What to Know About Moving Companies

A forum for questions and information about packing, loading and other helpful tips (not related to researching or selecting moving companies).
rwruger
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:20 pm

What to Know About Moving Companies

Postby rwruger » Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:40 pm

1) Moving companies consolidate loads. Your household goods will travel in the same semi-trailer as the goods of one or two or more other households, each having paid for transportation.

Example: Assume three households (HH), moving to the Philadelphia area. HH 1 is 1200 miles from Phili; HH 2 is 800 miles from Phili; HH 3 is 600 miles from Phili for a total distance of 2600 miles…right? Wrong! The households chosen to move by the moving company will be roughly in line, so the distance from HH 1 to HH 2 may be 600 miles. From HH 2 to HH 3 may be 300 miles. From HH 3 to Phili is 600 miles for a total over-the-road distance of 1500 miles. But, HH 1 will pay for 1200 miles, HH2 will pay for 800 miles, and HH 3 for 600 miles at approx. $5/mile = $13,000 for transport only. Cost to the mover for transportation ($2+ per mile) for the 1500 mile trip is about $3500. A nice margin?

2) Moving companies employ local experienced, independent contractors to pack, crate, load, and unload your goods. The mover pays the contractors $20 or less per hour. They are not employees of the moving company despite what you may assume from T-shirts they may wear. We obtained several moving company quotes for packing for a recent move…$1600 to $2400. We called a local packing company. They will pack using, probably, the same people the moving company uses, for less than $400.

3) We compared the number of boxes estimated by the moving company, 57, to the actual number packed, 30. Moving companies charge based on their ESTIMATES. If they have come in high on weight, cartons, etc., you will receive little, perhaps no, refund. Wheaton Van Lines salesperson seemed insulted that we asked about a refund on any over-estimates and told us he did not want our business.

4) Moving companies say they charge by the weight of the shipment, again their estimate. In our recent example, the transportation cost was quoted at $49 per hundred weight (cwt). If the true weight came in under their estimated weight, Allied would refund $22 per cwt, keeping $27 per cwt for freight not on the truck! We asked Wheaton how much they would refund. Wheaton told us to take a hike. Apparently, Wheaton would have kept $49 x 20 cwt = $980 to transport air. From three big name movers, we received estimated weights of 7200 lbs, 8470 lbs, and 9000 lbs. Actual is closer to 5200 lbs. Beware movers’ estimates! Demand that all prices be based on net actuals. Most moving companies will probably refuse to agree. That is part of the scam.

5) Movers will try to charge you $400 - $600 or more for insurance on your goods in case they dump the load. The amount depends on their estimate of the value of your goods. THEIR ESTIMATE. If you have renter’s or homeowner’s insurance, your move is likely covered by your policy…ask your insurance agent. Wheaton’s salesperson tried to discourage us from relying on our insurance policy. Allied's salesperson deducted insurance from their quote. In all, a big moving company probably pays $5 or less to insure your load under their blanket policy. Neat scam.

6) Some movers will specify extra charges for stops, delays, waiting time, storage, etc. The charges are large. Make sure that the mover agrees that the charges apply only if delays, etc. are pursuant to your instructions.

7) What the salesperson promises is worthless unless the promise appears on your moving contract. “We’ll do this”, “we’ll do that”, “sure you’ll get a refund of $X amount”, etc. Make notes of what the salesperson tells you or ask to record your conversations. Then, make sure what has been promised verbally is on the final contract.

8) People who have an employer paying for the move probably do not care if the price is outrageous. Moving companies love that. If you will pay for the move, know that by arranging the move yourself (hiring packers, loaders, a trucking company, etc.) you can save 50% or more over a moving company price. Our move, low bid at $7200, ended up costing us less than $3000.

Noone
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Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2005 3:53 am

Re: What to Know About Moving Companies

Postby Noone » Sat Jan 18, 2014 3:11 pm

Not all of these things listed below are correct.

Many moving companies do employ their own packers.

Many moving companies offer a "Not to exceed" quote - meaning that you don't pay more if you ship more, but you do pay less if you ship less.

Most home-owners or renters policies for insurance do NOT cover damage done during a move.

I'm not sure where you get your costs from, however I can say they are wrong. Way wrong.

