As the 2015 Permanent Change of Station season moves on, reports of problems with the movers are starting to grow. Unfortunately, moving problems can result in extra expenses for military families. While you can't fix the moving system, there are some steps you can take to minimize the potential costs of troubles with the moving schedule.
Just a little background: this year is particularly bad because of a change to the way that the movers can accept or decline assignments. When the current system was set up, movers could not decline shipments, even if they were over-capacity. The disastrous summer 2010 moving season prompted the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC), the folks in charge of movers, to issue a temporary change, allowing movers to decline assignments. This temporary change has been renewed each year, until now. This summer, SDDC decided not to extend the temporary change and revert to the old system. As a result, moving companies have limited options if they are given more moves than they have people or trucks to handle. SDDC insists this is an improvement, but I still haven't been able to understand the logic.
The results of this change are pretty clear. Lots of people are reporting that movers aren't showing up when scheduled, or they are coming without enough manpower to do the job. Just within my small group of friends, two families have had SINGLE packers arrive to pack their entire houses. I have heard reports of trucks not showing on moving day, and pack-outs extending days beyond their estimated length due to personnel issues. This can be a serious issue if you have travel plans, or need to vacate your house by a certain date.
So, what steps can you take to ensure that you won't find yourself stuck if the moving system fails you? I don't know all the strategies, but here are some things to consider:
1. When requesting your move, be sure to accurately estimate the amount of stuff you are moving, and include any items that might require special handling. If you are not sure your estimated weight, round up.
2. Confirm your dates with your moving company shortly after requesting your move. If possible, call and make friends with the people who are organizing your move. This sounds crazy, but if they only have one team and two houses, they're probably going to send the workers to the house of the person that they feel they know. While you are at it, be sure that you have many phone numbers for people to call if something goes wrong.
3. Ensure that you have a survey done by the moving company prior to the move date. The earlier the better. Point out things that might have more quantity than is immediately obvious, such as closets packed three tubs deep. Also be sure the surveyor notes your special crating needs.
4. Allow a few days between the scheduled end of your pack-out and the date that you need to be out of your house. Utilize your temporary lodging benefits to give yourself a cushion in case the pack-out takes longer than expected.
5. On the day of the move, don't wait to start calling if your packers and/or movers don't show up as scheduled. If they say they will be there at 8, pick up the phone at 8:30 to make sure that a) they haven't forgotten you, b) they aren't at the wrong location, and c) they are not lost.
5. Be prepared to request financial compensation from the moving company if they don't perform to the terms of the contract. You may ask for a night's hotel accommodation, or for them to purchase air mattresses, or whatever will "fix" your situation. There are no guarantees that you will get what you want, but you won't know unless you ask.
I'm sure that some of my readers have had experiences with overscheduled movers, and probably have even better advice to share. Please use the comments to tell us your wisdom!