Adventures in Moving
September 18, 2008 1:01 PM   Subscribe

I have never hired a long distance mover before. We are moving from Vancouver to Kamloops later this year or January. Any suggestions?

My new employer will pay a percentage of my relocation expenses but they require a rough quote for approval BEFORE the actual move (yes, I know a bit strange). We have a small condo but quite a bit of stuff. Any suggestions (or companies to avoid)? Sadly we cannot use one of those pod services.
posted by Razzle Bathbone to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I am no expert in this area, but FWIW everyone I have talked to about this says to hire the big brand name movers (not sure who is in Canada, but here in the US they are Atlas, North American, Mayflower, etc.). They do not pull any low ball quotes and then want to charge triple the quote price or hold your stuff hostage. Avoid Fred's Fill Dirt and Moving unless you have multiple good reviews of there work.
posted by internal at 1:46 PM on September 18, 2008

Get all estimates in writing. FIRM estimates. Read above note twice.
posted by Gungho at 1:49 PM on September 18, 2008

Find out the driver's rating. They are rated from 1 to 5 I think. Get a 1 or 2. Does not have to be local who you hire. I moved from Cali to NY and hired my mover from Wyoming because of his reputation and the promise of the driver rating.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:57 PM on September 18, 2008

My company got all of the quotes and made the selection for my cross-country move, so I was very well insulated from the process. But, I do know that after my telephone inventory survey extremely underestimated the amount of stuff that I actually had. My movers almost ran out of boxes. Either really play up how much stuff you have on the phone, or insist that they come out to see it.

I was very happy with Graebel. Nothing got seriously damaged, everyone involved was highly professional.
posted by hwyengr at 2:06 PM on September 18, 2008

Like internal I'm not sure about your area but when I did my big move from Connecticut to Texas I scoured the internet getting quotes but the best thing I did was open my phone book and look up local moving companies. These are the actual guys moving your stuff and they drive for the major companies - talk to them directly.

Get them to come to your place to give you a real quote and ask them about the different types of quotes (the quote I got was the one where they quoted me a price and it was locked only to go down if my stuff ended up weighing less - this is the one you want).

It's probably best you can't use PODs, when I was looking they were actually more expensive then movers and with a POD you still had to lug your stuff around. Good Luck!
posted by doorsfan at 2:10 PM on September 18, 2008

I would see if there is a local mover in Kamloops who looks good. They prosper more by word of mouth & will see you as a possible repeat customer or source of referrals. Also will have to live in the same town as you if there is a problem.
posted by canoehead at 2:27 PM on September 18, 2008

Best answer: In my experience from decade ago (may be stale, your mileage may vary), all the movers' salepeople radiated slime. These were the "we'll pack it in boxes and throw it in a truck" movers, not the newer POD-type pack it yourself deals.

The estimate is, for one, completely bogus, because the salesperson estimates the weight of your stuff based on some pretty bogus rules of thumb. The only numbers that matter are: a) the price per pound, and 2) the delivery date. The actual weight will be deterimined once they load the truck, and it will likely be more than the estimate.

So when you shop around, the cost number to focus on is price per pound.

All the movers in my neighborhood charged similar per/pound rates. It was a tarriffed rate, filed with either the state or the feds, so to get around this constraint they all discounted their official rate depending on the time of the year. My memory was that they all did the same discounts at the same time.

Oh, the delivery date is pretty bogus on a cross-country move too. The truck that has your stuff has the stuff for 3 - 5 other households, and is going all over the US, so the arrival date is a convenient fiction.

The penalties for late delivery are slim, and you have to document your actual expenses to claim them. So, expect delays and keep any paperwork for, for insance, a rental car that you had to get because the moving company brought your car out four days late.

That said, if I had to move again I'd probably go this route and just budget an extra 20% in dollars and time over the quotes.
posted by zippy at 2:38 PM on September 18, 2008

all over the US Canada (assuming Kamloops and Vancouver are far apart, if close than ignore this)
posted by zippy at 2:39 PM on September 18, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice. Great things to keep in mind (esp. the idea of adding 20% on the quote).

The strange thing is Kamloops is very close to Vancouver (about 200+ miles) which adds to my confusion. Close enough to consider doing it myself but far enough that I really don't want the hassle.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 2:52 PM on September 18, 2008

Research, research, research!

Use a reputable moving company, ask people you know who have moved recently if they liked their movers, check out BBB ratings, etc.

Have a representative from the company come to your house IN PERSON and give you a firm, binding estimate.

See my recent post.
posted by Nickel at 3:36 PM on September 18, 2008

Correct link
posted by Nickel at 3:37 PM on September 18, 2008

We moved about a year ago from Bakersfield, CA to Portland, OR (Almost 900 miles). This was the first time I've moved without doing everything myself.

What I learned:
This is one of the very few times you DON'T want to look to the Internet for deals. I'd play around with online 'estimate calculators' where you punch in everything you own and it spits out an estimate that seems suspiciously low.

At first I thought 'okay, I've found the company that I want to use'. Then my wife suggested I look into their reputation, and after a quick search on the Internet discovered literary hundreds of websites complaining about the scams this company pulls. Everything from jacking the price up to damaged/missing items to grossly misrepresenting the total weight.

