By Stacey Faris, Army Spouse
Some people have amazing experiences when they PCS. My first and only door-to-door military move went exceptionally well. Our items all arrived and there was very minimal damage. It’s reasonable to expect a knick or scratch anytime you load and unload furniture. Because of personal preference, we have since completed all the rest of our moves as DITY moves (Do IT Yourself).
I believe that our experience was, unfortunately, the exception, not the rule.
The PCS system is broken.
A simple search will lead you to horror story after horror story of damaged goods, drivers lying about weights, lost items, and heartbroken families. Control of the entire process is ceded when bad practices and unscrupulous companies come into the equation.
Some PCS seasons the problems are worse than others.
Sometimes geographical location can play into your negative experience with military moving. I’ve seen a lot from families coming into or out of the Louisiana and Jacksonville areas report significant damage and large amounts of missing items.
Here is a small sample of what some families have reported post-move:
“I’m missing all my utensils, measuring spoons, cups, cookie cutters, mixers, etc. All of our items were checked off as well.”
“Moving company denied our claim on the dryer THEY broke in the move. The reason being that we can’t prove it worked before the move.”
“We had the guy come look at all our damage today, and he made me feel like I broke the stuff myself. I mean he was so rude!”
“All baby gear, beds, refrigerator, washing machine, mattresses, couches, anything upholstered or material was deemed total loss and not cleanable. What was cleanable is still destroyed by water damage but is a separate claim. The other half that arrived today (because I wrote xxxx president and news crews) was ONLY 20 boxes. Every box was a new box that was not the boxes they left in and with inventory stickers clear taped on them.”
My question every time I see these stories is, why? Why is this acceptable? Why are our military families subjected to substandard service when so much money is on the table? And, why does the problem seem to be getting worse?
Of course, the whys lead to what is the most critical question to me: what is being done to help our service members and their families? Far too often the companies we welcome into our lives to handle our belongings don’t take the same care with our possessions as we would, and that is simply unacceptable.
Sure, the easy answer to this problem is that we all should DITY, but that is not a practical or reasonable answer for many families.
Sometimes, orders come down at the last minute. Families spend their time before the move scrambling to learn about neighborhoods, finding new schools, and coordinating medical care. Other times, the service member is not present for the move. And other times still, the PCS is to or from an OCONUS location where DITY is not an option.
Regardless of the circumstances around choosing to have your belongings moved, we should have a reasonable expectation that the majority of our items will show up in the same condition they left our possession. There is a fight that needs to happen at the highest levels of the DoD to fix the process.
In the meantime…
PCSgrades believes there are easy, yet influential, steps we can take to help facilitate a better interaction between the pre-move inspectors, packers, and movers you will come into contact with as part of your PCS process. It all starts with the Mover’s Notice.
The moment the first person walks into your house, generally the pre-move inspector, you hand them the notice. Right away, they see you are excited to be working with them to safely and efficiently transport your belongings from one location to the next. You’ve also made them completely aware that you aren’t going to keep quiet about the experience, good or bad.
Why a Mover’s Notice Works
As you pass this notice to everyone who will come into contact with your items, you are putting the proverbial ball in their court. It is up to them to decide what type of grade they will receive.
Pack lovingly, transport carefully, and communicate effectively; your grade will no doubt reflect a great user experience. Damage or lose items, blame the family for problems, and brush off claims; your grade will show all potential future customers as well as transportation offices that the service provided was substandard.
Good reviews will help to build a business. Bad reviews, could lead to termination of contracts and loss of future potential business.
It’s a small step, but it starts a conversation.
Most importantly it starts to put some of the control back with the service member and their family. The control we so desperately deserve.
To start the process of downloading your Mover’s Notice, and other helpful checklists today, visit PCSgrades and register for your free account. From there you can download the Mover’s Notice (and instructions for use) to hand your next moving team.
Stacey Faris is an Army spouse and is a mom to two amazing kiddos ages 6 and 4. She’s the owner of a crazy, busy life but wouldn’t change anything – maybe because she doesn’t have time!