Selecting a moving agent

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Selecting a moving agent

Postby Guest » Tue Nov 23, 2004 5:40 am

Hello,

We are currently in the process of planning our move from southern california to Minnesota. I had a few questions that I hope someone from this forum can help answer:
1) I understand from the brief time I've spent going through this forum and some of the articles on this site that its better to find a LOCAL mover. I wonder whether its better to go with a mover that's local to the source (southern california in our case) or one that's local to the destination (MN). Someone suggested going with a mover that's out of MN might be better especially if there was any damage in transit, we might have a better chance actually meeting someone and talking to them. Any feedback on this?

2) We have gotten in-home estimates from two agents (co-incidentally of the same parent company - Mayflower) who were recommended by others. One of the agents is in So. Cal and the other in MN.

The local agent sent an in-home estimator who went thru the apartment and gave us an in-home binding estimate, which we feel is a bit on the high side as far as their estimated weight for the shipment goes even after telling the estimator that we wont be selling quite a few of the heavy items.

The agent in MN contacted a local agent, who then sent out an in-home estimator who in turn sent his report back to the MN agent. The MN agent then used the information such as number of items to move, weight and estimated cubic feet to give us a quote that seems to be more along the lines of what we had estimated the weight to be ourselves; but its a non-binding estimate. We wonder whether it might be possible to get a binding not-to-exceed from the MN agent? Are there any disadvantages of going with the MN-based agent?

Alternatively, would it be better to go with the local agent's "binding estimate" (even though it might be higher) and if so, would it be advisable to request another estimator from the local agent's office to stop by and do a "revised" survey and provide a "revised" binding estimate before we sign with them? Or should we avoid both these agents and go with someone else?

Thanks for your feedback,
Regards,
Topper

Nancy
Posts: 2255
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2004 7:24 pm
Location: California

Re: Selecting a moving agent

Postby Nancy » Tue Nov 23, 2004 1:21 pm

It is always best to go with a local agent who comes to your home to do an estimate. Since the company in MN wasn't the one to do your estimate, they aren't willing to make it a anything other than a non-binding quote. I ALWAYS recommend that people get binding quotes.

In regards to your concern about a claim at destination, the local agent would not deal with your claim. The corporate offices have claims departments that coordinate and settle the claims. They have a network of claims adjusters nationwide. In the event of a claim, you wouldn't deal with the local agent in MN at all.

Also, you have gotten two quotes from the same company. I suggest you add two other van lines to your choices.

Are the two Mayflower quotes the same? they should be, and it's a red flag if they aren't.

Topperdude
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2004 2:50 pm

Re: Selecting a moving agent

Postby Topperdude » Tue Nov 23, 2004 4:08 pm

Hello,

Thanks Nancy, for your quick response and clarification on our concern regarding claims settlement.

The local MayFlower agent's quote is a few hundred dollars more than from the agent in MN. The local agent's quote says "Bound Estimate (Option C - For comparison) between AERM and Shipper." Any idea if this is a "Not-to-exceed Binding estimate" OR is it a "Binding estimate" (a.k.a. "Fixed estimate"), as referred to in Tyrone Kelley's article "Understanding Estimates" on this website?

A little background: The local Mayflower agent was referred to us by a relative/neighbor who used their services for their own move from CA to MN a couple months back, and who were satisfied with their services. However, both of us (our relatives and us) were surprized/confused when the local Mayflower agent gave us a quote that was much higher than what we had estimated ourselves (Note: Our own estimate is based on a comprehensive list of items we would be moving to MN. We got the weights of these items from either the manufacturer's published weights OR by actually weighing the items ourselves). We are pretty sure the weight of our HHG would never be as high as the local Mayflower agency's estimator put in his quote. We think the local agent may have included items that we are not planning on taking with us. Moreover, if its a "fixed estimate", then we would end up paying more than we should. But as I mentioned above, we are not sure if the local Mayflower's agent's estimate is a "Not-to-exceed Binding estimate" or if its a "fixed estimate". Any help?

BTW, the above assumption/concern is part of the reason we started looking for other agents and felt that perhaps a agent from our destination in MN might work better for any claims processing (which we understand now is not necessarily true either).

Re. quotes from other van lines, we also got an estimate from an Allied Van Lines agent. However, this agent did an "over the phone phone walk-through" with us and mailed us a "non-binding estimate". Since they didn't use an in-home walk through as the basis for their estimate AND gave us a non-binding estimate, they are low on our list based on what we've read on this website and in the forums.

