Thursday, June 21, 2012

Comparing moving companies

(Off-topic post for the day, since Google really likes it when I review things.)

I'm beginning the harrowing task of packing up all my worldly belongings to ship them across state lines yet again. Read on for my initial reviews of the moving companies I dealt with.

But first I can't figure out how to use the embed code so just click here for a lovely interactive map of everywhere I've lived.

I've lived a lot of places in 10 years. 
Here's the code. Yep, I've moved a lot.
(Keep reading for moving company reviews)

I wouldn't mind moving so much if I could just blink my eyes and have all my stuff magically appear in my new apartment that I didn't have to search for. But that wasn't the case. I'll be off this weekend to hunt for an apartment, but I knocked out the first big decision of the move this week: Finding a moving company.

National moving companies suck. I can't stand their tactics, they use aggressive sales people and their quotes are full of hidden costs and fees. I had a horrible experience with American Van Lines once. I'm convinced they overcharged me. The movers arrived at 10:30 at night and looked tired and overworked, and didn't seem to be very careful with my stuff. They barely spoke English. Since then I've been very careful.

Unfortunately, though, going with a national mover was the best move in this case. It's cheaper then the local guys, because they combine moves, sharing space on trucks. And it's just little ol' me (and Lizzie, but she doesn't have that much stuff) that's moving, so I wouldn't fill a monster truck in any case.

I filled out a form on to get some quotes, and I was not prepared for the onslaught of calls I'd get within the hour! These sales people were aggressive too, bashing their competition and promising to beat any price and blah blah blah. At first I found I was giving people different inventory lists so I wasn't getting an apples-to-apples comparison. So, on the day I made the choice, I sent them all an email with the same inventory list and list of basic questions. The ones that responded (most did) within the workday got my consideration.

I won't know if my tactics are successful until my stuff arrives safely in Rochester, but I like to think that I played it smart this time around. As a girl who's moved around a lot, here are my tips:
1) Get several quotes, but make sure those quotes are all based on the same thing. If you're like me you're probably wavering over whether you want to take the window AC. List all furniture and give a specific number of boxes.
2) Compare the number of pounds they total that as, and consider that factor when you compare quotes. Even with the common inventory list, my junk may weigh anywhere from 2,200 to 3,500 pounds, according to the companies!
3) If possible, go with a company that can give you a binding estimate, one that won't change based on weight or hours worked. But that's rare.
4) If you have to go with a company that bases things on weight, when in doubt, always overestimate! But also ask what happens if you have overestimated, some companies will still charge you for the space they had reserved on the truck for the nonexistent items.
5) Look for a narrow delivery window. One company wanted to take up to three weeks to get my stuff from Newark, OH to Rochester -- a seven hour drive!
6) Check reviews and Better Business Bureau ratings. Almost any moving company will have someone blasting them somewhere, it's just the nature of the beast. Look for specific claims instead of vague ones.

Here are the companies that I considered. I don't know if any of them are good or bad, this was just my impression of them!!

The WINNER: Nationwide Relocation Services - My experience so far with this company has been very positive. They were prompt in answering my calls and responding to my emails. I didn't feel like I was dealing with a pushy sales person. They didn't have the cheapest per-pound rate, but they weren't the most expensive, either. They also offered a reasonable pick up/drop off window. They'll get my stuff on July 10-11, and deliver it by July 13. While there were several complaints about them when I consulted Google, there were also good reviews, and their "A" BBB rating sealed the deal.


Atlas Van Lines: I want to give this company props. They were the only one that actually sent a consultant to my apartment to give me an estimate based on what he saw. The guy showed up on time, answered all of my questions and didn't take long. The weight he ultimately quoted me was similar to what the other companies said, but the price was out of reach -- they wanted $.60 per pound, the rest were around $.45. There probably was a reason for the higher price -- the company had very good reviews.

Best Price Moving and Storage: This company made me most nervous of all the ones I talked to. Perhaps it was their name -- I'm always a little leery of any product that's top selling point is its low price. The other thing that made me nervous: Their quote was about $600 less than any of the others, but the poundage they quoted me was 1,000 less than the others, and they didn't detail the poundage of each item. I had a gut feeling they were low-balling me, and I'd run into a situation where I'd end up owing more in the end. They did not have a rating through the BBB. When I noted this as a reason in my email telling them why I wasn't going with them, the guy responded back trashing the BBB.

American Knights Moving and Storage: These guys didn't seem bad. They had a B- rating through the BBB. The woman I dealt with communicated well and seemed straightforward in answering all my questions. Their delivery window was pretty ridiculous though! They wanted to pick up my stuff a good week before I moved, then they had a 10-day window, so it might have been a long wait until I saw it again. I liked dealing with them because they walked me through a long and exhaustive list of things I might have forgotten, so they were very thorough in their estimate. They were cheaper than Nationwide but only slightly.

Neighbors Moving and Storage: Unfortunately for the salesman I was dealing with, he didn't get my email or call requesting a final quote until the next day, so I ended up not considering them. It was hard to tell what their BBB rating was, they're a broker so they had several sub-companies with ratings ranging from A to D-. Also they never emailed me a quote (granted, I never asked them to, most companies just did it anyway).

So, here's to hoping all my stuff arrives in Rochester in one piece, on time, and not in the middle of the night!

Next step... figure out where I'm living!


  1. You are the first person I have ever met, since my days in Maine, that has lived in Hallowell. Boy, how I miss the liberal cup!!!

    Good luck with your move!

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