Blog: Can We Have Some Order Here?
Transporting Your Possessions
So, which is it -- hire a mover or rent a Ryder truck? The answer may seem obvious -- "Go with the cheaper alternative!" or "Whichever means I have to do less work!" But you have an awful lot of issues to consider before you sign on the dotted line -- cost, responsibility for damage, the physical labor involved, and your moving time frame. Whichever option you choose, make sure you are fully informed before making a decision that could cost you a lot of time, money, and mental anguish.
You might choose to rent a truck because it is less expensive than hiring someone else to transport your household belongings. However, rental fees can add up quickly, if you aren't careful. Get quotes from several different companies -- and remember to figure in the cost of gas, tolls, food, and other travel expenses during the trip. Will you need to rent additional equipment -- a dolly, a hitch for your car, or packing supplies? Do you have friends who can help load and unload the truck? If not, you will have to hire helpers -- or risk even more costly medical bills when you throw your back out trying to lift that refrigerator on your own! What if your truck is in an accident? "Do-it-yourself" requires extra insurance coverage for your cargo and any potential damage to the truck. You will also want to ask about additional drop-off fees -- if you are returning the truck to a different location or a low-demand area.
Here's another thing to consider -- while you may be tempted to make your decision based solely on price, there is much more at stake when you are moving than the up-front price tag. You are transporting all of your most valued possessions from one location to another. It may seem like it costs less to have your brother-in-law load your mother's piano onto the truck. But what happens when he overestimates how much weight he can carry and drops it? With professional movers, you not only benefit from their years of experience, but also their insurance coverage. Can you handle loading and unloading large, heavy, bulky items? Are you comfortable driving an oversized vehicle through heavy traffic? Remember, that U-Haul is a tad bigger than your pickup truck! And think about the time and energy you will have to invest if you move yourself. Can you afford to take extra days off from work to load and unload a truck? Do you want to use your precious vacation time toting boxes back and forth? Sometimes, it's just easier (and well worth the money) to have someone else do it for you. Renting a truck is certainly the best option for some people (especially cheapskates and DIY freaks like me) -- just be sure you know exactly what you are getting into before you rule out that handy full-service moving company!
Hiring A Mover
If you do decide to hire a moving company, start by compiling a list of at least 5 potential movers to interview. You can let your fingers do the walking, but it's better to get referrals from friends, your company relocation department, or your realtor. Then ask for a bid from each -- an estimate of how much the move will cost. Be sure that you are comparing apples to apples, and ask each mover up front about any "extra" fees. Will they have to traverse more than one flight of stairs or take furniture up an elevator? Are you moving bulky items or asking for things to be carried an excessive distance from house to truck? Are you expecting the company to provide packing supplies or assemble items once you have reached your destination?
You can also usually expect to pay more for side trips (to pick up items at another location), unusual transportation obstacles (construction, detours), exclusive use of a truck by your household, delivery on holidays or weekends, or the use of the moving company's off-site storage facilities. Whatever you agree to, be sure to get a binding estimate -- that way, if your load weighs more than expected, the company must honor the quoted price. But remember, price is only one of the criteria by which to judge a mover. You should also find out if your belongings will remain on one truck for the entire length of the move. Transferring items from one truck to another increases the chances of damage. Also ask if the company will guarantee your delivery date. If you aren't careful, all of your "stuff" can end up in a storage unit on the other side of the country for months at a time!
Checking Your Mover's Credentials
Most importantly, be sure to check your mover out thoroughly before you sign any agreements -- don't just trust references, because they might not be entirely objective. When moving from state to state, contact the Surface Transportation Board (formerly the Interstate Commerce Commission) to find out if the company is on the up and up. International and intrastate (within the same state) moves are not governed by the STB -- so get in touch with the state department that regulates relocation (transportation, public utilities, public services) for more information about your local movers. You may also contact the Better Business Bureau or Department Of Consumer Affairs in the cities of origin, destination, and the company's headquarters for complaints about their actions or ethics. Your main goal is to find out if your mover:
- has STB authority to perform interstate moves
- has an active motor carrier number (and be sure to get the number)
- has bodily injury, cargo, and property damage insurance
- has filed its tariff (rules and rates) with the STB
- has a good performance record of making their deliveries on-time and damage-free
Of course, look for extensive international experience and strong references when moving overseas. And whether you are moving locally, nationally, or overseas -- make an unannounced visit to the company to get a good look at their operations. Ask lots of questions!
Protecting Your Rights
The first rule of protecting yourself during a relocation is to be educated about your rights. Start by participating in the inventory of your belongings. Follow the mover around your house and double check their work. Make note of any prior damage to your belongings and be certain that the mover lists every item that will be loaded on the truck. You should plan to carry extraordinarily valuable (furs, jewelry, art) or irreplaceable (memorabilia) items yourself if you are concerned about their well-being. Ask for a copy of the inventory before the mover leaves and store it with your important papers. You may need to produce written proof of that record at the time of unloading, should any of your belongings be missing or damaged.
Also take the time to understand your insurance coverage. Household moves may be covered by your homeowner's insurance, but it is wise to purchase extra coverage. Valuation pays for a loss based on the value of your belongings -- however, you must prove the mover is liable for the damage in order to collect. Insurance pays for loss on covered items without proof of liability. Always request "full-value" valuation, which reimburses you for the actual cost of repairing or replacing any damaged items -- rather than what you paid for it back in the day. Other options may short-change you in the end. And get everything in writing! Your written agreements (price, delivery date, care of your belongings) are your only proof of what the mover promised you.
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posted on: 4/5/2012 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips
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Can We Have Some Order Here?
by Ramona Creel
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I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!
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