What Your Moving Company Won’t Tell You Until You Sign The Paperwork.

Last week, Smart Money ran an article discussing the 10 things that moving companies won’t voluntarily tell you that I found pretty interesting, as I have hired major moving companies 3 times in the last 10 years. And while I did get my stuff each time, the amount of money I was charged did change each time when the movers arrived, the timeline of when I would get my stuff was different than promised, and I always had a few scratches and dents on my belongings. So after reading their article on movers, I decided to go through each of their 10 things that they think movers don’t tell you – and give you my opinion on each after hiring them so many times!

1. “We’ll hijack your stuff.”

They say: Spyro Malaspinas says that Nation Van Lines, which he hired to move his belongings from Austin, Tex., to Chicago in January 2003, hiked his bill from an estimate of $1,050 to nearly $4,300. The movers, according to Malaspinas, said his goods measured 500 cubic feet more than anticipated. When Malaspinas threatened to call the police, the drivers made off with his possessions.

I say: Yep, seen it – even with an estimator coming out to my house and giving me a binding estimate. Once they got to my house, they said my weight was way over what they were told it would be and they wanted an extra $750 before they would release my belongings. Well, I needed my stuff and since legal fees would have cost more than that, I relented and paid them to get my stuff back.

2. “We’re popular, especially with the FBI .”

They say: The feds indicted a total of 16 moving companies and 74 operators, owners, and employees on various charges following a two-year investigation called Operation Stow Biz.

I say: Good luck finding a moving company that doesn’t have multiple black marks on their record. I couldn’t find an honest one in the bunch, or at least one I felt comfortable with. Even asking my friends who have moved didn’t provide any references. I guess I should start my own moving company…

3. “Don’t mess with us; we’re virtually untouchable.”

They say: There are federal laws to contend with that, historically speaking, have tended to protect moving companies more than consumers. It used to be, for example, that while dissatisfied customers could sue their moving company for goods lost in a move, they stood very little chance of recovering even their basic monetary value, let alone winning any punitive damages on top of that amount.

I say: As I mentioned, good luck trusting anyone or even getting your way. The BBB is littered with complaints about virtually all movers, and no one is going to spend thousands of dollars taking these guys to court. It’s a win-win for them most of the time.

4. “Someone will deliver your stuff””it just might not be us.”

They say: In the hectic summer months, a mover might get so busy that it asks another company to help out with a job. That’s fine, but the consumer should be notified in advance of the deal.

I say: No experience with this one, but it would be nice if the company told you that even though they picked up your stuff, they won’t be the ones bringing it to you.

5. “How much experience do our movers have? At least a day or two.”

They say: Even if one company does handle your entire move, don’t assume that the movers who show up are actual employees of that company

I say: You got that right. One time, our moving company hired 3 random guys that looked like they were about to abscond with our stuff. They were day laborers from the local Home Depot parking lot! Not exactly what you had in mind as you paid thousands of dollars to have your stuff moved safely.

6. “Our pricing policies are wacko.”

They say: For instance, it may be tempting to bypass getting an in-house and written estimate from a mover, opting instead to save a few minutes with a telephone or online estimate. But if you take the shortcut, be prepared to get burned.

I say: Even without taking a shortcut, you can get burned. I had written, on-site estimates that were different by over $1,500. It’s almost as if these guys make it up as they go.

7. “Extra fees and charges? You can count on it.”

They say: There are many ways for movers to squeeze extra dollars from customers. Besides charges for accessorial services, movers have been known to levy exorbitant fees for such things as packing supplies.

I say: Watch out for the fees, they add up quickly. Anything you can do yourself, get started doing it. Buy your own supplies, do your own packing. And read every single line of your bill.

8. “We’ve never met a schedule we didn’t ignore.”

They say: In January 2002, Tyrone Kelley was set to move from Stoughton, Mass., to Las Vegas, but the movers didn’t arrive until 6 p.m., seven hours late. Says Kelley, “It’s a common tactic to arrive after business hours so that it’s too late for you to find another moving company.”

