The Mistake My Mom Would Never Make Again After Her Horrendous Moving Experience

published Feb 20, 2023
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I take after my mom in many ways, but perhaps the main thing we have in common is being sentimental about the family heirlooms that fill our homes. It’s an admirable trait to share and one that makes for cozy and meaningful spaces. However, there’s one life event that an abundance of sentimental possession makes difficult — moving

Last year, my mom decided to move from Virginia to Pennsylvania. She had been summering up north and wintering down south, and although she’s active and vibrant, the back-and-forth adjustment twice a year became too much. Once my mother finalized her decision to move permanently to Pennsylvania, she hired a moving company for the first time. 

Her initial call was to a local mover who came to her home, walked through, and quoted a price of $5,300, which included loading the truck, traveling to Pennsylvania, unloading, and returning to Virginia. My mom had to pack and unpack her belongings, which was her preference anyway.

No one wants to overpay for services, so my mother contacted a national mover to secure a comparison quote. She reached out to a company with a familiar name, but they passed her on to another mover. Unfortunately, my mom didn’t realize she had initially telephoned a brokerage service. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a moving broker arranges for transport but sells your move to for-hire carriers. 

I can’t speak for everyone, but after my mom’s experience, I would not recommend using a moving broker. During my mom’s initial call, the broker had her go from room to room, measuring furniture and determining how many boxes she would have. Finally, after three-and-a-half hours on the phone, the broker gave her an estimate of $1,000 less than the local moving company, so my mom chose the lower price. A date was set, and I put it on my calendar to help my mom. 

I showed up on the scheduled moving day and the original plan started to unravel. The mover informed my mom that the quote was for a specific amount of square footage inside the truck, and if she went over in any capacity, there was a per-foot additional charge. We also discovered that they intended to store her items for an undetermined amount of time instead of taking the load immediately to Pennsylvania.

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Luckily, my husband and I were there to help my mom navigate this new situation. We kept an eye on the movers to ensure the truck was packed efficiently and watched as the truck filled up. I gasped as one man stacked five boxes on a dolly, which immediately tumbled to the ground as he wheeled it forward. Unfortunately, the moving company had inexperienced workers not adequately trained to transport items safely. As a result, our confidence in every point of the process waned.

After some negotiation and prodding, they did agree to transport the load to Pennsylvania that day. We waved goodbye to my mom, her SUV filled to the brim with extra boxes. Unfortunately, upon arrival, the movers unloaded everything haphazardly into the first floor with no intent to help my more than 70-year-old mother get things onto the second floor.

In the end, the total cost of the move was almost $10,000. On top of all that, my mom filled her SUV on a subsequent trip, and my husband and I took a final box trailer load up to Pennsylvania. Hopefully, my mom won’t need to move again, but looking back, she wishes she had gone with a local mover. Thinking that she would save a few dollars ended up being twice as expensive when factoring in the extra trips we made and the replacement value of several broken items. 

When possessions are precious to you, ensure you are working with a company that provides personal service by transporting things themselves instead of brokering your move to someone else. A broker may sell your move to a company with excellent standards, or you could end up in a frustrating and more expensive situation like my mom. We could end up with a more reputable business next time, but it’s definitely a risk we aren’t willing to take.