Monday, December 26, 2016

Pack and Go

Once again I read an article that somehow gives the impression that Millennial's have utterly re-invented the wheel and by god it works!

Self moving has been around a better part of a decade. There are U-Pack, PODS, Door-To-Door and a few others that enable individuals to pack their own containers and have them relocated where they can have them unpacked at their leisure versus hiring a professional moving company to do it all. You can hire local movers to load/unload and or simply deliver goods to a location for a flat fee versus hourly, although that is still the most common method.

Estimation of moving companies are done vaguely and verbally. That is something that can be changed and easily validated and verified. Google Maps can tell you travel time estimation and you can expedite the loading and unloading by having everything ready and tipping the movers upfront. But you still need to know weight and the costs if going transcontinental and that is the true weight of the matter. 

What this article says is that most millennial seem clueless about the subject and of course once again need hand holding and walk abouts/self talking and whatever else they do to confirm their beliefs/actions/skills. And it all must be done via the magical 3x5 card they hold incessantly.

The moving industry could use some disruption and despite the belief that there is increasing regulation there is not as moving companies have the upper hand when it comes to moving. There are more complaints about moving companies across the country than any other industry and I am one of them.

Allied Van Lines quoted in the article is the agency that ripped me off when I moved across country. There is little recourse and legal means in which to seek restitution. If you use Allied or their local partners (such as Hanson Brothers in Seattle) you are fucked. It is that simple.

When I read how Atlas scans and bar codes items to have an accurate list, estimate weight and in turn costs upfront that is the company I will use in the future. Locally I go to Better Business, Consumer Reports and even Google/Yelp to find those businesses that are well reviewed. In Seattle I always used Adam's Moving Company as they often over estimated to err on the side of caution but came in well under and that was also because I was prepared to expedite the process, tipped up front 20 bucks and another 20 upon completion of load. So for 40 bucks or so I had an easy delivery/moving. (You also tip according to your belief of load time/work ethic etc, so the bigger the move the bigger the tip) 

I cannot say the same for Hanson Brothers or Allied. If you want to get ripped off use them. Allied has immense complaints and I relied on Hanson which had positive reviews not realizing that their partner did not. Again that is my problem and that I did not take the extra insurance which I doubt they would have paid regardless as they are thieves. That is their business, theft.

So using Bellhops or Upakt does what exactly? Adding a middle man to an already complex industry. The real change needs to come in regulation and laws that will protect consumers. Think of the banks and how even the little done by the Consumer Protection Agency that Il Douchebag wants to eliminate has done for the financial industry if that was extended to the moving industry.

That is the real change and disruption the industry needs.

Start-Ups Seek to Take Some of the Pain Out of Moving

DEC. 24, 2016

Adam Pittenger, who has moved six times in six years, shares his home in Hoboken, N.J., with his girlfriend and a roommate. With his frequent firsthand experience as a guide, he started a company this year to help make moving less of a chore.

His company, called Moved, is one of several that hope to shake up the nearly $17 billion moving industry with new technology and on-demand services. Meanwhile, traditional moving companies are coming up with their own innovations as more consumers prefer to conduct their business on computers and smartphones.

Through a mobile app that incorporates chat features, Moved can help customers through a laundry list of responsibilities: selling furniture, donating goods, ordering boxes, changing addresses and finding packing, moving and storage services.

Moved’s “concierge” services — locating and coordinating with service providers — are free; customers pay for what they use. Moved makes money through referral fees from its partners, which it says are vetted. All of the moving companies it works with are licensed and insured, Mr. Pittenger said.

“We’re the experience layer in between consumer and service provider, so consumers don’t have to spend the time researching and coordinating,” said Mr. Pittenger, 27, the chief operating officer of Moved, which is based in New York. “When they are busy at work and going about their day, moving tasks are getting done in the background.”

Mr. Pittenger is part of a younger generation who are renting and living with roommates rather than purchasing homes; they move more often as a result. Adults ages 18 to 34 have the highest rate of migration, according to the United States Census Bureau. While they made up about 34 percent of the total population of the United States from 2007 to 2012, they accounted for over 43 percent of people who moved.

