boston-->bay area, advice on quotes?

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cow2215
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2005 12:05 pm
Location: boston

boston-->bay area, advice on quotes?

Postby cow2215 » Wed Dec 07, 2005 5:49 pm

First, let me say that I’ve read this site voraciously over the past week, and while there’s a lot to digest, I feel like much of the information has been priceless. Thanks! Hopefully I can glean some more wisdom/advice from the community for my situation:

So: I am moving with my wife cross-country, from Boston to the bay area (Menlo Park or thereabouts - don’t have a destination yet, but that will hopefully change next week!), leaving the 1st week of January. After reading recommendations on locally based movers that are agents of the nationals, I have solicited three quotes, with a fourth pending. As background, I’m moving from a 700+sf 1BR, but apparently we’ve collected a LOT of stuff over the years as the three agents were right at 5100# estimates, give or take 100#. (It’s her clothing, I swear… :P)

So far, I’ve had agents from Paul Taylor (United), Wakefield distribution (Allied) and Humboldt (United - scheduled this one before I read that getting two quotes from agents representing the same nat’l mover is superfluous. But read on…) I have a fourth mover scheduled for Friday, McLaughlin/Mayflower. All bids below are binding, guaranteed not to exceed.

Taylor: $6241 (5200#, 64% discount), including full pack @ $902, origin shuttle $458, valuation $310 (for $30K, zero deductible), and $30 for mattress cartons.

Humboldt: $6032 (5000#, 64% disc), including extensive partial pack @ $762, origin shuttle $441, valuation $261 ($25K, zero ded), $172 to crate a large (3x4’ mirror, ~50#) and glass coffee table top (unframed oval 25”x50”)

Wakefield: $6153 (5500#, 62% disc), including limited partial pack @$233, origin shuttle $500, valuation $306 ($30K, zero ded), $110 to crate mirror only.

Since I don’t know exactly where we’re moving, all three have stated that destination shuttle (or lack thereof) cannot be bound into the quote, but would be the same price as the origin shuttle.

Observations:

    > United’s quote system has more detail, in that they provide a separate page that lists possible Additional Services that may be incurred (e.g. storage-in-transit costs if I elect to have the movers hold my stuff b/c my destination isn’t ready for move-in.)

    > Rate that agent: The Humboldt agent gets top marks for being clear, courteous, and just pleasant to deal with. The Taylor agent comes in a reasonably close second, although he was disorganized on the day of the visit (he forgot his markup sheet, so he had to take notes by hand; but his quote nevertheless came out the same as the others). The Allied guy strikes me as being more stereotypical mover - blunt, a little pushy, selling the “service” aspect hard, claiming that their guys are drug-tested and charged (out of bonus money) for any damages during shipping. While his argument made sense, I had some difficulty imagining that he would be a great customer service interface with the company in the event of misfortune…

    > It’s an interesting wrinkle that full-packs are done by weight, while partial-packs are done by box count.

    > The Humboldt agent initially gave me an “Option A” quote (non-binding), at the price above. When I asked him to give me a GNTE (Option C) quote, he happily gave me the same quote, just as an option C. ??? He also offered to drop off a package of roughly 30 used boxes, to give us the option to self-pack more and defray the partial pack charge.

    > I suppose it's a good thing that I never got exposed to lowballed quotes, but man, $6K is a lot for a "1BR" move! The Humboldt guy even commented on how heavy we spec'd out compared to the usual 1BR. But unfortunately, I believe it - our closets are stuffed floor to ceiling. Now I just have to convince the better half that too many earthly possessions just weigh you down... :P)
Questions:

    > Three related questions, regarding destination:
    1. How concerned should I be about which local agent will be involved with the move on the destination end? Both United agents have said that I will deal with them exclusively, implying that who the agent/local mover is on the destination end is less important.
    2. United agents have assured me that, if their own locally-based long-haulers don’t do the haul, they would farm the job out to another United trucker. Do I need to be choosy about whether or not it is a locally-based trucker or not?
    3. Even after explanations as to the unloading process, I’m still confused as to whether or not the driver gets involved. Two scenarios here: either a direct unload from the long-haul truck, or another shuttle. Assuming a direct unload, does the driver recruit a crew from the local agent? I guess I’m a little concerned that, worst case, the driver goes out and hires a bunch of his pirate buddies, and then starts with the monkey business (long carry, over time, different shuttle charges, whatever.) will a United driver do this?

