Origin and Destination Agents - Check Both Ends of Move! (NYC to SF)

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organizedmover
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Location: San Francisco

Origin and Destination Agents - Check Both Ends of Move! (NYC to SF)

Postby organizedmover » Sun Aug 26, 2007 7:28 pm

Carrier: Mayflower Transit
Origin Agent: Dahill Moving and Storage (NYC - Brooklyn)
Destination Agent: Vector...A Move Ahead (San Francisco)

A helpful reminder for people moving with a big van line like Mayflower, United, Etc... Check the BBB and Moving Scam profiles for the agents on both sides of your move before committing to a mover. Typically, one tends to check the origin agent because it is the mover in your hometown, but doesn't check the destination agent as carefully because this is at the end of the move. You typically think that the origin agent will also reflect the service level of the destination agent, but this is definitely NOT the case.

When starting my research for a dependable mover, I decided to use a recognized van line with a national claims service. Dahill is a NYC based agent for Mayflower and was noted on this web site positively for the most part. In my experience, Dahill was pleasant to work with and helpful for the most part.

However, when Dahill switched off my things to the CA based agent for Mayflower who would deliver my things to San Francisco, that agent was Vector...A Move Ahead. This agent was terrible and received consistently bad reviews online. Do not use Vector!

The origin agent will not tell you to check out the profile of the destination agent because they need to make the sale. They will be charming and efficient because they are on the sale side - not the delivery side. Ask your origin agent about them and do your own research on them before committing to a move.

At the point in the game where the origin agent and destination agent switch hands on your shipment, the origin agent has virtually little information on your shipment and is able to claim ignorance on the details of your move. In theory, they should be the link to the drivers and movers - but instead, you'll hear the following:

- "The driver is supposed to call me back, I am not sure when your things are going to be delivered." - Can you call him again to ask?

- "The offices are all closed. I am just as much in the dark about your move as you are." - Truly comforting to hear this!

- "You can track your move on Mayflower.com." - This does not give accurate information about when you will receive your things.

After I started to experience unprofessional behavior and lack of service, I began to research Vector. Sure enough - horrible reviews. I alerted my contact at Dahill about these horrible reviews - they claimed innocence or ignorance. Why should they care after all? They've made the sale and are only liable for their end of the move. So just be careful with your destination agent.

The moving process can be overwhelming and depressing, once you start to read about all the bad experiences and scams out there. This website is definitely a helpful place to start - just make sure to get several quotes and pay good attention to the origin and the destination agent. Also, keep in mind that the moving industry is generally inaccurate and apathetic. And remember that you are at the mercy of the driver's personal whims. Just pad the delivery date window, keep very low expectations and insure everything.

If you are moving to San Francisco, DO NOT use Vector...A Move Ahead.

Diane
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Re: Origin and Destination Agents - Check Both Ends of Move! (NYC to SF)

Postby Diane » Sun Aug 26, 2007 9:11 pm

organized,

I gather that Vector supplied the driver and truck that hauled your shipment and also the workers that unloaded it (?). Sometimes the origin agent doesn't have much choice as to the hauler and destination agent matched to the shipment by van line dispatch. If a destination agent is consistently really bad, I understand that the origin agent can ask dispatch not to assign its shipments to that agent any more, but that's about all that can be done.

In trying to research Vector just now, I came across a Google video made by the company, narrated by the president and saying that Vector is the #1 rated Mayflower agent in northern CA and the #2 rated Mayflower agent in all of CA. I was wondering whether you interacted with any of the Vector employees shown in the video, which I actually thought was quite informative - it shows the estimate process, packing, a couple of the drivers, and so on:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid ... 3033704338

Also, I'm not too clear on exactly what difficulties you ran into with Vector. If it was just the driver not keeping in good contact with you, I'm sorry to say that that's rather common in the industry. If Vector is really the #1 rated Mayflower agent in northern CA - which, looking at the others, I tend to believe - you might not have fared any better with another agent. It could be that Dahill's above-average performance made your expectations too high when you then encountered an average-performing agent like Vector.
Diane
Check out domestic companies on this thread. Click here for a detailed, authoritative article on international moving.

organizedmover
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Location: San Francisco

Re: Origin and Destination Agents - Check Both Ends of Move! (NYC to SF)

Postby organizedmover » Mon Aug 27, 2007 12:28 pm

Good points Diane-

However, I tend not to believe a company's own advertising and self-promotion until I have researched consumer feedback. I checked out their web site and did not see the ranking anywhere. Where did you say it was? As for their web site and awards, a company will always position itself in the best light. It would be naive to believe a company's own promotion without some research on your own.

