*Advice and Info on Boston Movers-Interstate-long post w/ lots of info.

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researchvet
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Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 10:48 am

*Advice and Info on Boston Movers-Interstate-long post w/ lots of info.

Postby researchvet » Fri May 30, 2008 4:18 pm

This is a long post. I hope I can both get some advice and provide information for others looking to move out of Boston. I am moving a one bedroom apartment from Boston to Philadelphia. I received several quotes online and then narrowed down my search am posting about four companies that came and did in home estimates. I realize that the companies are possibly reading this so my purpose is to lay out my experience and get advice-- not to be offensive.

Precision Moving Company (http://www.precisionmovingcompany.com/): This is the only company that doesn't seem to be reviewed on this website. I do not think this company is associated with the one with a similar name down in Florida that has received such awful reviews. They have excellent reviews on Yelp. I checked out their licensing on SaferSys.org and their insurance on the FMCSA Licensing & Insurance site and as far as I can tell that all checks out-- anyone else with more experience care to verify? They also have a satisfactory rating with the BBB.

Ok, so that aside, the guy who came and did the walk through was pleasant and seemed flexible. I have an armoire at a second location that I am not sure if I will be bringing and he was able to give me two quotes, with and without the armoire. He wrote up an estimate form which he asked me to sign. I declined, saying that I was getting multiple quotes, and while he said it wasn't binding me to their company, he was ok with my reluctance to sign the form. He ended up quoting me $2700 without the armoire and $2850 with the armoire.

It was only after he left that I realized he did not give me a weight estimate. Also, I had asked for a not to exceed quote and I realized that the form did not specify that. I called up the company and asked for them to send me a form that specifically stated it was not to exceed. The woman I spoke with seemed really offended that I would not inherently trust the company. She said they got great reviews, were a top-notch company, etc. I explained that since I had not used their company before, it was extremely important to me to have everything in writing and that I hoped she didn’t take it personally. It was clear that she did take it personally and got off the phone without saying goodbye. Despite her annoyance she did e-mail me a new form that specifically says not to exceed and that the price includes fuel. Also, they are willing to do the pick up and drop off in one day.

I called back again asking for the weight and was told that they don’t list the weight but that if I wanted it they would calculate it and get it to me within a few days. Once again the person seemed annoyed that I wanted this information. The person said they don’t do it by weight. However, this person also didn't seem to really understand what I was saying. (It was a different receptionist.) I realized, however, if I am getting a not to exceed cost and they don’t normally give a weight, how would my price be reduced if, for example, I decided not to take a couch? I sent an email over to them asking this and got no response. I put in another call and left a message. I get the feeling that by not to exceed they really mean binding. I also noticed that their inventory is the least specific.

Marathon Moving (http://www.marathonmoving.com/): This company is an agent for Stevens Van Lines. The man who came over to do this estimate was also nice. I believe he was the president of the company though I can't be certain. He was the only one who independently brought up insurance. I asked about their company personally seeing through the move (as opposed to using the van line) and while they do this sometimes, I would not be able to choose it- it would be up to Marathon whether they did it themselves or not. He also told me that the shipment might take 2-15 days! This seemed like a huge window. In any case, he promised me a quote in 24 hours. I didn't receive the quote in that time frame so I emailed him. He apologized, told me he would send it over that evening. Instead, the quote arrived the next morning. Not a big deal, but thought I'd mention it.

I am fairly certain that in person Marathon told me their estimate was 3200-3500 lbs. The quote I received stated that the estimate with the armoire was 4000lbs—so it appears they bumped it up. I was quoted $3415 with the armoire and around $3100 without the armoire. He told me he would be able to give a one day pick up window and a two day delivery window. Looking more closely at the sheet they sent me, despite asking for a not to exceed quote, they sent me a non-binding quote. I emailed back asking for a not to exceed quote. I heard back and the person agreed to send a not to exceed quote but they seemed nervous about it given that there was furniture in the house (that isn’t mine) that I’m not taking. They said they would send it over assuming I only take what was inventoried. I reviewed their inventory, noticed they missed a few small things, and let them know about those. After these items were added they once again bumped things up. The guy told me that he doubted it was this heavy but to be on the safe side, the weight was upped to 4632lbs and the cost to $3513 (this is with the armoire). I have asked for a quote without the armoire and am waiting to hear back. I should note that this is the only company that provided me with the moving “right and responsibilities” packet.


