I’ve moved more than 900 miles twice in the past 24 months. The first one was New York City to Minneapolis (about 1,200 miles) in July of 2014. The second one was Minneapolis to Dallas (about 900 miles) a few weeks ago. Both times, my wife and I used long-distance movers.
The first time, I don’t even completely remember the name of the company — oops — but I do remember I was nervous about moving (it was my first long move, really, except maybe Houston to CT in 2005, which I did in my Ford Explorer because 24 year-old guys have nothing in terms of possessions), and as such, I was willing to pay more. We paid about $3500 for a move with a more nationally well-known company. It was mostly smooth: they picked our stuff up on the morning they said they would, and they were set to deliver about a week later (roughly the window for 1,200 miles). We were basically doing a road trip while they moved our stuff, and somewhere in Ann Arbor, MI, they called and said, “Yea… it might be a few more days.” We ended up spending the first week in Minneapolis (maybe about five total nights) on an air mattress with a few pots and pans and maybe two suitcases of clothes.
This time, we were a little better prepared, because you need to start with this core knowledge: the long-distance moving industry is generally pretty shady. We brought more stuff in terms of pots/pans/clothes, and we drove much faster (1.5 days as opposed to 7-8), which is both a good and bad thing.
Anyway, this time we used American National Van Lines; here’s their Yelp and here’s their official website. It’s interesting — a lot of moving companies you talk to try to stay off certain platforms for fears that other movers will comment and denigrate them. Some, for example, “just have Instagram.” (Cute photos of kids in moving boxes, etc.) Some just have a website, but there’s no interactive component. It’s interesting/weird.
American National wasn’t bad, overall. I’d probably give them a solid B if I had to score ’em out. I found them through putting my e-mail in one of those “quote generators” on Orbitz — within minutes, I had 11 voice mails from different moving companies — and I ultimately picked American National because their initial sales guy, Abraham, was pretty nice and walked me through stuff and because their quote was lower (I didn’t want to pay $3500 again, honestly; it seemed like too much for 900 miles).
It started to get a little weird after that, though — Abraham passed me to a guy named Julian after we signed the papers; Julian left me a voice mail congratulating me on “my move to Tennessee” (it was to Texas). I e-mailed him and called him to get some clarity on number of boxes, and he didn’t get back to me. After a few days (admittedly, this was all happening around July 4th), someone else named David called me. We went through boxes and all that, and he was helpful, then told me my window would be “July 11 or 12.” I assumed that meant July 12th for sure, but I prepared for the 11th. On the 10th, someone called me and said “it might be the 11th” (I wasn’t really sure who called me, if we’re being honest) and then I heard nothing on the 11th. On the 11th at about 6pm, someone called me — George, from First Choice Movers in Tucson — to tell me they could pick up tonight. Selfishly, we had plans with friends (as this was probably our last night in Minnesota), so we didn’t want to do that — but agreed we could. He said they’d be there in 1 hour. About 30 minutes later, after I had shifted some plans with friends, he called and said, “No, tomorrow morning. 9am.”
Woke up at 8:30am the next morning — moderately hungover — to get ready for the movers. They showed up about 11am (so, 2 hours or so off). I started to figure things out a little more now: American National, the parent company you book with, seems to contract out to these other movers. In fairness, the two movers we got were really fast. They started at 11:10am and finished around 1:30pm. We don’t have a ton of stuff, but we have some big items, so I thought a little over 2 hours was good.
Moderately sketchy part: we had gotten a cashiers check for this payment, because that’s what the George guy had told us to do. 20 minutes after they finished, cashiers check plus tip, they called my cell to say they needed cash for “gas” and “the next pickup.” At this point, we were just trying to get on the road that day, so I ran to the bank with the check and flipped it for cash. I paid them, and they took off. We did too.
That was a Saturday, so I figured the drop-off would be Tuesday or Wednesday, give or take (contract said the latest day would be today, actually — about 9 total days after the pick-up). I called Julian and David on Wednesday. Couldn’t get ahold of them. Called again Thursday. Nada. Finally on Friday morning, Julian called me back and said it would be that day (Friday) or Saturday. Then George called me again, telling me the final third total would be $1,143 — it was supposed to be about $750-$800. Something about “interstate weight limits” or whatever. This freaked me out, so I called back Julian and David; hard to get ahold of, but finally I did. We worked it out.
Movers texted me Saturday morning and said they’d be there around noon. Nothing. Then texted and said around 3-4pm. We got home and heard nothing. Texted and said “Sunday morning, 9am.” We went to see a movie (Sex Tape, which is OK). Get out of the movie and have a text, 7:59pm, from the mover: “At your complex. Are you here?”
They finally came Sunday morning and did the off-load in about 2, 2.5 hours. Everything was there, and nothing broken. So all good.
Overall I’d say the “B” score because they did all the functional things right — i.e. the moving and not losing of boxes — but the communication side was a bit challenging at times, you know? If you can get a good rate with them and are OK with a little ambiguity and lack of call back here and there, it’s a good deal though.