Moving Days: What is the Deal With Movers?

I have had wide ranging experiences with moving companies over the years. Some were so frustrating, it’s almost comical. The best experiences have been when someone else was paying the bill! That really makes a stressful situation much less stressful, but thanks to the state of the economy, those all expenses paid relocations are becoming rare, at least for us.

I don’t even remember the first move when a moving company actually came and packed and loaded our stuff. Jeromy was in the Air Force and we were getting sent home. Someone made all the arrangements and I just had to be there.

Our first apartment in Alaska

What I do remember from that day is when we went out to free up room for the moving truck, my car wouldn’t start! We were going to ship the car, but we took it as a sign and once Jeromy got the car started, we drove it into town and sold it to a used car dealership. So long Dodge Neon! We moved ourselves on what we’d call local moves for a few years in the DC area. When we moved to New Hampshire, that move was paid by the new employer. So was our move to South Carolina. Those moves went pretty well, but I think that was because we weren’t coughing up the change. Relocation counselors are awesome!

Things got really interesting and complicated when we decided to move to Germany. The human resources person who handled Jeromy’s hire quit right in the middle of our move. I guess our information just sat on a desk and no one else picked up the ball. I’d say we had no help, only the promise of being reimbursed for our expenses after we submitted receipts. I had no advice on how or who to hire for moving our household goods. Thank goodness for the internet, or maybe not.

The company that I hired sent two guys and a truck down to South Carolina from New Jersey. After seeing these guys, had the cast from Jersey Shore shown up, I would have thought, “what nice, clean cut boys.” Instead, I got the original cast of Jersey Swamp. I don’t know where these two crawled out of and I had to let them in my house. Jeromy was already gone to Germany, so it was just Josh and me. To add to the good times, the one who looked like Gimli from Lord of the Rings, you know – short, stocky, hairy, but add gold teeth and chains, he made a mess in my bathroom. I normally get by with natural, non-toxic cleaners in my house, but I went for the toxic, industrial strength stuff to clean up after him. Ick! The two of them managed to cram all of our stuff into this small truck, everything except the cat’s scratching post.

Nice, new and clean cat scratch post.

In hindsight, I don’t know why I let them do this. They strapped the post to the bumper of the truck and drove like that all the way back to New Jersey! It was a funny sight as they pulled out of the driveway, but at the time I was too tired to laugh. That post was very dirty by the time it arrived in Germany!

Now we’re making arrangements with a German moving company. They are well experienced in dealing with Americans and moves back to the USA because they do a lot of moving for the military. I decided to go with this company because the other one I asked for a quote ssssuuuuuuuuuuuucked at giving us a proper estimate.

Company F (not company B, company F for failing) first gave us a quote that estimated 40 cubic meters of household goods to go in a 40 foot container and our car would go in a 20 foot container. I questioned this because we just don’t have that much stuff. I asked them to revise the quote with two options; 1 – car in the 40 ft. container with our household goods, 2 – a 20 ft. container for just our household goods in case we decided to sell the car. Company F quoted what I asked for, but then said a 40 ft. container can only hold 30cbm if you place a car in the container too and a 20 ft. container can only hold 30cbm. The car apparently would take up 20 feet of a container. Well, fine, but I know there is no way in hell we have 40cbm of household goods. I looked at the invoice for how much we shipped to Germany and it converted to 17cbm. We did not acquire more than double what we brought from the States! No way! I know I didn’t buy that much at IKEA.

So, Company F sent out a different person to do another survey. Two days later I received a quote saying that yes, we do indeed have 40cbm of household goods, but this time it WILL fit in a 40 ft. container with the car. How is this possible? Did they figure out how to install some sort of black hole in the container? Would Scotty from Star Trek beam our household goods to South Carolina? The kicker, there is always a kicker, is that this time the 40 ft. container cost €1600 more than the quote when they said it wouldn’t fit. What?! Do these frickin’ frackers think I’m stupid? Do I look stupid?

Me and a pretzel at Oktoberfest in Munich. Silly, but not stupid.

So to Company F I say, “Nein! Nein! Nein! No soup for you!”

Sorry for the rant, but these guys really got me goin’. When I’m shelling out the big bucks, I take this stuff personally and I was offended by their outrageous ineptitude. Anyway, here’s hoping Company A sends their best and brightest to deal with me, I mean help me.

Have any of you had interesting experiences with movers?

This entry was posted in Life in Germany and tagged , by Jennifer. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jennifer

I'm an interior designer at my core and a big fan of simple pleasures and Mother Nature. Originally from Iowa, I've lived up and down the East Coast, plus Alaska and Germany (thanks to my husband, who must have nomadic blood in his veins). Currently I'm a Yankee in South Carolina, trying to keep up with my son and constantly adjusting to life in the South.

3 thoughts on “Moving Days: What is the Deal With Movers?

  1. I think you should be a relocation coordinator! You are good at keeping up with all the details! Good thing you called another company! You are in the home stretch now! Goodluck with the rest of your move!:)

  2. No experience yet. Have been in the same city all my life. But about to relocate to Germany from Brisbane, Australia. That is 5-6 weeks away. And as yet haven’t organised the shipping company. Do not know where to start!!! We have been given 800 euro from our company to do this — but not sure if that will get our stuff any further than Indonesia?! (right above Australia!)

    • I hope your employer can help recommend a company, or maybe a future coworker already in Germany would be able to recommend someone. It is very expensive to move to and from Germany. There are three people in our family and we don’t have a lot of stuff (by American standards) and it costs about 6,000 Euro for us to move our furniture and personal belongings back to the East Coast of the USA. Maybe 800 Euro will cover air freight charges for your personal belongings? You may have to find a fully furnished apartment in Germany so you don’t have to bring furniture. “Furnished” in Germany is tricky though. Sometimes it only means that there are cabinets in the kitchen. Furnished may not mean actual furniture! Good luck with your move.

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