Big Foot Moving (http://www.bigfootmoving.com/): The woman I spoke with on the phone was very upfront and conversational. She went through what I should look for in a moving company, pit falls, etc.— nice and a good marketing technique! She said she had 15 years in the industry and used to work for Gentle Giant. She told me that she was the person who helped to get them their great reputation. (Odd thing is that when I asked someone at Gentle Giant if they knew her, they said no.) Anyway, she asked who else I was looking at and had nice things to say about Marathon and Gentle Giant. She said she hadn’t heard of Precision. She really wanted to know what the other companies were offering and what they were estimating for weight. On the one hand this is understandable, on the other this made me feel uncomfortable. When I told her what Precision had quoted me she seemed convinced that they were scamming me. She asked that I send her Precision’s statement and that she would take a look at for me to see if there were “holes.” She said if Precision was really giving me a not to exceed for that price then she would advice me to go with them since it would be more affordable but that something rubbed her the wrong way about it. Her statements, of course, made me a bit nervous about Precision despite all the good things I had read about them. It also made me feel odd about Big Foot.

In any case, on the day when I was supposed to get an in home estimate the guy didn’t show up on time. I called Big Foot and a little later got a call from the guy who was supposed to come saying that he could be there in 30 minutes and that he forgot that he had an appointment—not a good start! We did a walk through and he estimated my weight at 2500lbs without the armoire. I had been told on the phone that I could get a not to exceed quote but in person the guy told me that they didn’t do not to exceed quotes. I told him that their office manager told me that they did. He said that he would ask her but that they didn’t typically do it. I ended up calling the company and arranging a not to exceed quote. However, this misunderstanding between the sales rep and office manager was also not great. Anyway, I was surprised when I got the not to exceed quote of $3532 with the extra stop included. When I asked what the weight was, I was told that it was bumped up to 3200lbs. Why did they bump it up? The guy had asked me how his weight estimate compared to what other companies were giving me. I didn’t want to tell him but after some pushing I was stupid (read: honest) enough to tell him it was a bit lower than some other companies. So, he bumped up the weight. When I said to him, “shouldn’t you be confident in your ability to estimate the weight?” he said “Yes, but it comes out of my pocket if I’m wrong.” So, I am punished for being honest. I should have listened to my gut and not disclosed what other companies had told me but I felt pressured and I did it. I have now talked to this guy several times and each time he has been nice but each time he asks me how his estimate compares to other companies.

One thing that was interesting was that the office manager I spoke with told me not to go with any company where the sales rep didn’t offer insurance up front. The guy from Big Foot who viewed my apartment didn’t mention insurance until I brought it up!

So, Big Foot told me they would get me the written quote a couple of days ago and they didn’t. It took another call and email for me to get the quote, which I did. Despite being told the quote is not to exceed, no where on the form does it state that. It’s so odd given that the office manager went through this whole spiel that companies who didn’t do not to exceeds were bad news. I spoke again with the guy who did the estimate and he said he’d drop off a form on his way out stating it was not to exceed. He has been very nice about the whole thing. It’s just odd that there seems to be a miscommunication about what their office manager versus their sales rep tells me. I also noticed that they did not give me a copy of the inventory which I have requested. I have asked for the inventory and while they said they would send it over (haven’t received it yet) they seemed annoyed that I was requesting it. Maybe most people don't ask for documentation of everything? The guy also verbally told me that it would be a 1-2 day delivery after pick up.

Last thing about this company-- I did get a call two days ago from the office manager saying that they may be able to ship my stuff with another woman’s, reducing the cost for both of us. After another email where I was trying to get them to send me the quote, I was told that coordinating the move with the other person may now not be feasible… or it may be. Umm… ok.