    > According to the Taylor agent, he quoted a full-pack because that allowed him to include it in the GNTE; he said something to the effect that partial packs are often “balance billed” if the total box count ends up higher than estimated. (example: agent calculated 5 dishpacks, but packers use 7…do they then turn around and itemize bill for the difference in packing?) Is this right??

    > The agents seemed almost cavalier about the GNTE option. It obviously provides peace of mind for me, knowing that there is a ceiling on the price. However, I also feel like, if the movers are honest, they are probably overestimating the GNTE quote to protect themselves, expecting that the actual weight will come in under. So how do I interpret the fact that the Humboldt agent was happy to convert directly to a GNTE without adding some “padding” to the quote?

    > If, as I’ve read here, the general gestalt of a company plays a big role in choosing which company to use, then I’m glad I had two different United agents come by, because even though they are supposedly working from the same playbook, the end result was markedly different. Am I overreading the importance of the agent in this process?

    > Should I view the weighing? Implicitly, can I trust a “reputable” mover not to add 6 guys to the truck when they weigh? (Particularly if I manage to purge a bunch of stuff we don’t need to haul cross-country - I don’t want to be mentally “anchored” by their original quote)

    > When do tariffs change? The 400N is listed as “effective 1/1/05” on the Allied quote (but present-dated on the United quotes). Is there any risk that the tariff will change between now and the 1st week of the new year?


Thanks in advance for any comments, and sorry for the length. I have found that "here's my story" detailed posts have served as better sources of information, so hopefully someone else will feel the same. Happy to answer any questions about my process so far.

Rick
Posts: 3269
Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2005 7:59 pm

Re: boston-->bay area, advice on quotes?

Postby Rick » Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:06 pm

cow2215,

The driver is the most important service provider in the actual move process since they will be handling everything you own. Your salesperson's accurate accessment of the services required to complete your relocation are critical to their company's ability to meet your expectations for both cost and quality.

Your estimates were all provided by very capable, very tenured national van line agents. They are all very close in price, weight, and accessorial services. All of the agents have very good internal move coordination processes to manage your relocation. Neither the Unigroup (United and Mayflower) or SIRVA (Allied, northAmerican, Global) companies interchange their tonnage with other carriers. Your driver's quality rating within their organization if more important than whether or not they are affiliated with the agent.

If you have a binding quote, it is not necessary to witness the weighings unless the driver takes exception to the estimated weight. Since they are so close, that's not likely. If you can convince your wife to "purge" your household, you should get new estimates (and then work on my wife).

Under Item 40 of STB HGB 400 N, a general price adjustment will take effect on January 1, 2006. I believe that it is 2.2%.

Good Luck!

Guest

Re: boston-->bay area, advice on quotes?

Postby Guest » Thu Dec 08, 2005 7:18 am

rick,
thanks for the comments. interesting observation about the driver's quality 'rating' - this is the first i've read of it, and i'm guessing that i (the consumer) don't really have any ability to shop for a driver. so do i just cross my fingers and hope that united/allied/major carrier drivers are generally the best?

re weighing, i'm just a little dubious that a process whereby the weight is estimated by "cubing" stuff (with little regard for what type of stuff it is) can ultimately be pretty accurate. for example, all of our furniture is from ikea, ie particleboard, so is probably pretty light.

which brings up another question - the agents have all said that we can leave our dressers packed - but given that our furniture is cheap/flimsy, would it be reasonable to unload them to some degree, to prevent the dressers from falling apart when they are moved about?

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

Re: boston-->bay area, advice on quotes?

Postby Diane » Thu Dec 08, 2005 12:17 pm

I'll have a whack at answering the questions that Rick didn't touch on.
cow2215 wrote:Three related questions, regarding destination:
1. How concerned should I be about which local agent will be involved with the move on the destination end? Both United agents have said that I will deal with them exclusively, implying that who the agent/local mover is on the destination end is less important.
2. United agents have assured me that, if their own locally-based long-haulers don’t do the haul, they would farm the job out to another United trucker. Do I need to be choosy about whether or not it is a locally-based trucker or not?
3. Even after explanations as to the unloading process, I’m still confused as to whether or not the driver gets involved. Two scenarios here: either a direct unload from the long-haul truck, or another shuttle. Assuming a direct unload, does the driver recruit a crew from the local agent? I guess I’m a little concerned that, worst case, the driver goes out and hires a bunch of his pirate buddies, and then starts with the monkey business (long carry, over time, different shuttle charges, whatever.) will a United driver do this?

