- 1. Illinois to North Carolina in April, 2008
2. Four quotes: Berger, Planes (United), Graebel, Olsen Brothers (Mayflower)
3. Had tried to arrange a quote with Prager but their front-office set up the wrong date, and communicated poorly with their sales agent, so they never made it to the house . . .
The Quotes (include packing of our kitchen and small assortment of fragiles, e.g. artwork and pottery)
- 1. Planes United $4282.76 for 8,484 pounds PLUS $314.32 for weekend delivery PLUS $322 for $500 deductible full value insurance = $4919.08 (GNTE). Transportation cost was $3690.22 for 8,484 pounds = $0.434 per pound.
2. Graebel $4958.68 for 9,555 pounds PLUS $363.24 OT unloading (weekend) with $500 deductible FV insurance already included = $5321.92 (NON-BINDING). Transportation cost was $4164.51 for 9,555 pounds = $0.436 per pound.
3. Olsen Brothers $6081.62 for 9,000 pounds PLUS ~$300 for weekend delivery PLUS ~ $300 for FV insurance with $500 deductible = $6681.62. NB: This included a "FULL PACK." The transportation cost was $4003.77 for 9000 pounds = $0.445 per pound GNTE.
4. Berger Allied $4728.90 for 9,000 pounds PLUS $310 FV insurance with $500 deductible (weekend delivery included) = $4903.90 (after Berger discount applied) GNTE. Transportation cost was $4060 for 9,000 pounds = $0.451 per pound. Note, however, that since Berger applied a "Berger discount" to the total, this price isn't really accurate. When you apply the discount according to the fractional cost of packing and transportations, the transportation cost is $3944.68 for 9,000 pounds = $0.438 per pound.
Notes on the sales agents and quote experience
- 1. All the sales agents were professional and nice. Though the Olsen's Brother's sales agent was a bit off-putting at first, it was also our first quote, and I had a bit of sticker shock.
2. The Berger and Olsen Brother's agents were most professional. Each had worked with his respective company for more than 10 years and each had professional credentials (I think). It was clear that each of these men had made a career with their respective companies.
3. The other two agents were equally nice, but seemed to be in more of a temporary job frame of mind, and that made me wonder whether the remainder of the company was run by folks who were just "passing through" on their way to "better things." I don't find anything wrong with that, but it made me feel somewhat less comfortable about my move for whatever reason.
4. Olsen Brother's includes 50 free boxes with their quote. On the face of it, I thought this was a very generous offer. However, as it turns out, all the agents were willing to get us as many boxes as we needed for no additional charge.
5. After the quotes, my rankings were as follows:
The Berger Experience
What they did well:
- 1. They arrived when they said they would and delivered the goods within the second day of the two-day window they specified.
2. The sales agent was responsive to our needs and agreed to deliver us 5 wardrobe boxes at no cost to us. I subsequently picked up innumerable mirror/art boxes from their warehouse at no cost to us.
3. They refunded us the monies owed as a result of coming under the 9,000 pound estimate within a reasonable two-week timeframe.
4. They delivered our goods without significant damage. I only marked two chair legs and scrapes to the side of a dresser as damaged during the move. The chair leg nicks are minimal while the scrapes to the dresser may require some real repair.
5. The delivery driver and his assistant were nice guys whom I generally trusted.
What they did poorly:
- 1. Poor Communication: When the truck arrived on loading day, the delivery driver was not aware that:
- A. We lived in a two-story apartment on the second and third floors of a walkup building.
B. We opted for a kitchen and fragile items pack and that the packers had not yet arrived.
C. That the streets on which they loaded were on the narrow side.
D. That they were responsible for disassembling and reassembling the baby's crib.
E. The sales agent said that the driver would be an employee of Berger. He wasn't.
2. Poor Organization:
- A. We had assumed that the packers and delivery truck would all arrive together. We were told by the sales agent that had we arranged for a FULL PACK (which we did not), the packers would come the day BEFORE loading, and the truck would arrive the next day. Since we arranged only for a kitchen pack, we expected that some large team of workers would arrive (this is essentially what we were told) to rapidly pack our kitchen items, load the truck, and then the driver would leave.
B. What actually happened is that the driver arrived to find that the apartment was a multiple story unit with many more stairs than he had anticipated, and that a significant amount of packing remained. For these reasons, he was pretty upset, and while he wasn't upset at us, it's no fun starting your moving day with an upset driver and absentee packers. He further felt that we should have been told that we needed a shuttle, but in fairness to Berger, no one told us we needed one unless we couldn't secure adequate space in front of the building. In truth, I don't think we really needed one, though his truck barely fit under a tree limb that hung over the road.
C. The movers arrived around 8:30-9AM, and the driver apparently started making phone calls about the packers. However, I called the moving coordinator independently and she stated she would send a packer to the house immediately. I called again to be certain there were going to be TWO packers, since I thought the job would take too long for a single man. She got two packers to the house, but they didn't get there until ~ 10:45-11AM, two hours later. In fairness to them, they got their work done by 2:30-2:45 PM.
D. When I mentioned to the moving coordinator that the movers stated they weren't responsible for disassembling the crib, she told me the packers would do it. When the packers finally arrived, they told me it was the movers' responsibility. I ended up doing it myself, despite the fact that I was told that on moving day, I could sit at my kitchen table and do nothing until the table itself needed to be moved.
E. There was only two movers and two movers wasn't enough. They didn't finish the job until ~8-8:30PM. While they could "handle it," in order to get the job done, they needed to move faster than they should have, and the normal care that would be afforded to our goods was sacrificed. I had to stop watching the movers closely, because the more I watched, the more irked I got every time they bumped something into the unprotected door frames, railings, or floors. I felt it would not help to add further stress to the movers by being the annoying, overbearing customer, but I was annoyed just the same. It's a catch-22: you don't want to be overbearing and cause the movers to be purposely less careful when they're out of view (which they are most of the time) but you want your goods treated with care at the same time.
3. "Home Protection:"
We haven't gotten our security deposit back as we were renting the place from which we moved. However, Berger as a "home protection" insert in their moving paraphernalia that indicates they will pad all entry doors, cover banisters and railings and remove doors that require removal, reinstalling them when finished. They did NONE of this. While I only noted a few nicks on our furniture, they did scratch and nick the hardwood floors in a few places at the origin site. A couple of these were major dents, but I'm not sure that our landlord noticed or cared enough to ding us for it.
4. Mediocre handling of our items:
- A. I only noted a few nicks and dents on our furniture, but the truth is, we all know that moving stresses furniture and household goods in ways that are not often apparent from a quick visual inspection. In addition, you're so buried under a sea of boxes that it's really tough to adequately inspect everything important.
B. There were only two movers (i.e. as in loaders) as above. This caused them to rush, and be less careful, while the move still took longer than any of us wanted or anticipated.
Summary of the Berger Experience:
On a grading scale, I would give Berger a C. They got the job done, but there were numerous mis-steps along the way as above. In general, the moving process was reminiscent of what I've seen written on these boards. The sales agents "promise you the world" and the movers are left unable to deliver on the absurd promises made by somebody they don't even know.