I base my opinions on my own experience and that of other people like me. Here are just a couple of the negative reviews that I found online from others who had used Vector:
http://sanfrancisco.citysearch.com/review/913106
http://www.epinions.com/content_208180973188
http://www.epinions.com/content_45345115780

Surely there are more, but it was too depressing to read all of them.

The fact that you suggest my expectations may have been to high because of the positive experiences of my destination agent (Dahill) defeats the whole purpose of this web site. Are we not trying to raise the standards for moving companies and the peace of mind of their consumers? We are paying thousands of dollars for a service, and in any other industry would be treated with respect and professionalism. This sort of philosophy is exactly why it will take ages for movers to find any reason to deliver better, more honest service.

Nancy
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Re: Origin and Destination Agents - Check Both Ends of Move! (NYC to SF)

Postby Nancy » Mon Aug 27, 2007 12:32 pm

Destination agents usually have zero involvement in a move, unless it goes into destination storage.

Normally, a customer maintains contact with the booking agent or corporate van line customer service throughout a move.

Destination agents receive zero information on a move, and to be further blunt, zero dollars. They are only on the paperwork in case destination storage is needed.

If your goods didn't go to storage at Vector, I don't see how they could have failed you. They had no involvement.

Diane
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Re: Origin and Destination Agents - Check Both Ends of Move! (NYC to SF)

Postby Diane » Mon Aug 27, 2007 12:59 pm

Nancy,

I think he is using the term "destination agent" for "hauling agent."

organized,

I actually agree with what you say - you misread the tone of my remarks. The fact that the customer sees only the booking agent rather than the actual hauler is one of the themes that I constantly harp on here. That's why I recommend that people choose a company that can self-haul (like Moovers or Delancey) if they can.

I only meant to point out that your type of experience is an "inherent vice" of the van line system, to borrow an industry term. The booker usually has absolutely no control over who the hauler is. And, put yourself in Dahill's place. What are they going to say when someone like you points out negative things about the hauler? They can't really commiserate since it wouldn't sit well with the van line, and in addition, they probably know that another Mayflower agent would have been worse.

Also, I completely agree that Vector's claim of being the #1 Mayflower agent in northern CA - whatever that means (sometimes it has to do with booking volume rather than customer reviews) - could be phony. But even if it's true, the point I was trying to make is, #1 in a flawed system may not be anything to brag about, particularly. (I guess my tone was a little too subtle.)

That said, I do think that we need to recognize that people who have bad experiences with a moving company are more likely to post on the Internet than people who have good experiences. Also, this is just my opinion, but I think that Vector probably isn't TOO bad. I base this on their video showing people from the company smiling and making jokes among themselves as well as using high-quality methods to prep the home. I've been in moving company offices where the employees were glowering at each other. You can tell right away when you walk in that you wouldn't want to move with such a company - too much resentment and tension. I don't get that feeling about Vector, at least from their video, and I think it would have been difficult to fake.

I completely agree with you that we on MovingScam.com should try to improve moving company performance if possible, but good luck with that one. The van line system is so unwieldy that many of us feel that the best route is to circumvent it entirely by using a freight company, or else choosing a good company that self-hauls everything. The van line system does usually work OK in the off season when the industry is less stressed.

organizedmover
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Location: San Francisco

Re: Origin and Destination Agents - Check Both Ends of Move! (NYC to SF)

Postby organizedmover » Mon Aug 27, 2007 1:27 pm

Sorry-

Can you explain a bit more? How does Vector have zero involvement in my move when they are the ones with my stuff and bringing it to my home?