1. Destination agent would probably not be important for the United agents since if the shipment is not self-hauled, you will still get a driver from United or Mayflower and those drivers are good.
2. No (see #1).
3. The driver can get help from the local agent or he can have his own helper with him or get labor from some other source. In all cases I would expect professional labor from United, especially in this slow season. You can't be charged for a long carry under the 400N tariff. As for extra labor charges, I think these would have to be cleared with you in advance and in any case I think it's extremely unlikely.
. . . how do I interpret the fact that the Humboldt agent was happy to convert directly to a GNTE without adding some “padding” to the quote?

I would interpret it as, he wants the move.
Am I overreading the importance of the agent in this process?

The quality of the booking agent is important, as Rick said. However, be aware that unless your shipment is self-hauled, if something goes wrong in transit you will not be dealing with the booking agent any more but with the van line. "Nyaccent" experienced this when she tried to get the booking agent to return her calls about a missing hand truck and delayed delivery dates and they would not. The moving industry is based on a series of hand-offs of responsibility for your things from one entity to another. Once your move goes into the van line system, the booking agent usually isn't involved any more.

In many van lines, drivers are rated 1 to 5 with 1 being the highest rating. You are correct that you will probably not have any choice in the matter. People have said that the "national account" moves almost always get top-rated drivers. These are moves that are paid for by companies and not by individuals, which are called COD moves. However, that doesn't mean that as a COD customer you wouldn't get a top-rated driver. It depends partly on the luck of the draw--how the dispatchers put shipments together. Several top-rated drivers for NAVL and Wheaton post here regularly, and they have said that they haul COD shipments as well as national account moves.

Regarding particleboard furniture, actually particleboard is pretty heavy. Previously, many carriers had customers sign a waiver saying that they would either take it apart or waive responsibility for damage, since it isn't designed to be moved. Recently people have posted that these waivers have been judged illegal. Practically speaking, your dressers will probably be OK as long as they are shrink-wrapped to keep all the joints together. I would never advise taking them apart. To help the movers, I personally would remove items from the drawers unless the items are very light like socks and underwear.

Hope this helps.

EastCoastMover
Posts: 173
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2005 1:48 pm
Location: Indiana

Re: boston-->bay area, advice on quotes?

Postby EastCoastMover » Thu Dec 08, 2005 9:55 pm

if it makes you more comfortable with the moving process,ask to view the weights...this is your right,just be ready to meet the driver at the scale very early in the day.(probably around 7am) also if you recieved a GTD or GTNE contract,that price is binding for 60 days,no matter if the tariff increases or not..............

EastCoastMover
Posts: 173
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2005 1:48 pm
Location: Indiana

Re: boston-->bay area, advice on quotes?

Postby EastCoastMover » Thu Dec 08, 2005 10:19 pm

as far as destination,if you are using a full service mover then the driver will hire either guys he uses all the time(as i do) or will get them from the local agent..either way they should be experienced movers..also the only xtra charge that might come up is if you had originally planned on unpacking the boxes and then changed your mind and request the driver do it or if the tractor trailer cannot access your new home and needs a "shuttle" and if you are moving anywhere near downtown the chances are you will need one...the hills may be alive with the sound of music in the movies,but in good old san fran,the hills are alive with the sound of trucks bottoming out.......

cow2215
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2005 12:05 pm
Location: boston

Re: boston-->bay area, advice on quotes?

Postby cow2215 » Tue Dec 20, 2005 2:31 pm

thanks to all for the comments...as an update, I ended up going with Humboldt/United, based on the quality of the interaction with the estimator/agent. It helped that his GNTE quote was the lowest of the four that I ultimately obtained. FWIW, it helped that he offered to bring by used boxes to help us in our self- partial-pack - about 16 in all, and included rolls of tape and a bag of newsprint. Nice touch!

