NJ to Texas, chose Holman

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SusanF
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Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2006 11:58 am

NJ to Texas, chose Holman

Postby SusanF » Sat Jun 10, 2006 1:27 pm

We will be moving from Bergen County, NJ, to Aransas County, TX, in early July. We interviewed 3 moving companies. My husband called Gibraltar of Montclair, NJ, on the basis of a Yellow Pages ad. After the guy came to our house and gave us what I considered a low-ball estimate, I checked Movingscam.com (which we had looked at several months ago, but my husband must have forgotten about it). Movingscam.com showed Gibraltar as probable scammer. I checked the state-by-state list of recommendations, so we called Holman of Hackensack (United agent) and University Van Lines (Atlas).

We chose Holman over University for several reasons, but we were very very impressed with University.

Holman is the company that moved us up here through my employment 19 years ago from North Carolina. Holman is still used by my former employer. It did a full pack, and we had only a single china piece break. Also, Holman is very close and has used boxes free for us to pick up. Also, Holman is large enough that its own truck will be the one that will take our goods across the country. So it will be the responsible carrier for the whole move. Also, Holman has a location in Houston, 4 hours away from where we're moving to.

The last factor in favor of Holman was that it seemed able to handle less lead time for the actual moving date, whereas University seemed to need to know pretty much immediately for an early July move. I believe that is because of the need to work with the major van line system (Atlas) as opposed to its own truck.

We considered University to be far superior to Holman in the way the agent dealt with us. Precise and clear. For example, we have a 14-foot canoe that my husband plans to use in Texas and figured on having the movers transport it. But the University agent explained that the canoe would mean an extra 700-pound charge adjustment because of the dead space it would take up in the truck. The Gibraltar guy didn't mention any issue with the canoe and I do think we would have been held up for probably another $2,000 to $3,000 on the receiving end for that and other reasons. By the time the Holman guy came, we had decided to carry the canoe atop our car.

The University agent took the time to go with us to our storage units, where we have already packed up stuff. The problem was access. The University agent was precise about how much the extra pickup there would cost, both in terms of a fee for the extra stop and for having a shuttle truck/van cart our storage unit stuff back to the tractor-trailer at our house. The Holman agent was fairly vague about this, almost confused. He took account of the basic extra-stop charge but it ended up with our asking specifically whether there wouldn't also be a shuttle service charge, and the figure he used seemed to be more ballpark than a true estimate.

They all were told that we had two storage units not far away, where we had 130 items totaling 2,900 pounds and X amount of cubic feet. (We had weighed all that.) We decided to bring all the stuff back to the house to avoid the $500 or more extra cost.

Gibraltar was first, and quoted something in the low to mid $4000-$5000 range. Sorry, I threw out the paperwork already. I told the fellow right then that I thought that sounded low. (Months ago an inquiry into a one-way Penske rental yielded a $4000-and-some figure.) Husband seemed pleased till I scoured movingscam.com and found the negatives.

University came next, and then Holman. University gave a guaranteed not to exceed estimate of about $7,000, while Holman gave a nonbinding estimate of about $500 more. (Sorry, also threw out University paperwork already.) The weight estimate was higher for Holman, but when we divided the weight into the grand total, it yielded a lower per-pound figure than University's. We were not told the specific per-pound figure, but I suspect it would have been for only the very first total anyway before various other charges were added.

The non-binding estimate from Holman is ok with us. For one thing, after we got the quote, my husband decided he wanted to take with us a couple of pieces of furniture that we had earlier planned to sell. I wonder what that would do with a guaranteed not to exceed estimate - nullify the whole thing? Obviously, the mover can't be held liable for our choosing to move more stuff.

Both Holman and University take credit cards, while Gibraltar does not. I really think this is a great change in the moving industry since we did our last interstate move. However, Holman will charge a 10% temporary surcharge for using a credit card, later refunding it. I assume this is some sort of protection for them against chargebacks, but I could be wrong about that. The agent did not mention this during his visit to our house. I think he should have. University didn't mention anything about a surcharge either, but since the fellow was so precise about everything else, I believe University doesn't have one. Could be wrong, though.

Our having stuff already weighed and measured seemed to throw a kink into the agents' estimate software. Both agents said we could come for the truck weighing both before and after.

I will post more as things happen.

