Tag Archives: movers

A Costly Mistake, but all is well.

Post 24

There are advantages to moving to a new city five months before your belongings arrive. One of them is that you are calm and collected when the boxes and furniture are delivered, and you are not already exhausted when you start to unpack. I am taking my time and enjoying re-discovering what I own. The move was not, however, quite the triumph I had hoped it would be from a financial point of view.

At storage unit in Saskatoon

On the morning of Sunday, April 18, right at the appointed hour (i.e., at 8 a.m.), Country Wide Movers/Allied Van Lines arrived at my storage unit in Saskatoon to pick up my belongings and bring them to Toronto. Three weeks prior to that, I had sent out quote requests to seven or eight movers. Four replied –with five estimates. The two lowest bids both came from the same company – Two Small Men with Big Hearts. (One of their estimates was for $2,300 and the other for $2.760 for the same weight and distance.) The other three were about $1,000 more. After checking on-line for the reputations of all four companies that submitted estimates, I took the lowest of the three higher bids (all of which were within $100 of one another): the one from Country Wide Movers/Allied Van Lines.

Due to the small print and confusing layout of the estimate (see below), plus the fact that it was so close in amount to the other two acceptable bids, I neglected to notice that the Country Wide quote was based on a weight of 3,000 lbs while the others were based on a weight of 4,000 lbs. I did realize that all companies would weigh the truck before and after they had loaded the goods, and revise their estimates based on the actual weight. However, if most companies figured that my belongings would weigh at least 4,000 lbs based on the list I had provided (which included 30 to 40 2 x 2 ft. boxes of books), why didn’t Country Wide?

Still, the fault is mine for not reading more closely. Never assume anything when it comes to a moving company. Or any cost estimate, I suppose.

As it turned out, the actual weight of my possessions was about 4,600 lbs, so my charge from Country Wide ended up being about $1,000 more than the estimate. In the long run, I could have got the move cheaper from ANY of the other companies. Stupid me.

Allied did do a good job of moving my things efficiently and safely from Saskatoon to Toronto. They arrived for the pickup exactly when they said they would, and they delivered when they said they would. Both times the driver called the night before to double-check the time and the address. I was very happy with the driver and his assistants in both Saskatoon and Toronto. It was only the estimator who did not leave me feeling very pleased. Considering how many problems people have with movers, I guess I should be contented that nothing else went wrong — but money is money, especially when you’re moving and so many other costs are involved. As far as I’m concerned, $1,000 is a lot of money at any time.

By the way, the Government of Canada has a very good checklist for consumers when it comes to choosing a mover. I highly recommend that others (even non-Canadians!) read it before undertaking any major move. It’s located here: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/oca-bc.nsf/eng/ca02029.html

My apartment before the movers arrived...

And now I have all my belongings in one place. All I have to do is unpack and figure out where to put everything. I have had no second thoughts about moving to Toronto. I am already finding more work here as a freelancer than I have had before, and I’m busy with social activities, visitors from the west and south, and events I want to take in solo or with other people. And I still love the subway. 🙂

... and after the delivery

It was a good decision for me, and I am one happy former-Saskatoonie-former-Edmontonian-former-Londoner(ON)-former-Wainwrightian-current-Torontonian.

The estimate from Country Wide

In [sic] glorious transit (Part 1)

Post # 12

Days to departure from Saskatoon = minus 6! (below and to the right is a photo of the main reason why I did not post this update sooner Library - 1720: my first grandbaby, whom I am now visiting in Calgary is an attention grabber, to say the least.)

Days to departure from Western Canada = 12

Wow! I am no longer a resident of Saskatoon.

“Incredulous” is the only word that comes close to describing how I felt last Tuesday at noon when I walked onto the plane for Edmonton as scheduled. I cannot begin to count the number of times prior to that moment that I was absolutely certain I would never make any of the deadlines I had set for myself.

Here is how the final days of the move unfolded (fell apart) —

On Sunday, October 25, my state of mind went back and forth from energy-fuelled elation to despair. Depending on the hour, I was either certain that I would get everything into boxes before the movers arrived at 8 a.m. the next day, or sure that I could never finish, not even if I stayed up all night.

At about five p.m., my friends Mari-Lou and Albert dropped in. Mari-Lou looked around at the disarray in my apartment, took in my crestfallen expression, and then asked me a question that helped immeasurably.

She said,  “How much stuff do you actually still need to pack before the movers get here?”

Her question made me realize that until then, I had been trying to pack for two moves all at once. The first move, the one that would take place on Monday morning, was from the apartment to the storage unit. The other involved the belongings I would need immediately when I arrived in Toronto. That second part of the packing job didn’t need to be done until Tuesday.

