Moving Experience: DC to Austin

Our open community forum is for general moving related questions, comments, and useful information about local and interstate moves.
VivaTexas
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 11:21 pm

Moving Experience: DC to Austin

Postby VivaTexas » Mon Jun 11, 2007 12:09 am

First off, I’d like to say thanks to all the moderators and contributors for making this site possible. I feel like it gave me a real great start when looking for a reputable moving company. As a way of saying thanks, I’d like to share my experience. Please excuse the length, but I hope I manage to get some useful information in here.

I’ve recently moved from Rockville, MD to Austin, TX. Using this site as reference, I got estimates from the following companies. I’ll just hit the major details, as all the estimators were both friendly and prompt.

Hilldrup – They estimated my belongings at 5000 pounds and quoted me $3800, including full packing charged by weight.

Von Paris – Also estimated at 5000 pounds with a slightly higher quote. The charge for packing by the box and ended up with a higher estimate for the pack, but lower transportation cost.

Allied – Can’t remember which agent it was, but they also estimate 5000 pounds and gave me the cheapest quote, including packing.

Graebel – The only agent to not come back with 5000 pounds, they came back with 3300 pounds for about what the United agents were charging for 5000.

In the end, I went with Hilldrup for a number of reasons. First, they have a lot of great reviews. Second, I liked that the packing was by final weight, so I didn’t feel inclined to pack some myself. Third, they had the best price (aside from Allied). And finally, the agent promised that the driver, the truck, and the packers would all be Hilldrup employed and trained.

Once I decided on Hilldrup, I was assigned a coordinator to handle all my paperwork. The process went mostly smooth, though I often had trouble getting in contact with her. But since I had a lot of time before my move, I wasn’t particularly concerned. At this point, I decided to do my move a little different. Since my apartment lease wouldn’t be up for several months, and my girlfriend wasn’t moving down immediately, I decided to have my packing done before I left, but have them wait three weeks before picking up everything. This way, I would have plenty of time to find a place in Austin without worrying about my stuff going into storage. My coordinator was a little thrown off by this, but had no problem setting up the schedule as such.

Packing Day
The two packers showed up promptly. They were friendly and professional, though sometimes hard to understand as they weren’t completely fluent in English. Overall, they did a good job packing everything. To save on packing material, which apparently comes out of their pocket, they did pack a number of boxes with items from multiple rooms (which would make unpacking harder). Also, I had to go back and properly seal several boxes.

Moving Day
This part I wasn’t there for, but I can relate a few from my girlfriend. The driver showed up on time with two helpers. The first wrinkle is that I ended up getting a Mayflower truck and contract driver. They put plastic wrap down to protect the carpet and got everything loaded quickly and without damage. The only problem was when the driver snapped at my girlfriend when she kept asking for more padding on my big screen TV (the third most important thing in my life  ). He told her that he was a professional and knew what he was doing. He then proceeded to go wait in the truck while his helpers loaded everything.

Transport
Nothing much to report here. About a week went by before I received first word of my delivery. I received my three day spread and was told they’d nail it down a day or two ahead of time.

Delivery
On Thursday, I made contact with my driver who said he had one early morning delivery Friday in San Antonio, then would head up, but that it was possible he wouldn’t be able to deliver until Saturday. After many delays and calls back and forth, he finally showed up at 4:30pm on Friday with one helper. This is where the trouble started. He took a look around and decided he couldn’t get his truck into my apartment complex, in spite of the property manager telling him that several people have brought full-sized rigs in. This was one of the big reasons I ended up going with this property. So now we needed to find a shuttle, but since he showed up so late in the day everything was closed or closing. There was generally a lot of confusion, so I tried getting in contact with both my coordinator and estimator (who said I should call him if I had any trouble during my move). I left messages for both. After several hours, the driver gave up and said he would return in the morning with another helper and that they would walk all of my stuff the 400 yards from the road to my apartment. This was because he didn’t want to wait until the rental truck places
opened.

Saturday morning, he showed back up with two helpers and one of the guy’s old beat up pickup truck, which they used as a makeshift shuttle. The unload went surprisingly quickly (about two and a half hours), but not as professionally as the pickup. They didn’t put plastic down to protect the carpet and a number of items were not handled with care (for instance, one of the helpers brought one of the clearly labeled High Value Item boxes in upside down). The driver also made a number of complaints about his bad knees, walking up stairs, etc. How he was going to unload all of my stuff the day before with just one helper…

Summary
My shipment ended up being only 3200 pounds, which cost $2800. Additionally, they charged me the full price for shuttle service, $300. After explaining the quality of the shuttle I received, they knocked off $150. My coordinator didn’t respond to my voicemail from Friday afternoon until 4:00pm Monday and the original agent never responded. Overall, it was a pretty standard experience. They started off very well, but declined heavily in the end. I generally had a very hard time getting a hold of my coordinator, several times leaving multiple messages across multiple days before getting a callback. I’ve had about the same level of damage as each of my previous moves. Most pieces of furniture have something wrong, from scratches on the table to several of the shelves being crushed on my desk. Everything that was packed, however, seems to have made it without issue.

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

Re: Moving Experience: DC to Austin

Postby MusicMom » Mon Jun 11, 2007 7:38 am

Thank you for this very detailed an informative review!

