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Scott Ott’s 7 Secrets for Using Professional Movers

Here are some tricks my family learned from our move to Texas.

by
Scott Ott

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June 21, 2014 - 6:00 am
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Scott Ott's 7 Secrets of Using Professional Movers

“I can” use a professional mover! But only if you follow Scott Ott’s 7 Secrets, now available in this easy to read article.

My family just moved from Pennsylvania to Texas, and we employed a professional moving company to load, drive and unload the 18-wheel truck. In the course of doing so, we learned 7 secrets of highly effective moving absolutely essential to your next move — secrets the pros don’t want you to know!

I should probably make a DVD about this and sell it to you, rather than just give away this valuable information. However, since you’re someone I don’t know at all, and because making a DVD is hard and takes too long, I decided to share these secrets with you for FREE. (Read that last sentence again! It might contain a typo. I wrote this quickly and didn’t proofread before posting.)

1. Don’t Get a Professional Estimate.

You may have read elsewhere that you should get a pro estimate, and then sign a contract with a company that will stick to the estimate. Only the latter is important. The key to an affordable move is to get the least experienced estimator to visit your home and make a bid on the job. Call a reputable mover, and ask for a guy who shaves weekly, drives a field-beater with floorboards covered in discarded “5-Hour Energy” bottles, and who voted for Obama (or meant to).

In our case, the rookie guessed the total weight of our household goods at 12,000 lbs. On moving day, the men who actually loaded the 53-foot-long truck discovered that we had a full-scale replica of the Space Shuttle in our basement, our mattresses were filled with clay, and one of the boxes in my office was marked “Dark Matter.” The jittery juvenile estimator also failed to examine the contents of our fallout shelter/survival bunker, missing all the ammo boxes, gold bullion, barrels of freeze-dried food, and steel drums of non-hybrid yam seeds. The actual weight of the load turned out to be greater than the estimate by roughly 473%. But the invoice, as promised, matched the estimate. The moving company has since filed for Chapter 11 protection.

Top Rated Comments   
The one thing that I learned through many, many, military moves was to always get the little metal widgets from bookshelves, the screws holding knock-down furniture, and any other essential elements from furniture that comes apart - put them in a zip-lock bag and carry it yourself. Don't let the movers wrap them up and pack them somewhere.

They were contractually obligated to disassemble these items and then to assemble them at the other end. The unpackers never want to do this, in my experience, so the packers will deliberately lose these essential items ... and there you are with forty cases of books, and with no metal shelf supports to assemble the shelves until you make a quick trip to the hardware store.

On the last move, the movers "lost" the eight antique metal bolts that held an heirloom bed together - foot-long things the size of a railway spike. I did file a claim, since I had to go to a specialty metal-worker to have the bolts replaced - and the moving company had to pay it.

I didn't bother filing a claim until then - but it cost $300 to replace the bolts and I was damned if I would pay that out of pocket.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (37)
All Comments   (37)
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As these comments attest, moving has absolutely earned its place right up there near death of a spouse as one of the most stressful life events there is.

One the plus side, I’ve noticed that by the time you’ve successively culled your possessions through multiple moves, you’re finally left with a house that’s filled with only things you really love, and that’s actually pretty smashing.

“To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition.” Samuel Johnson
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
This article is 140% true
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
They are supposed to catalog every box so they can verify receipt at the other end, but after they showed up many hours late we were frazzled and didn't double check that they did this. Hence anything unlabeled managed to NOT make it to my house, including such large items as half of a matched lamp set and only God knows what else.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Whatever you do, don't use ABF U-Pack, unless you want your goods trashed.

Their competitors (the conventional moving companies) disparage ABF by pointing out that ABF uses standard truck trailers, rather than purpose-built moving trailers which have much better suspension systems. They say the standard trailers will subject your goods to much more shock during the trip, making a damage very likely.

This is actually truth in advertising.

To add insult to injury, forget getting ABF to your house when they say they will be there. Oh, and if they get there 3 days BEFORE you do, well, you just ate another delivery charge.


On the other end of the scale, I will throw a celebration party the day that U-Haul closes its doors. Pure evil.

10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Being in the process of moving myself, this post helps me to do it in good spirits.

I particularly like #4: let it go.
You might want to check out Tolstoy's The Cossacks about this.
I don't much care for high literature myself, but i found Tolstoy's insight extremely helpful: the day when you move out, you'll be depressed because you'll think about lost opportunities; the next day, you'll be elated because you'll think about the future.

One more piece of advice: count the boxes.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Within the last 5 years, I moved on two different occasions from NY to CA. Both times, I found CA NY Express extremely fair with very little stress -- perhaps because they also packed. The estimator bid on the size of the boxes things were going into, rather than its weight. When I moved within CA, I checked with Angie's list and also found a wonderful mover. I tipped when my stuff was picked up as well as when it was delivered. I normally don't consider myself lucky, but I certainly was with my moves. And VDH notwithstanding, I love California.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Within the last 5 years, I moved on two different occasions from NY to CA. Both times, I found CA NY Express extremely fair with very little stress -- perhaps because they also packed. The estimator bid on the size of the boxes things were going into, rather than its weight. When I moved within CA, I checked with Angie's list and also found a wonderful mover. I tipped when my stuff was picked up as well as when it was delivered. I normally don't consider myself lucky, but I certainly was with my moves. And VDH notwithstanding, I love California.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
While with the service we moved East Coast to Hawaii to California to 30 miles away in California to East Coast to South. Essentially no damage to our goods in all those thousands of miles and trucking and shipping over the ocean - except that tiny move of 30 miles, significant damage to several items.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wait. Ott moved to Texas. Lordy, I hope it was Austin.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually, just outside of Denton County, Denton Salle.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Like many of those in my profession, I move a lot. While I'm sure the contract is awarded on a low-bid basis I'm also sure they're representative. I've heard of people having the contents of their freezer - including a turkey - packed on moving day and awaiting them in their new home. I've been luckier - I just had a full garbage can packed once.

Actually the worst movers I had were ones I hired myself. They started the day by telling me outright that my Ikea shelves would not likely make the trip intact. Then they arrived at the new place earlier than agreed upon - and earlier than we got there. So they put the stuff into a local storage facility and took the key with them. Long story short before we could get the key to the place I had to leave the area for my job and this left my pregnant wife to manage the moving of the stuff into the apartment herself. (She wound up hiring some local college guys.)
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
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