Top 5 Moving Mistakes: A Testimonial

Special contribution from Allison Crouch.

When my husband and I decided to relocate from Savannah, GA to Portland, ME we knew it was not going to be easy. We were worried about selling our house, moving our pets, affording to pay for the relocation, finding a new place to live–and that’s just the beginning. We made so many mistakes and learned so much from our truly nightmarish experience; we want to help other families avoid the same traps and pitfalls we encountered.  So, here are 5 things NOT to do when preparing to move:

1. Lack of planning

I am a pretty organized person, so I didn’t have to worry about this one–I had everything prepared and organized. Having a moving checklist was an invaluable part of this stressful process; I felt like I at least had some control over our move, even when so much is left in the hands of others. Two months before your move, you should start planning every step and getting together a budget. Get a moving quote so you know how much it’s going to cost and make sure it’s a guaranteed quote. You do not want to get all your stuff loaded on the truck and have the movers tell you it’s going to cost more than double what you were originally quoted! More on that later. To help keep you organized, there are some great moving checklists on the web, like this one or this one, and there are online articles to help you plan a reasonable budget. Also, Integrity Movers, Portland’s newest moving company, offers a free, in-home estimate so your budget will be accurate with no surprises. Their Integrity Guarantee ensures that your final price will never be more than your original estimate.

2. Not using a quality LOCAL moving company

We did some research and found a local moving company in Savannah that was highly rated on Yelp. They came to our house and gave us a free quote. After looking at all our inventory, we were quoted $2,600. To us at the time, that number seemed astronomical. How could it be that much? We didn’t have that much stuff! I knew it was smart to get more than one quote, so next we went online and “googled” moving companies, and I found Nationwide Movers. Had I done even ten or fifteen minutes of research I would have seen very quickly that Nationwide Movers were a bunch of shady scammers, but instead I did an online quote form, estimating how much furniture and boxes we had and a very nice saleswoman called me with a quote of $1600. Much more affordable! We decided to go with Nationwide Movers, who required no deposit to book them for our move. Have you spotted a problem or two yet?

When a reputable, local moving company comes to your home and gives you a quote, you are assured that they are estimating as close to possible to actual price so you won’t be surprised later with extra costs. Integrity Movers offers a unique Integrity Guarantee, which ensures that you will never be charged more than your original estimate–I cannot stress enough how important this is. When moving day came, and the movers (who mostly spoke Russian and had trouble explaining to us what was happening) loaded all of our stuff on the truck, had to unpack and repack some items (which we were charged for) and then informed us that our move was going to cost almost $4,000. This price was based on “empty cubic feet” above our items up to the ceiling of the truck, as well as packing supplies and additional items we hadn’t included in our online inventory (the attic, the garage). As they refused to take our items off the truck without payment, we had no choice but to give them a deposit, feeling helpless and angry.

Do not go with the company that offers you the lowest quote. Go with a local moving company, with solid reviews, like Integrity Movers. You are guaranteed a certain price, and you can rest easy knowing you are dealing with caring, courteous professionals, not scam artists from a Nationwide chain who are not at all concerned with your satisfaction or well-being.

3. Packing Poorly

We ended up being charged more to have the moving company unpack and repack some of our items that were not properly packed. Save time and money and let a professional moving company like Integrity Movers pack your items for you. That way you can be positive that items will arrive safely to their destination. We had so many broken dishes, and chipped or damaged pieces of furniture that the total loss probably totaled almost $1000. Integrity Movers will make sure your items are packed with care and arrive safely at your new home. They will even unpack for you.

4. Failing To Understand Your Payment Options

When we finally got to Maine, we had to wait almost a month until our new townhouse was ready for occupancy. In the meantime, Nationwide Movers offered free storage of our items until we were ready for delivery. What they failed to mention, however, was that they would hold our items hostage until we paid them more money. Every time we tried calling and speaking to someone in charge we got a different person, all of whom told us a different story and a different run-around. We had to wire thousands of dollars  to a man we had never met in order to get them to agree to put our stuff on a truck headed north. It ended up taking weeks longer than originally planned to get our items, and we had to live in a hotel room with our pets for over a month. When our stuff did finally arrive, we had to pay them more money to get them to even start to unload, even though we had no idea if all of our stuff had made it out of storage and onto the truck. So many of our items were damaged, but we had no idea what to do about it–we just had to pay them so we could get our stuff back and move on from this epic disaster.

Understanding your options and your rights is very important. In most states, including Maine, it is illegal for moving companies to refuse to take your items off the truck without payment. It is also illegal for them to refuse to deliver your items without payment. In hindsight, we probably should have called the police, or done whatever we could to get our stuff instead of sending cash to a stranger–there was no guarantee we were ever going to see our items again and we were handing over money left and right. Most reputable moving companies, like Integrity Movers, will secure a deposit when you book your move, and the balance is due upon delivery. Always be sure to write checks or use credit cards, so payment history can be tracked and proven–cash is a bad, bad idea.

5. Not saving all documentation and receipts for tax purposes

If you move because of a change in your business location, or because you are starting a new job, all or part of your move may be deductible. Save all receipts: cleaning supplies, moving boxes, packing tape and bubble wrap, dolly and blanket rentals, tolls, gas, hotel stays, moving company payments, etc to itemize on your taxes. Expenses incurred from moving–with the except of meals–can be deducted if they meet three basic requirements:

1. Your move is closely related–in time and in distance–to the start of your new employment. Your move needs to happen within one year of your new job, and your new commute cannot be more than your original commute before you moved.

2. The location of your new job must be at least 50 miles from your old job.

3. You must work full time at your new job at least 39 weeks of the first 12 months at your new job.

And, if you are a member of the armed forces or military you do not have to satisfy any of these requirements.

Lessons Learned

We eventually filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, but we were told that there wasn’t anything they could do because the documents we signed waived all our rights and held the movers not liable for loss or damage. I went online and wrote reviews about our experience, and I ended up reading dozens of stories just like mine–innocent, hard-working people getting worked over by scammers and con-artists. You are loading everything you own in this world onto a truck and watching it drive away; you want to make sure that you trust the people who are vowing to take care of your items and deliver them on the other end. Integrity Movers is a local, family-owned business and you can rest easy knowing that they care as much about your items as you do. Customer satisfaction is their number one priority and you will feel taken care of from start to finish. I cannot say it enough–learn from our mistakes. Call Integrity Movers for a free quote and start planning and budgeting for your move today so that you can have a successful and easy move tomorrow.