I was also told multiple times by this company that the neighborhood where I was moving was not a good neighborhood. While I appreciate their concern, telling me more than once seems a bit inappropriate.

Gentle Giant (http://www.gentlegiant.com/). My mother had used Gentle Giant for a local move several years ago and had a decent experience so I thought I would check them out. My experience was somewhat frustrating. When I called them asking for an in house estimate they basically refused, asking me instead to give them an inventory online. I explained that I didn’t want to do that, I wasn’t sure how many boxes my stuff would take, etc. However, he asked me to do an online inventory saying over and over again that they were one of the most expensive companies in the state and implying that I couldn’t afford them. So, OK, fine, I did the inventory online. I had to email back and call several times to get that estimate. Their weight estimate was way over (by several thousand lbs) then other companies. I called and emailed explaining this, asking again for someone to come to my place. Again I was told that they are expensive. I got the sense that they didn’t think I could afford it so they didn’t want to bother with me. Perhaps I sound young on the phone? Or maybe because I’m only moving a one bedroom? I don’t know. However, after more phone calls I was finally able to get the guy to come out to my place. He went through the house and agreed that the initial weight estimate was too high. While the guy was fine, I felt rushed. I had to tell him to hold up and stop several times as he headed out the door so that we could talk about various moving issues—basics like insurance, estimate policies, etc. The whole thing left me feeling like I was not valued. I shouldn’t have to beg for them to spend 10 minutes with me—and literally, that’s all he spent. Gentle Giant does not do a not to exceed quote. They will do a binding quote or a same day weight option. Also, I was told that my stuff would be packaged with someone else’s and that the delivery window was 2-5 days. I finally received their quote. I had been told on the phone that for 3000lbs (what many of the companies had been quoting me—including ones I’m not describing here) the cost would be $3500. When I received the final quote it was much higher than this. Without the armoire it is $5300 for 4280lbs. In this I noticed they included some packing materials, a shuttle (which seems unnecessary) and valuation. With the armoire it is $5730 for 4700lbs.

I’m left feeling unsure what to do. If I include all of the companies that quoted me, my weight estimates have ranged from 2200lbs to 4700lbs and the cost from $1700 to $5730. I'm suffering from a bit of sticker shock given how little I'm moving. Is it crazy to charge these prices for a small one bedroom? My major furniture basically consists of a bed, desk, couch, futon, 2 bureaus, small bookshelf, and table without chairs.

I know it’s a personal choice, but if you were in my situation, what would you do?

(I suppose the other options are always selling my furniture and then moving only boxes in a UHaul or hiring people to load and unload the truck and driving down myself. I hesitate to do the latter because I'm concerned about coordinating people to unload given it will be at night and I wont know the exact time I'd be getting in. I don't want to leave a full truck of stuff on the street overnight in Philadelphia.)

What else did I learn? Don’t give up information that you aren’t comfortable with doing even though the companies will pressure you into it. I’m an honest person so I folded to the pressure and in the end it is going to cost me more money. I feel somewhat grossed out by the experience. Even though I got quotes from “reputable” companies, most of them did something that felt sleazy. I know they are a business and out to make money but it’s just really disappointing that few of them would just give me a straight answer based on visiting my home. Furthermore, check and double check the forms. Three of the companies promised not to exceed quotes and yet the paperwork didn’t mention anything about not to exceed.

So, there you have it. I hope this has been useful for someone. Please provide opinions!

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

Re: Advice and Info on Boston Movers-Interstate-long post w/ lots of info.

Postby Diane » Fri May 30, 2008 5:13 pm

Hi - it's very useful to see how customers perceive things. I have the following thoughts:

1. I don't know anything about Precision but I am going to look into it a little and get back to you. Their estimate does seem to be on the low side. However, I agree with you that they gave you a Binding quote that can't go up or down, so you are (at least theoretically) protected from a price increase. I don't think they are even going to weigh the truck. Although this is not a deal-breaker, it is not exactly standard practice and I feel a little uncomfortable with the company since I don't know the people running it. Conceivably they could say on moving day that you shipped more stuff than the estimate inventory says, invalidating the Binding quote.