They were the ones driving the truck and calling to say they will deliver my shipment at their leisure.

Yes indeed, the origin agent is supposed to be main point of contact. That was made clear, however the destination agent is the one who has my stuff and is the one who called me for directions to my home. The origin agent can only control the destination agent so much - as they are only affiliated through a major van line.

According to BigLee (on this message board), you can request a specific destination agent when booking your move with the origin agent. In fact, Big Lee recommended a different Mayflower agent for those moving to the SF area. This is why I suggest checking the company profiles of both sides of the move.

I just did some searching for Vector on this message board and it got at best, lukewarm and "decide for yourself" type of reviews. Even Diane was less than thrilled to recommend them, so I am surprised by the defensive review on my original post.

I looked them up on protectyourmove.org and their DOT # was actually that of Mayflower in general. A great way to protect yourself from complaints when you do not have your own status or profile with DOT.

Per Diane's request, I could detail the experiences of my move, but don't want this to become some venting post. This would decrease the legitimacy of my message if I were ranting about how bad a particular moving company sucked. We have choices in life, so the original intention of my post was just to make sure that people out there remember to check the reviews of both sides of the move for service level and quality of move if they are so inclined. I recommend the following sites:

- Moving Scam (great!)
- Better Business Bureau
- www.protectyourmove.org
- www.epinions.com
- www.citysearch.com (for your move from and move to cities)
- A general Google search - this will link you to all sorts of consumer feedback

Diane
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Re: Origin and Destination Agents - Check Both Ends of Move! (NYC to SF)

Postby Diane » Mon Aug 27, 2007 1:36 pm

organized,

See my post above - what you thought was "defensive" was only my attempt to point out some of the constraints inherent in the van line system.

I wish it were possible for people to request a particular hauling agent, but I don't think that's realistic unless a national account (employer-paid) move is involved, especially during the summer crush. People in the industry, please correct me if I'm wrong on this.

Also, by the time the customer realizes who the hauling agent is, it may be only a day or two before loading day and too late to investigate the reputation of the hauler.

As I said before, if a hauler is REALLY bad I think the booking agent can ask van line dispatch not to put any more of its shipments with that hauler.

organizedmover
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Location: San Francisco

Re: Origin and Destination Agents - Check Both Ends of Move! (NYC to SF)

Postby organizedmover » Mon Aug 27, 2007 1:39 pm

Thanks Diane-

Great advice and good insight on the moving industry. I think we are on the same page.

As for moving in the future, I will look into self-haul thing you mentioned. The only issue is that in the real world, sometimes one does not have the luxury of time or flexibility. Big van lines then become a necessary evil - providing some sort of convenience - at a financial and emotional cost.

I think however, that if a destination (or hauling) agent is something that we can pick when booking through a van line, at least we are more responsible for our own decisions after having done research and can be more in control of the process.

My posts are only for those who are anally organized and like to be fully informed. For those more laidback, my thoughts are probably pointless.

PS - Are you supposed to tip movers - on both ends? What's the policy on this?

Diane
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Location: Los Angeles

Re: Origin and Destination Agents - Check Both Ends of Move! (NYC to SF)

Postby Diane » Mon Aug 27, 2007 2:26 pm

Hi again - your thoughts are far from pointless - in fact you have pinpointed one of the central problems with the van line system. As good as the booking agent may be, it loses almost all control of the move once it goes into the system. Several moving company owners and sales reps for van line agents have complained to me (but privately - not on the open messageboard) that after they put a tremendous amount of effort into making sure the move goes well at the booking end, a bad or indifferent driver can ruin everything. They can't say this publicly because they would be pilloried by the van line.

Just today, someone read your post and started questioning whether she should use a van line agent for her move. So no, it was not pointless to post. We do try to walk a fine line between warning customers appropriately and alarming them needlessly. So, for example, if people have already had a shipment picked up by Dahill and post asking whether it's OK that another moving company is going to actually haul the shipment across the country (which they just realized), I never tell them that there is risk, because at that point it's too late for them to do anything, and anyway, odds are that it won't be a total disaster. It certainly won't be a scam situation.