Diane
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Re: NJ to Texas, chose Holman

Postby Diane » Sun Jun 11, 2006 12:21 am

Thanks so much for posting this detailed report. In answer to your question, if you have a GNTE and want to add items you can call the sales rep and ask for an amended estimate.

I'm curious as to who your rep was for University - since you mention "precise" I am thinking Mike Carolan. He told me he was trained by the nuns to have perfect spelling, for example. :lol: I'm glad you liked that company because I think they are very good.

I agree that Holman should have told you about the temporary surcharge for using a credit card. Maybe somebody with a contact there (Fred?) can ask Holman why it does that. I agree that it should be advantageous to have Holman haul the shipment.

[UPDATE in 8/06 - Mike Carolan told me that the University rep was in fact Bill Quigley.]
Last edited by Diane on Wed Sep 06, 2006 11:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Fred0844

Re: NJ to Texas, chose Holman

Postby Fred0844 » Sun Jun 11, 2006 9:08 am

It is not a surcharge. The are taking estimate plus 10%. Just in case there are changes, (more things added or services furnished). I have seen a lot of that on US orders recently.

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

Re: NJ to Texas, chose Holman

Postby Diane » Sun Jun 11, 2006 9:58 am

Thanks, Fred. Do you think they are doing this only on Nonbinding estimates like Susan has or on GNTEs as well? I wonder whether this kind of thing is governed by some kind of federal regulation or whether it is up to the individual company/van line to set its own policy. It seems to me that the company/van line may essentially be getting free use of money in such cases because the customer will have to wait a while for a refund from the credit card company (if any).

What I like about University Van Lines is that it does NOT charge the customer's card for even the amount of the GNTE (which is usually higher than the final cost because of how University does its estimates). Instead, it weighs the truck and then charges the card for the amount corresponding to the actual weight so that the customer doesn't have to wait for a refund.

I'm going to add a warning about Gibraltar to my summary post on NJ movers.

SusanF
Posts: 18
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2006 11:58 am

Re: NJ to Texas, chose Holman

Postby SusanF » Sun Jun 11, 2006 10:53 am

I believe the University rep was Bill Quigley. I wish I hadn't thrown out the paperwork.

In a way, we leveraged what we learned from University for our overall decision. I had the sense of complete transparency with him. He took the time to show the difference in cost between the different deductibles with the insurance. He wanted to see the items in storage.

The rep with Holman was Pat O'Sullivan. We will be dealing with Mary Ann for questions and so forth as we proceed.

SusanF
Posts: 18
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2006 11:58 am

Re: NJ to Texas, chose Holman

Postby SusanF » Sun Jun 11, 2006 11:00 am

I suspect Fred is right about it not really being a surcharge. I suspect that the credit card is charged after loading and weighing. The extra 10 percent would cover unexpected charges down the road, so to speak.

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

Re: NJ to Texas, chose Holman

Postby Diane » Sun Jun 11, 2006 12:57 pm

You could ask, but in many cases the credit card is charged PRIOR to loading and weighing, to make sure the customer has enough credit to cover the cost of the move. That's why I think University is rather unusual.

Bill Quigley is wonderful too - very sweet. I think he learned much of what he knows from Mike.

You should really compare notes with "Texas Girl" - she is also moving to a retirement home in TX, leaving her appliances behind, and so on.
http://www.movingscam.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=8419

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

Re: *NJ to Texas, chose Holman

Postby Diane » Wed Jun 21, 2006 9:20 am

Just a note that "BigLeeCalif" just posted that when he worked for Chipman several years back, his experience was that prior to the move, the customer's credit card was run for approval for the amount of the not-to-exceed estimate, or for non-binding, the estimate plus 10%. So United has been doing this for some time.

SusanF
Posts: 18
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2006 11:58 am

Re: *NJ to Texas, chose Holman

Postby SusanF » Wed Jun 21, 2006 9:59 am

I can see why this is done. I am just happy that they take credit cards. It will make things so much easier.

BigLeeCalif
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Location: Escondido, California

Re: *NJ to Texas, chose Holman

Postby BigLeeCalif » Wed Jun 21, 2006 10:11 am

You can request that your actual charges not be captured until moving day.

Some companies will honor that request, and only AUTHORIZE the amount of the move, and when it is loaded charge only the actual charges, or the amount of the not-to-exceed estimate, whichever is less.

When I worked with United I never had bad reports about Holman...

