Move Report: Los Angeles to Chicago

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Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2006 8:40 pm

Move Report: Los Angeles to Chicago

Postby latochi » Wed Jan 25, 2006 10:26 pm

First, let me say how grateful I am to those who operate this board. It was VERY helpful to me in putting together my first big interstate move (or at least since I was a kid and moved all the time -- but then the stresses then weren't about the actual physical move.)

In the thought it might be helpful to others, I thought I'd put in a summary of my experiences.

The Estimates

Basically, after much procrastination and delay, I sort of expectedly sold my house in LA in early December with a very fast close. I needed to be out at the end of the first week in January and on my way to my new place in Chicago. (Actually, the procrastination might have been a good thing -- it would have been a lot worse trying to arrange for movers in 3 weeks during the high season.)

I was moving out of a 3-bedroom house to a one-bedroom apartment in Chicago. I also wanted to move some stuff to a storage space in Chicago at the same time. So two stops in Chicago. (To my surprise, the additional cost for a second stop turned out to be relatively minimal from all the estimates.) I was packing myself except for a couple of large glass pieces.

Anyway -- based on the reports on I called four companies for estimates:

Gentle Giants (Atlas)
Beverly Hills Transfer (Allied)
Andy's Transfer (North Amer. Van Lines)
Gemini (United)

Everybody came out to the house to do estimates within about 3 or 4 days. Everybody was nice (though the Gentle Giants guy seemed unknowledgeable compared to the other -- sort of just there to count the furniture.) The shipping + misc. charges estimates I got were:

Gentle Giants 11700 lbs $ 7582 (just an estimate, nothing binding)
Bev. Hills Trans 14595 lbs $ 8881 (binding est. No higher or lower)
Andy's 12490 lbs $ 7608 (binding not to exceed)
Gemini 13330 lbs $ 7930 (binding not to exceed)

There were two big factors in my choice.

The Shuttle

The first factor was that the representative from Gemini told me that moves into the city of Chicago were required by law to be shuttled (i.e., moved out of the big truck to a smaller one before coming into the city.) None of the other three companies' representatives had mentioned this to me at all. I was torn between wondering if this was something Gemini was making up or if the other three companies were trying to undersell me (the form language in each estimate said that "other costs," like a shuttle, would be extra.) Generally, I believed the Gemini guy, but was concerned. The Gemini estimate added other $1500 for the shuttle.

I called the guy from Andy's who didn't seem to know anything about a shuttle - saying they weren't required, but I asked him to check. He came back later and said a shuttle was required in my part of Chicago (but not to the storage site) at a cost of $750.

The Books

The second factor was that I had about 100 boxes of books to be moved. Lots and lots and lots of boxes of books most of which were in the garage mixed in with other boxes and hard to differentiate for the estimators. But after I got the estimates (and given that the plan was just to put the books into storage in Chicago) I had a heart-to-heart with myself about all those books and decided to get rid of a lot of them.

[We'll skip over the ugly Christmas weekend spent in the dark dirty garage sorting out and reboxing 4000 books. Suffice it to say, I cut it down to about 35 boxes of books, which is a vast improvement and is also the kind of paring of one's life that a big interstate move should help to accomplish.]

My Decision

The upshot of all of this was that I discarded the general, meaningless estimate from Gentle Giants and the "no higher no lower" estimate from Beverly Hills Transfer (since I correctly anticipated that the volume of books and some other furniture pieces would be in flux right up until the move) and then asked Andy's and Gemini for new estimates based on a new count of book boxes, which they both provided quickly (Andy's representative actually came out to the house a second time.)

The new estimates were:

Andy's 10190 lbs
$6107+275(2d stop/crating)+750(shuttle)+526(valuation)=

Gemini 10903 lbs
$6337+400(2d stop/crating)+1202(shuttle)+539(valuation)=

I actually had a slight preference for Gemini (mostly because I felt their guy had been more knowledgeable and upfront about the shuttle cost) and might have chosen them if the prices were close but the $800 difference was too much to ignore, so (after giving Gemini a last chance to change its estimate) I went with Andy's (NAVL).

The Move

The move itself went fine. Packing up was uneventful. Communications were good. The driver called once from the road and also the night before delivery. Everything arrived on time and unbroken. (My only complaint -- and it is minor after the fact -- is that the driver was not the brightest man in the world and seemed to have a lot of trouble figuring out the best way to organize moving things off the truck and into my house. The same problem repeated itself the next day at the storage unit. They both took far too long. It was a little frustrating and stressful, but I kept reminding myself that I wasn't paying by the hour.)

