This webinar will discuss common PCS myths and determine whether they are fact or fiction!

DoD Updates from Megan: We are starting to see a return to somewhat-normal PCS season. Always reach out to your local transportation office with concerns, but some are still working remotely, so email is much more reliable than phone calls. Go to Move.mil, customer service tab, and put in your zip code to see the transportation office nearest you.

Some flights are being cancelled due to the need for social distancing on flights. If you are using the Patriot Express for an OCONUS move, call to verify your reservations for your family and your pets.

Okinawa is revising things in on-base lodging so people who need quarantine (Restriction of Movement, or ROM) will have dedicated lodging and will not mix with people who don’t need ROM. Call them and verify which lodge you are going to and which situation applies to you, so you can get to the right place. 

Myth #1: Your service member must have hard-copy orders to begin the move process on Move.mil.

That is fact. You need hard-copy orders and have to enter your order number into Move.mil to set up a move and schedule a pack date. Orders can change, so the government will not contract movers until those orders are official.

Myth #2: Household Goods shipments are contracted out to the lowest bidder.

This is fiction. Cost does play a role in how shipments are awarded. We’ve all heard of the customer satisfaction surveys on DPS that everyone should fill out after a PCS. Their rate only counts for 30% of their score, but the customer satisfaction survey counts as 70% of their score! In previous years, we average 400,000 shipments per year. Only 25-30% of those shipments get a survey filled out after the move. Sometimes people are so frustrated or had such a smooth process they don’t bother filling out the survey. But you can fill one out if you have moved in the past 12 months, and that is the deciding factor for which moving company is contracted. It might not improve your move that just happened, but it will impact your future moves and other families. It’s similar to voting and needing to vote to be a responsible citizen. If you are confused about which survey is official, use the DoD survey on DPS. It is just a few questions, and has a 15-minute time limit on the website, so it shouldn’t take long to work out. You can also call and do the survey over the phone if you are having trouble with the website.

On PCSgrades, you can leave a review about the moving company that can be viewed by other military families. You can see what other families are saying about other companies, so if you are hiring someone out for a PPM, you will have good reviews to rely on. 

Myth #3: If you don’t like your assigned moving company, you can request a new one.

Sort of fact and fiction. OCONUS, you probably are limited and don’t have many choices, especially for coming back to the US. If you are stateside, you CAN request a new company, but your process starts all over again to award the shipment, so you may not get your requested move date. If they can’t find another company, you may get pushed into doing a PPM. If you’re going to request a new company, be aware of the possible delays. Remember that so much depends on the crew that is in your home doing the work: talk to your packers, be involved, walk around and supervise and make small talk. 

If you want to change, reach out to your Transportation Office, who is in charge of booking your shipment. They will assign you local agents at origin and destination. Talk to your Move Coordinator if you get assigned to a company with a horrible reputation. They may be able to give you a different local agent, which is easier to assign than a whole new company. 

Myth #4: Will the military pick up from more than one location?

Fact, they will. If you have a storage unit in addition to your house, they will pick up from both. It is usually within a certain radius of your military installation. The distance limit is listed on Move.mil. However, they will not pick up furniture or things from your parent’s house in another state. You need to request two locations on your move sheet. You can’t just mention it when they show up to move your house. 

Myth #5: Will the military move you back home during a deployment?

False, they will not. If you choose to move back home with family for whatever reason, the military will not move you. You will do it on your own dime, because the service member’s orders are to deploy and then return to the same base.

However, if they do an unaccompanied rotation/deployment overseas, if it is written in the service member’s orders, the military will move you either to your follow-on location or to your home of record. But it must be written in the orders. You can contact whoever issued the orders to have them amended. 

Myth #6: Is tipping and feeding the movers prohibited?

That is fiction. There was a time many years ago where it was written into moving contracts that movers were not allowed to expect tips. Families were briefed not to tip movers. Then eventually TRANSCOM officially removed that rule, so it is now permitted. However, crews should not ask or expect it. Many people feed crews and offer cold drinks, partially so that the work can continue and crews can get more done. But it is your discretion, with whatever you feel comfortable doing. You should not feel guilted either way: just because you feed them doesn’t mean your move will be perfect. Just because you don’t tip doesn’t mean your things will show up damaged. Usually your shipment will change hands and go to a warehouse, so feeding or tipping does not correlate to the quality of the move. The #1 rule is to be kind and extend grace. That doesn’t cost anything or hurt anything. 

Myth #7: If you pack it, the moving company is not responsible for it, and will they repack it?

There is some fiction there. The new rules state that when they take possession, they need to be liable, even if they did not pack it. They do need to look in your totes and verify contents for the inventory and make sure things are wrapped properly– does it need extra protection? Is it a half-full tub where everything will shift? It is the company’s discretion whether they re-pack. If they re-pack, it’s because they can’t tell the structure of that tote, how well the lid sits on it, etc. We started using tough boxes instead of plastic totes to be more reliable. If you’ve done a good job, they may leave it as-is. If something is valuable to you, you WANT them to re-pack it and label it as a high-value item. The High Value seal goes across the seam of the box so you can tell if it has been tampered with. They always have the right to open and verify contents to make sure it isn’t anything illegal or liquids from the do not pack list. 

