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The Truth About Moving

*** What Really Goes On in the Moving Industry ***

Should You Hire a Professional Mover?
It's time to explain to our potential customers and anyone who ever decides to move anywhere in the country what you may encounter along the way. There are several ways to move your household belongings around town or around the country. In this article we will attempt to educate you about the different options of moving and try to help you in making the right choice.
Should You Hire a Freight Company?
One way to move is to hire a freight company to drop a container in front of your house for an agreed price per container. This is a self-service -- you will be loading your own belongings and unloading if you choose, or you can hire someone to do it for you. The container is then picked up and either stored at their location for a monthly fee, or it goes on a flat bed truck and is shipped to your destination. These containers will endure all kinds of bad roads, weather, wind, rain, etc. You will need pads to wrap your furniture boxes, tape, hand trucks and often times you will need a ramp to get your furniture up to the height of the container -- typically there is no rope available.
Freight Fees and Higher Risk of Damage to Goods
These extras all are available at a price through the container company.

There are limited ways to properly secure your items inside the back of one of these containers. So if you have a grandfather clock, or a top heavy cabinet, these items tend to shift during transit, and the freight company takes no responsibility for it because you loaded it

This can result in thousands of dollars of damage in the end. The only thing that is covered is if the truck is involved in an accident. There is no guarantee of how that driver is going to pay attention to pot holes in the road, truck stop parking lots, unattended containers, etc. Sometimes these drivers can be all over the map, depending on how many containers are going to an area.

How Big of a Container Do You Need?
There are all kinds of sizes of containers out there, 12ft, 15ft, and 20ft.

The way to calculate how much stuff fits on to a container is to multiply the length times the width times the height, and then multiply by 7lbs per cubic foot. For example if you have a container that is 7ft tall and 7ft wide and 20ft long, you have 980 cubic feet, multiplied by 7 lbs per cubic foot, is a total of 6860 lbs of furniture and boxes. Typically each room of a house is roughly 1000-1500 lbs. So if you have a living room, dining room, bedroom #1, bedroom #2, kitchen, and some miscellaneous items from around the house then you have reached a 20ft container.

Warning: A 3+ Bedroom House May Not Fit
If you have a full 3+bdr house, your chances of getting everything into a 20ft container is dramatically decreased. You will now have to factor in another container and probably double your costs. Keep in mind that you will be also loading and unloading these containers yourself. Or, if you choose to hire someone to do it professionally, it will cost you approximately $75 per hour for a two man moving crew to pack these containers for you. Containers do make sense in some situations.
Pros for Moving Containers
If you have a 2 bedroom house and you need to store your items for a period of time, the upside is that you only need to handle the items one time (moving into the container)and one time (later) when you move these items into the house. However the cost to do this your self is often times just as much as hiring a professional mover to do it. Also, if there is any damage done to your belongings due to you loading it, it probably is not covered, but with a professional mover, your items are **usually** covered for damage.
Hiring a Broker or Relocation Expert
Another way you can move is by hiring a broker, or a relocation expert. Usually these companies do not actually move you -- they are very good on the phone and make you feel like you are getting everything you require when moving, like pick-up days, delivery days, price, service, etc.

However without having an actual in-home estimate from these companies, what ends up happening is you usually pay more for your move. The reason is because these companies always sub-contract an owner/operator of a moving truck, and are at the mercy of that truck and crew. You are never guaranteed that you will have a professional mover show up. A lot of times you may end up with a rental truck that someone has rented to try to make a buck.

Read Your Contract Thoroughly Before Signing
Make sure you read your contract thoroughly before signing and giving a deposit to these companies. Usually your deposit is non-refundable and there is also fine print that leaves you paying more in the end.
How to Tell if a Broker is a Real Mover or Not
The way to tell if the company you are thinking about hiring is a broker is to go to www.safersys.org and perform a company search. If the company you are looking at has a (B) next to their USDOT number, then they are a BROKER. If there is no (B) next to the USDOT number then they are a Carrier, which means they own trucks.

Also, when you search out a company check out their profile. If they are an actual carrier that owns trucks, find out how many trucks they own. If they only own one truck, then they are without a doubt sub-contracting out 90% of their jobs, especially if the sales person has indicated to you over the phone that they do in excess of $500,000 a year in interstate moves.