However, while I think the driver showed up at my new place with a small shuttle truck he also brought the big truck and parked it in front of my new building and unloaded from that truck. After all the rigmarole about the shuttle, I don't think one was needed after all (!!!). So I might have saved myself $750 (and Gemini might have gotten the job, but for insisting on the possibly unnecessary shuttle charges.)

The weight, I was told, was 10340 lbs. Assuming you believe these weighings, good estimating from both Andy's and Gemini (though, again, Gemini came in high and might have gotten the job if it hadn't.)

Sorry I packed myself

Overall, I'm happy with the whole move though not with having to pack everything myself. If I'm ever crazy enough to try such a move again, I think I'll pay to be packed, too (again, just like when I was a kid and the company was paying for the transfer.) I've moved several times in LA and packed myself, but the difference with an interstate move is (1) you really need to COMPLETELY pack stuff that you might pack lightly if just moving across town and (2) EVERYTHING needs to be done by moving day, there's no "taking it over in the car" beforehand or after the movers have left, the way you can when moving locally. Add to that the stress of trying to sort through stuff (both to reduce weight and to get rid of crap you've been carting around for years but don't really want to move across 5 states) and it makes that last week kind of an unhappy one.

Thanks again

But, again, thanks to those here who run and maintain the board, because the big most important step --- trying to figure out which companies to call to start with --- was made infinitely easier because of the information here.

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

Re: Move Report: Los Angeles to Chicago

Postby Diane » Wed Jan 25, 2006 11:01 pm

Thank you so much for this detailed and well-organized report. It really helps. I wonder whether you should have been charged for the shuttle at your Chicago residence if it wasn't used (?).

In any case, I'll add your review to my summary post about Los Angeles area moving companies, which is below and which more or less confirms what you say about these four companies. (If anyone has corrections or additions to the list below, please post or send me a Private Message. This is a work in progress and it reflects only what has been said about the various companies on Just by chance some good companies may not have been mentioned.)

Note: On the recommendation of moving professionals posting here, I advise against using Alex Moving (North American) in Van Nuys or any Bekins agent in the Los Angeles area. A group of Bekins agents declared bankruptcy in 2004 and stiffed employees and creditors. The agents involved are listed here -

There is a horrible report about a move from CA with Bekins where there was damage and the van line refused to pay the claim, but the person didn't say which Bekins agent was involved: ... =5856#5856

Los Angeles area (including Orange County) moving companies are given letter ratings by the Los Angeles area BBB. Those ratings have fluctuated over time. See the following post for some examples: ... 7822#27822
I've given the companies' letter rating as of 2/06 in the listings below.

Allied Van Lines agents

--Beverly Hills Transfer and Storage (Allied) in Gardena.
This company has an "A" rating with the Los Angeles area BBB.
We have a good review by "Butterfly" for a move from LA to FL: ... 9178#29178 (interstate)
There is a rave review by "Allan" for a large two-household move from LA to Atlanta. He singled out the BH Transfer sales rep, Barry Eisen, and the long-haul driver, Albert Smith, for praise. He gives his email address if anyone wants to contact him about the move: ... 8901#38901 (interstate)
Another person ("dgoldyn") was set to use it for a move from LA to FL but never came back to report: (interstate)
Somebody posted that BH Transfer gave him a very high estimate ($3000 above Gentle Giant and Blue Chip): (interstate)

Atlas Van Lines agents

--Gentle Giant Moving & Storage (Atlas) in Hawthorne.
Gentle Giant used to be rated "A" but has slipped to a "B" rating with the Los Angeles are BBB. It has had 8 complaints over the past 36 months. It was praised by "Nancy" (works for a competitor).
One person ("Laurie") had a rather bad experience with them (delivery delay in the summer, but mainly communications problems with an employee named Patricia): (interstate)
"GDBaer" liked GG's estimator (Mike) although she ultimately didn't go with them: ... 7386#17386

