales rep was in actuality referring to the fact that customers cannot be asked to pay more than 110% of a Nonbinding estimate on delivery day, even though customers can be billed for any overage after 30 days. Again, any comments or clarification from people in the industry would be very welcome. Since we don't have any volunteers from Wheaton posting here (that I know of), I may call my contact at Wheaton to ask about this.

suzie
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2005 6:12 pm

Re: moving from VA to Santa Clara, CA - how are these movers

Postby suzie » Tue Oct 25, 2005 2:05 pm

Hi Diane,

My pickup date was October 11. So travel time was 10 days.

When I spoke to the onsite agent, he told me to choose a delivery date that was 7 to 15 days from my pickup date. I chose the 21st -- but of course, I'm thinking I was just lucky that the date I originally chose became, in fact, my delivery date.

I really am very impressed with the service that Hilldrup/United provided. Yesterday I got a call from my move coordinator, Crystal. She just wanted to follow up and make sure that my move went well, but she also specifically mentioned that I had 9 months to make any claims that come up.

She did the same thing during my pickup too -- she called right when the movers finished loading and asked how it went and reminded me to do a final walkthrough with the driver to make sure they didn't leave anythinig behind. Now that's great customer service!

As for the Quality Services Moving -- a couple of things. I'm not quite sure they're a Wheaton agent. I got conflicting information when I spoke to them and asked about their van line affiliation. The sales agent who came to do my on-site said that they were a private mover and were not associated with any major van line. However, a couple of days before that, when I was making my on-site appointment, I asked her assistant what van line they were with: the assistant said they were with National. Of course, I took the sales agent's word for it because I asked her twice and she told me that they were a private firm and that they did mostly government and military contracts.

As for the cap -- I was surprised about that too. My Dad and I asked her if she meant that they wouldn't go over 110% at delivery, but that they'd bill me for the rest later. She said no, that I wouldn't have to pay more than 110% of her estimate, even if my weight went over and the actual cost was more. But, she also said that if my weight went under, then I'd pay less.

Of course, we were still skeptical because we'd never heard of this before. I even took out the "Understanding Estimates" article from this site and showed it to her and asked her to tell me which type of estimate she was referring to. She said they didn't do those types of estimates anymore, they just capped the price at 110%. So, when she left, I assumed that what she had given me was a binding-not-to-exceed-[by-110%] estimate. Then again, if I had been leaning towards using their company, I might have investigated this estimate a bit further.

That's about it!

Suzie

P.S. For anyone interested in finding out how my car transport went, look in on the auto transport sticky! I got a call from DAS just now -- they said they'd deliver my car tomorrow -- I wasn't even expecting it until the 31st!! It was picked up on October 12.

Diane
Posts: 15824
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2003 12:18 am
Location: Los Angeles

Re: moving from VA to Santa Clara, CA - how are these movers

Postby Diane » Tue Oct 25, 2005 9:10 pm

Thanks again, Suzie. Quality Services Moving is not listed as a Wheaton agent on www.wheatonvanlines.com. I remain puzzled by the 110% GNTE and I hope that someone will come on to explain it.

MusicMom
Posts: 19323
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2004 11:51 am
Location: DC Metro

Re: moving from VA to Santa Clara, CA - how are these movers

Postby MusicMom » Wed Oct 26, 2005 7:29 am

OK, now I'M confused. I have been at their office and they had a few Wheaton trucks parked in with theirs. A former colleague of mine who worked for them said they were Wheaton agents. :?


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