Regarding the truck getting into the complex, we've heard of drivers who are very adept at getting their rigs into tight spaces, and others, particularly those that own thier own trucks and are protective of custom fenders and such, who try and fail, then get mad at the damage. Some figure it may be better to just get a shuttle. I'm glad they knocked off the price for the beat-up pickup.

Also, I hope your girlfriend is #1 or at least #2 on your important list...

VivaTexas
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 11:21 pm

Re: Moving Experience: DC to Austin

Postby VivaTexas » Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:15 am

MusicMom wrote:Regarding the truck getting into the complex, we've heard of drivers who are very adept at getting their rigs into tight spaces, and others...

Also, I hope your girlfriend is #1 or at least #2 on your important list...


Yeah, it was definitely his own truck, and it looked like he had gotten about the longest extended cab possible. Him not being able to get in was frustrating, but what made me unhappy was how they handled it. With the driver making threats about charging for Saturday delivery and leaving for his next delivery without delivering my stuff, it would have been really good for anyone from Hilldrup to get in contact with me and step in to mediate everything.

It also seems like the industry has room to improve the delivery side of moving. If they had sent someone out a few days ahead of time to inspect the complex, we could have probably avoided the entire mess.

And yes, she's definitely #1, with #2 being my car... :-)

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

Re: **Moving Experience: DC to Austin

Postby ArchieWhite » Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:19 am

I wish my girlfriend knew how to wrap big screen TV's, I would hire her in a minute, there is a shortage of people trained in that. And the shuttle at $300 was not full price, that was the discounted price. so it got discounted twice, good job.

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

Re: **Moving Experience: DC to Austin

Postby Diane » Mon Jun 11, 2007 11:53 am

Thanks so much for this review. I would say that your experience was a little below average, because it's not normal for furniture to arrive with scratches and crushed shelves. Also, drivers can be prickly and difficult - no doubt about it - but they are not supposed to be rude or make threats as yours apparently did at the delivery end. And even if someone had inspected the complex beforehand (which is practically never done in the van line system because nobody will pay for it), there's no assurance that the driver would have tried to get his truck in. Finally, you should have been told in advance that you might get a Mayflower driver, although there's nothing wrong with having one. So, a few glitches. I admire your attitude in overlooking them to see the big picture.
Diane
Check out domestic companies on this thread. Click here for a detailed, authoritative article on international moving.

VivaTexas
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 11:21 pm

Re: **Moving Experience: DC to Austin

Postby VivaTexas » Mon Jun 11, 2007 11:57 am

ArchieWhite wrote:I wish my girlfriend knew how to wrap big screen TV's, I would hire her in a minute, there is a shortage of people trained in that. And the shuttle at $300 was not full price, that was the discounted price. so it got discounted twice, good job.


Yeah, she's very anal retentive, which helped. It showed up with at least four layers of padding on it :-).

Yeah, the $300 was the magic discount number of 33% that they dropped everything to. I have some understanding of why, but that whole process certainly makes everything more confusing.

VivaTexas
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 11:21 pm

Re: **Moving Experience: DC to Austin

Postby VivaTexas » Mon Jun 11, 2007 12:04 pm

Diane wrote:Thanks so much for this review. I would say that your experience was a little below average, because it's not normal for furniture to arrive with scratches and crushed shelves. Also, drivers can be prickly and difficult - no doubt about it - but they are not supposed to be rude or make threats as yours apparently did at the delivery end. And even if someone had inspected the complex beforehand (which is practically never done in the van line system because nobody will pay for it), there's no assurance that the driver would have tried to get his truck in. Finally, you should have been told in advance that you might get a Mayflower driver, although there's nothing wrong with having one. So, a few glitches. I admire your attitude in overlooking them to see the big picture.


I forgot to include in my original write-up, the day before when they called with the final time for my loading I was told it may be a Mayflower truck.

Yeah, I'd definitely rate this one in the middle of the three moves I've done. United from NY to FL was the best (mostly because I had so little to move), and North American from FL to MD was the worst. Mostly, I'm just disappointed because based on the history of the company and the reviews, I expected tighter quality control and better support from their office. Basically, it seems like it all boils down to the quality of the driver, because that was the real difficulty, and all the damaged items were pieces he packed.

Next time, I think I'm going to finally take the multiple recommendations I've received over the years and pay the extra for Graebel.

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

Re: Moving Experience: DC to Austin

Postby Diane » Mon Jun 11, 2007 12:12 pm

It really does mostly boil down to the quality of the driver. In general, the best drivers are given the larger loads or shipments that are being paid for by an employer.

Do you remember the names of the United agent you used in NY and the North American agent you used in FL? I would be interested in including those reviews.

Some United agents in the NYC area are Liberty and Hall-Lane on Long Island and Clancy in (I think) Westchester County.

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

Re: Moving Experience: DC to Austin

Postby ArchieWhite » Mon Jun 11, 2007 1:05 pm

As an aside, to a comment up above, in the United/Mayflower group, it is a common, although unwritten, courtesy for agents, when asked, to go out and check delivery locations, in order to help coordinate a fellow agents job. There is no money involved, but sometimes favors get returned. But if no one asked, or had an idea of a tricky delivery, it's not done automatically, so I'm sure quite a few of them sneak tru. If I was the driver of one of those extra big rigs, I might ask...


Return to “Open Community”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 19 guests