I say: While I didn’t have any issues with them showing up to get my stuff on time, I did have issues with them arriving at my destination on time. Excuse after excuse, delay after delay – I felt as though with some of these guys that it was the first time they had ever driven a moving truck across the country. They (and their dispatcher) had all sorts of excuses for the delays, and even had new ones every morning. It was pretty bad.

9. “Surprise! Our insurance isn’t worth much.”

They say: A mover’s liability coverage, known as “valuation,” doesn’t work like a typical insurance policy. For interstate moves, standard valuation limits the carrier’s liability to no more than 60 cents per pound, and it’s often less for in-state moves. So if your 50-pound plasma screen TV gets smashed, you’ll collect just $30.

I say: Buy the extra insurance if it is offered, or ask your homeowners insurance company if they can cover some too. I bought insurance from an outside company and it only cost me about $150 to cover the total estimated replacement cost. Well worth it in this case.

10. “We change addresses as often as our customers do.”

They say:The FMCSA lacks the muscle to rein in rogue movers. The agency fined 117 carriers in 2007 at an average amount of $13,000 per carrier””chump change for an industry that brings in $10 billion annually. And companies that do get censured often remain defiant.

I say: If I was constantly getting complaints, I might consider moving often too!

My best advice for dealing with movers? Ask around. All my friends gave me advice on who they used, which helped me to at least get rid of the worst ones from our list. Websites, review sites, the BBB – they don’t really give you much information to help you make a decision. All movers have many complaints lodged against them, so it’s very hard to go on that information alone.

Have you had any experience with moving companies? Good? Bad? Ugly? Let us know!


My Neighbor Has Gone Without Health Insurance For 30 Years.

And he can afford it – it’s not about the monthly cost. It’s about the fact that even if you have insurance, they don’t necessarily cover much of anything, especially with private insurance. (He is self-employed.) Since he was 22 years old, he has gone without health insurance, choosing instead to lead a VERY healthy lifestyle, a monthly visit to the chiropractor for his back, and using a lot of natural medicine and healing techniques on himself. He is fit, doesn’t eat any junk or man-made food, only drinks water and tea, and exercises daily. Once a year or so he pays to go to a doctor for a physical and a few blood tests – that’s it. Otherwise, he never goes to a Western doctor for anything and he heads down to Mexico for any dental work he needs. (Which MANY Americans due because of the cost here in the States) Is he crazy or is he doing the smarter thing than the rest of us who don’t get subsidized insurance through their employer?

If I had to choose again between paying for private insurance or going without, I would go without. That is, if I could even get it again after having cancer – considered a pre-existing condition.

For several years after I quit my corporate gig, I paid for private health insurance through BCBS. It was nearly $400 a month just in premium payments – and in 2008 alone I ended up spending $14,296 of my own money on health care. That was WITH health insurance. It’s not that the tests were really that much more money than that and that if I didn’t have insurance I would have owed more – it’s that the insurance didn’t cover A, B, or C tests. So much for insurance coming to the rescue. I do remember my corporate group insurance being better, and my wife’s plan at her work is also better, but private insurance just does not cover individuals to the same extent as group plans. Even after paying that premium for years, it really didn’t help when it came time to actually use the insurance I had been paying for. And thus, if I am ever in that situation again, I will go without. I will start an HSA and just put a few hundred in it every month, and get some medical coverage on my automobile policy just in case. After all, if private insurance isn’t going to pay for the care I might need some day, why continue to pay the monthly premiums?

As I mentioned in the title of this article, my neighbor has gone without insurance for 30 years. If his monthly premium for private insurance had been around $300 a month (let’s keep it at that figure for simplicity sake and to account for inflation), insurance would have cost him $300 X 12 X 30 = $108,000 over the last 30 years. That’s a lot of dough to shell out for not a lot of coverage. And unlike most people, especially in America, he takes incredible care of himself. And sure, an accident could still befall him at any time. But private insurance isn’t likely to pay much of his bill anyway if he did have one, so he took his chances on not sending them hundreds of dollars every month.

