Agents switching us from Mayflower to United... ok?

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Scott

Agents switching us from Mayflower to United... ok?

Postby Scott » Fri Apr 23, 2004 5:45 pm

Hello all! Have a situation and I'm not sure if I should be afraid or not. (Well, I'm already afraid based on horror stories of moving, but...)

Anyway, we got several estimates from various companies to handle our interstate move from Palo Alto, CA to Phoenix, AZ. We decided to go with the binding estimate from Piedmont Moving Systems in San Jose, agents for Mayflower. So far so good. Free boxes from rep, good communication.

Today when we called their logistics guy to confirm dates and ask a few questions, he mentioned in passing that it would be a white United truck. We were confused, since our paperwork and brochures say "Mayflower" is the the carrier. He said "oh, we're agents for both".

It's not so much that we don't like United (or Mayflower, we've never used either.) It's just the change that has me concerned.

After doing a bit more research, Piedmont Moving Systems (agent for Mayflower) and Bartels Moving Systems (agent for United, who we've never heard of until today when I looked at United's web site) have the same address, and share employees (at least the logistics guy, who works for both.) United's epinions average is actually HIGHER than Mayflower, and Bartels is actually rated as "satisfactory" with the bbb whereas Piedmont has one outstanding complaint.

So, with 5 days til the move date - what should I do? Options I've thought of include:

* doing nothing and assuming it will all work out
* asking for an updated order for service/binding estimate that indicates the correct carrier (and agent company name?)

Found one other post here that indicated good experiences with Piedmont.

Help?

Many many thanks!
-Scott

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Re: Agents switching us from Mayflower to United... ok?

Postby IMP » Fri Apr 23, 2004 9:58 pm

Scott . . . the short version is you should be o.k. The long(er) version is that Unigroup Worldwide is the parent company of BOTH United and Mayflower corporates. Each agency is individually owned - but all of them sort of "answer" to Unigroup - which just to confuse you further is located in Fenton, MO - suburb of St. Louis. United Van Lines is the largest moving company in the country - maybe the world, not 100% sure of that one. Mayflower, on the other hand, is statistically the most recognized by the public - that little boat on their trucks just seems to catch attention. Many agencies are called "dual agents" which means they are agents for both United and Mayflower. Technically they are not supposed to share employees - but it's easy enough to get around that, if an employee is part time with each of the companies. I never quite understood why an agency could "fly both flags" but not share facilities and employees - and I think that's an internal rule within Unigroup. If you've been informed that United will be hauling this I think you are within your rights to ask for another binding estimate/order for service from the company that will have their truck show up - actually - I'd probably recommend it. But again - with the two you've mentioned, I think you're o.k.

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Re: Agents switching us from Mayflower to United... ok?

Postby twalker » Fri Apr 23, 2004 10:19 pm

IMP wrote:Technically they are not supposed to share employees - but it's easy enough to get around that, if an employee is part time with each of the companies. I never quite understood why an agency could "fly both flags" but not share facilities and employees - and I think that's an internal rule within Unigroup.


Hey IMP. I think that the reason for this is that United agents are actually part owners of Unigroup, but Mayflower agents are not. United agents may get some other benefits from Unigroup that Mayflower agents don't. The way that I understand it is that Mayflower agents basically pay for the right to paint the Mayflower logo on the side of their trucks and use the Mayflower name. I think that they do share the same customer support, and I'm sure that they share the same legal group but there is a distinct difference between a United employee and a Mayflower employee (at least at the agency level).

I'm kind of going out on a limb here since I've never actually asked anyone from Unigroup if this was exactly the case. Maybe one of the Unigroup guys could clear this up, but I agree that Scott's situation probably won't change much since the parent company is the same.

Tim Walker
MovingScam.com

Tyrone
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Re: Agents switching us from Mayflower to United... ok?

Postby Tyrone » Sat Apr 24, 2004 12:30 am

Look at is this way... Mayflower is currently the defendant in a RICO suit charged with racketeering. So in this case the change is probably a good thing. :wink:


(Of course, as Tim pointed out, the two companies are corporate siblings and share the same slimy legal department... which is getting its a$$ kicked up one side of the RICO courtroom and down the other, LOL!)
Dominus amotioni capitis e clunibus sum.

Scott

Re: Agents switching us from Mayflower to United... ok?

Postby Scott » Sat Apr 24, 2004 2:11 am

Wow - thanks to all of your for your quick responses! The Unigroup thing is interesting. I'm thinking we'll ask for updated paperwork just so that in case anything goes weird (heaven forbid!) the paperwork will match the truck which will match the bill of lading etc. But our stress level has gone back down to oh-my-god-I-hate-moving-stress. :)

Thanks again!