About tipping, it's never required, but I would say that in places like NYC and SF it's expected if people do a decent job. There are threads here on tipping if you search on that word. If you were dissatisfied with Vector's driver and unloading help, I don't think you should have tipped them, however.

Jim
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Re: Origin and Destination Agents - Check Both Ends of Move! (NYC to SF)

Postby Jim » Mon Aug 27, 2007 3:02 pm

Can you explain a bit more? How does Vector have zero involvement in my move when they are the ones with my stuff and bringing it to my home?


Each agent has to provide drivers that service the van line. The driver with your articles was unlikely to have been dispatched by Vector, but instead was provided by the van line as a way for the driver to make it back to his/her home base. In our situation, we had 2 drivers provided to the vanline; you might run into a situation where a move from Texas to Utah might be serviced by one of the California drivers as that driver worked his way back home. In that way (which is the norm), the destination agent (Vector) would have no way of knowing because their driver was under the control of the vanline.

I suspect you were provided the destination agent's name not simply for the purpose of identifying the driver, but for other reasons. Moving can be sort of a fluid process. A consumer may decide through the process that they are unable to completely take delivery of everything for whatever reason; the consumer can then decide to do storage with Vector (if they wish). This provides the consumer with an option for destination services if something like that is needed..... it's more marketing than anything else.
It's Sunny Somewhere In The World

Diane
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Location: Los Angeles

Re: Origin and Destination Agents - Check Both Ends of Move! (NYC to SF)

Postby Diane » Mon Aug 27, 2007 4:19 pm

Thanks for this explanation, Jim - I learned from it. The OP doesn't say exactly what went wrong with his/her move, but it seems as if the driver's lack of communication was the main problem, plus maybe damage to the shipment. He/she is blaming Vector because the driver works for Vector, I gather, but of course you're correct that the van line and not Vector would have been controlling the driver's schedule.

Breakdown of the 4 interstate moving reviews posted so far today:

Rave reviews - 2
Mabey's Moving (Atlas) in Albany, NY - self-haul
South Hills Movers (independent) in Pittsburgh, PA - self-haul

Good but not great reviews - 1
Shelly Moving (Allied) near Harrisburg, PA - van line driver from ?

Poor reviews - 1
Dahill (Mayflower) in Brooklyn, NY - van line driver from Vector

Hopefully people reading this will be able to see how unfair it would be to blame Dahill (as the booking/origin agent) for anything that the hauler did or didn't do. I try to make those distinctions clear in the Superlist linked to below my name.
Diane
Check out domestic companies on this thread. Click here for a detailed, authoritative article on international moving.

kurubus
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Re: Origin and Destination Agents - Check Both Ends of Move! (NYC to SF)

Postby kurubus » Fri Aug 31, 2007 2:38 pm

Diane, you have done a great job of putting a fire out with Mr. Organized. He even missed the link to the movie about Vector.
He also missed your question on what his actual problem was.
It all seemed as a stressed out person stressing everyone else around about nothing: a few phone calls. The industry is not perfect (I liked the airport dispatch comparison) and requires certain degree of understanding of its operation and consequences.
Movingscam is an awesome website. It is a great place for frustated people to vent off and for others to get help and support.

BigLeeCalif
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Re: Origin and Destination Agents - Check Both Ends of Move! (NYC to SF)

Postby BigLeeCalif » Fri Aug 31, 2007 11:54 pm

I can flat out tell you that Vector is NOT the #1 rated Mayflower agent in the Bay Area, and certainly not #2 in California.

Based on my knowledge of the Mayflower workings, and personal experience with Vector and working for the #1 Mayflower agent in Northern California (Caton / Chipman Mayflower #2801), Vector has exaggerated their claim. They have only been Mayflower agents since around 2000. They might be the #1 agent in SF because they are the only agent there.

The way it works when an agent registers a shipment, they select a destination agent based on the geographic location of the shipment destination, and normally select the closest agent.

Dahill would automatically select Vector since they are located IN the city of SF, but are not under any obligation to use them. They can pick any other agent in the area that provides a better service, or can better handle last minute things like shuttles. It is not uncommon for agents to be unfamiliar with the other agents in the area, unless they have a hauling fleet, and get the input from the van operators on the agent quality in certain areas.