By contrast (with the Allied Van Lines agent), even though the Mayflower agent in MN could not come for an in-home estimate, he arranged for a local Mayflower agent to contact us and send one of their estimators to our place. This estimator was more thorough than the estimator from our local Mayflower agent. After the walk-through, this estimator gave us specific information (such as the number of items and weight of the items estimated to be moved) which seemed to be more in line with our own estimate. The estimator then forwarded this information to the agent in MN who sent us the "non-binding estimate". We were wondering why the agent in MN would give us a "non-binding estimate" and not a "binding estimate" even though an estimator had done a walk-through of our place and if it might be possible to request a "binding estimate" from them?

To summarize, we wonder:
1. If the estimate given to us by the local agent is a "Not-to-exceed binding estimate" or a "binding/fixed estimate"?
2. If the local Mayflower agent's estimate is a "fixed estimate", then whether we should contact the local agent to send a different estimator to revise their estimate once we are done with the packing and gotten rid of items we wont be carrying with us?
3. Whether it would be advisable to pursue any further with the Mayflower agent in MN - their plus point is the weight and number of items estimated are much closer to our own estimate (when compared with the local Mayflower agent's estimate) BUT their minus point is the "non-binding estimate" they ended up giving us.
4. If someone could suggest which two other van lines' agents we should look into contacting to get in-home estimates from?
5. How should we proceed with our move planning from this stage onwards?

Thanks a lot for your time in reading this rather long-ish post and for any feedback/suggestions you may provide.

-Topper

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

Re: Selecting a moving agent

Postby Diane » Tue Nov 23, 2004 4:09 pm

Topperdude wrote:To summarize, we wonder:
1. If the estimate given to us by the local agent is a "Not-to-exceed binding estimate" or a "binding/fixed estimate"?
2. If the local Mayflower agent's estimate is a "fixed estimate", then whether we should contact the local agent to send a different estimator to revise their estimate once we are done with the packing and gotten rid of items we wont be carrying with us?
3. Whether it would be advisable to pursue any further with the Mayflower agent in MN - their plus point is the weight and number of items estimated are much closer to our own estimate (when compared with the local Mayflower agent's estimate) BUT their minus point is the "non-binding estimate" they ended up giving us.
4. If someone could suggest which two other van lines' agents we should look into contacting to get in-home estimates from?
5. How should we proceed with our move planning from this stage onwards?

I can answer only your first question - Option C (for Mayflower as well as United) is a GNTE/BNTE estimate, i.e. a guaranteed not to exceed/binding not to exceed estimate. Your cost would go down if the weight was less than estimated but not up if the weight was more. So the CA agent wins on that score.

You are the second person within three days who has written in to ask us about this because the UniGroup estimator didn't explain what "Option C" meant. I also don't understand why the various van lines have to use all these semi-secret codes, including TAPP, TPG, and another one that North American uses. Maybe Tyrone should add these codes to his article.

There are many good agents in the Los Angeles area and also in Orange County and San Diego. Could you tell us which area you are moving from? Also, what is the name of the Mayflower agent you are considering in CA?

Nancy
Posts: 2255
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2004 7:24 pm
Location: California

Re: Selecting a moving agent

Postby Nancy » Tue Nov 23, 2004 4:12 pm

What weights are they coming up with for your shipment?

Topperdude
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2004 2:50 pm

Re: Selecting a moving agent

Postby Topperdude » Tue Nov 23, 2004 5:20 pm

Hi Nancy and Diane,

Once again, thanks for your prompt/insightful responses! Things are really getting clearer to us and our "confusion level" is going down. :)

Diane - I am glad you were able to clarify that the estimate from the local Mayflower agent is a GNTE estimate. Its a bit of a relief to us because, as you mentioned, our cost would go down if the actual weight of the shipment ended up being less than the estimate (subject to their minimum weight constraints).

Nancy, here are the weight estimates:
- Our own estimate for the weight is between 2100-2400 lbs.
- The local Mayflower agent (who gave us the GNTE quote) was 3250 lbs (Quote - ~$2393 + some optional quotes for insurance, packing items, etc)
- The estimator (for the Mayflower agent in MN) came up with 2063 lbs, which the Mayflower agent in MN rounded off to 2100 lbs (I understand 2100lbs is Mayflower's minimum weight anyways, correct?). Quote - ~$1670 and 110% of estimate = $~$1838
- The Allied Van Lines agent estimated the weight to be 2600lbs and quote = ~$1900
All the quotes include "Insurance surcharge" - Is this the basic insurance surcharge that they provide (I believe @$0.60/lb)?