While you may have saved money doing it yourself, you took a huge risk in terms of what would have happened if goods in transit were damaged, or if property damage or one of the packing guys were hurt.

Of course, in many cases, doing it yourself will be less expensive, and anyone on a tight budget should consider it. Just make sure you understand the risks involved.

Just because a professional charges more does not mean they are trying to scam you. It usually means they are professionals.

rwruger
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:20 pm

Re: What to Know About Moving Companies

Postby rwruger » Sat Jan 18, 2014 4:28 pm

Noone is obviously an employee of a moving company. Name a moving company that has packers/loaders on their full-time payroll. There might be one somewhere, but who?

Movers' "not to exceed" quotes are bogus, because, as I mentioned, salespeople always over-estimate. "Refunds", if any, are not equal to the amounts movers charge per carton or per pound...they are less.

Homeowner's and renter's policies will most likely cover the move. We asked our two agencies (Erie and State Farm) and both said we are covered. Regardless, each consumer should check, don't you agree? Name an insurance company that will not cover such a move within the U.S.

The charges I quoted are from binding estimates from Wheaton, Allied, United, and Mayflower (United and Mayflower are the same company, but the salesman provided two quotes - a scam?). I also obtained quotes from a moving broker (total = $2958), and packing charges from two local (Indianapolis) firms. I also researched typical full truck load OTR prices for semi's - anyone can do it. Currently the prices run about $2.15 per mile for transportation only. What is your price?

Further, I spent 30 years in international and domestic transportation. Give me a quote for moving 5200 lbs 700 miles, two bedroom home, all packing and other charges, and release the name of your firm. As you may know, the cost of moving a 40' container, 40,000 lbs, from China to Chicago is less than $5000. China is a bit more than 700 miles from China. Agreed, trucking would not be the best mode of shipping.

JAHaddow
Posts: 503
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2008 6:50 pm
Location: Mesa, Arizona

Re: What to Know About Moving Companies

Postby JAHaddow » Sun Jan 19, 2014 12:26 pm

First, I do own a moving company. That said, at least 90% of what rwruger has said is either false or misleading. He apparently does not understand the moving industry. You cannot compare domestic moving to trucking by the mile or ocean shipping to China with domestic moving. None are the same.

Now, his example of United and Mayflower being the same company is somewhat true but they do compete against each other all day long. Another thing he does not know about United and Mayflower are owned by the agents not a corporation. This sets them apart from most companies.

Now for others, you have what are called carriers which have local moving companies called agents which represent the carrier in certain cities. The larger the carrier the more agents they will have. Each agent is called a Prime Agent which means they represent that carrier and cannot represent any other carrier in the commercial market. This is an important distinction from the scam movers.

As for the not to exceed you apparently do not understand what this means. When i issue a not to exceed estimate the shipment is weighed at the origin and if the shipment weighs less than the estimate provided we charge less. This is true of what we call Real Movers. The scammers are the ones that do not honor these type of estimates. Customers get a benefit from these estimates and can save if their shipment weight is more but they have shipped the list of items provided at the time of the onsite estimate.

In the end, most of the informaiton provided by rwruger is either from misinformaiton or not understanging the truth on how the industry works.
"Having the Right Information Makes for an Informed Decision"

rwruger
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:20 pm

Re: What to Know About Moving Companies

Postby rwruger » Sun Jan 19, 2014 1:57 pm

JAH's reply to my posting avoided details. I said that some (maybe most) movers will give the consumer a refund if the carton count or weight turns out to be less than estimated. However, movers will NOT refund the prices they quoted. My example of a price of $49/cwt versus a refund of $22/cwt was true. My comment about Wheaton also true. JAH - do you refund the same unit prices you quote?

Obviously an ocean/RR/road move of a 40 foot container is not the same as a road move of furniture. Consider that the 40' container move involves ocean, rail, and trucking over thousands of miles and costs less than a residential move of 700 miles with one quarter of the weight of the container.

Moving a truckload of retail goods and a truckload of furniture from a transport aspect is identical. Movers make up the differences to befuddle customers. Moving, like weddings and funerals, is often emotional. Movers play on that. What are the differences in transport, JAH, that justify charging more than double normal transport rates?

