The 7 half-truths which some moving and storage sales people tell

Chris Noblit
Half Truths

Time to vent, and I must preface this writing by apologizing to all the many professional COD/Private Transfer interstate household goods sales representatives out there: you have all heard these tales and battle this nonsense every day. Perhaps the problem is regional; it seems that in our market area (metropolitan New York - specifically Long Island, NY) the sales competition is at times underhanded, and at worst downright dishonest. Low estimates, unrealistic promises, and untrue claims are common. These practices by parasitic companies, and sales representatives, pull the standards of our industry down and make it difficult for quality oriented firms to operate ethically and successfully. In fact, several of the high quality moving firms in metropolitan New York have simply given up trying to compete in the COD/private transfer household goods market. These firms are marketing their services solely to the corporations. This is indeed unfortunate as the industry needs these companies to raise its quality standards and promote professionalism within the moving, storage, and relocation industry.

It should also be mentioned that it is the moving and storage consumer who bears much of the blame; it seems many such consumers want to believe the fairy tales and think the happy thoughts that the lowest bid is the best price, is a firm price, and that the unrealistic promises will be kept. It isn't and they won't.

So, that said, here are the 7 half truths that interstate COD/Private Transfer household goods moving sales people tell John and Jane Q. Consumer...

1) The Claim: "Don't worry, the driver will pad wrap that (substitute one: painting, glass top, marble top, grandfather clock, mattress, etc...)"

"We'll pad wrap it"...I love this one.

Count on this happening: The van line driver won't load the item(s) because the articles in question aren't properly packed for transit and the van operator doesn't want to assume the liability that comes with accepting an improperly packed item into his or her care and custody. Believe this: if an item is sensitive or fragile it needs to be properly packaged, and that such cost will be money well spent.

2) The Claim "This price includes insurance!"

Uh, huh.

Is this customer oriented moving sales person referring to the $0.60 per pound, per article carrier's liability for loss or damage that is automatically included in an interstate moving estimate? If so, the consumer may be in for a rude awakening at claims settlement time when settlement for the cherished 2 pound Waterford vase is offered at $0.60 per pound ($1.20). Consumers should make certain that they purchase additional "Full Replacement Value Carrier's Liability For Loss or Damage" and that the sales rep informs you of all your loss or damage liability options. If the moving sales person fails to advise you of your loss or damage liability option it is recommended that you fail to utilize the moving company in question.

3) The Claim "Don't worry, the most you have to pay is the estimate, plus 10%"

True indeed, for a non-binding interstate moving estimate the most you are required to pay UPON DELIVERY is the estimated cost, plus 10%...


THE FINE PRINT (that you didn't read and that the sales rep failed to point out) states " are obligated to pay the balance of the total charges within 30 days...". As a result, you can count on an invoice arriving shortly after your shipment in the amount of any legitimate charges in excess of your cost estimate plus 10%.

4) The Claim "Don't worry, this is the most you have to pay! This is a binding estimate!"

Happy thought. And true indeed...


THE PRICE IS BINDING ONLY FOR THE SERVICES LISTED ON THE FACE OF THE ESTIMATE AND FOR MOVING THE ARTICLES LISTED ON THE TABLE OF MEASUREMENTS (known as the "cube sheet" in moving & storage terminology). And you thought you were going to make out 'cause the sales rep forgot (?) to include that solid-oak master bedroom set! Believe this; on moving day the driver will pay close attention to reconciling what you show him to be moved and what the sales representative has listed to be moved on the Table of Measurements document. When you receive a binding estimate the Table of Measurements which was prepared by the sales representative becomes a "permission slip" because it lists only the articles which will be permitted on the truck for the binding estimate price. Extra boxes? You pay more? Additional articles to be moved? You pay more.

5) The Claim "We won't charge you for that (choose one: piano handling charge, extra pickup, extra delivery, etc...)"

When you hear this, guess what has happened...

This happened: the salesperson has just reached his or her hand into the driver's pocket and removed money that wasn't theirs to take. Such additional accessorial charges are paid 100% to the van line driver as compensation for the extra time/labor or space on the truck required to complete pickup or delivery of your shipment. The driver may not be cooperative when it comes time to live up to this promise, a promise that he or she didn't have the opportunity to approve. In addition, do you want an driver, disgruntled at having a few dollars removed from his pocket without permission, handling every last article that you own and cherish? Is this worth $60.00?

6) The Claim "Don't worry, this estimate is on the high side!"

Reality? Common wisdom in the business world: get three (3) estimates and throw out the high and low estimates.

Reality in the moving business: believe the high estimate. The discounts are all about the same and most major movers use the math...and pay particular attention to the estimated shipment weight. The low estimate is most likely based upon a lower weight but your final move charges will be based upon your actual shipment weight...regardless of the estimated shipment weight.

7) The Claim "We'll bring you into storage on an local hourly charge basis (local agent authority paper) and then move you out of local storage on interstate weight basis (van line paper)...this will save you money!"

It is true that local hourly based charges into storage are cheaper than weight basis Storage-In-Transit (S.I.T.) charges,


If a claim occurs you will be faced with finger pointing between the van line (under whose interstate authority the final interstate move was performed) and the local agent (under whose local intrastate authority the shipment was moved into storage on). It's called "split liability" and while you probably don't understand it, it can make settling a claim an absolute nightmare. Guess who loses?

So there they are; the 7 half truths that interstate moving sales people tell.

My advice?

  1. Get everything which has been promised in writing...
  2. Stop believing fairy tales...if what you are being told flys in the face of what others are saying...or common probably is false...
  3. And understand that you are about to entrust everything you own and cherish to complete strangers during one of the most stressful times of your life.

Please take the time to make a careful, informed and thoughtful decision.

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