Library - 1711

Sunday evening

So after Mari-Lou and Albert left (having offered to help with the packing, an offer I declined with thanks because no one could sort out the mess but me ), I went for a farewell bowl of noodles at the Nutana Café and then, reinvigorated, started shifting everything I would need immediately in Toronto (my computer, clothes, something to sleep on, linen, cosmetics, a few books, financial and work files, etc etc) into my bedroom. That left me with only what I needed to pack to move to the storage unit.

And there was still a lot to pack….

At about 2 a.m. I quit and went to bed, still completely uncertain I would  get it done on time. I planned to get up at 6, but I woke at 5:30 and started packing again right away. Fortunately the movers were an hour late, and an hour or so after they did arrive, I ran out of boxes. By then, I was almost finished packing the stuff for storage, so I put away the packing tape and marking pens, loaded a few paintings into my rented car, and started making all the phone calls I should have made on Friday if I hadn’t been too busy that day to remember that there were no business days left between me and the move.

The first place I needed to phone was an auction house. Since I had not received any inquiries in response to my furniture ads on Kikiji, and I was determined not to move furniture I didn’t want to Toronto, I’d decided to try to put these items up for auction. On the basis of an ad in the Yellow Pages, which made me think the company didn’t deal in junk but also wasn’t too exclusive or specialized for my furniture, I called McDougall Auctions. The owner, Terry McDougall, was very helpful, friendly, and sympathetic. Although he doesn’t normally do household auctions he agreed to take my couch, table, chairs and lamp and a few small other things, and to put them up for sale in a couple of weeks when he has some appropriate other items to auction.

The next item on my list was to cancel my internet connection and tv. Attempting to make contact with SaskTel of course led to half a dozen decisions about which buttons to push (why is there never any “back up one step” option?), followed by the usual wait and wait on hold for a customer service representative (who would “be right with [me]” according to a recorded voice I’ve come to know in the past four years better than I do the voices of many of my relatives). This (again as usual) was followed by great confusion at the SaskTel end because I no longer had a phone with them (VOIP is cheaper, folks), which meant that they didn’t know how to look up my account. I finally managed to get the service cancellation sorted out, but was then informed that I would need to come, in person, to the SaskTel store downtown — no other location would do — to return their equipment to them.

Library - 1715

Sunday evening

Thank you very much, SaskTel. I will not miss you even for a second.

I had intended also to call the utility company to get the power doused on Tuesday afternoon, and to phone my health insurance and tenant policy carriers, but by the time I was finished with SaskTel, the movers were ready to depart.

After a stop at the auction house to unload the items to be sold, we went to the storage unit, and the two young men unloaded my belongings there in short order. (I was very impressed with the efficiency of Saskatoon Movers, and recommend them. The one-hour delay was caused by a broken-down truck, and not their delinquency, and everything else went smoothly.) While I was waiting in the car for the movers to finish, I managed to find City of Saskatoon utilities on my iPhone’s internet, and cancelled my power effective the following day.

After the movers were finished, I had a few errands to run:

  • I took my aunt’s watercolour paintings to a shipper (Pack and Ship – they were recommended by a framing company I’d done business with previously) to send to my son and my cousin. We don’t want those valuable works of art spending time in an unheated storage unit
  • I got more boxes and more packing tape
  • I dropped off clothes and some household items I no longer wanted at Goodwill.
  • I went to my insurance company office, and got the storage unit added to the coverage on my tenant policy. (After I get to Toronto, I will have thirty days to find a new insurance company for my belongings–including those still in the storage unit in Saskatoon)
  • While I was at the insurance company office (where a  huge fish tank had just cracked apart along a seam, spilling gallons of water all over the rug, which added to the  feeling of unreality of the day. And no, I was not the only one to ask them if they had insurance), I realized that my driver’s license was about to expire. I didn’t want to have to get an Ontario license as soon as I arrived there, so I decided to renew in Saskatchewan so I would be valid until I had time to sort things out post-move.  Unfortunately this required a photo. So my new driver’s license photo features me mid-move, sweaty and wearing grubby clothes. I couldn’t find a hairbrush in my backpack, although it contained everything else but the kitchen sink. (It’ll probably turn out to be the best driver’s license photo I’ve ever had.)

I finally got home at about 4:30 and had a quick shower before going out to dinner—which turned out to be a feast—prepared by the aforementioned Mari-Lou in honour of my departure and a forthcoming natal day.  Rejuvenated (a little) I went home to tackle the final phase of the packing, the cleaning of the apartment, and a host of other odds and ends that needed to be done before my plane for Edmonton left at noon the next day.

