Difficult PCS Situations: with Guest Megan Harless

DoD Updates: Once you get PCS orders, set up your move on Move.mil so the companies can start assigning you movers through DPS. You can make adjustments later.

Navy has extended the use of the Govt Travel Card to contact the company and make adjustments themselves without needing to go through previous channels. Read NavAdmin 176-20 for more details.

Required Delivery Date (RDD) is met if they try to deliver and you refuse or change the details. However, if you were not notified and given the ability to accept your goods, then you can file an inconvenience claim for every day past the RDD. OCONUS moves will have a much longer RDD to reflect the type of shipment. You can file an inconvenience claim either CONUS or OCONUS, but it is more common CONUS.

Household Goods from storage should be delivered within 10 days of your request during peak season, within 5 days of your request during regular season. 

What if our household goods arrive and we don’t have housing yet for military reasons?

They can’t deliver, so they will go to storage, but it will count as meeting the RDD because they did deliver within the intended window.

If the movers have a 3-day pack and a 1-day load and things are not packed on the last pack day, what should you do?

Call your move coordinator and let them know what’s going on. They can request extra crew members. They are allowed to work until 9 PM at night, if it’s ok with you. That may save you from combining packing and loading on the same day. I encourage you not to do packing and loading together. It’s harder to keep track of inventory while supervising packing. You can also contact the local transportation office and let them know there is an issue, so they can check on you the next day and make sure loading goes well. You can also fill out surveys afterwards about your experience with the company. You want everything to be packed prior to the day it is loaded. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, but if it looks like they will be on the same day, ask them to focus on a certain room to at least finish several rooms 100%, so the unfinished stuff is all contained in one room. That makes it easier to supervise.

Should you let the company load on the weekend?

Try not to allow it if it can be avoided. You won’t have support on the weekends from your move coordinator or your local transportation office. The TRANSCOM hotline number probably will not be able to do anything until Monday. If you have an excellent packing crew and you can tell things are going well, then you may be comfortable with it, but if you have any concerns or issues, try to request that your move coordinator work and give you a direct phone number, either to them or to their co-worker filling in for them. 

If at delivery they tell us we have a report of an overflow shipment that is way over our weight, and we think the additional overflow shipment is not actually ours, what should we do?

First call your move coordinator. If it left your house on one truck to the warehouse, you should have been notified that the shipment was split. You can request to see the crates. They should not be opened unless it is initiated by the TSP (the moving company) or the local Transportation Office. Crates do sometimes get opened and put into storage. Sometimes the delivering agent doesn’t have crate capabilities, so crates are opened and loaded into a truck. The local agent can’t check the crate to see whose name is on the boxes. If the boxes aren’t yours, there is no use to deliver the crate to your house.

You can also request a re-weigh. If you are within 10% above or below your allotted weight, you should be getting a re-weigh anyway. 

Another option is to let them deliver things, and stand there checking off your inventory. Sort things that aren’t yours into a separate pile, then ask them to reload it onto the empty truck and re-weigh it. 

People can get reunited with lost items or find original owners through the Facebook group “Lost During My PCS,” moderated by PCSgrades. 

Our packout isn’t going well, and some things are going to storage, so we won’t know for YEARS if things are lost or broken. What can we do?

If there is any wiggle room in your schedule, ask everyone to stop. The DoD wants families to have more control over their moves. Call your move coordinator, let them know the issue. They can’t see what is happening in the home until you call them. If they have run out of boxes or need more people, make a phone call right away to try and get it resolved. Don’t wait until 4:58 when they are going out the door! The earlier they know the issues, they can send more folks to your home to get the job done. Reach out to your local transportation office. If you don’t know the contact, go to Move.mil and the Customer Service tab. Click on Find My Local Office, then put in base or zip code. It will have the phone call and email contact. Many offices are still working remotely, so call first, but if no one answers, send an email and put your phone number in the email. 

Do not let things that should be in boxes get individually inventoried. Small things are too easy to lose or misplace. The little things should get combined into boxes. The company can always bring out more boxes, or you could run out to Walmart and pick things up if you need to! Don’t spend a few years wondering if your things will end up somewhere else. That’s why it’s important to build a few days of wiggle room into your timeline. Even if you spend an extra night or weekend in a hotel, it’s better to have the extra space in the timeline so if issues come up you have the ability to adjust. 