We ended up going with United. They came to our house (many of the online companies wouldn't), wrote everything down in detail, and came up with a price that was about double the cheap estimate I got online. And after everything was said and done, that was the price I paid.

Everything arrived ontime, nothing had gotten damaged, and we were both very pleased at the lack of headaches that we might have had otherwise.
posted by pathighgate at 5:22 PM on September 18, 2008

Best answer: I used Specialty Movers to move from the Okanagan to Vancouver this spring. I packed the stuff myself. They came and did an estimate, and delivered on time for the same price as estimated. Other people also recommended them to me. I recommend them. They go to Calgary and Victoria as well, so that qualifies as long distance. Though I don't know that they are national, obviously they cover your move. I don't have new or valuable furniture, and there were a couple of little scrapes on things that I didn't make a fuss about. If you have valuable furniture, you'll want to go over that with them.
posted by Listener at 5:55 PM on September 18, 2008

Try like hell to have the condo packed up, loaded and directly taken to your new location. I have moved across the US 3 times. Twice, we needed to have our belongings stored for 30-60 days prior to delivery in the new house. There was significantly more damage with those moves versus our last one where there was no storage. It was probably due to movement of the stuff. Our washer looked as if a fork truck was driven into it (we were paid for the damage). Some of our wood furniture had small scratches.

Ask how damage is assessed and repaired. In our case, they did an original assessment prior to pack and we had 90 days to report damage. They would review our report, assess whether it was there originally and send someone to repair. With some damage, they just gave us $ (for instance, we had a few crushed lampshades).

Good luck. Moving is stressful.
posted by beachhead2 at 6:16 PM on September 18, 2008

Best answer: Vancouver - Kamloops isn't really in the long distance range. I'd hire a company from Kamloops if I could as they'll be where you want to be and if you need to put your stuff in storage for a while they can handle that for you locally. At 4 hours of drive time you'll likely be working with the same crew the entire time who will drive down in the morning, pack your stuff, drive back and unload all on the same day with possibly a few casual helpers at the Vancouver end. Jewel Moving and Storage is affiliated with Allied and they used to be really good guys though I haven't had them do anything for me in several years.
posted by Mitheral at 6:49 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I found the moving scam forum fairly helpful in thinking about this, for a recent move where I had some relocation funding. For what it's worth, I ended up renting a truck and doing it myself, but that doesn't sound like an option for you. (That of course has its own set of issues, and I'm not sure whether I'd do it again.)
posted by advil at 7:15 PM on September 18, 2008

Hmm, I had missed the followup -- for a 200 mile move I'd definitely do it myself if the company would cover it, I was referring specifically to really long distance moves (I just moved from california to maryland).
posted by advil at 7:18 PM on September 18, 2008

I add to my previous response that there were certain items of furniture that weighed a decent amount that were not worth moving. They were older couches that were worth less than the cost to move them. Chests of drawers that could be purchased at Ikea were not worth moving especially if you factored in the tax write-off from donating them locally before moving. I also had a coin collection in one of those 8 gallon water bottles. Although I was saving all my change for a party one day, it was cheaper to cash them in than to move them. Books too. I shipped many boxes of books by at a book rate. It took several weeks for them to arrive, but they got there and were much cheaper.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:18 PM on September 18, 2008

Best answer: I just moved a five-bedroom house over 2500 miles. It was a bitch. Here's some advice:

1. Pack the precious stuff yourself. They told me, over and over and over, that it was better to let them pack it because they're "professionals" who will treat my stuff as if it were their own. Then the head packer told me he buys everything at Goodwill. Well, I don't. My stuff is nicer than the crap from Goodwill. And the things that I packed were in better shape on arrival than the things they packed. I determined that by "professionals" they meant "not volunteers." So, if it's meaningful to you, pack it yourself.

2. Let them pack the not-precious stuff: tupperware, dishes, silverware, things in the garage, etc. They can handle that kind of low-level work.

3. Get a NTE estimate. NTE = Not to Exceed, which means that if your things weigh more than they estimated, they'll eat the loss. This is a real thing.

4. Be sure your home-owner's or renter's insurance covers your things, and then decline the valuation from the trucking company. It's a rip-off. I decreased the deductible on my homeowner's insurance from $1000 to $0 for the six days it took to move, which cost me a total of $6. This is compared to the $2100 the moving company wanted to charge me for the same coverage.

5. The movers took apart my furniture, and then lost all the little pieces for putting it all back together. It only takes a zip-loc bag and a piece of tape to keep them all together, but somehow they couldn't handle this. When the delivered everything, they were supposed to put it all back together, but they finished unloading the truck so late at night that they just left it all for me to do. That's when I discovered that all the little pieces were missing. Thus, I recommend that you hover over the movers as they're disassembling furniture and collect all the bits and put them in a zip-loc and tape it to the furniture, since apparently they aren't able to do that simple task on their own.

6. If they do a good job, tip well. If they do a terrible job, photograph what they're doing so you have evidence for making a claim. But really, it's very very hard work, and they deserve a good tip if they do a good job.
posted by Capri at 10:00 AM on September 19, 2008 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the great advice. Lots to mull over.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 11:45 AM on September 19, 2008

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