2. It appears to me that Marathon and Big Foot WERE worried that you might be taking more furniture than you showed them, since there was other people's furniture lying around. That's probably a large part of why they wanted to give you a Nonbinding quote. As it happens, I know the owners of both Marathon and Big Foot (visited them a couple of weeks ago, saw their offices and warehouse, talked with each of them for hours, met some of their drivers and workers, etc.). I am absolutely confident that both of the owners are honest and will not cheat you. If the guy at Big Foot was asking what the weight estimate was from other companies, he may honestly have been inexperienced as well as nervous that you would try to take more stuff than you showed him. Then he would get in trouble with the owner if he had given you a Binding Not to Exceed quote. Remember:- since the final price will depend on the weight, really it doesn't matter if he estimated the weight high because the actual weight is what counts. Don't beat yourself up about this - you did nothing unwise and it doesn't matter anyway. By the way, even if the companies act irritated, ask Marathon and Big Foot again whether they are going to weigh the trucks and whether your final price will depend on the weight, as a Binding Not to Exceed estimate should do . . . otherwise the "not to exceed" part has no meaning.

3. Regarding Gentle Giant, it wasn't very nice for them to give the impression that they didn't need your business, but they are big and in demand and a bit "high and mighty," I think. The marketing/office manager at Big Foot did work for them previously - I met her too. I understand what you are saying about her also.

It appears to me as if Marathon gave you the best deal pricewise, since if you compare the price per pound, they are charging the least, but the downside is that because of scheduling issues, your things might have to wait in their warehouse for a Stevens truck (that's why their delivery window is so long). Big Foot, on the other hand, promised you that they could deliver in a couple of days, which is great, but they are charging more for the same weight - unless they can put your things with the other woman's, I guess.

Regarding your distress about the information slippage, attitude problems, etc.:

Many moving company owners and managers have told me that they were initially thrown for a loop by the penetrating questions asked by customers who come to them from this website. They tell me, "The customers always want a Binding Not to Exceed quote . . . they ask whether we're going to sub out their shipment to somebody else . . . they ask a million questions!" The companies aren't used to customers who are so knowledgeable. I think that's what you were seeing in this case. These companies are also (perhaps) used to customers who come to them through referrals, customers who know somebody who knows and trusts them already. In addition, the disorganization you experienced is partly due to the fact that the companies are just so busy right now. Big Foot, also, doesn't do that many interstate moves. However, I think you would probably be best off with Big Foot of all of them since Marathon can't promise to move your shipment itself - it may have to go into the van line system.

As I said before, you could also call All Star in NYC and Sinclair in Philly to see whether they will have a truck in your area when you want to move. You might get a good Binding estimate that way - I don't think they could do a Binding Not to Exceed. Anything they can load going back south would be gravy to them if they have trucks delivering in Boston and going back empty. Both the people at All Star and the sales rep at Sinclair are very nice people that I know or have talked with at length on the phone.

Again, it is VERY useful that you posted all this. Companies need to know how they are perceived, and you are entirely within your rights to want specificity and accountability. I hope what I've said helps you understand their perspective (and operational problems) a little better.
Diane
Check out domestic companies on this thread. Click here for a detailed, authoritative article on international moving.

researchvet
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 10:48 am

Re: Advice and Info on Boston Movers-Interstate-long post w/ lots of info.

Postby researchvet » Fri May 30, 2008 6:13 pm

Diane wrote:Hi - it's very useful to see how customers perceive things. I have the following thoughts:

1. I don't know anything about Precision but I am going to look into it a little and get back to you. Their estimate does seem to be on the low side. However, I agree with you that they gave you a Binding quote that can't go up or down, so you are (at least theoretically) protected from a price increase. I don't think they are even going to weigh the truck. Although this is not a deal-breaker, it is not exactly standard practice and I feel a little uncomfortable with the company since I don't know the people running it. Conceivably they could say on moving day that you shipped more stuff than the estimate inventory says, invalidating the Binding quote.


