Move from Michigan to Netherlands using Stevens

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Posts: 7
Joined: Tue May 15, 2007 9:31 am
Location: Netherlands

Move from Michigan to Netherlands using Stevens

Postby Gaviidae » Sat Jul 28, 2007 1:49 pm

Hi all. I don't have all my papers in front of me as I'm on the computer at a friend's house, but now that I finally have time I want to put out my experience so far on my move (my stuff is supposed to arrive in Rotterdam/Europort today).

I met my husband 10 years ago and we finally got married in April. I had gotten my verblijfsvergunning (staying permit) last year in October, and according to Dutch Customs, one may bring stuff in without paying the usual 19% taxes-on-imported-goods if the case is that you're moving (generally within a year of actually coming here). Since I was going to be back at my house in the US for 3 weeks in June, I decided that was going to have to be the time of the move (even with summer being busy for movers). I called all 4 of the International movers listed on the main thread.
If I can remember right, the call to Sterling could not connect for some reason (I was calling from the Netherlands). I left a message for someone at another company (Southern Winds?). I got ahold of Jill at Stevens and Mark Lawson at (I'm getting SWINTL and Rainier mixed up but I think he was at Rainier). Both company reps took down my address in the States and told me they'd rather set things up after I got in the States.

After arriving in the States, I still basically only got ahold of the same two people. I never could connect with Sterling. Someone got my name there and was going to call back. One of the problems the companies had was that I had a long list of things I needed to do in my short time in the States, and my house had no phone (a tree had fallen on the wire last year) and so I was staying with my aunt and uncle 40 miles away and I ended up mostly playing phone tag. My relatives also live in the Internet Stone Age so there was trouble checking my email. We ended up buying a lot of coffees at the sometimes-online sometimes-not local Internet Cafe.

So I managed to get only two estimates at my house, a woman from I think Rainier (she was actually from United Van Lines, the actual shipper) and someone from Weller Transfer (the actual shipper for Stevens). I could not get to the other two companies and didn't feel good with picking one of two, but that's what I ended up doing.

My amount of stuff was quite small, mostly books, music (records, CDs, tapes), a fold-up bookshelf, two stained glasses (each a few feet by a few feet), and small Chinese stuff from my dead grandma, and a wooden table with 2 benches. All this was under 1000 lbs. which was the basis for both companies. Stevens emailed me their estimate, about $2500 not including customs, taxes, import costs, all that. The other company (Rainier?) gave me two numbers, which I can't remember what they were exactly, but they were a bit more but included import costs etc, and calculating the two, they were about equal. Both companies wanted an answer as soon as possible, and I ended up choosing Stevens only because there were some Dutch people in the company (West Michigan is full of Dutch people and many more people moving to-and-from the Netherlands/West Michigan than in other parts of the US), and spoke with one guy over some details in Dutch (good practice for me). Also their office is in Saginaw which isn't far from the Grand Rapids area. Before I could call the other company to let them know, they called me.

Mark Lawson sounded really disappointed and almost sad, and I felt bad that I couldn't give him a hard reason like cost or something. Someone had told him that I was going with them, but I dunno who that could be, as the only person I talked to was the estimator, who asked when her company would get an answer, As it was Monday that she came I told her that I was hoping for 3 or 4 other estimates during the week and planned on calling the following week. I couldn't have picked a company without an estimate and only one person in house!

Two local dudes from Kalamazoo came with a truck and wrapped all my stuff in paper and boxed it. One was obviously newer to the job than the other, but they both did just fine. They knew nothing other than that the truck was bringing the stuff to Kalamazoo where it would be put in some wooden crate-box, and from there brought to port (either to Detroit or New York).

Even though the first main email from Stevens said something like I was supposed to pay 10% up front and the rest after being delivered, nobody asked for anything until after the email saying the ocean container left port and was supposed to arrive here today. An insurance form was emailed to me, which I filled in and returned. At no point did I sign anything. So far it's felt pretty strange but I guess I'll see after this weekend how it all went. I think things would've gone less touch-and-go if I'd had more time in the States (but only had three weeks, while filing taxes, selling my stuff including my car, house and furniture, and planning an American-side wedding party).