We would also appreciate some advice regarding purchasing insurance for our HHG's. We rent an apartment and do not have any renter's insurance. The most expensive item in our shipment would be our set of speakers which cost ~$8k or so. The local Mayflower agent said they could help us pack the speakers for us for a nominal charge (~$50 or so) on the day of the move to further minimize the risk of damage to the speakers. He also included an optional insurance quote, listed as "$500 VAL DED $20,000" for $119.00. He said if we decided to add on the insurance and something got damaged, they would process the entire claim at their local office and work on getting a replacement of the damaged item for us.
Questions re insurance:
- Per Nancy's first post (that Mayflower has claims adjusters nationwide to settle the claims), would this mean that the local agent is also a claims adjuster? If so, is it a good thing or bad thing (i.e. any red flags)?
- How does the claims process work and would I need to make trips back to CA for getting the claims settled if the local agent processes claims at their office?
- Also, how would the price of the damaged goods be determined?
- Is it true that the mover's liability for damage ends when we take delivery of the goods? Or do they give us a few days to unpack and assess the damage, if any, before filing any claim?

Based on your very helpful/insightful advice, it looks like moving forward with the local Mayflower agent might be the best bet at this stage except that their estimated weight (and cost) in their quote seems to be quite high compared to the others. Any further advice would be definitely appreciated. Also, would you have any feedback on if and how we should proceed with the Mayflower agent in MN?

Regards,
-Topper

blue
Posts: 274
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2004 10:51 pm
Location: USA

Re: Selecting a moving agent

Postby blue » Fri Nov 26, 2004 9:30 am

All the quotes include "Insurance surcharge" - Is this the basic insurance surcharge that they provide (I believe @$0.60/lb)?


The 'insurance surcharge' is meant to supplement spiraling costs of carriers acquiring commercial general liability insurance. It is applied to every shipment as a percentage of the after-discount linehaul revenue (just like the fuel surcharge). Don't confuse this with any coverage you might want for your household goods while in possession of the carrier. In the absence of any declared value by you, and the subsequent purchase of valuation, sixty cents per pound is the carriers maximum liability in the event of loss or damage.

He said if we decided to add on the insurance and something got damaged, they would process the entire claim at their local office and work on getting a replacement of the damaged item for us.
Questions re insurance:
- Per Nancy's first post (that Mayflower has claims adjusters nationwide to settle the claims), would this mean that the local agent is also a claims adjuster? If so, is it a good thing or bad thing (i.e. any red flags)?


Many larger agents employ their own claims personnel, as opposed to using a corporate claims department. If you're using an agent from California and IF you have damage in Minnesota, even though they may process the claim from their CA office, they'll likely use a third party adjuster at destination to inspect and make any repairs necessary. I know of no red flags with this scenario, and you should get a more prompt response rather than going into someones 'pile' at corporate.

- How does the claims process work and would I need to make trips back to CA for getting the claims settled if the local agent processes claims at their office?


Notify the booking agent in the event of loss/damage. They will send you a claim form to document any exceptions. Many agents have on-line claim filing capabilities. No, you would not be required to return to CA.

- Also, how would the price of the damaged goods be determined?


When full value coverage (valuation) is purchased from the carrier, they will first attempt to repair any damaged item. If an item can't be repaired, and in the absence of purchase receipts, fair value is determined by market comparables. In the case of antiques (rare or otherwise) this can get very subjective.

Is it true that the mover's liability for damage ends when we take delivery of the goods? Or do they give us a few days to unpack and assess the damage, if any, before filing any claim?


You have nine months from the date of delivery to file any claim for damage. In the event of damage, do not have anything repaired yourself. This would be grounds for denial of your claim. Wait for instructions from the claims adjuster. With respect to any shortage(s), you want to notify the carrier as soon as possible so they might locate whatever might be missing. Use your copy of the descriptive inventories as the truck is being unloaded to make certain everything arrives, as well as delivery condition.

Based on your very helpful/insightful advice, it looks like moving forward with the local Mayflower agent might be the best bet at this stage except that their estimated weight (and cost) in their quote seems to be quite high compared to the others.


Even though their estimated weight was higher, the fact they gave you a GNTE protects you should the weight be more. If your actual weight is closer to what you think, you'll wind up paying what the others were quoting anyway. Ask for your weight tickets. You can also request to view the weighing. Never use a non-binding quote if you don't have to.


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