Lee
"It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt" Mark Twain

SusanF
Posts: 18
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2006 11:58 am

Re: *NJ to Texas, chose Holman - move complete

Postby SusanF » Fri Aug 18, 2006 11:10 am

An update.
Our move is complete. Of course, we are still working on finding places for all our stuff. Holman performed quite well.

Summary. Our stuff arrived in good shape. Pickup was as scheduled, and delivery was as scheduled, and the driver called us the day before as expected.
Our bill ended up being a good deal less than our estimate even though we added at least three furniture items. The estimate (including crating of 2 items) was for 10,900 pounds at $7,400. Our final bill (we had them crate only one item) came to $5,900 (for 8,200 pounds). We were thrilled that it turned out this way, of course. I had feared we'd be approaching $10k. Since we paid by credit card, the refund was a credit back to the card. This took about three weeks.
We bought $60,000 of insurance with a $250 deductible. I believe the $60,000 amount was the minimum Holman said we could get. The fuel surcharge was 10%.
We paid the movers in NJ a tip of $20 apiece (there were 4 total, counting the driver). On the Texas end, we paid the 3 men $40 each.
Administrative. The office staff person we dealt with seemed distracted, inexperienced (in general or perhaps just with non-corporate moves), dealing with bad software, or something. We made several calls in the final week before pickup to ask questions and every single time she asked how we were paying. On the very day we had signed with Holman, we signed the credit card authorization. She would not remember this from one day to the next. Also, when we called to ask about the light weigh, she didn't seem to know what that was. My husband was convinced something fishy was going on, and I had to keep insisting we weren't being scammed. We called several times the day before the move to pin down when we could see the light weigh and finally were told to come at 7:30 a.m. on moving day. My husband went.
Pickup. The driver came with 3 other guys, 2 of whom had only a few weeks' experience. The driver confided that this wasn't the crew he would have chosen. The driver himself had bad knees so was not doing the stooping, stairclimbing and other such activities. The experienced helper either was in the truck or was half-minding the inexperienced helpers. They almost forgot our 2-poster headboard (stored in our shed), and then the 2 inexperienced helpers were wrapping it for at least 20 minutes before one of the experienced guys came to the rescue.
My husband's wardrobe box came down the stairs upside down. (Not really a problem he'd packed it so tight.)
One helper threw off sweat like crazy, dripping a lot on our floor, on the wrapped furniture. I worried about that, but it didn't matter.
We pointed our the antique items so they'd be treated gingerly. We had a handful of boxes with bright orange "fragile" or "glass" stickers on them and one box that was marked to put nothing on top of it. The experienced helper told my husband, well, that depends on how things load up. Some boxes were marked with big arrows aiming to the top side.
Transit and delivery. It seems as though every specially marked box was placed wrong - situated sideways rather than right-side-up, or on the bottom of a stack rather than higher up or on top. This was particularly troublesome because movers boxes are not all that strong, and they did indeed buckle. (Also, note that the boxes we got from Holman were used.) The boxes we had bought prior to signing with Holman were also secondhand, but they were all double-walled boxes and none of them crushed.
None of our stuff had any breakage, and we believe that's because we used abundant cushioning materials including bubblewrap. (We now have about 15 bags full of packing peanuts and bubblewrap in our shed.)
Movers like the uniformity of the boxes they provide, and really don't like customer-packed jobs. However, our non-Holman boxes were of mostly uniform size, 40 or more 13x13x14 boxes and 30 13x13x19 boxes. Stacking shouldn't have been a problem.
The driver came to our Texas house on stilts with a 2-person crew, and commented that if he had known it was on stilts he would have brought more guys. Now, we did tell the sales rep the house was on stilts, but I see no evidence of this fact on the original paperwork. Having only 2 guys made the unloading especially long (the driver has the bad knees so was mostly doing stuff in the truck rather than climbing our stairs). At one point, I thought I would die when I saw our two 18th century side chairs being brought up, already unwrapped, one upside down atop the other and about to fall off. At that point, I told my husband, who was outside on the driveway, to tell the driver not to unwrap in the truck but to do it in the house.
One of those chairs has a small scratch on the front side of the chair back. Not sure when this occurred, but definitely during the move. Not easy to prove, though, so we'll have to let it go.
The legs to our solid cherry dining room table had been blanket-wrapped but not taped or tied, so when the mover brought them into the dining room, one of the legs slid out and fell onto the tile floor. My husband and I inspected the legs closely but could see no harm, fortunately.
A few other items had small white marks on them, as if paint had rubbed off on them. And our one-of-a-kind Art Deco dresser lost a bit of veneer during the move; this is really too bad because it had been in pristine condition. We only just noticed this, and don't see much point in making a claim as I'm sure the veneer wasn't tight in the first place.
The two helpers were terrific and worked their butts off, were extremely polite and were careful. We offered lots of water (also did so when the truck was loaded up back in NJ).
I was the one checking off numbers on the inventory sheet and at the end had about a dozen items not checked off. I noted this to the driver, who "joked" that he wasn't making off with our belongings. (I didn't care for him too much, as you might be able to tell.)
In conclusion, we were pleased with Holman, and believe that the small issues and minor irritations were nothing in the grand scheme of things. Our stuff arrived more or less safe and sound and on schedule. I really do credit movingscam.com for the huge service provided to consumers looking both to find a good mover and to understand the process.