I don't have a lot of stuff, and most of it is sentimental but not terribly so, and books and music are fairly ding-resistant (and they are probably the most important, my text books/reference books especially). I plan to update when the stuff has arrived and I deal with Customs and see how it went. KHZ is doing the Netherlands-end of the job. They were repeatedly recommended on sites like and on the Netherlands pages. I kinda had to keep asking Jill who I needed to contact with KHZ but they work with Stevens a lot so I didn't really need to do anything with them. KHZ also didn't expect me to already have my vergunning (permit) with Customs to bring my stuff in without tax, so they only said to mail or email it to them before today, which I did. I'll see how this goes.

My small town is having this week a crazy festival they have only every 5 years, and the following week is Jaarmarkt, which is also crazy and festive. I hope the movers can get the truck in by our house.

Posts: 7
Joined: Tue May 15, 2007 9:31 am
Location: Netherlands

Re: *Move from Michigan to Netherlands using Stevens

Postby Gaviidae » Tue Aug 14, 2007 7:31 am

Update: well, the stuff ended up at Rotterdam a bit later than was expected, about a week, but oh well. All I heard from KHZ was that I didn't have to pay any customs or import costs, which was nice, esp. considering that after I had filled in the customs paper several months ago, I realised I had forgotten a few things, including a solar oven (which is just a big black plastic box, but sounds funky on paper). My husband ended up calling them a few times before getting an answer, and finally said they'd deliver my stuff Monday (13 Augustus). They said they'd come sometime after noon. They came at about 13.30, which was great. Two big guys hauled the stuff out and into the garage of my parents-in-law (my wooden table and benches and one stained glass is staying at their house until we move to a bigger place; everything else we brought back to our house a few blocks away). The only surprise was that my table's base had been further broken down, which I didn't know they would do (this must have been done either in Kalamazoo MI or at port in New York). By broken down I mean taken apart and seperately wrapped in thick paper.

Everything, including grandma's Chinese figurines and the stained glass, was still intact. Good packing with bunches of thick paper makes a big difference. Record player made it too (still going to find out if its motor cares what the frequency is), as well as a small solar panel I brought. The packers from Weller Transfer (or likely, one of their sub-agents, two dudes in a truck) packed well, even though only one of the two guys was clearly expert (the other seemed new). Glass was set in multiple glass-box ends, with folded triangle cardboards at the ends, cardboard spacers, and the ends wrapped multiple times (this after the glass itself was wrapped in much thick paper). In fact, all the boxes that weren't carrying books and records were build at my house as needed.

Since everything turned out well, I'm no longer worried about the lack of paperwork, but if I had to do it again, I would try much harder to get more paperwork. It just seems like one would get something like a contract, sign it, and have something saying "I made this contract with so-and-so to move my junk from point A to point B for x-amount in x-amount of time."

I only had the packing list made by the movers at my house, an insurance claim form to fill out from Stevens if I needed to file a claim, and another copy of the packing list from KHZ with their signature which I signed after seeing that yes, they'd brought everything that had been packed.

In any case, now it's time to enjoy all that music I'd been missing...

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Location: Los Angeles

Re: *Move from Michigan to Netherlands using Stevens

Postby Diane » Tue Aug 14, 2007 10:01 am


First, best wishes for your new life as a married couple . . . your husband is obviously getting a real gem . . .

Thanks so much for your excellent, detailed posts above plus all the helpful advice you've posted today on other threads.

It was so great to read about the good work done by Jill at Stevens, Weller Transfer, and the "two local dudes from Kalamazoo." What a contrast between their excellent packing and the shoddy performance by Crown in Oregon - Someone was really on the ball at Stevens and Weller Transfer.

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