We all do seriously inane things when we’re moving. The first time I moved into an apartment alone, I decided I could save 400 bucks by doing it all myself. And I would have, too, if I hadn’t dropped a desk on my bare toe right at the start (that’s right, folks—I was also moving in flip-flops). In the end, not only did I not save that cash, but the whole thing cost me about $600 in medical bills.
Maybe you’ll have better luck (or common sense). But here’s the thing: When you’re moving, it’s surprisingly easy to make dumb and costly mistakes. Just ask these moving companies, who’ve seen the good, the bad, and the stupid.
1. Forgetting to pack
“Clients aren’t always prepared. It literally happens daily. You would be surprised if you knew how many clients we have found still asleep when we rang the doorbell. Recently, we received a call from a potential client on a Friday afternoon for the following Monday. They said they’d have everything packed and ready to go. We knew better, but we booked the move and showed up Monday. And yes, not one single box was packed.”—Derek Mills, co-founder of Square Cow Movers in central Texas
The smarter way: Pack. Ahead of time. Got it?
If you leave anything until the last minute, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.
“It adds exponentially to the stress level for the client and movers,” Mills says. And when you’re under stress, something is bound to go wrong. Save yourself the headache, and be totally prepared the night before.
2. Packing in the least efficient way possible
“One customer of ours attempted to save money by packing all of their belongings in plastic bags. Think about an entire kitchen’s worth of dishes and stemware in Hefty bags. Not good! Another customer loaded their dresser drawers and armoire with books, photos and other assorted sundries.”—Aaron Steed, CEO and founder of Meathead Movers in California
The smarter way: If you properly wrap your belongings, you’ll not only keep them from breaking, but you’ll keep your sanity intact as well.
“Take note: Boxes and protective material like bubble wrap and newsprint are the most effective means of carrying, transporting, and protecting one’s personal items,” Steed says. But don’t attempt to use furniture to store heavy items: The furniture can break under the stress. Empty those drawers, and pack the contents in boxes.
3. Bringing the drama
“About two years ago, one of our movers showed up to load a truck for a woman who had booked a move well in advance. The day of the move, we show up to load her truck, and it wasn’t there. No one was there to answer the door and no one returned our phone calls.
“After we wait for 20 minutes, hoping for a callback, she opens the front door and she’s heavily intoxicated. She then asked us to drive her to a truck rental agency, which we did. After we secured her truck and finished loading all her items, her husband comes home and begins physically and verbally panicking because he claimed the things we loaded were all his! This resulted in a lengthy yelling match, with one telling us to load certain items and the other telling us to unload the same items—simultaneously. Nothing got moved that day.”—Mike Glanz, CEO of HireAHelper
The smarter way: If the movers have to hang around while you sort things out, you’ll likely be charged. Instead, get the personal stuff out of the way long before they show up … and we don’t just mean personal belongings.
4. Shipping a fully packed car
“A mistake customers routinely make [when transporting their car in an interstate move] is packing their vehicles with personal items. People sometimes get the idea they can use their car as a giant suitcase, and this will not work. Auto transporters are only licensed to carry automobiles, not freight. Also, these carriers have to go through weight stations going across the country. If they are overweight, they will get fined and can pass that fine down to the customer with the packed car.”—Brett Deinum, manager at AAcrossUSA Auto Transport
The smarter way: You can’t use your car as a way to transport your boxes, but that doesn’t mean you have to clean it out entirely, either.
“We have found that most carriers will let the customer get away with around 50 pounds of personal items secured in the vehicle,” Deinum says.
5. Not taping both ends of your boxes
“One situation that comes to mind happens quite often, but I remember this one move in particular because of the scale. The client we were moving went to great lengths to excessively tape the tops of their hundreds of boxes … but completely forgot to tape the bottoms. Of course, as soon as the first boxes were picked up, the bottoms opened up, and all the contents unloaded onto the floor. The associate moving the boxes simply turned them over and put the contents back in, hundreds of times. And we all know, time is money!”—Ashley Thibodeaux Herbert, COO of Bart’s Office Moving, Inc. in New Orleans, LA
The smarter way: Movers will be happy to fix your boxes for you, but it’ll cost you. Save yourself money, and test-lift a few boxes before the movers get there. And for goodness sake, tape up all of the sides!
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