Friday, August 8, 2008

Moving Horror Stories and Advice

Okay, so this move is going pretty well (knock on wood crate on back of truck). It's nowhere near our worst move experience.

A couple of tidbits from THIS move:

- Take the batteries out. If you have any toys or other electronic devices, then take the batteries out. It's pretty frustrating when you have a wall of cardboard boxes and there's a noise coming from somewhere inside. In this case, it ended up being a toy vacuum cleaner and it wasn't too hard to find, unwrap, and turn off.

- Tag the stuff you don't want packed, or set aside a separate room. We knew this already from previous moves. We set aside our Master Bedroom closet as the "do not pack" zone.
I also got a stack of bright pink sticky-post-it notes, and put those on anything that wasn't supposed to be packed that wasn't in the closet (telephone, cable modem, wireless LAN router, etc). I didn't do a very good job of it though, because I missed a few things - like the remote control for the satellite receiver and the alarm clocks and the sheets for the bed.

Like I said, nothing terrible on this move so far.

We've been talking with our neighbors and comparing notes on the worst moves we've had. Our two worst moves so far have both been leaving California - first from Monterey and next from San Diego, and San Diego was by FAR the WORST.

One thing I learned during my first couple of moves as an Ensign was inventory documentation and loading control. If one of you guys at nuclear power school or prototype is reading this and getting ready for your second or third PCS move, then please take this advice:

Blunoz's Golden Rule of HHG Shipments:
Do NOT allow the movers to put ANYTHING on the truck unless YOU (or your spouse or other designated trusted friend) are standing at the entrance to the truck.

This definitely requires more than one person and an active zone defense. One of you will always have to be standing at the truck. Yes, this can be boring. Bring a book or a magazine, but vigilantly guard the entrance to that truck!!! The other person will be able to roam the house and watch for other shady business practices (more on that later).

When the movers show up, tell them that this is your rule and they WILL follow it or you will call for the HHG (household goods) Quality Assurance Inspector. Note that the movers are GOING to complain and whine. Call the wah-mbulance if you have to, but don't let them bully you into lowering your standards or giving them any leeway on this.

As each item goes on the truck, YOU need to verify two things:

1) There is an inventory sticker on it.

2) The inventory list shows an accurate description of WHAT that item is,
and not just "1.5 cuft box" - What's IN the box? What ROOM did it come from?

If you DON'T do these things, then you can expect the following results:

1) Things that go on the truck and DON'T have an inventory sticker will mysteriously disappear in transit and you will never see them again. If it wasn't on the inventory sheet, then you can't file a claim against the moving company for losing it.

I've lost several things in this manner. From my first move as an Ensign, I remember watching certain things go on the truck that didn't come off the truck in Orlando, but I couldn't prove they went on the truck because they weren't on the inventory.

The most notable thing we've lost in a move this way was when we arrived in Virginia and our queen size box spring came off the truck... but there was no queen size mattress to go with it. It wasn't written anywhere (legibly) on the inventory, so I couldn't PROVE that we ever HAD a queen size mattress. One would THINK it would be logical that where there's a BOX SPRING, there's a MATTRESS to go with it.

Note that this episode of the lost mattress happened after the movers in San Diego gave me a hard time about waiting for LW or I to verify inventory tags at the entrance to the truck. The head mover guy whiiiiined and complaaaaained and mooooooaned and grooooaned about how this was going to add HOURS to their packing job. I put my foot down and said, "No, it's not. It only takes half a second for me to see the inventory number on your way up the ramp, and if I'm not standing there then leave it at the bottom of the ramp and go get another load of stuff from in the house." He vehemently disagreed with this policy and I caught him several times putting things on the truck when LW or I weren't there to check.

If such a situation were to arise again, I would be even more anal-retentive about me or someone I trust being at the entry to the truck and not allowing anything on the truck unless it's got an inventory sticker.

Tangent About Overseas Shipments:
Note that this is not as much of a concern when you are shipping overseas (like to and from Hawaii), because they put everything in large wooden crates that get nailed shut and sealed until you open them at your new house overseas.

These are the wooden crates they put your stuff in when you ship overseas.

These are the nails and seals for the wooden crates.

Note: YOU need to SIGN the seal sticker. If you don't, then they could open up the crate at their storage facility and take what they want and "seal" it back up again and slap another seal sticker on it. The purpose of the seal sticker is to prove it wasn't tampered with, and that requires your signature.
End of Tangent: Resuming original line of thought...

2) Even when you get everything on the truck with an inventory number, some of the stuff isn't going to show up on the other end. When that happens, you need a LEGIBLE and ACCURATE description of what that item was so you can file a claim for it (and so you know what you lost).

Our movers leaving San Diego wrote like chicken scratch, so when a dozen or so inventory numbers were missing when they unloaded the truck, there was no way for us to be sure what exactly we were missing. I find it's easier for my own peace of mind to just write the inventory myself as it goes on the truck.

I do have more to write on this topic, but this post is long enough as it is. I'll write more later. (I know you all will be waiting with baited breath). I hope this advice proves useful to someone. If any of you reading this have questions about HHG shipments, please ask.

Click here to go to Moving Horror Stories and Advice Part II.

1 comment:

blunoz said...

Follow-Up: Okay, signing the seal on the crate might not be necessary because the seal stickers are now serialized. So IF your movers annotate what the serial numbers of the seal stickers are on your inventory sheet, then you should be fine without a signature on the seal sticker.

The seal stickers are delicately cut and perforated so that any attempt to peal them off would result in them ripping, so you'll be able to tell if the seal was broken. In other words, thieves wouldn't be able to peal the sticker back, take stuff out, and then put the sticker back in place.