Myth #8: The crews take apart outdoor furniture just like indoor furniture.

False. They will not take apart trampolines, swing sets, and other outdoor things because it is not their responsibility. They are required to take apart indoor furniture, but outdoor equipment is your responsibility. Some people hire a third-party company to take apart outdoor equipment for them. 

Myth #9: The high-value inventory does not matter, or is only for things worth $500 or more. 

False, they totally matter! Anything that is collectible, difficult to replace, (including military awards or memorabilia), items from travels or other parts of the world, should be labeled High Value (HV). High value gives you the ability to label your items specifically on your inventory, so if they are damaged or lost they are faster to replace. The quantity, brand, or specific model can be included. You want them to be labeled more specifically than as “dishes” or “kitchenware.” You don’t need to have an official appraisal, but an appraisal works in your favor to show that it has value. Put those items on your inventory, even if the monetary value isn’t very high. If some collection fits well in a small box, then keep it with you in the car and hand-carry it. Make sure you verify high-value items at delivery: open the boxes and check before you sign the form. 

Myth #10: When receiving your Household Goods and something is immediately recognized as damaged, the moving company can immediately offer you $500 or less.

There is some truth to this. It’s called a quick-claim. They can only give you up to $500 per item. So that may not be enough to replace a couch, but it would be an efficient way to replace a used washing machine, for example. You can still unpack your things and file a regular claim, and you can’t claim the washing machine on the regular claim if it was already covered in a quick claim. You should be the one to ask for a quick claim, because the company assumes you are going to include everything on a regular claim unless otherwise noted. The quick claim is for necessities: mattress, bedding, appliances. Other things that you can wait longer should go on your regular claim. It is up to you to bring it up and ask.

Myth #11: We received our household goods, and I only have 75 days to report the damage.

Total fiction. Previously you only had 75 days to do a report or claim. Starting May 15 of this year, you now have 180 days to finalize your claim and have more time to go through your stuff and evaluate the damages! Life happens, and even though 75 days sounds like enough, sickness or deployment can get in the way and many families were getting caught running out of time. You now have 6 months to research comparable items and file the damage claim. For a lost item report, you have 9 months. Military spouses have been advocating for this for years. 

Myth #12: If an item is lost or damaged, the transportation service provider is required to pay the lesser amount of repairing or replacing it.

This is fact. They will choose whether to repair or replace. If they choose repair, you can then choose either the money or asking them to repair. Sometimes having them repair is best, because if it costs more than the estimate or takes extra time, they will absorb responsibility. But if you take it to someone else, you can’t request additional money, so it could be more expensive to outsource it to another company. But of course be wary of lousy repairs or rushed jobs.

Myth #13: Companies will come back for a one-time pick up of your empty boxes.

That is fiction. That used to be a thing companies did, but it is no longer required. Some companies still offer it so they can reuse boxes. But if you want them to take empty boxes or packing paper with them, you have to unpack on delivery day. If you are trying to get rid of boxes on your own, first ask on the local base FB page. People will often pick up your boxes and paper. If you aren’t near a military installation, post it on FB marketplace for free. People will pick them up from your curb. The moving companies are not required to get them. 

Lightning Round:

Movers will not ship your alcohol.

A little fact and fiction! Most companies will not ship opened alcohol. If you have a sealed wine collection, they can pack that. You can do an alcohol shipment overseas, but there are additional customs forms and paperwork, and you have to pay import fees. If you are crossing state lines, you may need to fill out liquor license paperwork. If it’s just one bottle it isn’t a problem, but if it is a collection of 100 bottles it will be a separate process. 

Movers will not ship your firearms.

Fiction, there are some regulations, and it may depend what type of firearms you have. The weapon needs to be unloaded and have a lock on it. The box should not be labeled firearms, it should say sports equipment. You must also pay attention to rules when crossing state lines.

Movers will not ship your boats.

Fiction, they will ship your boat. If it’s a large boat, it may be better to have a 3rd party do it, and the weight will count against your household goods weight, but it can be shipped.

Movers will not ship your mobile homes.

Fact, they will not ship mobile homes. That is your responsibility. You can PCS with them and do a partial-PPM, if you weigh the home empty and then full.

Movers will not ship your motorcycle.

Fiction, they will ship motorcycles! They can get crated. The weight will be counted with your household goods weight.

Movers will not ship your cleaning supplies.

It depends. If it is flammable, they won’t ship it. Liquids will not get packed and shipped. It sometimes depends on the company. If you have a lot or want expensive things shipped, get the large 2-gallon ziploc bags and prep them so they won’t spill or ruin the shipment.

Watch the full webinar here: