Pros: Professional and national chain, estimates, friendly movers
I think we all would agree that moving is stressful enough without any hassles. We worry about getting a moving company, the timing of the move and all of the packing and all of those worries are before the actual move. Once moving day arrives, the worries shift to breakage, theft, and expense. A moving company that can remove a great deal of my worries is the one I want to deal with.
We narrowed the endless number of movers down to five and called them to set up appointments for estimates. I was surprised to discover that only three actually came out to look things over before providing an estimate. The companies that did not were immediately ruled out. I am sure they were cheaper, but saving $15 an hour does not matter to me if if it results in something turning up broken.
The salesman from Wheaton showed up on time and with a laptop and a ton of company literature. If I did not know any better, I would have thought he was a life insurance agent. We walked through my apartment and he diligently asked me what they would be responsible for and what we would be taking ourselves. Then we sat at the table and he plugged in the laptop and in a matter of minutes it spit out an estimate.
The estimate itself was very easy to understand and read. The estimate broke down like this for us:
Four hours for the move at $110/hr
One hour travel time at $110/hr
Mirror and frame packaging 18 pieces at $8.50/per
That was basically it. He broke out the number of pieces and subtracted what we were going to move ourselves. I took the estimate and waited to see how it stacked up against the other estimates. What I found was that from a pricing perspective, Wheaton was a little on the expensive side. There were not the highest (Bekins was), but the fact that they have a minimum of four hours plus an hour of travel time put the minimum at five hours, or $550. All to move about eight miles down the road.
The defining moment came when I looked into insurance. Most of the companies use an independent firm that charges an arm and a leg. We were quoted the following: "We will insure for a minimum of $50,000 and that will run you $556 with a zero deductible. A $100 deductible will get you down to $489". Ok, not going to happen. I am not paying $100 an hour. Certainly not when just about everything can be replaced or repaired for less than that. At that point, we decided that we would go a national company- figuring that they have to have a decent reputation. We skipped the insurance and told the movers when they arrived that there would be something in it for them if everything made it in one piece.
Which brings me to their arrival. There were three guys and they were on the ball. I suspected that they would "dog" it in order to run up the bill. Not a chance. They hustled (Up and down four double flights of stairs) and in a matter of 10 minutes were moving things. One guy was busy with the tape and wrapping paper. The other two wore out the stairs as they loaded the truck.
Speaking of the truck, Wheaton showed up with a "mini 18- wheeler". I saw "mini" because it was the same type of truck as an 18- wheeler, only possessing 10 wheels. I was not expecting such a large truck.
Speaking of the guy with the tape and wrapping paper. He told me that he would save me some money on packaging. Basically, he put two or three frames/mirrors in each cardboard box, but covered them all in extra packaging paper. He basically cut my packaging cost in half and assured me nothing would be broken or scratched. He was correct.
The guys got my apartment completely cleared out in an hour and a half. We ran into a little trouble getting the truck out of the lot, but I cannot blame the guys. Hey, the lot is tight and trees overhang the alley. Eventually, we were on our way when I got a phone call from the truck. They wanted me to be sure that we avoid any low bridges as the truck is taller than most. I am not sure why Wheaton would purchase "taller" trucks, but we suddenly had a problem. I live and was moving to an area that is serviced by a local, regional, and national train. This means lots of low bridges. Eventually, we made it and still well ahead of time.
At the new place, the guys took a quick break to indulge in some of the food and drink that we provided. Then it was back to work. The first thing they moved- and without complaint- was my desk. The desk is the reason we did not do the move ourselves. It is very well made and, hence, heavy as can be. I did not hear a single complaint as they first took it down four flights of stairs and now were asked to take it up three flights of stairs. The truck was unloaded in a matter of 45 minutes and the guys were ready to head off to their next job.
Before leaving, they checked in with the salesman and updated him as to the lower cost. The salesman asked me how thing s went and I told "Wonderful. Better than I could ever have imagined". I paid with a credit card (You can use plastic or a certified check.) thanked the guys and handed them each a $20 bill.
The only thing about the move that concerned me was that no one was at the truck while it was being loaded. I have experienced first- hand how people will walk into the truck and take your stuff out as you put it in. A not so pleasant feeling. However, the neighborhood was a good one and it was 700am (Most of the thieving type should be just about to go to bed at this hour.), so I did not worry too much about it.
I was thoroughly impressed by the guys who did the actual move. I had heard nightmare stories from others- a full moving team that did not speak a word of english and another group that appeared to be homeless guys hired an hour earlier- but found our movers to be friendly and polite. I think I discovered that when it comes to moving, you get what you pay for. Wheaton may be a little more expensive than other moving companies, but in my mind they are worth every penny.
Finally, nothing arrived broken or scratched and nothing was missing. Actually, one lamp arrived with a little problem. But, I do not hold it against them. The screw that holds the bottom to the top half of the lamp was knocked off. A $.25 screw is not a big deal.