Diane
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Location: Los Angeles

Re: *NJ to Texas, chose Holman

Postby Diane » Fri Aug 18, 2006 1:23 pm

Was the driver from Holman, Susan?

SusanF
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Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2006 11:58 am

Re: *NJ to Texas, chose Holman

Postby SusanF » Fri Aug 18, 2006 11:14 pm

Yes, the driver was a Holman driver. Our stuff was on the same truck with the same driver throughout.
Oh, I forgot to mention. The driver told us that the Houston operation is no longer part of Holman.

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

Re: *NJ to Texas, chose Holman

Postby Diane » Sun Aug 20, 2006 6:56 pm

Maybe the helpers in TX were supplied by Armstrong.

Thanks for this very detailed post, Susan. I believe that this probably represents the best that good companies like Holman can do during the busy season. Let's remember too that you were a COD customer and not an account customer with a move paid for by an employer, who would probably have gotten better treatment. A lot of the problems were caused by the helpers being inexperienced. The person you dealt with at Holman who was coordinating the move was probably also inexperienced and that's why you had to keep repeating stuff to her.

You said this about your estimated and final weight:
The estimate (including crating of 2 items) was for 10,900 pounds at $7,400. Our final bill (we had them crate only one item) came to $5,900 (for 8,200 pounds). . . . Since we paid by credit card, the refund was a credit back to the card. This took about three weeks.

Two comments about this that may help others in the future -
1. You were 2,700 pounds under the estimate and you got a $1500 refund. Disregarding the credit for crating only one item, that comes to about $55 credit for every hundred pounds you were under the estimated weight. This is what I have been telling people - the credit they will be given for lower weight isn't going to make them rich.
2. It took you three weeks to get the $1500 credited back to your card. As I said above, if you had gone with University Van Lines, they wait to charge the card until they have the actual weight. I am not second-guessing your decision to use Holman, because it's generally better to have a self-haul as you did with Holman, but just pointing this out.

I'll note that you liked University as well as Holman during the estimate process.
Diane
Check out domestic companies on this thread. Click here for a detailed, authoritative article on international moving.

SusanF
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Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2006 11:58 am

Re: NJ to Texas, chose Holman

Postby SusanF » Wed Aug 23, 2006 3:12 pm

Our credit was actually more like $2200. The original charge to the credit card was higher than the 7900 I noted above (perhaps by the 10 percent, I'm not sure). There wasn't anything wrong or to their advantage as opposed to ours with the way they did the credit. In other words they didn't make any money by overestimating.*
However, the original charge was not made when we signed papers but only a day or two before loading, which then of course immediately showed a much lower weight than estimated. Yet we still had to wait 3 weeks for the credit (and meantime, the credit card bill came and we went ahead and paid in full rather than risk interest charges on any unpaid balance should the credit not have arrived in time). I don't think
I agree that the irritations we experienced were largely due to our being private individuals rather than corporate customers. I do think we got a good move and have no regrets.
The helpers at delivery were from K.C. Salley South Texas Movers of Corpus Christi.
* I think the overestimating was due at least in part to our having packed up so many boxes ahead of time. We had boxes packed and weighed. I don't think the estimation software knew how to handle this. We told the estimator we had X number of boxes amounting to Y cubic feet and weighing Z pounds.


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