So you've bought that new house or are ready to trade your apartment for a condominium across town.
Do you leave the moving to professionals or do you do it yourself?
That depends on how adventuresome you are, how precious you consider your goods to be, and, in many cases, whether or not you have some energetic friends willing to trade a day's work for a few cases of beer.
In a long-distance move, don't lift a finger if your present or new employer is paying for your trip. Let the movers do the work. In many cases, the employer will pick the mover, saving you that headache.
If you are moving to another city on your own, you can move yourself--and save considerable dollars--if you only have a few roomfuls of furniture.
Be wary, however, if you have a bad back. Even in a cross-town move, it sometimes is best to bring in a moving firm to at least handle bulky appliances and things like convertible couches and delicate possessions. They are insured against damage. You probably will not be.
Question: Going the do-it-yourself route, how do you pick a truck rental firm?
Answer: By comparison shopping. In other words, don't go to the nearest or most advertised truck rental firm and plunk down your bucks in haste.
The move-it-yourself truck and trailer rental business is cutthroat when it comes to competition. They all want your business and are willing to bargain for it--sometimes at substantial savings to you.
One major rental firm advertises that it will match any lower rate quote from a competitor. When shopping around, you find its basic quotes tend to be higher because it plans on coming down. It makes up the difference on customers who pay the first quote, no questions asked.
When it comes time to picking up the truck, local dealers may also throw in a few extra days or a few hundred extra miles on your trip limitation, if you ask.
Most dealers also have on hand an array of materials to assist with the move, ranging from hand trucks to help lug appliances and furniture padding to boxes of all shapes and sizes.
They also have free booklets with tips on estimating the size of the truck you will need, packing and handling hints. Many also offer optional insurance that cover not only damage to the vehicle, but also carry $100 deductible coverage on your possessions.
Also, when comparison shopping for a rental truck, check the general age and condition of the fleet available. The older the truck and inferior the upkeep, the greater the chances of a frustrating and sometimes costly breakdown.
If you don't want to move yourself, and don't even care to get involved in shopping for a moving firm, there are businesses that make such arrangements for you. Check the Yellow Pages for "relocation" services.
One such firm, the Homerica division of Home Equity Inc., specializes in arrangements for corporate transfers of employees from one city to another.
Gary Gaylor, director of moving services at Home Equity's Danbury, Conn., office, provided some general tips on what to look for in a moving firm:
"More than anything, look for a carrier with the ability to pack, load and haul, unload and unpack. This way you have one supervisor for that moving process--the driver. Any labor he selects, he is responsible for," Gaylor said.
"That provides a move of a much better quality, simply because the people who start at the origin see what happens at the destination. It makes them more responsible about damage, and not being late on delivery. That's the prime objective," he said.
Check Mover's Reputation
Gaylor suggested calling other carriers and asking about the reputation of the firm you are interested in.
"Know what kind of moves they do most of the time. If you are an individual, you wouldn't want someone who consistently does military moves," he said. "Military moves are low-cost moves. Low cost suggests less service. It's more mechanical than personal and it is meant to be that way."
He also recommended sticking with a major van line. "Should a claim occur, should the load be late, there needs to be a resource within that organization that can solve the problem," Gaylor said.
There are two ways movers can figure prices under deregulation. One is the traditional method of charging interstate tariff rates based on actual weight load.
The other is a binding estimate, in which the agent is bound by the price he quotes you when checking your household, regardless of whether the actual weight is over or under the estimate.
"The problem with this is taking someone's opinion for what the weight of that shipment is," Gaylor said. "It has always been our procedure to use a weigh ticket on every shipment. That's recommended for an individual, too."
If you decide to move yourself, with the help of your buddies, here's one other hint: Keep the beer on ice until after the heavy stuff and the most precious of possessions are off the truck and into the new abode.