When to Use a Moving Company

I recently had the opportunity of helping my recent college graduate son to move from his apartment to my home, where he stayed with me temporarily. There were three large boxes, two 40 gallon trash bags filled with clothes and a bicycle, all of which fit in the back my Jeep Grand Cherokee.

This made me reminiscent about a similar move I made back in the late 70s where all my worldly possessions occupied only about half of the back of a Volkswagen station wagon.

I have moved on many occasions since then, and each time the logistics became more and more complex. There were several early moves that involved a couple of friends and a pickup truck. Several years’ worth of accumulation later, it was rental trucks equipped with vehicle tow bars.

Finally, there were houses and kids involved, so I had no choice except to hire a moving company.

The first time, I was fortunate enough to receive a corporate relocation from a company that wanted me to relocate to upstate New York. Everything was handled for me; all I had to do was leave one place and show up at another. The relocation consultant from the moving agency even gave me a couple of coffee mugs.

Unfortunately, the economy floundered and I decided to re-locate to Colorado, but this time, however, I was on my own for making all the arrangements and hiring a moving company. I have to say that the experience was mostly positive other than the fact that the driver of the moving van had little concern for the fact that I spent four days in my new location with none of my furniture and other stuff.

I truly did not appreciate that aspect of the move, so those of you who recognize irony might see it in the reality that not long after arriving, I went to work as a Sales Representative for a moving company.

It is from this perspective of being on the giving rather than the receiving end of moving services that I offer you these simple tips to decide whether to perform a move on your own or to hire professional movers.

It basically boils down to this: If you are moving over 100 miles and you can afford it, hire a moving company. To avoid the scenario of the truck driver showing up on his schedule rather than yours, insist on a performance waiver that carries a per diem penalty for the movers not showing up at the destination on the agreed upon date. Other than a clause that gives them some leeway with regard to weather related delays, this will save you from sleeping on the floor of an empty house or forking out money for a hotel.

Secondly, some moving companies will try to entice you with a small discount for paying in advance. Don’t do this. At one time, moving companies were demanding upfront payment in full, even claiming that interstate moving regulations required them to collect their fee in advance, but don’t settle for this. At most, offer to pay 50 percent in advance. Getting paid at the termination of a move is a very effective motivation for showing up on time.

Finally, insist on an on-site estimate. Many US and Canadian moving companies base their rates on averages compiled from years of experience, but the actual price is based on weight, volume and distance, so you could end up being charged the same price as someone with much heavier items if you don’t insist on an actual estimate.

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