As a student, I worked as a longshoreman, and right after that as a manager in a moving company. Here is my view from the inside. (Victor Sikirin – manager of cargo transportation).
Moving in the U.S. are moving companies: they organize loading, transportation, and unloading of your belongings, sometimes – packing and insurance, sometimes – disassembly and assembly of furniture.
Usually, movers are called to move an apartment or office. Rarely do they take the family’s belongings out to the countryside for the summer. Once a young couple loaded props for their wedding: they drove there on their own on two trunks, and then called a gazelle with movers back.
Movers can be very different: from a gang of criminals to a super-organized company with сcorporation, movers in overalls and professional equipment. There are even “cleaners” for moving.
Typically, a moving service includes the work of two movers, a driver, and a rental car. There may be more movers. Inviting one mover most often makes no sense, because he alone will not pull the furniture out of the apartment.
You will pay by the hour; the price will depend on the composition of the team. More people – faster loading, but it will cost more. You pay for the time of loading, transportation, and unloading. You don’t have to help the movers during their work.
How smoothly your move will go depends on who you turn to and what you provide. This is my story.
How to choose movers
Most companies – intermediaries: you place orders with them, and they send you employees on a free schedule. As a rule, they work with students, unemployed, part-time movers, and drivers with their transport. This does not mean that these people will do their job poorly. But if you have a complex case, they may not have enough experience and the necessary equipment.
You have to know how to carry things, too. Not everyone knows how to properly bring a huge couch into the apartment or move a closet. Professionals in this business are also not uncommon, but they are more expensive.
Take, for example, a piano. It usually requires four students to transport it. But if the company employs professional movers with special rigging straps, they will cope with the two of them. Services movers -professionals may end up costing less than the labor of students.
You can find the most inexpensive movers and drivers on free classifieds websites. If you want to save money and you don’t have valuable items, call and make an appointment. If you need to move boxes and a few pieces of furniture – it’s quite acceptable.
The services of professional movers can be cheaper than the labor of students
If your apartment is fully furnished with inexpensive furniture from Ikea, buy wrapping film (not food!) and feel free to call a private party.
If you are moving an entire apartment with expensive furniture, and you want not to worry about the safety of things, choose professionals. It will come out more expensive, but of higher quality. Good mover companies will bring their own packing material.
Search engines will provide links to the websites and phone numbers of local moving companies. It is easy to distinguish professionals from opportunists-intermediaries: the site will be well decorated, the company will have an office and details, will be published photos of workers in a special form, ideally – with a readable company logo. Good companies have branded vehicles and their own packing material. Check if the reviews are real if the author is listed if there are state or municipal orders, letters of appreciation.
Look at the photos that are posted on the website. Photoshop collages, clean-looking phot stock morons, and drawn shadows are a sign that the company has no movers and trucks of its own. Or that it has a very bad designer.
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What to ask the carrier
Call the carrier of your choice and negotiate the order. Ask about the cost of each service offered, the conditions, and the order of payment.
Do not offer any prepayment and do not discuss: it is possible only for the packaging. Ask about the presence of loaders rigging straps, equipment vehicles for transportation of furniture: must be soft walls and fasteners to fix the furniture. If you are given a gazelle to transport sofas, which last night were carried toxic waste, there is a chance to ruin the furniture.
If the company itself will offer to sign a contract, it will say a lot about it. For serious removals, a contract is mandatory.
How to Order
You can order one or more gazelles, two or more movers. The number of boards and people depend on how many things you need to move. Estimate this objectively is not always easy.
Usually, freight companies will offer you one or two gazelles with a body of 20 cubic meters. This does not mean that in each such gazelle you will take 20 cubic meters of things because you can not always put some things on top of other things. If you have a rare leather sofa or a table that you made to order, you’re unlikely to want to put a closet on top of it.
To figure it out, give the manager as much detail as possible about how much furniture you have. If there are few things, a phone conversation will be enough. Just ask how many movers you need and what kind of transport is needed.
Describe to the manager in great detail how much furniture you have and what it is.
When moving an entire apartment is better to use the services of an on-site appraiser – they are usually free. Or just send the carrier a photo of the apartment: he has a trained eye to assess what, where, and how to put to make do with a minimum of machinery.
For example, to move a two-room apartment with furniture, refrigerator, and washing machine in bulk will be enough for two twenty-foot gazelle or one six-meter truck “Man” volume of 26 cubic meters. The second option will even be cheaper.
Order at least a few days before the move. Urgent calls are more expensive, and there may be a problem with the availability of movers and transport.
Most movers work with an hourly rate with a minimum order of 2 hours. This is convenient for small volumes of transportation. But if in this case, the gazelle gets stuck in traffic or the freight elevator breaks down, you will continue to pay by the meter.
Moving with a fixed cost – “turnkey” – is also popular. In this case, you negotiate the price in advance.
The cost will be known to you and will not change. For large moves, it may be cheaper than paying by the hour. In this case, do not give the keys to anyone – be present for the loading and unloading in person.
If you are offered extra fees for floors and skips, you are being scammed. Look for other carriers. The exception – large items such as a piano or a safe. This rigging work, they require special devices or even equipment – for them to take extra money is normal.
Order a little more.
If in doubt about how many people and what transport to ordering, order a little more than you think. If during the move you realize you need another person, his services will cost you more and you will have to wait an hour or two until he arrives.
Do not always get to save on the number of movers: where four movers can handle 4 hours, two can do the same thing in not 8, but 10.
If the weather permits, order a car an hour or two later movers: while you disassemble the furniture and take things down, you do not need transportation. That way you won’t have to pay for downtime. But not all companies can do this.
For large moves, I advise calling everyone as early as possible in the morning: in the evening you will get into traffic jams.
If you need to disassemble and reassemble furniture, turn off and connect the washing machine, dismantle or hang a plasma TV – let the manager know about it. Workers must come with the appropriate tools.
Unfortunately, movers are not always educated and have skills as plumbers, so if they can disconnect the washing machine for little to no reason, then to connect it in a new place may need a qualified plumber. Do not skimp on these things: better to pay a thousand or two for good pipes and gaskets, than then sue the neighbors for a flood.