I understood the carrier/agent relationship, having been in international air/ocean transport and domestic for 30 years. That the relationship exists has no bearing on the game movers play on consumers.

I understood exactly the "not to exceed" quote. That is why mover estimates are always high. Again, the consumer does not obtain a full refund of estimated prices if weights come in low. Protecting the consumer is a laughable rationalization for "not to exceed" quotes.

How about the insurance deal, JAH? You said 90% of what I said was inaccurate. Which specific statements were inaccurate? I have five mover/agent quotes and one broker quote sitting in front of me. Prices from $2900 to $9000.

Acting as my own broker, I paid a trucking company to move the furniture after hiring a local packer to pack and load. I asked the trucking company how they would handle a furniture move differently from a load of miscellaneous freight. The company said, "no differently". How could it be different? It's all driving!

How about my statement about moving two, three, or more families in one truck, each family being charged for the entire distance? Is my example/estimate of the transportation overcharge way off base? How? The analogy is exact to international consolidation moves. Half or less of the container pays the freight, the remaining portion travels free of carrier charges. The agent pockets the revenue he obtains from the “free” portion in addition to his markup of the carrier's charge.

JAH, I understand how the moving industry works. That is why I posted my original note. If you want to argue further, please address specific statements and examples rather than positing that I don't know what I'm talking about. That sort of argument is a fallacy called "ad hominem" and is dishonest.

Lastly, provide me with your quote for packing, loading, transporting, and unloading 7000 lbs, 1100 cubic feet, 700 miles. If it looks good, we'll contact you next time. What is your company's name?

Thanks.

Noone
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Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2005 3:53 am

Re: What to Know About Moving Companies

Postby Noone » Mon Jan 20, 2014 4:55 pm

I'm not sure how you can compare the cost of moving a 40 foot of commercial goods from China to Chicago with a move of personal goods.

For starters, the exporter from China gets a nice subsidy for the export shipping from the Chinese government. I don't see the US Government subsidizing the US homeowners moving or trucking bill. Maybe I'm wrong.

Secondly, A container runs by ship, train, and freight truck. Household goods ride on air-ride trucks. Unless you do it yourself and put it onto a regular freight truck.

All in all, you made a valid point - the homeowner who is willing to take the responsibility on himself for doing a dity move will likely save money versus hiring professionals.

However, the homeowner will also be taking responsibility for loss, damage, or injuries in the process.

Yes, I do work for an international shipping company. Yes, we do have our own packers, and we also have owner-operators, and in the summer months we bring on extra staff. This is the standard set-up for most moving companies.

MusicMom
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Location: DC Metro

Re: What to Know About Moving Companies

Postby MusicMom » Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:27 am

I'm curious, what prompted the need to write this post, Mr. Ruger?

MusicMom
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Location: DC Metro

Re: What to Know About Moving Companies

Postby MusicMom » Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:34 am

Oh never mind, I see your "review" on Wheaton after requesting an estimate.

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=24600&p=154002#p154002

Frankly, I'm surprised they lasted that long in dealing with your estimate before telling you to get lost. You seem to think you have the entire moving industry figured out just because you have experience with freight hauling. I'm glad the professional movers who volunteer here came by to debunk your claims (no, I'm not a mover).

So anyway, good luck finding a professional moving company who will work with you if this is the attitude you have. I'd suggest you learn a little more about what really happens before you start requesting more estimates. Or enjoy your U-Haul.

GP6971
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Location: WA

Re: What to Know About Moving Companies

Postby GP6971 » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:24 pm

I very rarely post, but rwruger's comment about corporate moves costing 50% more has me laughing and like the rest of his post, is widely inaccurate. He certainly has no clue.

rwruger
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:20 pm

Re: What to Know About Moving Companies

Postby rwruger » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:43 pm

GP6971 - Well, you took a potshot at me, but what specific detail in my comments do you dispute? I arranged by lady friend's move, using U-Pack/ABF, a local loader/packer, and an unloader/unpacker at destination. After my research, I know we could have done better, but the entire move cost came in at prox. $3000 for 5500 lbs, 700 miles. Traditional moving companies take advantage of the customer's ignorance and charge two to three times what we paid. If a consumer can afford to pay the extra multiple $thousands, they should go ahead and do so. My advice to people who pay for their own move remains: WATCH OUT! If your company will pay for your move, then you probably do not care about the cost. I will guess that most companies know little about moving costs and simply pay the bills, no matter how outrageous.

