Small move CA to MA - need advice, please

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Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2007 6:12 pm
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Small move CA to MA - need advice, please

Postby movingeast » Tue Jul 31, 2007 5:19 pm

This site has been a wonderful resource for me as I plan my move. I've been telling everyone I know about it. Thank you for being here.

I am planning a small move from CA (Orange County) to MA (South Shore area). It's about a 1 bedroom apartment, but I'm leaving behind most of the bulky furniture (i.e. no bed, no sofa, no dresser). I will try to ship most of my books media mail to save money.

I'm trying to decide between using full service movers or a small shipment companies (Box Brothers and Ship Smart), and I'd welcome any advice or suggestions.

My estimates are all over the place b/c I wanted to get an idea of what the most expensive option would be (bringing everything, including books, using full service movers) and what the cheapest would be (bringing the bare minimum, no books, using a small shipment company).

Here are my estimates:

1. United (Merit Moving Systems in Buena Park, very professional agent) estimated 3150 lbs at $2540, with a not to exceed estimate, and a guaranteed pick up date. That was to bring all my stuff, and the agent said he was probably overestimating the weight. I asked for an estimate without books and he gave me 2200 lbs at $1921. This seems pretty good to me, but he just wrote it down, didn't give me an official estimate. I need to find out if I can still get the lower estimate in writing with guaranteed pick up date, because if so, I am leaning towards this option.

(I tried to get estimates from the local Mayflower (Penn) and North American (Nelson) agents, but they were not interested in doing an in home estimate when they heard my address (graduate student housing at the local university). I guess the small moves are not worth their while. They gave me estimates over the phone based on weight, and neither were better than United's quote. The North American guy was actually pretty rude over the phone.)

2. Ship Smart. I gave them a list of fewer items, and they estimated 1288 lbs packed & palletized for $1677 (which included a 10% discount). It's a 2-3 week delivery which is a bit long, and only curbside delivery. Plus they say the items, while palletized & shrink wrapped, go on and off different trucks, which makes me a little nervous. Any thoughts on this?

3. Box Brothers. The first time I called for an estimate, no one returned the call. When I called back a week later, the agent was very helpful, but not very well informed. The guy who finally gave me the estimate was more knowledgeable. I gave him the same list that I gave Ship Smart, but they estimated it as much less weight, and gave me 2 estimates: 500 lbs for $1179 and 750 lbs for $1497, which does not seem very competitive at all. They weigh it and then pro-rate it at $1.89 pound, which could get pretty expensive if I go over. It seems a little sketchy. It's the same deal as above with palletizing and shrink wrapping, and 2-3 weeks delivery time.

I'm getting to the point where I'm really confused - do I have 750 lbs or 1288 lbs? Would the small shipment companies be okay, or is it better to just pay more to bring more and hopefully, have better service? Or is it silly to pay full service movers for such a small move when I'm on a budget?

Thanks in advance for any advice, I really appreciate it. Sorry this got so long!

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Re: Small move CA to MA - need advice, please

Postby Diane » Tue Jul 31, 2007 6:59 pm

Hi - unfortunately it's often difficult to get moving companies interested in small shipments at the height of the moving season. It happened to me, too. Also, those are the shipments most likely to experience delivery delays. We were discussing this just yesterday:
minimoves2000 wrote:. . . small move customers are often treated as second class customers by the majors because the cost of administration and customer service is the same as larger moves but yield very little margins. Since the people that sell moves are not the same that administer and coordinate them, many small move customers often find the experience less than desirable after the sale is done and the administration begins. A small move customer is really very taxing to customer service and dispatch. The only reason small moves are even booked by the majors is because Customer Service and Dispatch have no voice in what customers a moving company markets to.

MiniMoves was born to serve an underserved, unrepresented and often abused niche in the moving business.

Diane wrote:Doug,

Although I would have to see reports on several of your moves before I could feel comfortable about your company, I do agree with what you say above. From what I have observed here during several summers, most moving companies would rather not deal with small (2000-pound or less) moves. Although they can charge more per pound for such moves, pickup and delivery are timeconsuming and costly because they involve a lot of driving around and they can be a special hassle in congested areas because of traffic tickets and shuttle and extra labor costs.

Furthermore, once a small shipment is booked by a van line agent in the summer, I have observed that it is the small shipment that is most likely to be left languishing in the warehouse for weeks waiting for a van line driver to pick it up. We had a case recently where such a shipment was in the warehouse for five weeks awaiting pickup by a driver even though it was going on a popular east-west route. One customer posted that when she finally got her shipment, the (United) driver frankly told her that her delivery had been delayed because a larger, better-paying "account" shipment had been moved ahead of hers.

The sales reps don't tell customers with small shipments - how could they? - that they will be low man on the totem pole when it comes to pickup and delivery. As long as customers understand that with a company like MiniMoves they are taking a chance on exactly when pickup and delivery will occur, I agree with you that the cost savings and transparency may make up for such uncertainties. If they are going to wait for a long time anyway, they might as well pay less.

On the other hand, it seems to me that ABF U-Pack offers all three: value, quality, and timely delivery. I would be interested in your thoughts on ABF.

Have you considered using an ABF ReloCube and hiring people to load and unload it for you, if necessary? Each cube holds up to 2000 pounds and fits into a parking space. If your residence won't let it stay there overnight, I think ABF can deliver and pick up the same day. There are dozens of mostly rave reviews on a sticky at the top of the messageboard. You can get a quote from and look on the Superlist linked to below my name under CA and MA to get names of good loading and unloading companies. I know of a couple in Orange County I could recommend. This would give you a fast, safe move at reasonable cost.

On the other hand, if you can get a firm commitment from Merit and you are satisfied with their price, I think they would be a good option too. Their price seems good to me and I think it would be comparable to the cost of using ABF. Whatever you decide, I'll post in the Superlist that they were the company that was most professional in responding to your request for a quote.
Check out domestic companies on this thread. Click here for a detailed, authoritative article on international moving.

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Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2007 6:12 pm
Location: Irvine CA

Re: Small move CA to MA - need advice, please

Postby movingeast » Wed Aug 01, 2007 2:03 am

Hi Diane,

Thanks so much for the reply. Yeah, the small move as-second-class-citizen is definitely the vibe I got from some of the moving companies. Coincidentally, I got a call from Box Brothers a few hours after posting, apologizing profusely for their delay in calling me back. Coincidence?

The quote for a Relocube from ABF was $2300 door to door, so a bit less than full service movers, but not that much if I have to hire loaders/unloaders on one end.

Thanks for your suggestions.

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Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2007 11:58 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: Small move CA to MA - need advice, please

Postby minimoves2000 » Wed Aug 01, 2007 8:43 pm


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