Good cross-country move with South Hills Movers, PA to WA

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wayt
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2006 3:49 pm
Location: Redmond, WA

Good cross-country move with South Hills Movers, PA to WA

Postby wayt » Mon Nov 13, 2006 4:25 pm

I recently moved a 3BR household with woodworking shop (~3000 lbs of heavy equipment and hardware) from Pittsburgh to Seattle. Based on the advice and reviews at movingscam.com, I got not-to-exceed quotes from United Van Lines, Mayflower, and South Hills Movers. Mayflower was the best about producing a not-to-exceed estimate (which means that charges will be based on weight but are capped by the estimate amount) as asked, but their quoted price, at $13,000 and change, was highest by far.

United initially came in at the lowest price, but estimated a weight (10,000 lbs.) considerably below the others. United refused to yield to my insistence to pay on delivery; they would only ship if I paid in advance. For me, that was a deal-breaker.

South Hills Movers (SHM) was in the middle of the bunch, both in estimated weight and in price. Like Mayflower, they permitted me to pay with a credit card upon delivery. (They required a signed authorization form before pickup with the amount of the estimate, but the contract stipulated that charges would be based on actual weight if less than estimated and would be billed only after delivery.) I mentioned United's lower price, and SHM--after some back and forth with their sales people--came back with a not-to-exceed quote of $10,700, the lowest of the bunch. This price included a full-service pack, all packing materials, and $0 full-replacement coverage up to $60,000. (Our State Farm homeowners also covered the shipment, but with a high deductible.)

I wanted to take a leisurely trip with my family across the country, and I was pleased that SHM allowed me to negotiate a 3-day delivery window that was 10 days after the pickup date.

The moving crew arrived at 8am on the packing day and worked straight through to 6pm without breaks for lunch or rest. They came back the next day and again worked from 8am to 5pm to load the truck. It rained all that day, and the movers worked straight through the downpour, getting soaked to the skin. I was amazed by their stamina and dedication. They were polite and careful throughout, did not damage the house, and went beyond the call of duty to hoist down some heavy filing cabinets down a steep staircase from an attic loft. When the packing was complete, I tipped the driver $100 and each of the packers $20. Their evident gratitude suggested that they didn't expect to be tipped, which is a new experience for me, having been shaken down by movers in the past.

I was given a detailed inventory, a cell number for the driver and a direct line number for his dispatcher. On our journey to Washington, I called several times to check on the shipment and was always able to get through and to get an accurate update.

The truck arrived on a Saturday night, right in the middle of the delivery window. I had been told that the driver need not work weekends, but he decided to unload on Sunday morning and hired two local men to help him. They weren't quite as careful or diligent as the South Hills packers had been but performed fine. By 6pm they had the entire shipment unloaded and furniture put back together. I tipped the driver $60 and gave the other two $10 each.

Damage was minimal--a computer monitor knocked out of whack, an antique lamp busted, a lampshade crushed and a few other minor dings and cracks to inexpensive items. I wrote a letter describing the damage and included photos, and quickly received a call from their claims department explaining their procedure and getting an address for the claim form.

The shipment, which SHM had estimated at 12,500 lbs., actually weighed in at 15,100 lbs. Their sales agent initially tried to persuade me to let them charge 110% of the agreed price, but I insisted on the amount spelled out in the not-to-exceed contract. They honored that, and billed my credit card for the $10,700 about 10 days after delivery.

It's hard for me to imagine how things could have gone more smoothly. If we ever move back east, I'll call South Hills Movers again.

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

Re: Good cross-country move with South Hills Movers, PA to W

Postby MusicMom » Mon Nov 13, 2006 5:48 pm

Thank you for the review. I'm glad they stuck with the GNTE price, although I understand why they asked you to pay a little more. Looks like you lucked out with the estimator! :wink:

You tip very generously!

Question, when you say United insisted on paying in advance, do you mean they would have charged your credit card right then and there, or on the morning of pickup?

wayt
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2006 3:49 pm
Location: Redmond, WA

Re: Good cross-country move with South Hills Movers, PA to W

Postby wayt » Tue Nov 14, 2006 8:54 pm

The United agent (George Moving) had a policy of charging the full estimated amount of the move 24 hours before they arrived to pack things up. (Which was actually a day before the truck was loaded, in my case.)

I was unwilling to accept this. When I moved to Pittsburgh from San Francisco in 2002, the company we used (California-New York Moving) claimed--falsely--that there was a long walk from the truck to the house and that the second floor was more than one flight of stairs above the first, and they demanded payment of exorbitant extra charges before they would unload my stuff.

In short, having been paid up front, they held my goods hostage as a way to extort even more money out of me. I have heard similar horror stories from others, and even though George has a pretty good reputation, I didn't ever want to be in that position again. Fortunately there are carriers, such as Mayflower and South Hills Movers, that do the honest thing and charge you once they have completed their service. They protect themselves from non-payment by getting you to sign a credit card authorization form before the pickup date. They can then get an authorization code from your credit card company and be confident that the transaction will go through once they deliver the load.

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

Re: Good cross-country move with South Hills Movers, PA to W

Postby Diane » Tue Nov 14, 2006 9:04 pm

wayt,

Thanks for this good review, which I'll add to my Superlist linked to below. The only thing that I think is a bit unusual is this:
The shipment, which SHM had estimated at 12,500 lbs., actually weighed in at 15,100 lbs. Their sales agent initially tried to persuade me to let them charge 110% of the agreed price . . .

I don't think they're supposed to do that, but at least they backed down when you objected. Your weight was more than 20% over the estimate and by asking for 110% they in effect asked you to split the difference in cost.

People reading this should note that this kind of thing is exactly what Moovers, Inc. did when one customer's weight was way over the estimate. (Unlike this situation, they hadn't been able to see the goods prior to pickup.) In other words, they asked the customer to split the difference. They, too, backed down immediately when the customer objected. My point is that other companies besides Moovers have done this.

I'm very interested in what you said about charging the credit card because I didn't know that Mayflower had a different policy from United in that regard. Maybe BigLee will come on to confirm that this is so, since he works for a Mayflower agent.

I'm also interested in what you said about the unloading crew being different from the loading crew. I believe that South Hills tries to have the two crews be the same but your review shows that it doesn't always happen. We had a similar report about A. Arnold in KY a few days ago.

I'm glad that it all worked out so well for you. As far as I know, South Hills has an excellent reputation in the industry.

wayt
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2006 3:49 pm
Location: Redmond, WA

Re: Good cross-country move with South Hills Movers, PA to WA

Postby wayt » Tue May 15, 2007 12:41 am

Just a quick follow-up to report on my experience with South Hills Movers processing my claim for reimbursement for the relatively small amount of damage that did occur during my move (described above).

Almost eight months after the move, I finally got everything unpacked :) and dug out the claim form SHM had sent months ago. A week after I mailed it in, I had my check for $580--the full amount of my claim--and a very nice letter of apology from the senior claims administrator.

This is my 13th city and 12th move, and South Hills Movers made it by far the smoothest moving experience so far.

ArchieWhite
Posts: 2942
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 11:38 am

Re: **Good cross-country move with South Hills Movers, PA to WA

Postby ArchieWhite » Tue May 15, 2007 7:22 am

Yes, SHM is a fine company, been around a long time and well respected. I guess the only downside to your move was that the driver, who was probably an owner operator, had to haul 3000 lbs for free. Once the sales person sets the price, GNTE, then the driver is on the hook, and it sounds like this driver handled his duties like a pro.....


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