Slick Sales Tactics
Most of these companies will brag about how big of a booking agent they are for over 300 trucks in there fleet, however what really ends up happening is your job is booked and then gets put onto a load board for anyone with a DOT number with household goods authority to accept.

Often times your household goods load ends up sitting on that load board with no one assigned to your move, and when you call to find out when and who is your moving crew, you are answered with "the truck broke down" or "we ran into weather" leaving the move off to a bad start from the beginning, especially when the truck shows up and the stories don't match.

Do Your Research
Do your research -- this system does work if you get a quality mover that takes pride in their work, trucks, maintenance, etc.

Brokers will not tell you over the phone that they do not intend to move you, only if you ask if they are a broker, then they will tell you that they are. A lot of times you (the shipper) really liked the sales person over the phone and have instantly trusted that person to handle your moving needs, but after your deposit has been collected, it is nearly impossible to now reach the sales person.

You Might Feel Betrayed by Your Booking Agent
A lot of people can feel betrayed at this point, and left to deal with a customer service department being paid to calm you down and tell you everything is going to be ok when your truck doesn't show up on time.

The only successful moves that come from this system are when you get lucky with a quality carrier that has their act together. The biggest downfall of hiring a broker is they don't come over to your house and fully inspect how much stuff you actually have. They only take your phone call and your deposit, which often times they tell you that the deposit goes to the mover, but actually they keep off the top of your move, with little to no effort.

Taken by the Middle Man
This is the definition of a middle man. If you were given a price of $1000 for 2000 lbs of furniture you are shipping from Chicago to Los Angeles, and the mover shows up and tells you that you have 4000 lbs instead, there is always a cents per lb attached to your move.

Always check to see how much this is -- in this case if it was .55 cents per lb, then you just spent an extra $1100 that you didn't budget for.

So now your move is costing you $2100 plus any extra fuel charge attached to the move. Also, sales people over the phone are usually not movers, they haven't a clue about what it takes to get a full sized truck in front of your house/apt/condo in many cities around the country, therefore resulting in shuttle expenses to get your furniture out of a congested area and safely onto the truck. These services are often necessary, but it sure is nice to know this ahead of time for financial reasons.

Best Decision is to Pre-Plan Your Move
It's always nice to be pro-active and pre-plan your move to avoid all variables that could happen from not doing an on site visual. There is a lot of negative information online about brokers -- please do your research and look up the company you plan to use, and don't get attached to the sales person over the phone, it could cost you hundreds, or even thousands more in the end.
Should You Rent a Moving Truck and Tackle the Entire Move On Your Own?
One way to move is to rent a truck and do it yourself. What this involves is reserving a truck with a local truck rental service, for an agreed price. People think that this is the cheapest way to move, but in fact there are many other costs involved. Take into consideration that you will need to put fuel into the truck, and that those trucks get 7-8 miles to the gallon. If you are traveling 3000 miles, as an example, it will take 375 gallons of gas -- at an average of $3.50 per gallon -- which will cost $1312.50 out of your pocket.

There's also insurance cost for the truck, which is typically around $15 a day. Now it will take you approximately 6 days of travel to get there, with 6 days of motel stays at an average of $60 per night. So that's another $360. On top of that you will have food and other travel expenses while on the road.

If you're a good driver, then you'll probably be ok. But if you're not familiar with the interstate system, then it can be a little scary out there, semi-trucks flying by you at 80 miles an hour, icy roads, 50 mile an hour winds hitting the side of your truck, snow, fog, tornadoes etc. There are mechanical breakdowns, fatigue, other drivers' fatigue to factor in.