(to be continued)

Mover booked!

Post #8

Days to Departure from Saskatoon: 19

Days to Departure from Western Canada: 37

Today I finally found time to send out requests for estimates from movers. A tip for any moving company reps who might happen by and read this: I am so used to doing business on the Internet that if I found from the phone book or a website that I would have to phone rather than email to get an estimate (because no email address was provided), I didn’t bother with that company. It is so much faster to send an email request to eight movers at once (using bcc, of course) than to call them one at a time, phoning doesn’t seem worth the time. However, I did include my phone number with my emailed request for estimates, so that movers could call me if I hadn’t provided them with enough information.

Since my move is small, from a small two-bedroom to a storage unit, it was not necessary for the moving companies to come out and look over the situation before they were able to give me a quote. We ball-parked it — estimating that to load the belongings and take them to the storage unit and unload them would take two “men” (are they ALL men? That’s how they quote) three or four hours. One company estimated it would take three men five to six hours! They obviously didn’t want my business. But three others were fairly close to one another. I chose the company that phoned and asked a few questions, and assured me that they would wrap any valuables in plastic wrap and leave the wrap on them so that they were protected when they came out of storage as well. The two companies that haven’t got back to me yet are out of luck.

So Saskatoon Moving will be here at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, October 26. Once I had that settled, I booked a flight to Edmonton from Saskatoon for the next day on a seat sale. It was only $45! Plus tax (which doubled the cost, but still). Then I booked a rental car in Edmonton — and there I found one company’s cost varied from another’s by more than $100/week. Amazing.

Snow, Saskatoon, Oct. 8/09I find that in the mornings when I wake up, I feel as though I have lots of time to get everything done before I have to leave Saskatoon, but by the end of the day (as now), I find myself panicking that I will not. I hit what is likely to be the closest perspective to reality at about 4 p.m., I guess: and at those times, I know I will make my deadlines, but I also know I may not get all the fine sorting done that I had hoped to do before I go.

So there’s progress. And today there was a snowstorm in Saskatoon to help remind me of one of the reasons why I’m leaving. It was so beautiful here last week that I thought maybe I’d just been dreaming prairie winters all these years. Not.

I have finally started to pack!

Post #7

Estimated Days to Departure from Saskatoon: 22

Days to Departure from Western Canada: 41

I just returned from a very busy one-week visit to see relatives and friends in Alberta. One of the things I did before I left was to get a quote on the cost of having a moving-and-storage company collect my belongings, store them, and then bring them to me in Toronto when I find an apartment to live in. The cost was going be prohibitive: probably more than the actual belongings are worth. So as I was driving along highways in Alberta and Saskatchewan last week, I was thinking about Move09-Oct4alternatives—and talking about alternatives with my clever younger son, who was with me on the road for part of the trip. He can analyze problems and come up with solutions like nobody’s business. And now I have a modified plan.

I am going to get rid of everything I don’t need. I bought the furniture I have here because I didn’t have any furniture at the time, and I never was too happy with it, so I’m going to sell it. The only stuff I am going to keep is what pertains to me and my memories—my books (and bookshelves, of course. Bookshelves are always expensive and hard to find), my paintings and other art, some dishes, as well as stuff like pots and pans that people always need.  There are also boxes and boxes of manuscripts here, and other papers that I want to keep forever. I’ll take my television. My computers. The clothes I really like. The rest of my belongings will be sold or go to the Salvation Army. (The plants and a few other things like spices and house-cleaning products I am going to offer to local friends. They/you are welcome to say “No thanks!”)

I am delighted with this decision as it means I can sort and whittle down, something I love to do. (Time permitting, of course. It’s not like I have time to sort all my papers again or anything. I did that once about 10 years ago, and am planning to do it again in my 14th decade.)

While I am sorting, I am going to put everything I will need for my three weeks in Alberta and/or will need in the first few months in Toronto into one room, and the rest into the other rooms. And I am going to get a quote on moving whatever I don’t need immediately into a storage unit here. (I rented the unit itself yesterday.)

When I get to Toronto and find an apartment, I will replace the items I have just sold. I will get a new couch, chair, table, bed. (As many of you are aware, I know how to get what I want at auctions. :)) With the option to replace the basics when I get to Toronto, I will be able to function there (earn a living, write fiction, etc.) until I have time to think about getting a moving van that can bring the things I will have here in Saskatoon, plus the belongings I already have in storage in Edmonton (mostly my aunt’s things that I put there when she moved into continuing care). At that point, I may even look on-line for someone who is moving from Edmonton to Toronto and wants to share the cost of a mover. Even including everything in Edmonton and Saskatoon, I don’t have a lot of stuff.