Thank you for looking into them for me, I appreciate it.

Diane wrote:
2. It appears to me that Marathon and Big Foot WERE worried that you might be taking more furniture than you showed them, since there was other people's furniture lying around. That's probably a large part of why they wanted to give you a Nonbinding quote. As it happens, I know the owners of both Marathon and Big Foot (visited them a couple of weeks ago, saw their offices and warehouse, talked with each of them for hours, met some of their drivers and workers, etc.). I am absolutely confident that both of the owners are honest and will not cheat you. If the guy at Big Foot was asking what the weight estimate was from other companies, he may honestly have been inexperienced as well as nervous that you would try to take more stuff than you showed him. Then he would get in trouble with the owner if he had given you a Binding Not to Exceed quote. Remember:- since the final price will depend on the weight, really it doesn't matter if he estimated the weight high because the actual weight is what counts. Don't beat yourself up about this - you did nothing unwise and it doesn't matter anyway. By the way, even if the companies act irritated, ask Marathon and Big Foot again whether they are going to weigh the trucks and whether your final price will depend on the weight, as a Binding Not to Exceed estimate should do . . . otherwise the "not to exceed" part has no meaning.


Although it doesn't matter if he estimated it high, if he had estimated it low, it would have saved me money. Anyway, water over the bridge. :) I was told my the office manager that the guy had 15 years of experience. I have a feeling that his original estimate of 2500lbs is probably closer to the truth than the 4500lbs some other companies are quoting me. I really don't have much stuff. Also, in terms of their worries of taking more furniture, while somewhat understandable, it is still a bit frustrating. Most of the furniture is in my bedroom. I mean, that is why they take an inventory.

Diane wrote: The marketing/office manager at Big Foot did work for them previously - I met her too. I understand what you are saying about her also.


Do you think it is OK of her to look over another company's written estimate?

Diane wrote:It appears to me as if Marathon gave you the best deal pricewise, since if you compare the price per pound, they are charging the least, but the downside is that because of scheduling issues, your things might have to wait in their warehouse for a Stevens truck (that's why their delivery window is so long). Big Foot, on the other hand, promised you that they could deliver in a couple of days, which is great, but they are charging more for the same weight - unless they can put your things with the other woman's, I guess.


If you read back (I realize this post was long! :) ) while Marathon originally gave me a 2-15 day window, they modified that to a 2 day drop off window. So, Marathon and Big Foot are basically the same on that front. I suppose my only hesitation with Marathon is that they are an agent of a van line. This means that the people loading and unloading it may be different, right? Or do the people who load my stuff in Boston, also drive and unload it in Philadelphia? If I run into a problem, does that mean I deal with Stevens or with Marathon? (I did a search for Stevens and saw a few negative reviews but don't know if that has to do with the van line or the agent.)

Thank you again for all of your help!

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

Re: *Advice and Info on Boston Movers-Interstate-long post w/ lots of info.

Postby Diane » Fri May 30, 2008 6:17 pm

I think Precision is probably excellent for local moves. You are correct that the Yelp reviews are tops and they sound genuine. However, notice that only 1 of the 17 reviews is for an interstate move. Interstate and local are two different animals. As someone pointed out before, Precision owns only two trucks so I suspect that they would rent a Budget truck to move you to Philly (so might the other companies, actually). I am just not sure how Precision would do on an interstate move. However, the fact that they would do the pickup and dropoff on the same day is very appealing, as is the Binding price. If they are renting a truck anyway, chances are that they would NOT try to claim that you were moving more stuff than you said you would and then raise the price, since as long as it fits on the truck they really wouldn't care. So . . . I guess I would stop short of recommending that you use them, since I don't know the owners, but I don't see any serious red flags either.

Regarding your other comments and questions:

Although it doesn't matter if he estimated it high, if he had estimated it low, it would have saved me money.

I don't understand what you mean by this. The initial weight estimate doesn't matter because it's what the truck ACTUALLY weighs that counts. Unless you mean that they would charge your credit card too much and then you would have to wait for a refund (?).