Loading and Unloading a Moving Truck -- Not For Everybody
We haven't even covered the loading of the truck yet. Loading and unloading is one of the toughest and complicated aspects of moving. You will need to rent pads from the rental company (more $) and you will need straps, tape, boxes (40% mark up) at your rental dealer, hand trucks, dollies, appliance dolly, and of course some muscle to lift all those heavy things.
Pros and Cons of Hiring Local Help
If you have muscle/labor to help for free, then that's wonderful, however if you don't then it will cost you approximately $20 per hour per guy to load your rental truck, sometimes even $30 per hour.
Where You Might Get Bad Advice
The people behind the rental desk are not movers, they are not relocation experts, they may have never moved professionally, and they can't be relied on to give you accurate advice on how much stuff will fit in your truck, how many boxes you will need, etc. It takes years of moving experience to be able to figure out exactly how much and how long things will take. The end result is your move is only as good as the person that loaded the truck. You only get one chance to load the truck properly -- if you or your labor is unfamiliar with loading moving trucks, then at best you will be able to load approx 6500-7000 lbs of furniture and boxes.
Pack Your Truck Wrong and You Now Need a Second Truck or Second Round Trip
This is equivalent to a 2-3 bedroom house. If you have an experienced professional mover loading your truck, then you will probably get 8000-8500 lbs (3-4 bedroom house) of furniture/boxes onto the truck. However usually experienced/professional movers are already employed and aren't usually available to load rental trucks. It's kind of like a brain surgeon putting a band aid on a knee for a patient.
Ouch -- Moving Expenses Doubled
If you have a full 4 bedroom house that you have lived in for the past 10 plus years and you have all the outdoor items like wheel barrows, garage items, bicycles, work benches, an attic full of boxes -- then there is a 99% chance you will not get all of your stuff on a large rental truck. With that in mind you would need to plan on renting two trucks and doubling your expenses.
Repeated Moments of High Stress
Most people only move a couple times in their life and figure they will just go through the experience without doing any research or homework about what they are really getting into, which usually ends up costing more and making their lives 10 times more stressful than it needs to be.

If this is the route that you choose to take, then it would be a good idea to take all of these variables and expenses into consideration.

This may seem like the cheaper way at first, but usually ends up being a lot more in the long run.

The experience is definitely fun and exciting if you have never done it before. You just need to weigh the pros and cons of what may work best for you. Be sure to check out the other options of moving too.

Hiring a Professional Mover
Finally, one of the last ways to move is to hire a professional mover, that takes care of your move from start to finish. There are a few different types of movers out there, from major van lines all the way down to single truck operations.

Here's what you need to look for:

If you are hiring a mover for an interstate move, or a local move, you need to look at whether or not they own the proper truck to do your move. Which means again, go to www.safersys.org (see link above) and search that company to see how many trucks they have registered, and whether or not they have tractor units.

Also make sure you have someone come out to your house if you live within range of their office. This will eliminate any variables during the move that result in costing you more money. With van lines you will usually have to deal with many different people within that organization, like the sales person, the dispatcher, the secretary, the operations, the driver, the helper -- it can be a bit overwhelming explaining yourself over and over again.

High Prices at Major Van Lines
Usually with van lines the prices tend to be a bit high. The reason for this is they need to pay for all those people to be employed, leaving very little profit in the end.

With a smaller company you may experience a more personable experience. You usually only deal with a couple people, such as the sales person who is also the dispatcher, or even the owner, who has hand chosen a few drivers to work for him/her. The driver is under direct control of the sales person/owner at all times.

How to Check Out a Moving Company
A good way to check out a smaller independent company is to go to www.bbb.org and search that company for its rating. Also, you can go to www.wutc.org where you can make sure they are a registered agent to perform interstate moves.

Sometimes if the company is too small, they will end up renting a one-way truck and flying their driver back after performing the move, however these trucks again only hold a certain amount of furniture, and it's just not professional to do it this way. It works if the customer is fully aware that this is the way you will be moved, or if it's an extremely hot load and needs to be somewhere on a certain date and none of the other trucks in the fleet are available to do so.

One of the best ways to avoid issues during your move is to hire a company within 0-30 miles of your pick-up. What this does is help avoid your truck being late -- now your move has gotten off to a good start. Often times we hire out of state movers because they can compete better. If you go this route, make sure you give them a large window for pick-up (like 3-5 days) to allow them to get there.

Are You Choosing a Dependable Mover?
Make sure your mover is accountable -- do they call you when they say they will, do they respond to your emails, do they genuinely sound interested in your move? Look into your sales persons eyes, so to speak, and see if you can trust that person.

Are they knowledgeable about moving? Ask questions. There are a lot of shady ones out there; it's usually easy to spot one if you follow some of these suggestions.

Use the internet as a good tool to research a company. The positive thing about hiring a mover is you don't have to do any of the work, just sit back and enjoy the luxury of someone else working for you.

Many times moving rates are very competitive with all of the previous ways we talked about, therefore giving you a hands on personalized service at an affordable price. Movers have had to drop their rates a little to keep up with all the new competition. So, if you do your shopping, and remember to hire someone close to home and who owns trucks, you will without a doubt be off to a great moving experience.

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