Now we're working with the booking agent (at the "home office") on nailing down the date. Which brings up a new question: We are being offered a spot on a home-office owned truck that has to arrive in CA only 3 days after our scheduled move (1/6). Thus, we'd have to load early, on 1/4, in order to get on this truck. What's more, we are not able to take delivery before 1/13 (which would have been appropriate for a 1/6 load date.) The coordinator checked and said the driver can arrange to make my delivery on or after 1/13, but should I be worried about disrupting a last-in, first-out loading scheme? In other words, if my stuff is the last on, will it end up being moved off-and-on several times to unload other stuff loaded before mine?

Obviously, if Humboldt can put the load on their own truck, they keep the job/$ in house as opposed to outsourcing it to another United truck; but is this beneficial to me? As I see it, I get on a Humboldt long-haul, but I have to spend 2 extra days in a hotel at origin, and potentially take on the risk of damage to my stuff from getting moved a few extra times?

Thanks for any thoughts, having this site as a resource is great!

PMueller
Posts: 860
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2005 8:50 am
Location: Florida (Tampa Bay area)

Re: boston-->bay area, advice on quotes?

Postby PMueller » Tue Dec 20, 2005 4:07 pm

Just because you are last on, doesn't mean you will be or need to be first off. I am assuming this is a standard 42-52 foot trailer that has access on both sides and rear. It is not necessary for them to unload/reload your items to gain access to the other shipments on board, therefore you should not have additional risk to worry about.

cow2215
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2005 12:05 pm
Location: boston

Re: boston-->bay area, advice on quotes?

Postby cow2215 » Tue Feb 07, 2006 11:30 pm

Hi all, just wanted to give an update from sunny northern CA...

In brief, Humboldt was an A+ operation, class act all the way. I didn't have any problems with service after signing on the dotted line, and my move coordinator even worked to secure a lower fuel surcharge (13% vs 16%) when the price dipped before Xmas, then went back up before we finalized the order for service.

My agent dropped off a load of packing stuff (10 or so small and 10 large boxes, rolls of tape, and flat newsprint) to help us defray the partial pack quote...which helped!

The day of the move, I had two twin brothers and their nephew, from Humboldt, who were on time at 8am, courteous, efficient, careful, and FAST - I could hardly keep up with them (I was trying to note on my own records which company moving labels corresponded to what inventory I had packed.) They finished loading our apartment in about four hours.

As I noted above, we received a GNTE quote at par with the original non-binding quote. As it turned out, we had a significant overage on the weight - 6200+ lbs vs. 5000 estimated. A bit odd, given that the agent who did the estimate was already apologizing for how much weight he had estimated for a 750sf 1BR apartment, but I was sure glad that we had a GNTE quote!!! Not sure what accounted for all the weight - I do have quite a few textbooks, and our closets were full of clothing, but these were all evident to the agent who did the in-person quote.

And again, Humboldt was A+ here - it turned out we needed a destination shuttle, so they applied the original estimated weight to calculate the destination shuttle charge...seems to me that they were not obligated to do so, since the destination shuttle charge was specifically not part of the bound quote. Moreover, since we ended up packing a bunch of stuff on our own, the packing charges ended up being lower than originally estimated. Humboldt then applied that savings towards the cost of the destination shuttle...again, more than fair in my opinion since the destination shuttle wasn't part of the bound quote.

In coordinating the cross-country move, Humboldt again worked hard to fit my schedule--we were flying out on Sunday 1/8, and wanted to be moved the Friday prior (1/6), and to receive our stuff the following Friday at the earliest (long story - for work related reasons, we weren't going to actually be at the destination until a week later). As I posted previously, Humboldt originally wanted us to load earlier in order to catch a ride on a Humboldt truck. However, moving out earlier would have put us in a hotel earlier, and risked a delivery earlier than our target date (1/13), so I balked... In the end, they ended up getting us on a Humboldt truck exactly as we wanted - pack/load 1/6.

The delivery was marginally delayed, they showed up on Sunday 1/15, but the driver (David Pike - great guy!) and his two crew from the local office (?Lassiter in Cupertino) were again quick, courteous, and careful. They even put up with us when we changed our minds about where some stuff was to go, and rearranged boxes/bookshelves that they had already put down in order to fit a sofa.

