Filed under My Journey
Filed under My Journey
How can you cut down on your costs of moving? These are some lessons we’ve learned.
1. Don’t move. That’s simple enough and several times during the moving process, we did think about calling the whole thing off.
2. Sell off everything and just take your clothes and whatever can fit in your suitcases.
3. DIY. No, I don’t mean carry your entire shipment onto the plane (that would be terribly expensive) or ship. You can only do this if you own your own plane or ship. But, you can pack your own belongings. This can be tricky, as you’ll read further. But, it will definitely save you some money and a headache. We had used a moving company once for an interstate move. We did most of the packing, but they arrived early and ended up “helping” to pack. What they did was open up some boxes and threw whatever they could find into it. This is called “professional” packing services. Therefore, for the international move, we used our “amateur” packing techniques, which included bubble wrapping and cushioning using our own clothes. But, at least, we knew where everything was. We labelled the outside of the box and made a list, numbering each box and giving a little more detail of its contents. Using the company’s services meant you had to pay for the labour and supplies. The cost varies from company to company. The downside to DIY is that you are responsible for the contents. The movers will still make their own list and the boxes need to state their contents. Some movers require that you leave the boxes opened so they can inspect them. Some companies, such as IntlMove, will not provide insurance cover for damages if you do any part of the packing yourself. So, either allow them to damage your goods and you can claim for them later (if they’ll even acknowledge your complaint) or pack it yourself. Some will allow you to deliver the goods to the docks, if you live nearby. You do have to check with the companies.
4. Insurance? As I stated, if you pack your own goods, some will only cover for total loss, not damage. That means if they lose your shipment, you can claim against them. We figured, unless the ship sinks, we should receive our goods, damaged or not, so we waived the insurance. We found out later that everyone recommends you take the insurance. I don’t see how that could have helped us. I doubt they could adequately compensate for the loss. After all, most of our goods had sentimental value, rather than monetary value.
5. Don’t go with the cheapest. As we’ve learned, IntlMove gave one of the cheapest quotes, but in the end, we paid for a lot of “extras”. We were lucky, however, since we actually received our shipment. Others were not so fortunate. I hope they took out insurance.
Filed under Travel and Transport
My first advice for anyone planning an overseas move is to make preparations well ahead of time, by months. This will enable you to find a good moving company. Because you really need to research several different companies before deciding which is the right one for you. There are some good ones and some really awful ones out there. Some of them are real scam companies, preying on vulnerable customers. After all, you are in a very vulnerable position.
Word-of-mouth reputation is better than anything that the company can say for itself. But, you do have to be careful because some companies may print up false or paid testimonials. If they are members of certain professional organisations, you should try and discover if any complaints had been filed against them and what the final resolution, if any, was. There are certain memberships and licenses that they must hold and you should check to make sure they do hold these. The internet is a very useful tool, so get on it and find out if anyone has complained via the internet. There are forums, such as MovingScam.com and others, where members can discuss issues involving moving and moving companies.
I have since discovered that it is best if the company does a visual inspection of the goods before giving you a quote. However, it is not always a guarantee that services rendered will be the best. I will say that IntlMove did not do a visual inspection. They contract with various companies to do the work for them, therefore, they cannot send a representative out to give a quote, because it might not be the same one to load up. What they do is provide a computer calculator to estimate your weight and volume and they quote from that. The problem with their calculator is that it is not accurate and does not account for real-life items. In addition, IntlMove only quote for volume, not weight. Yet, if you exceed the weight limit, you pay extra. Next time, I would find a company that provides a quote for both. Bear in mind that for international moves, you will probably be given non-binding quotes. That means, that if you exceed weight or volume, you pay the extras. If anyone knows of an international mover that provides binding quotes, I’d really like to hear from them.
Find out what’s included in the quote. Usually, it includes all fees at the point of origin. We were told up front that all destination charges were extra – that included port fees, customs, etc. What we were not told was that fuel charges for the ship were not included – we do not know if we paid a portion of the charges (because I’m sure the ship carried more than one shipment) or the entire fuel charge. I don’t know if you could possibly ask for a receipt of actual fuel charges. What we were also asked to pay from the destination agent was x-ray fees. Because different ports have different policies regarding x-rays or manual examination, I would check with the ports before paying these.