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Re: Agents switching us from Mayflower to United... ok?

Postby Tyrone » Sat Apr 24, 2004 11:01 am

The request for updated paperwork is an excellent idea!
Dominus amotioni capitis e clunibus sum.

Michael
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Re: Agents switching us from Mayflower to United... ok?

Postby Michael » Sat Apr 24, 2004 9:09 pm

Scott,

What we use during the summer months is what we call an Alliance Program. What that means is if a Mayflower agent registers a shipment and is unable to get a Mayflower driver under it, then they will get a United Driver. And vic-a-versa. This gives us as a company during the summer time better capability to pick you up directly and get you to your destination, as opposed to picking you up locally and taking you to a warehouse and sitting you there until a driver can be assigned.

Paperwork, isnt going to change anything. It still is managed and maintianed under Mayflower and the local agent you signed with. It just happens to be a United driver.

United and Mayflower both use the exact same tariff and pricing guidelines.

You will be fine. In my opinion there is nothing to worry about. If you do have any concerns you can call myself or biglee.

In regards to the dual agencies. The agent I worked for, A&D Relocation (Mayflower), when I was on Dateline, is owned by Darrel Horne, who also ownes Horne Moving Systems (United). We all worked out of the same building, used the same crews. And I actually would compete against Horne, or A&D. The only difference was depending on the crews that went out on the job, they either wore a green shirt or blue shirt or went in a MAyflower or United Truck that day. Just depended on the job. And when I was with A&D I sold COD household good moves but sold United National Account. SO I sold for both at the same time. But never both COD or NAtional Account against one another as the same rep.

Hope that helps,
Michael
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Tyrone
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Re: Agents switching us from Mayflower to United... ok?

Postby Tyrone » Sat Apr 24, 2004 11:59 pm

Michael,

This is scary... do you appreciate the irony that the tactic you described in your last paragraph is exactly what a lot of the scam movers do? Operate multiple "unrelated" businesses out of the same building and simply change their corporate identities for convenience! Of course, in their case they do it for sinister purposes such as avoiding law suits, bbb complaints, and the like.
Dominus amotioni capitis e clunibus sum.

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Re: Agents switching us from Mayflower to United... ok?

Postby BigLeeCalif » Sun Apr 25, 2004 12:44 am

Tyrone, actually the relationship between Mayflower and United has evolved since Unigroup was formed after the purchase of Mayflower.

In the beginning, the companies were totally separate, with United in Fenton, and Mayflower in Carmel, Indiana.

Over time Mayflower relocated to Fenton and shares the same campus... United on United drive and Mayflower on Mayflower drive.

However, recently the corporation has evolved to unify. So when you call customer service, or any other department they will ask if you are calling on Mayflower or United business.

The office I work at is the only dual agency in the Chipman family. So I handle paperwork for United and Mayflower.. No other employee has the involvement in both companies that I do except for the hauling division, who dispatches both the Mayflower and United fleet.

When the alliance program is used, a truck just doesn't show up on moving day. Shippers are notified and asked up front (moreso now they ask when giving the estimate) if there is a problem with the shipment being allianced if necessary.

The one thing about it not mattering to change estimates to the company hauling it is because the shipment will be priced in the primary van line system. So if Mayflower hauls United, it is priced through the United system, and vice versa. Estimates are honored, and no additional charges are snuck in.

Basically, the alliance program doubles the hauling capacity of any order, and missed dates are rare, if at all.

Hope this clarifies what Michael said.
"It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt" Mark Twain

Tyrone
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Re: Agents switching us from Mayflower to United... ok?

Postby Tyrone » Sun Apr 25, 2004 1:57 am

Intellectually I comprehend your explanation; yet to my gut it "feels like" the process is simple brokering-on-the-fly while circumventing the brokering related regulations.
Dominus amotioni capitis e clunibus sum.

Michael
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Re: Agents switching us from Mayflower to United... ok?

Postby Michael » Sun Apr 25, 2004 8:43 am

Tyrone,

Dont try to make this a scam. Its two different companies under one flag. Competing against one another. Yet when in time of support, we have the capability of making sure a move gets covered.

We arent pawning a move off to another Van Line not in the unigroup family, or brokering it out to another hauling company.

The agent that books the move, registers it, coordinates the move and maintains all contact with the client.

It isnt like we go out and sale Mayflower and in the same breathe say, well here is a quote from United, which company do you want?