Mayflower Van Lines agents

--Blue Chip Moving & Storage (Mayflower) in Hollywood and Hawthorne.
This company has a "B" rating with the Los Angeles area BBB (someone posted that it was a "CC" in July 2005 - ... 9597#39597). It has had 12 complaints over the past 36 months.
There is a good review by "damfino" of a move from LA to Boston, singling out Blue Chip's estimator and the driver for praise: (interstate) ... 3732#13732
There are also good comments by "patkhu" on Blue Chip's estimator for a move from LA to Austin, TX, although she moved with another company: ... 0687#20687
"GDBaer" said she chose them for her move from LA to DC mostly because of their great estimator, Michael Sarro, but we have no final report: ... 7386#17386 (interstate)
Just an interesting note: in the case of all three posters above, the estimator came up with a weight ending in -98 or -99.
"Butterfly" liked Blue Chip's estimator too, but ultimately went with Beverly Hills Transfer: ... 7012#27012 (interstate)

North American Van Lines agents

--Andy's Transfer & Storage (North American) in Glendale.
This company has an "A" rating with the Los Angeles area BBB. It received a quality award from the van line in 2005 (Customer Choice award).
We have a rave review by "JakeL" of a move from LA to NYC: (interstate)
We have a very good review by "latochi" of a move from LA to Chicago: ... 1252#51252 (interstate)
We also have an excellent report by "jedd" on his move from LA to Philadelphia: ... 1481#51481 (interstate)
And another person ("ajd") was set to move with them from CA to PA but never came back to report. This person chose them over Beverly Hills Transfer because Andy's was willing to give him a GNTE: ... 3661#23661 (interstate)
We also have a good review by "damfino" of a local move with Andy's: ... 3285#13285 (local)

--Beltmann Group (North American) in City of Industry.
Beltmann has many locations in the U.S. It is reportedly the largest agent moving household goods in the NAVL system. We have hardly any information on this branch. Although it has an almost unheard-of "AA" rating from the Los Angeles area BBB, industry people seem to think that there are better choices in Los Angeles.

United Van Lines agents

--Gemini Moving Specialists (United) in North Hollywood and Ventura.
This company has an "A" rating with the Los Angeles area BBB.
We have two very good reviews. The first is by "patkhu" (Lisa) for a move from LA to Austin, TX: (interstate)
The other is by "mdoats" for a move from LA to South FL, singling out the long-haul driver from United, Jonathan, for praise: (interstate)
We also have good comments about the Gemini sales rep (Cletis Harris) by a person ("Mickey") who was going to move with them, but she never came back with a final report: (interstate)
And there is a so-so preliminary review of a move including a baby grand piano from Santa Clarita to the Seattle area, mentioning communications problems: (interstate)
Another person ("hkornfeld") was leaning toward Gemini in Ventura for an interstate move from Ventura to VA but never came back to report. He said that a sales rep for another company told him that Gemini's Ventura warehouse looked like "a disaster zone": (interstate)
People moving interstate should be sure not to choose small mom-and-pop companies that have good reviews only for local moves. They should focus on companies that are good at long-distance moves.

We are not endorsing the companies listed above. We are only directing people's attention to companies with good reviews and comments on this website. As has been stated many times, does not endorse any full-service moving company because there are virtually no meaningful laws in place to protect consumers who are moving interstate using full-service movers, and even those few laws aren't regularly enforced. For all practical purposes, any interstate moving company can scam any customer without fear of punishment.

The historical reason for this is outlined on the Home page of this website. The current reason for this is that the major van lines oppose legislative reform because they fear increased liability if consumers can sue them for fraud, negligence, and so on. The majors are funding lobbyists as well as Senators and Representatives to oppose legislative reform, and so far they have been successful. Given this situation, it would seem absurd to recommend full-service movers to people knowing that at least part of the profits would be used to defeat consumer protections.

Also, although many agent companies affiliated with major van lines have stellar records of good, honest performance, when there are no meaningful laws in place everything depends on the ethics of the owner of the particular company. This is not a reassuring situation because the ownership of the company could change, or the owner could suddenly decide that he wants to rip people off, or whatever. We don't want to be in the position of having recommended a company that turns around and harms a customer in some way, and then the customer has no recourse.

We are simply bringing together reviews that have been posted on this website and we stress that there can be glitches with any move, there are no guarantees in the moving business, and moving is not an exact science. We want to give consumers SOME guidance, because otherwise they would be easy prey for all the sharks cruising around them, but we also don't want to give the impression that all is certain to go well if they go with a company that others have liked.
Last edited by Diane on Wed Feb 08, 2006 7:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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

Re: Move Report: Los Angeles to Chicago

Postby EastCoastMover » Thu Jan 26, 2006 4:03 pm me please...i need some specific info from u related to your move...if your driver parked his semi in front of your building and unloaded it there,i will most likely get you your shuttle money back....

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