Find out the whole process of payment. We were very uneasy with the way IntlMove did it, but since we were pressed for time by that point, we had no choice. They liked to do everything by email. They sent you a form, an agreement to sign. You had to fax or email a copy of your deposit as well as signing an authorisation form for them to cut a draft from your bank to pay for the move. Then you had to mail them your check. This is in addition to providing a copy of your passport and other personal information. I refused to provide them with my social security number because they were getting too much information that I thought was unnecessary. After they receive your deposit, they ask for the remaining balance before they will call the pick-up agent. They stipulate that the pick-up agent cannot pick up the shipment until they have your check for several days. Yet, then they explain that you and the pick-up agent can negotiate the pick-up date. If you get confused, don’t worry. I don’t think they mean for you to understand.
The pick-up agent takes it to their warehouse and weighs it. Supposedly, moving companies need to inform you of when and where the shipment will be weighed and give you the option of being present. Also, the scales used need to be certified. IntlMove does not do this, and I have been told this only applies to interstate moves, not international moves. If anyone knows differently, let me know. I find it unfair that you cannot witness the weighing because it gives them the freedom to make up a weight and get extra money out of you. A second weighing takes place just before the shipment gets loaded onto the ship. If it is less, they will not inform you (because that means a refund). But, if it is more, you will have to pay another fee. Now, IntlMove did tell us that after we made our payment, we may receive either one or two more bills. The first will be after the first weighing, the second after the second weighing. We got both, of course, though the second bill only contained fuel charges and charges for the supposed additional packing done by the pick-up agent. As I said in the other post, they did not put on any additional packaging (and they defaced legal documents to say that they did).
Now, if you don’t pay the fees like IntlMove want you to, they send you threatening emails saying they will hold your shipment hostage until you pay the ransom. (Never mind that you paid for 30-days warehouse storage in case you needed it.) This is ILLEGAL! If any company ever does that, warning bells should start ringing and you should start making plans to report them. However, since your belongings are in their hands, you will have to pay the ransom and deal with this after you receive your shipment.
I should mention that once you agree to use IntlMove, the person you talked to no longer is involved. You have to deal with Administration, Accounts, and Operations. And, those three don’t always work together, even though my husband suspects it’s all one and the same person.
In future posts, I will address insurance, packing, etc.
Moving to another country is always full of stress. One of the biggest hassles is the actual transport of personal property. It would be great if you could just pack your suitcases and go. But, for most of us, we are moving our entire lives. Finding the right moving company will determine whether the move is a “piece of cake” or a living nightmare.
Let me start by saying that ours was closer to the nightmare. Because of that, we decided to cool off before we go into some nasty tirade against the movers. After all, we want to sound objective. That is why I’ve decided that now is the time to discuss international moving. I may actually have several blogs to write about regarding this.
We’ve had no experience with international moves until now. We did not do our research as we should have, because we were not aware of all the pitfalls. We looked for international moving companies and only one was persistent enough to get our business. But let me warn my colleagues out there that they should beware of IntlMove. I don’t know how many of you have ever used them, but they definitely belong to the “rogue” category.
From what I can gather on the internet, IntlMove was doing very well until 2008. If you look on their website and see all the testimonials, they were all dated from December 2007 and beyond. If you want to find complaints, most occurred last year. What went wrong? I don’t know but I will share some of our experiences here and write some advice on subsequent blogs.
Another reason I would like to write about this now is because we might have to consider returning to the US. If we do, we will not be using IntlMove. I hope that some of my colleagues might be able to give me advice on companies they have used and trusted.
One of the most frustrating things about IntlMove is that there is no personal service. Everything is done via email. The representative does call you up, but once you’ve agreed to go with them, they will not discuss anything on the phone. They claim that email provides a “paper trail” against “he said/she said” issues. Fair enough, but that didn’t help us in the end. They contract with other moving companies to pick up your goods and deliver them. Once they have it in their hands, you are at their mercy. They tried to hold our shipment hostage, demanding more money, claiming that we went over our weight limit and that the moving company had to do additional packaging. I will admit that we went over the weight limit. We know because we personally weighed everything and overestimated. But we did not go over by the amount they claimed. We, however, cannot prove our point on that score because they used their own scales. But we had proof that there was no additional packaging, attested to by the moving company that delivered the goods. But they ignored our complaints, denying that anyone had any knowledge of this.
We’ve already reported them to the BBB and the FMC. We have still to contact the Bureau of Enforcement. We’ve also reported them to MovingScams.com, a forum for people making moves. Unfortunately, there are still people being scammed by IntlMove right now.