We did note during the final inventory that a few things were missing - a crated glass table top, and several small shelves (that would go into a wood bookcase). David thought about it for a minute, then figured he knew where they were in the long-haul. He left, and was back in less than an hour with the missing items. End of story!

Subsequently, during the unpacking, we had zero problems with damaged items.

In the end, the moving was a very stress-free experience. We probably could have done it cheaper (came out to just a hair under $6300 with the destination shuttle) but all things considered it was money well spent. Next time, I'd consider doing a full-pack, given that a full-pack quote would have cost us < $1000 total...I literally spent weeks trying to pack things (I'm methodical, I guess) when it probably wasn't necessary.

Now if only our car shipping had gone anywhere nearly as smoothly...but that's another story. Suffice it to say, I did a lot of research there too, and Dependable Auto seemed to be a moderate choice (choosing from a pit full of vipers)...and we're 0 for 2. One car actually was rear-ended by the driver during load/unload somewhere in the midwest, to the tune of $4500 in damage, the second collected some scrapes along the driver's side ($2000 to refinish - body shops are expensive!!!) I'll post more details on the auto transport experience on the sticky thread.

Don't Shoot
Posts: 74
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2005 4:12 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: boston-->bay area, advice on quotes?

Postby Don't Shoot » Wed Feb 08, 2006 12:19 am

I used to recommend DAS, but they have gotten to big for their britches...They do a lot of business for eBay. They have close to 100 trucks, so my old rep told me...Now I use a local broker who uses regulars and have not had a single problem. I rate DAS a 2/10...

BTW: a shipper told me that they FEDEX'D their car...I haven't checked into FEDEX shipping cars, but I thought, that's unique!

cow2215
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2005 12:05 pm
Location: boston

Re: boston-->bay area, advice on quotes?

Postby cow2215 » Wed Feb 08, 2006 12:33 am

Yeah, I used to think that the horror stories were just noisy outliers (much easier to complain than to compliment, unfortunately) but I also have a friend who did the same move (Boston to San Jose) recently, and chose DAS (he actually worked for eBay Motors last summer!) only to have them LOSE his car for a month. No joke, they finally admitted to him that they didn't know where the car was...he got it about 2 months later, after having paid several thousand $$$ for a car rental, and with damage to the hood. He got 150 bucks for his trouble, since DAS's contract explicity states that they will not pay for car rental charges under any circumstances...

unbelievable... :evil:

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

Re: boston-->bay area, advice on quotes?

Postby Diane » Wed Feb 08, 2006 1:08 pm

cow2215,

Thanks so much for this rave review of Humboldt. It's wonderful to read about such a good performance. I am adding it to my summary post on Massachusetts moving companies. I am also adding your friend's experience with DAS to our Auto Transporters thread. Regarding your own experience, what was the total that DAS charged you for transporting your two cars and what was Intercity's bid for the same two cars? I want to be sure that I have the figures right.

Don't Shoot,

Would you be willing to share the name of the auto broker you use? We could tell people to give your screen name so you would get credit for the referral. I suggest this because I think people are desperate for a reliable way to ship autos into and out of CA. - FedEx has been discussed several times on our Auto Transporters thread.

cow2215
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2005 12:05 pm
Location: boston

Re: boston-->bay area, advice on quotes?

Postby cow2215 » Wed Feb 08, 2006 1:25 pm

Diane,

regarding DAS, I paid $1255 for each car, for enclosed terminal-to-terminal transport, with valuation coverage (insurance). Intercity quoted me $1850 for DTD enclosed shipping; other DTD/enclosed shippers were around $2K. So, it would have been $600 extra per car, $1200 total to go with intercity lines...I was willing to pay, but their scheduling (being booked up to 3 weeks after my move date) made it impossible.

Regarding the insurance coverage, I'm not clear on how things would play out in the event one chooses not to buy DAS's valuation coverage -- my own auto policy was willing to waive my deductible in my case(s) (I had DAS's coverage and they were admitting fault), but in the event that I didn't have DAS's insurance and they only were willing to offer $150 as compensation, I don't know that my own insurer would be willing to waive my deductible (I'm assuming that DAS would deny any liability if no coverage was purchased?) I realize that I ended up having duplicate coverage, but in this case having both belt and suspenders was probably a good thing...


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