What's the most fairly priced, least crooked long-distance mover?
February 5, 2015 5:58 PM   Subscribe

What's the most fairly priced, least crooked long-distance mover?

Asking for a friend:

A friend, her husband and their toddler are moving from Brooklyn to Portland, OR at the end of the month. She's trying to organize their move and is hearing horror stories about dishonest, careless and extortionist long-distance moving companies.

Anybody here made this move? What company did you use? Did they come and pack your place? Move your belongings and keep everything in one piece? Were their hidden charges? Were you satisfied? Not? Tell me what you know.

posted by TryTheTilapia to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Go to movingscam.com and ask there! Seriously, the reviews and message board are fantastic. I've gotten my recommended movers from them every time, and have even PM'd moving pros who work for some of the big name companies who gave me great tips. Best tip: negotiate a "binding or less" estimate (pricing based on the weight of your belongings) so that you're not hit with surprise charges if they claim that suddenly your belongings are waaaay heavier than they thought.

As for the packing part: you can pay extra to have someone pack your place, or pack it yourself and save a ton of dough. Sometimes you can negotiate that they just partially pack (ie, all the glassware in the kitchen) and you do the rest yourself. I've never had the budget to pay for packing, though I hear it's a glorious thing.

If you pack yourself: smaller boxes that are totally filled are best--you don't want empty spaces where everything will compress and cave in when they get stacked and restacked a million times.

If you have lots of crappy Ikea furniture, it won't likely make the move unscathed. Determine whether it might be better to sell it now (also then you're paying less for the move) and get new stuff on the other side. It only took me two moves where my particleboard furniture turned to kindling to learn this trick...
posted by TwoStride at 6:27 PM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Most of the national movers are franchises. The brand name on the truck doesn't matter, the local owner matters a lot. So the fact that Allied did a great job for me means nothing, unless you happen to live in the neighborhood and can call the same local Allied mover. You need to find local recommendations for the movers in your area.

If you want to pack and load the truck yourself you can save a lot by utilizing ABF U-pack or a similar service. They drop a trailer at your house on a Friday, you load it up, they come back on Monday and pick it up and drive it to the new place, where you unload it. We did that and it worked out great.
posted by COD at 6:59 PM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Hire local packers and unpackers and use upack to get it there. This totally works. http://ask.metafilter.com/214346/Is-ABF-super-awesome
posted by k8t at 7:00 PM on February 5, 2015

I used ABF U-pack twelve years ago to move from Seattle to Orlando, and was very happy with them. On the departing end the truck was dropped off and picked up exactly on schedule, and on the arriving end the truck arrived well within the window of time they promised. All my belongs arrived safe and secure with no hassles.
posted by Lokheed at 7:53 PM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Check your MeMail. I sent over a personal recommendation for the people who moved us from NYC to the Netherlands. Local, reasonably priced and with (us, at least) a flawless execution.
posted by digitalprimate at 4:13 AM on February 6, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks, all. You've de-mystified this process considerably and my friend feels really encouraged.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 5:25 AM on February 6, 2015

The Department of Transportation has a Protect Your Move website. The big thing is understanding binding vs non-binding estimates, as alluded to above. I was moving a 1 bedroom apartment and found that Allied and United offer container moves, where you're charged by the pod/container like ABF, rather than by weight, but it's otherwise like hiring movers. A big one bedroom in Minneapolis may translate into a couple with toddler in NYC amount of stuff, so that may be an option for them. I want to say that container moves took longer, but had better-defined arrival/departure dates.

I got three estimates (I found two local franchises for Allied, I think), two which had containers being cheaper and one that had the weight-based quote being cheaper (they all ran the numbers both ways). I felt like the reps who gave me the high and low estimates had been diligent while they were inventorying my stuff, while it felt like the rep with the middle estimate had been less careful/thorough, so I picked the low estimate. I disliked the middle estimate guy enough that, had he come in lowest, I probably would have paid a few hundred dollars more for a company who sent a rep I was comfortable with.
posted by hoyland at 5:37 AM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

There shouldn't be a huge difference in price for an interstate move because they are regulated.

I've used Bekins and Mayflower and found them to be very good. But they are franchises. So check Yelp for recommendations.

If I were making an interstate move, i would use ABF U-Pack.

There are logistics of doing this in Brooklyn, can you get space to put the cubes, can you hire dudes to schlep into them. Be sure to check into this part of it. They should be able to help with this.

Budget for large tips to the movers at each end. Each dude/dudette gets a minimum of $30 apiece, depending on how many stairs or how hard it is. (This might just be me, I tend to pay more for stuff I LOATHE doing.)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:46 AM on February 6, 2015

I was mostly happy with United for a recent move from San Francisco to Atlanta. However my company was paying, so I can't speak to the price.

You'll probably get a partial truck, meaning your truck will be shared with other people; they generally don't know who those people will be until right before the move, and your truck will take a strange and perplexing route across the country. You can probably track where your truck is online but they'll be very reluctant to give time estimates; you won't know for sure what day your stuff will arrive until probably the day before. Our stuff left on a Tuesday and got to Atlanta on the Saturday eleven days later. This wasn't bad, but you should be aware of it - especially with a toddler involved.

We took an air mattress on the plane with us, and when we got there we realized it was a piece of crap; on the third day while my wife was taking a nap I snuck out to Target and bought a new one.

As for packing: this was the weak point. We packed some of our stuff and had them pack others. We have a lot of books and packed those ourselves because we knew otherwise we'd never get them organized right on the other end; that was a great idea. Our packers wrapped everything in paper; they did not seem to have any other equipment (bubble wrap, tape, little boxes, etc.). Nothing broke but it made unpacking very comical - we'd unwrap a sheet of packing paper and find a single fork. It was like someone gave a six-year-old a pile of paper and told them to pack our stuff. We probably lost a few small items because we thought they were inside a piece of paper. If I were doing this again, I'd probably pack everything myself.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:08 AM on February 6, 2015

California to the east coast, and back agaian these guys worked well for us twice, no scams, no subcontractors guaranteed, no obvious mafia. Won't help you with portland, but maybe they can recommend someone......
posted by lalochezia at 8:28 AM on February 6, 2015

I used Flat Rate moving to move from NYC to SF and SF to NYC and I thought they were great. Really good customer service, things weren't damaged at all. Nice people came to pick up my belongings. I would use them again. And REALLY affordable compared to others I saw.
posted by shesbenevolent at 12:17 PM on February 6, 2015

I also used Flat Rate moving to move cities. It actually was a bit more than I wanted to pay, but having heard horror stories I was willing to pay extra for good customer service and got it.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:02 PM on February 6, 2015

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