Tip about photos: If you are concerned about specific items like photos, remember that picture frames can break or get lost. Before you move, take important photos out of a frame, put them in a folder, and hand-carry them with you. The frames can always be replaced. Better yet, scan them into your computer so you have digital versions of old photos, and they can always be reprinted if a box gets water-soaked, lost, or damaged. And you can claim some of that cost in the reimbursement.

Filing a claim should be a last resort. Just because we CAN file a reimbursement claim, doesn’t mean we should always HAVE to do that.

Our household goods are being delivered, and it’s a mess. They say we are overweight. Things are coming off the truck broken, and the crew is saying they don’t have tools to put anything together. What do we do?

First, have a good cry! Then, know that the crew should automatically do a reweigh, and you can request to be present. Don’t accept your shipment until you know a reweigh has been done. Once it has been delivered, you can’t do anything about the weight discrepancy. 

I usually stand near the truck, and as I notice large pieces being damaged or broken, I write it down on a paper, then match it to the inventory number and note it on the Damaged at Delivery form. Then snap a picture on your phone of the exact way it came off the truck. 

For the tool situation, call your move coordinator. You can request that the beds get put together, or request hotel reimbursement for that night. Some companies will negotiate that, then send a crew out with tools the next day. You may be able to go out and buy tools and then request a reimbursement for them later. Sometimes crew members can call a friend to deliver tools, or you can unpack your own tools and lend them. 

If you do a PPM and hire your own movers, they don’t have to follow military rules and requirements. They just have to follow the contract between you and the company. But you should still have a move coordinator. 

Is it the same process when things are delivered from non-temp storage after several years overseas?

The process of unloading, doing inventory, and taking pictures will be the same. But the claims process will be different. For normal Household Goods claim you go through DTS and it goes directly to the TSP (moving company). For a non-temp storage claim it will be filed with the storage facility. You will still need to know the inventory number, note the damage at delivery, then be able to provide a link and an approximate value of the item afterwards. 

If the movers don’t offer to unpack boxes or assemble furniture, what do you do?

You need to know your rights and entitlements. Anything that is disassembled at delivery is supposed to be reassembled. You have to ask them before you sign the final inventory and the form that assesses services. Before you sit down to sign paperwork, see if furniture is reassembled. If things are not completed, do NOT sign the form. Call your move coordinator and let them know the situation and tell them people from the crew are starting to leave. If they say they won’t send anyone out until the next day, then tell them your family is going to stay in a hotel and is requesting reimbursement. 

If the service member isn’t counseled about their move and their responsibilities, how are new spouses and young service members supposed to know what to do during their first PCS move?

Depending on your branch, some do a great job counseling families, and others do a poor job. Move.mil is thrown out there a lot as a good resource, but people don’t always know where to go to get information. Older spouses have learned a lot over the years. When you see someone arriving at your duty station, walk down to that house and welcome them to the neighborhood. Be a friendly face and welcome them. Talk with them and find out if it’s their first PCS (or first in a while) and let them know a little about what should be happening. Are you checking off inventory numbers? Have you had anything damaged? Your husband shouldn’t be putting together the furniture by himself. Be the helper you wished you had when you went through it!

Move.mil is a great website with a lot of information, but it can be intimidating for a new spouse. You reaching out may really save someone!

We asked for a full unpack of our household goods. They are cutting open the box and dumping everything on the floor. What do we do?!

First, you politely ask them to stop. That is not what an unpack means. Next, call your move coordinator and let them know the issue. You can call your local transportation office too. Know that you can find this in the Defense Travel Regulation Part IV Appendix B here where it describes that items should be unpacked and get a one-time placement on the nearest flat surface: can be table, shelf, counter, bed, or the floor if it is something like books. The movers do NOT have to arrange your home. They won’t hold things for you or rearrange items. But they should be placing things on a clean flat surface. If you are okay pulling that up and handling yourself, then do it. If you don’t feel comfortable confronting them, then get the move coordinator and local transportation office involved. During a partial or full unpack, have a game plan: start in the kitchen until all counters are full, then take a break and ask the movers to grab boxes and paper, throw some things in cabinets, and then get back to the rest of the boxes. If your spouse is with you, you can divide and conquer to do different rooms at once. This helps get the most boxes and paper out of the house at once!