Funny, a company puts more guidelines and back ups into its system to help better the relocation of a customer and you try to make it look like they are brokering it out. Who do you think has a better chance of hauling a shipment from point A to point B. A company with over 900 agents in its system, or a company with one truck and one driver.

The simple fact of the matter is, thats our program. It alleviates all the G-11's that we have seen other companies do and which we saw happen to a few people here last summer.

And I think you will see North American and Allied do this soon, as well as Atlas and Red Ball. As more of the big boys begin to purchase van lines in trouble or van lines to make them bigger. Eventually I think everyone will have some sort of alliance program with their sister companies to better help their customers.

My particular agent is a cross rep also. Most of our agents are United, but we do have Mayflower agents. The difference, is if its a Mayflower driver shipping a United order, it could still well be a McCollister Mayflower.
Michael
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Forget yourself for others and the others will never forget

Tyrone
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Re: Agents switching us from Mayflower to United... ok?

Postby Tyrone » Sun Apr 25, 2004 11:42 am

Do you see how a scammer could do the classic, "hire company A and company B show up" switcheroo and then claim, "This is not a big deal -- the major van lines do the exact same thing".

The average consumer would not be able to distinguish the transactional nuances that separate "alliances" from the classic scam switcheroo.
Dominus amotioni capitis e clunibus sum.

Scott

Re: Agents switching us from Mayflower to United... ok?

Postby Scott » Sun Apr 25, 2004 6:29 pm

So speaking as an "average customer", all would have been well if the salesperson had indicated this relationship *in advance*, had mentioned that it could be either kind of truck, and for the paperwork to indicate something like Mayflower/United, or Unigroup for Mayflower & United, or somesuch. I totally appreciate that this kind of thing can improve customer experiences; I just want to know about it.

Stuff like this that's no big deal when you're around it every day (as is the case with my salesperson and the other employees, no doubt) can be disconcerting when you're trusting all your household stuff to someone and already stressed just from moving itself.

FWIW,
Scott

Michael
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Re: Agents switching us from Mayflower to United... ok?

Postby Michael » Sun Apr 25, 2004 8:06 pm

Tyrone,

I fully understand what your saying. But we know what they do and what we do are two different things.

But yes I agree, scam companies could pull the same thing. And as we know they do when they tell people they use majors all the time.

Scott. If its a big concern, ask the sales person more about the alliance program if he hasnt already discussed it further with you.

I know last year I would never tell people about the alliance program. For a couple of reasons. One, I was concerned customers would think I was trying the ol bait and switch tactic, even if I explained it well. Second, most people dont like to hear that you may use your sister company to haul something when they asked you to quote them. And lastly, most people dont like to hear the horror stories about companies doing what we call G-11's (picking up and bringing back to warehouses.) But luckily I didnt have that happen to any of my shippers.

But because I represent a cross agent and if its anything like last summer, I do educate my customers about that possible scenario.

Best of luck
Michael
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Forget yourself for others and the others will never forget

Smdsac
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Re: Agents switching us from Mayflower to United... ok?

Postby Smdsac » Thu Apr 29, 2004 2:01 pm

I don't think it much matters. We just had an interstate move that was perfectly awful using "Mayflower." Thanks to doing research, we've found that Mayflower really doesn't exist as we thought it did. All they do is hire drivers and no one answers for anything.

Our articles were damaged by packers at our old home - I assume by the moving company who were the people who sold the job. Even though the salesman knew that we needed insurance (told by me specifically the day before my husband signed contract), unfortunately, I wasn't there the day of the signing. He suggested repeatedly that often, "the homeowner's" takes care of it. (The day before, I had told him the homeowner's didn't - and you couldn't miss the antiques in the house.) The articles that were actually damaged were by poor packing - or lack of it. It was as though - "Hey Jethro - we got no insurance here. Do whatcha want!" (We're talking dirty dog rugs thrown on top of things and lamp shades with no padding.) The local mover who had these cretins pack has taken the hard line that with no insurance, apparently they could do whatever they wanted with our goods.

There is no "Mayflower" to complain to. The local company who sold the job dropped it like a hot potato and sent it to Missouri, who is supposedly "Mayflower" and has yet to contact us (this was over a month ago). My argument is even if my husband blew it, insurance-wise, the contract company doesn't have the right to trash your goods. But I may be wrong.

All I can say is stay on top of it. Be SURE you have the insurance, and supervise EVERYTHING. We lived, learned and now we are filing complaints.

I don't know if anyone has run into stuff being trashed in the actual packing, but if so, can you let me know? Hope springs eternal.
Thank you -Sue


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