GP6971
Posts: 23
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2005 3:58 pm
Location: WA

Re: What to Know About Moving Companies

Postby GP6971 » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:19 pm

"I will guess that most companies know little about moving costs and simply pay the bills, no matter how outrageous."

Nothing could be further from the truth.....many companies have relocation departments or employees dedicated to the management of employee relcations. If you are so familiar with the industry, you would have known that.

Noone
Posts: 1807
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2005 3:53 am

Re: What to Know About Moving Companies

Postby Noone » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:48 pm

"Traditional moving companies take advantage of the customer's ignorance and charge two to three times what we paid."

No - Traditional moving companies offer a service which is different than what you did, and this costs more than what you did.

That is the point that you are missing. Charging extra for specialized equipment, services, and proper insurance is not taking advantage of a customer's ignorance.

I really do like your comment in the other thread:

"Can we agree that moving a load of furniture over the road is no different from moving bags of peat moss, nuclear waste, or supplies for your local big box store?"

If you think that handling household goods and nuclear waste are the same thing; please, get out of the trucking industry before you kill a small town.

I think that statement alone pretty much sums up your knowledge of the industry.

rwruger
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:20 pm

Re: What to Know About Moving Companies

Postby rwruger » Mon Jan 27, 2014 5:03 pm

Sorry - There is no "specialized equipment" involved in a move. We are talking about muscles, trucks, cardboard, tape, bubble wrap, and dollies. You are trying to make the most basic of work and transportation seem like nuclear physics. Again, with which specific comment of mine do you disagree? Cost per mile? Cost of packing/loading or unpacking/unloading? What is "special"? Do not try to BS me. I've been associated with transport for many years. Give us specifics or do not argue. Give me a quote for the move I've described and tell me what aspects of your services will be better than those I arranged. I will post your quote on the net and you will obtain lots of biz if you have better services/prices.

MusicMom
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Location: DC Metro

Re: What to Know About Moving Companies

Postby MusicMom » Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:15 am

Mr. Ruger, I myself have done moves like you did, using a you-pack-we-drive company and hiring loaders and unloaders, specifically to save money. I did so because our budget was tight and we could not afford a full service mover. If we had a bigger budget, I would have gone full service, hands down. It was extra stress in my life to make sure all three companies were locked down and arrived on time. It was three sets of people to keep in touch with. It was three payments and three tips. If I could have consolidated and had one group of people I would have been much happier and would have paid for that premium.

You're incredibly angry and defensive over this. You've had several professionals talk about why your claims are not true and you hold firm to the notion that because you're familiar with a different arm of the transportation industry that everything transfers over. You refuse to recognize that moving requires different training because you're dealing with different cargo. Freight is pre-packed and uniform, often palleted, and you can drive right up to a loading dock. None of those apply to household goods moving. Plus, you have the additional level of customer service, as you're dealing with fearful people who are watching their entire life's belongings disappearing down the road with strangers and their savings account is about to be significantly reduced, rather than store managers that could really care less if the cargo is broken because the owners would just write it off and order more.

In any case, I'm not going to respond any more. I think it's far more effective watching the professional movers, the ones you're claiming are rampantly overcharging their customers, try to inform you.

rwruger
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:20 pm

Re: What to Know About Moving Companies

Postby rwruger » Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:22 pm

Apparently those who advocate using brand name movers cannot read or respond to requests for details. They can, however, make unsupported ad hominem remarks. By dealing with a pack/load company, an unpack/unload company, and one national, well-known carrier, we saved $3000 - $5000. The employees of both companies that handled the furniture had moved hundreds of households. The ABF driver drove. What else is there? During three previous long distance moves we used nationally known moving companies...no complaints, our employer paid, and "ouch!" expensive. Also, no "specialized eqpt." or special anything. Working with three entities instead of one took some extra time, but not $3000 - $5000 worth. I had to look on the internet and make three phone calls instead of one. Consumers should understand that businesses that try to make the ordinary seem esoteric engage in fraud and not only in the moving industry. "Our vitamins with phlogiston are extra special and will insure you a long healthy life!" Bologna.


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