Companies with large hauling fleets keep notes, and use agents that have proven to be quality agents. And with the crackdown on certified labor, that is most important.

An un named agent was recently fined over $20000 by the van line for using labor that had not been background checked.

Having a high booking volume does not get an agent quality awards; it only gives them a plaque based on that volume. Customer service ratings determine how an agent is rated.

Just as drivers rate agents based on the availability of quality labor, accuracy of estimates, the agents rate drivers based on timliness in loading orders, being able to adapt to last minute changes, and professional appearance.

You can tell the size of an agent, and their booking volume by the number of units they provide to the continental fleet. You can ask the agent that you select for your move if they have a hauling fleet.

I can tell you that there shouldn't be any problems coming up with getting shipments serviced easily. We're already getting reports of empties here in California, and the van line is turning down self haul requests so they can fill those empties. The agents with their own authority are transporting more shipments that way.
"It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt" Mark Twain

Diane
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Re: Origin and Destination Agents - Check Both Ends of Move! (NYC to SF)

Postby Diane » Sat Sep 01, 2007 7:21 am

BigLeeCalif wrote:The way it works when an agent registers a shipment, they select a destination agent based on the geographic location of the shipment destination, and normally select the closest agent.

Dahill would automatically select Vector since they are located IN the city of SF, but are not under any obligation to use them. They can pick any other agent in the area that provides a better service, or can better handle last minute things like shuttles. It is not uncommon for agents to be unfamiliar with the other agents in the area, unless they have a hauling fleet, and get the input from the van operators on the agent quality in certain areas.

Thanks for clarifying the normal procedure, Lee. But you and I have seen cases recently where the van line assigned a shipment first to one driver, then to another, then to another, then to another, and all that time it was sitting in the warehouse at origin. In a case like that, the proposed hauling agent must have changed several times, since the different drivers temporarily assigned to the shipment worked for different agents. So, the origin agent really didn't have any control over who the hauling agent was. Or am I missing something?

Also, are you saying that in your view, Dahill should try to select Caton Mayflower (agent #2801) as their Bay Area destination/hauling agent in the future?

BigLeeCalif
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Re: Origin and Destination Agents - Check Both Ends of Move! (NYC to SF)

Postby BigLeeCalif » Sat Sep 01, 2007 2:04 pm

No Diane I am not saying that they should automatically select Caton as their agent. Caton is in Eastern Contra Costa County, and they normally wouldn't serve as destination agent.

More likely it would be Excel in Union City. The other thing to bear in mind is that Dahill would be under no obligation to use a Mayflower agent.
For instance, we had a situation last week where a shipment went to Houston. The agent in Houston for Mayflower isn't on our "a" list, so we selected a United agent (no problem as long as it is a Unigroup agent). The problem is the driver didn't pay attention to the paperwork and went to the problem agent looking for help. When they found out they weren't the d/a they refused to provide the help, and screamed at our dispatcher for using another agent as d/a. When he calmly told them to improve their service the conversation ended.

A lot of agents have the misconception that "just because they are agents" they are guaranteed o/a and d/a service. And that is totally wrong. You earn what you get. Give good service, and it comes back to you.

It's not only agents. Drivers are ultimately going to force this industry into becoming just another freight service. Every day we hear complaints about what the "van lines" are doing. But until someone realizes that this is a consumer driven industry, times are not going to get much better.
Anyone with business sense knows that in order to stay in business, you have to adapt to the needs of your customer base. Movers didn't start out to be in the SAM, or POD business, but the needs of the public made them take notice.

even the military is drastically cutting transportation rates.

The bottom line to this thread (sorry for getting off topic) is that agents should work together for the good of the shipper, not what's good for the agent. The biggest pet peeve I have is the agents who don't even bother to tell your agency that you've been named o/a or d/a. You find out about it when the driver calls for a shuttle, G-11, or wanting to know about the shipment. Then we have to look silly while we contact the booker and find out why we have no info....
"It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt" Mark Twain


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