At least this gives me options, and doesn’t require so much cash up front.

Somewhere I once read that the key to success in attaining a goal is being able to adjust your course of action when the original plan clearly isn’t going to work. My goal is to get to Toronto. My plan to hire a mover to get me there in one smooth transfer didn’t work. But now I have another plan for attaining my goal, one that gives me the advantage of an excuse to buy “new” (used) furnishings—things that I prefer over what I have now. So I am ahead of the game, and I am back in business.  And I am excited about and focused on the move.

(Anybody want to buy a couch—practically new?)

The search for a mover who is not a shaker

Post #6

Tomorrow I have an interview with a mover who is going to give me an estimate. My move is going to be complicated, and the cost is a concern to me, so it’ll be good to begin to get a sense of what I am facing.

The complications start with the fact that I need to put most of my belongings into storage for a couple of months or more until I get settled in Toronto, and then I need to have the belongings moved to my new place without my having to come back to Saskatoon to supervise. This means, ideally, that I will have a mover who also offers storage facilities, rather than having to find  a separate storage unit. (To add even more complications to the mix,  I still have a storage unit half full of stuff in Edmonton, but I’m not sure I can bear to think about that at the moment… even though the frame for my bed is one of the things that is in Edmonton. I’ve been living without a bed frame and without a dresser for four years now – I guess I can survive for a bit longer.)

I have moved often enough to know that you can get really, really bad movers and really, really expensive movers, and that bad movers can be expensive. (I have had some really bad and some really expensive moves.) The best option, if there is any way to manage it, is to use a mover you’ve used before, and liked. (The next-best option is to ask your friends who they used and to find a reliable mover that way. The worst option is to try to find the least expensive and most reliable mover yourself by starting from scratch with the phone book or on-line listings. I have almost always had a problem when I’ve had to start from scratch. I suppose one could try to find kudos or complaints on the Internet to expand one’s knowledge about individual movers, but it would still be a crapshoot, and a lot of work.)

I am fortunate in regard to the aforementioned options at the moment. I’ve used two movers in Saskatchewan and I did not like the first one at all (they were expensive and made me feel like I’d been ripped off) but the second one was great (and I got the name from a friend, by the way)—they were careful, quick and reasonable (quick is important when you are paying by the hour, and careful is important when you don’t want anything broken–because movers rarely pay for anything they break).

Therefore, tomorrow I am talking to the mover I used last time, and liked. This company has storage facilities and although it is a small Saskatoon-based company, it will be able to move me across the country—and even collect the things from the storage unit in Edmonton if I do decide to do it all at the same time. In addition, the manager wants to come to see what we are talking about in terms of square footage of belongings before he gives me a quote, and I find that reassuring.

My plan is to get a complete quote from this company for everything I might need, broken down on paper into modules (i.e., cost to move stuff to storage, cost for storage for two/three months, cost of moving from storage in Saskatoon to Toronto, additional cost to pick stuff up from storage unit in Edmonton and add it to what I am packing up here before coming to Toronto).  And then I will phone a few other moving companies and storage companies and get cost comparisons. If the company I like is in the ballpark, they will get the job.

I do have one card to play that will reduce my costs, I hope: I am flexible. I intend to move out of this apartment on a day that is mid-week and several days before the end of the month. I also hope to be flexible at the other end. I’d like to be able to wait until the moving company has another move to Toronto (or even try to make an arrangement with someone else who is moving to Toronto, even from Vancouver or Edmonton via Saskatoon. I’ll check Craigslist etc.) and combine my move with theirs. So even though I know this is going to be expensive one way or the other, I hope to make it as inexpensive as possible… if you get my drift.

A thought about giving notice – I have told the landlord I am moving at the end of October. I will provide them with official notice on September 30, but they asked me if I would give them as much notice as possible. In the past doing this has never served me well, and I have a feeling it’s not going to serve me well this time, either. I’d advise anyone else not to do what I always seem to do. Just give notice on the day you’re supposed to give it. As soon as you are moving, you are no longer a cherished tenant. You immediately become an impediment to all kinds of things the landlord wants to get done before the next tenant moves in. I am an idiot not to have learned this from my own experience.

The move is becoming more real, and I am beginning to wonder if I will get everything done in time. This is a normal part of the moving process, but it is still making me crazy and I have noticed in the past few days that my temper is even shorter than usual. I will draw a few deep breaths, cross at least one inessential off my to-do list, and try to fit a run in tomorrow somehow. All those things will help.