Creative Commons License photo credit: photomequickbooth

So, this leads me to my question – what do you guys think about this? Plenty of people cannot afford health insurance still end up going to the doctor and owing thousands upon thousands of dollars. Some people, like my neighbor, choose to go without insurance and would also owe thousands if he did get sick or had an accident. And people like me can afford it and did pay for it, but also end up owing thousands. So…what do you think?

Reform is needed in this country, no doubt about it. I am not sure of the best way, but something needs to give. Doctors are going out of business or into private doctor-run plans because they aren’t getting paid what they should be insurance companies. Insurance companies are canceling policies of the insured, sometimes without a reason, and giving out bonuses to employees who reject claims. And hospitals are barely breaking even because of underpayment by insurance companies and the influx of the uninsured into their emergency rooms. Something needs to give, and I am betting it will be a public option of some sort by the time we are through. Personally I welcome the concept, as long as people still have a choice as to which company they want to pay and what doctor they see. Affordable health care really shouldn’t be a privilege; it should be a basic human right.


Sunday Money Roundup – Friends In Town Edition.

This weekend I am getting some visitors – a friend from high school (and his girlfriend) who I have not seen for about 6-7 years. They are passing through New Mexico on their way to their new home in Los Angeles and are stopping by for a night (should I charge them a room fee?); it will be good to see my old friend again. While we catch up, here are some articles that caught my eye this past week. Enjoy!

Money Ning talks about Side Hustle, Self Employed, Entrepreneurship.

Debt Free Adventure discusses the Powerful Advantages of Renting a Home Before Buying.

Frugal Dad asks an important question – “If You Could Only Take Three Things From Your Home, What Would They Be?” Mine would be my cat, my laptop computer, and my portable safe.

Cash Money Life wants to tell you about the Things to Consider When Leaving Your Job. I left my job years ago with no plan, and it worked out…but I don’t recommend it for everyone!

Free From Broke asks the question Do You Keep Money Secrets From Your Spouse?. Well, do you?

Being Frugal wants to help you Protect Your House While You’re on Vacation. I don’t need to worry about this, because someone would have to find my house first!

Mighty Bargain Hunter has a great article up titled “Five more great ways to slam the door on your customers“. Good stuff…

Green Panda Treehouse wants to help you find a reliable and trustworthy mechanic.

Living Almost Large asks if it is cheaper to drive or fly. Since I don’t fly, I always drive…unless I take the train, which is even better.

Money Smart Life wants to help you start a business this summer.

My Two Dollars also took place in a few carnivals this week as well:

The Carnival of Personal Finance #210, where my article “When Spending Money is Worth it” was chosen as an Editor’s Pick.

Money Hacks Carnival #70, where my article “If You Could Pick Your Benefits At Work, What Would You Pick?” was chosen as a best in category.

The Festival of Frugality, where the article “How To Get Your Monthly Electric Bill Below $25” was included.


Credit Card Research: IberiaBank Visa Platinum Rewards Card.

Since I get emails all the time asking about different credit cards and if people should be signing up for this, that, or the other one, this will be a new feature every week about different credit cards. This week’s card is the IberiaBank Visa Platinum Rewards Card. Through the rewards program, cardholders earn one point per dollar spent on all qualifying purchases. Points are redeemable for merchandise, travel and gift certificates to participating restaurants and merchants. (If you are reading this by RSS, you might have to click through to see all the details)


Money Quote Friday – Prospect Of Deliverance Edition.

The most terrible thing about materialism, even more terrible than its proneness to violence, is its boredom, from which sex, alcohol, drugs, all devices for putting out the accusing light of reason and suppressing the unrealizable aspirations of love, offer a prospect of deliverance.” -Malcolm Muggeridge

Ain’t that the truth, and unfortunately we all fall for it at some point in our lives. Have a fantastic weekend everyone – get outdoors and enjoy the summer!