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ot -- advice about movers

updated mon 24 may 04


Chris Schafale on sun 23 may 04

This is completely non-clay-related.

So, for those still reading, I'm looking for some advice about hiring a mover,
from anyone who has actually done it.

My mother announced last week that she is moving to North Carolina from
New Hampshire, to live near me. Leaving aside all the family dynamics,
emotional issues, etc., for the moment, I'm in charge of the practical details
of this move, and that's what I need help with.

I've never used professional movers -- always have done the U-Haul thing in
my own moves -- but Mom has some larger items like a piano and a
washer/dryer, and my back is not as young as it once was. I would love any
thoughts about how to select a mover, what questions to ask, etc. Success
stories, horror stories, whatever. Please reply off list, so as not to annoy the

Thanks for any shared experience.


Light One Candle Pottery
Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, USA
(south of Raleigh, NC)
NEW email: chris at lightonecandle dot com
(insert the @ and . as appropriate)

Jeanette Harris on sun 23 may 04

>This is completely non-clay-related.
>So, for those still reading, I'm looking for some advice about hiring a mover,
>from anyone who has actually done it.

Hi, Chris,
Well, as an old Navy Wife, I've moved 22 odd times. Of course, the
Navy has selected the company, but I can tell you a few things to
think about.

First of all, ask everybody you know about companies. A good
recommendation from someone who was happy with their move is a good
lead. Don't go with a small company--since this is a move of some
distance, I doubt if a small company would undertake it anyway, but
at least you would be dealing with a company that is 'something to
get a-hold of' if any problems arise--they carry insurance and are
experienced in dealing with damage claims.

Check to see if you are affiliated with any group that can get
special rates on moving companies.
See if Consmuer's Reports has any articles or has done a study on
moving companies.
Maybe even your local insurance agent can give you some insight into
claims against various companies.
Check with your Better Business Bureau to see if complaints have been
filed against companies in your area.
See if there are any companies who are members of your local Chamber
of Commerce.
Are you near a military base? There are usually lost of companies to
choose from that deal with multiple moves with the military.

The charge for moving is based on weight, volume and on packing materials.
Get an estimate of the size of the load--how many rooms there
are--and see how competing companies stack up financially. Get an
idea of how much 'glass pack' cartons will be needed. Does your
mother have lots of glasses, dishes, lamps, knick-knacks that will
need to be paper wrapped and packed into 'glass pack' cartons?

Ask how they prepare furniture. Will they disassemble and set up?
(more expensive) If you can take apart things and organize them, you
won't have to deal with trying to find bolts or going out to buy
hardware to put something back together again. We usually disassemble
things, put the small parts into a plastic zip-lock and tape the bag
to the underside or inside of the piece.
Will they wrap in blankets, heavy cardboard paper wrap? (Most
mattresses go into special mattress boxes.) Does she have ornate
furniture that will have to have special protection?

In preparation for the move, go through EVERYTHING and eliminate
paper and anything else that is disposable. Paper is the heaviest,
most expensive thing to move. If there are things like photos, books,
etc. it might be better to try and group that together, fill up a car
and drive it to the new home. Books can be mailed to yourself at book
rate. See if that's feasible. The same goes for clothes, eliminate
any old clothes*--take them to Goodwill along with any other stuff
she can do without.

*Except you can use the Jeanette method of travel--save up the old
raggedey underwear, other clothes that are presentable, but have seen
better days and were destined for Goodwill, and wear them during the
trip. At the end of the day, don't repack them, just put them in the
trash. Your luggage gets lighter as you go! heh Make sure you have
your 'good' stuff too. Who knows, you can wear that great 'gator tee
shirt you just bought on the trip.

(I'm assuming here that you will be there to help with the move.)
People that are the generation of the Depression save Everything, so
sorting through their things can be a real chore. We moved my
husband's folks twice each time into a smaller place. But the first
move was a whopper! They had been in the same house for over 50
years. It can be tough.

When it comes time to do the deed, the mover will give you an
inventory of everything in the house as they pack it. Insist on a
preliminary mutual inspection of the furniture especially. If there
is a scrape on a piece, be sure it is noted as such: "3 inch long
scratch on the upper right-hand corner of the coffee table". Do not
let them get away with "Various dents and scratches." Also, don't buy
anything like the phrase, "barring unseen damage". This totally
covers their a** when it comes to claims. They won't like it, but
insist! However, if you pack something and give it to them, you will
have to assume the responsibility for the damage on the other end.
This happened to us in the '70's when we moved to Bahrain. I packed
things like ketchup, Miracle Whip, cooking oil, etc. in plastic bags
inside sectioned boxes because I knew we couldn't get those things

Supervise the packing by keeping an eye on everything. If you have a
special lamp that you want packed carefully, tell them so. Before
they get there, try to group everything together that you want
unpacked together. They are notorious for walking around with a bunch
of tools in their hands that wind up in a box with pillows.

It's a nice touch to serve them lunch, but some packers don't want to
do that. They would rather take a break and go somewhere for lunch.
Be sure they have lots of cold water and other iced drinks. They will
appreciate it, especially if the weather is hot. (If anyone shows up
with alcohol on their breath, call the moving company immediately!)

They will mark the boxes with descriptions of the rooms the packing
was done in. You can take a marker and add your own notes like
"unpack this first" or with details of the contents. Nothing's more
frustrating than getting to your new home having wrestled the bed
frames together and the mattresses and you don't have a clue where
the sheets, quilts and pillows are. If you have a refrigerator or
freezer to move, make sure it's dried out and put your bedding in
there. You can always find it! We had a locking freezer and I would
pack it myself with the bedding, show the movers that I had done
this, lock the door and everything was fine. I didn't tell them that
I had also sandwiched my jewelry, family treasures in between the
quilts. Like moving a vault. heh If you're driving, you may want to
transport special things in your car.

When you get to the destination (and try to make it a door-to-door
move since that's more economical) the movers will begin unloading
the truck and will want to know where to put the boxes. You will need
someone at the door to direct them to the right places. When we were
doing our moving, they didn't want to have to move a box once it was
put down. Also, if they did not unpack the boxes, our damage claim
was null and void since we couldn't notify them right there of the
damage, they could claim that it happened after they left.

Door to door is also easier on your stuff. If it has to come off the
truck into a storage place, then get moved again, it's more jostling
around. Also, if you find that the volume of the whole household
won't fill an entire truck, it might be possible to piggy-back onto
another load. This could save some bucks too. Check with the company.

By the way, door to door doesn't mean that you have to wave goodbye
to the truck and then drive like a bat out of hell to beat them to
the new house. There's usually a couple of day's grace period
between, but check with the company to see about timing.

Please feel free to email me if you have any other questions. (you will. heh)


Jeanette Harris
in Poulsbo WA

Rebecca on sun 23 may 04

Wow, Jeanette--
I thought I was a clever mover! I will remember your idea about putting
bedding and jewelry in the freezer and locking it! Very good idea.
And we're neighbors of sorts, too. I live in Puyallup (other side of the
hill.) I only have 11 moves to your 22, but we've had similar experiences
from the sound of your mailing.