I think it's OK for her to look over Precision's written estimate.

This is what you wrote about Marathon's pick up and delivery:
He told me he would be able to give a one day pick up window and a two day delivery window.

I think you misunderstood what he meant. It was Paul Nelson, right? He meant that he will give you a day-certain pickup (because he will be picking it up himself) and will also promise you that delivery will take place on one of two specific days. I don't think he meant to promise that your things would get to Philly in two days.

Again, the main downside of the shipment going with a van line driver is not so much that the people would be different on each end but that the shipment might have to wait in Marathon's warehouse for the arrival of the van line driver. You could be inconvenienced while waiting for your things. In addition, the things would be moved into and out of Marathon's warehouse, which is extra handling and added potential for damage. It's best if your things can be moved directly onto the truck that will deliver them in Philly.

I'm honestly not sure whether you would be dealing with Stevens or Marathon if there were a problem, but I suspect that Marathon would try to handle it. A lot depends on when the damage occurred. If in Marathon's warehouse, it would be their responsibility, but if a Stevens driver caused damage, it would be his responsibility. I think Stevens is one of the better van lines, incidentally.
Diane
Check out domestic companies on this thread. Click here for a detailed, authoritative article on international moving.

researchvet
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 10:48 am

Re: *Advice and Info on Boston Movers-Interstate-long post w/ lots of info.

Postby researchvet » Sat May 31, 2008 3:12 pm

Diane wrote:
He told me he would be able to give a one day pick up window and a two day delivery window.

I think you misunderstood what he meant. It was Paul Nelson, right? He meant that he will give you a day-certain pickup (because he will be picking it up himself) and will also promise you that delivery will take place on one of two specific days. I don't think he meant to promise that your things would get to Philly in two days.


I emailed Paul in order to clarify this point. He wrote that "the delivery window is 2 days from pickup so it would not require a layover at our warehouse."

Given that, would you go with Marathon?

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

Re: *Advice and Info on Boston Movers-Interstate-long post w/ lots of info.

Postby Diane » Sat May 31, 2008 3:28 pm

Hi - I just happened to be on the computer; hence the quick reply. Thanks for getting this point clarified.

I guess the key questions for me are now:

(a) whether Paul is promising you that he will self-haul the shipment using his own truck and driver, and

(b) whether he is going to weigh your shipment and charge less if the weight is less than the estimate.

If the answer to both questions is yes, then I think going with Marathon is probably your safest and best choice. If he is not going to self-haul, then Big Foot looks better to me - again, providing they are going to weigh your shipment and charge less if the weight is less than the estimate. Precision looks good too, especially since they apparently told you they would deliver the shipment the same day it is picked up and their Binding price is quite reasonable.

Actually I don't think you would go seriously wrong with any of these three companies, assuming that the Yelp reviews are genuine, which I believe they are. I'm going to add Precision to the Superlist.

JennSmith
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:27 pm
Location: Cambridge, Ma

Re: *Advice and Info on Boston Movers-Interstate-long post w/ lots of info.

Postby JennSmith » Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:42 pm

NOTE: Precision Moving Company of Somerville, MA owns 4 Trucks and usually rents 2-3 trucks when our busy season arrives. We wanted to clarify the statement regarding us only have 2 Trucks.

Thank you,
Jennifer Smith

PRECISION MOVING COMPANY
495 COLUMBIA STREET
SOMERVILLE, MA 02143
617-623-7700
precisionmoving.com
[/b]

farrah7031
Posts: 4619
Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2006 5:08 am
Location: Tallahassee, FL

Re: *Advice and Info on Boston Movers-Interstate-long post w/ lots of info.

Postby farrah7031 » Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:46 pm

Then you need to let the DOT know that you have 4 trucks. It shows you have 2:

http://www.safersys.org/query.asp?searc ... PANY%20INC

Also, you may want to make sure your drivers don't drink alcohol within 4 hours of driving:
http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/SafeStat/Inspec ... ot=1456970


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