After a slump during the recession, the industry as a whole has returned to growth, and revenue is expected to continue to grow for the next five years, according to IBISWorld, a research company.

“I think people are less stuck in the homeowner mentality,” said Cameron Doody, a founder of Bellhops, a company in Chattanooga, Tenn., that provides moving services. People are “valuing mobility more than ever before. We’re seeing a big shift in people that are holding out longer to buy homes for the flexibility of being able to rent.”

Mr. Doody, 30, who has moved five times in the last four years, focuses on a type of mover he thinks the larger companies have left behind.

“Traditionally, customers have been bucketed into two categories,” he said. “You’re either the do-it-yourselfer, where you’re renting a truck and begging your friends to help you, or you go to professional moving companies,” frequently for a large home move.

As Mr. Doody sees it, the frequent do-it-yourself mover would hire a professional if it weren’t so costly. Bellhops uses algorithms to make small-scale moves — typically involving local moves of apartments and small homes — more affordable, he said. A typical two-bedroom apartment move with Bellhops costs under $400, according to the company.

Bellhops’ moving services are available in Kansas City, Mo.; Chapel Hill, N.C.; Athens, Ga.; and about 50 other towns and cities with major universities.

Mr. Doody’s company works with school organizations to find students to work as movers. The company performs background checks on them through a third party. Customers receive a biography of their “bellhop” when they schedule a move. Once the move is complete, customers rate the movers much as a passenger would rate a driver after an Uber ride.

Companies like Moved are what Lesli Bertoli, vice president and general manager of Allied Van Lines, calls lead generators. These companies “need someone else to go to the house and do the work,” she said.

Customers of Allied work directly with one of the company’s members, who consist of 350 independent moving companies.

Deciding whether to use a start-up “really depends on what you’re moving and where you’re moving,” Ms. Bertoli said. “If you were moving your entire house and leaving the state, I’m not sure I want to leave that to someone from an app.”

Scott Michael, president and chief operating officer of the American Moving & Storage Association, a trade association with 3,500 members, urges customers to do a thorough background check on any moving company they work with.

“Just because someone says something on the app or website doesn’t ensure that its true,” he said. “It might be better to select a mover yourself so that you can do the research” on that company.

Other companies are working with traditional movers but use their own technology to streamline the process. Unpakt, based in New York, lets customers compare bids and reviews from numerous companies. The hope is to make moving easier for consumers while helping traditional companies grow.

Ghostruck, a Seattle start-up, works with licensed, professional moving companies that pick up work during downtime. Its name is the term for a truck that comes back empty from a delivery.

Customers plug in their moving details and snap a few photos of their possessions, and Ghostruck offers a rate.

Many of Ghostruck’s customers are using professional movers for the first time, but they don’t want to haggle. They definitely don’t want to make a phone call. The company allows customers to price and book a move completely online with no human interaction.

“We frequently have people booking at midnight or 2 in the morning,” said Nathanael Nienaber, the chief executive. He said the company was best suited for small apartment moves. Customers often book about three days before they intend to move, and the average cost is $250 to $450.

Jack Griffin, the chief executive of Atlas Van Lines, which has nearly 500 movers in the United States and Canada, has been approached by start-ups and says he applauds their thinking. But he cautioned that the moving industry was complicated.

“Our business is highly regulated and getting more so,” Mr. Griffin said. There are regulatory measures, including safety and cargo protection, that companies must comply with. Companies moving single items or traveling intrastate may have more luck breaking in, he said.

Atlas, like many other traditional moving companies, is not ignoring new technologies, though. Atlas agents apply bar codes, scan and itemize customers’ goods to prevent loss; use an online system to calculate weight and estimate a moving price immediately; and have automated their claims process.

“We spend a lot on technology to try to smooth out a stressful life experience,” Mr. Griffin said, adding that these investments may help the moving industry avoid the fate of other disrupted industries. After all, he said, “I’m sure taxi drivers thought they weren’t threatened by Uber.”

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