78 Days Later

After 78 days, our things finally arrived in Squamish. They were packed on July 5th and began their journey first to Cardiff then Liverpool where it was loaded onto the MSC Alyssa for its transatlantic journey. It arrived into Toronto after a brief stop in Montreal before being loaded on a truck and sent across the continent to Vancouver (Delta?). It sat in Vancouver for two weeks; one week was spent getting paperwork to clear customs and a second week to schedule its arrival to Squamish. Now we have boxes sitting in our room waiting for me to deal with them.

As this was the first time that we have had movers move our things it was quite the eye opening experience. The process took much longer than even the longest estimate that we were initially given. But it looks like all of our things arrived in good condition but as I haven’t gone through the boxes yet I can’t say definitively. The communications with the three principal parties with which we dealt was spotty. I am not sure if that is the nature of the business but information seemed to be on a need to know basis and we were often deemed not to meet the “need” criteria. I think the communication could be helped with more clear expectations about the process. Things like, here is an initial estimate of where your things will be and when and then followed up with a here is where they actually are/when they arrived.

Moving this way is especially stressful because, one, you are living out of a suitcase while your things are in transit and, two, the moving company not only already has your money but they also have your things. There is little leverage you have over them throughout the whole process. And, given the nature of their business, they typically don’t get repeat business for an extended period of time. Perhaps the larger shippers build strong relationships with moving companies but as an individual moving house you feel quite powerless throughout the whole process.

My questions are:
1. Is it too much to ask to have a website which tracks your shipment through its transit?
2. Is it possible to define the expected timelines any better?
3. Knowing that it is extra stressful for individuals during a move and the reputation of international movers why aren’t there better communications when seeking information about your shipment?

I am making this post about the industry in general and not specially about any particular company. In fact, I have no complaints about the trio of companies that were involved in our move except for the underestimate of the arrival time (or excess time depending upon where the delay happened) and the difficulty in getting updated information out of the companies when contacted. For instance, we tried to get a hold of the person in Toronto who was dealing with our case and that involved multiple messages left on a voicemail without a return call.

As I unpack I will hopefully not have to edit this post with a statement about the condition of our contents.

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3 Responses to 78 Days Later

  1. meelwood says:

    So we were discussing the costs of moving your stuff per pound (or kilo) the other day when we realized the grapes we were eating for dinner were from the EU (and while they were delicious, we would probably have not bought them if we realized they were a product of the EU while we were in store, not because we have anything against food from the EU, it just seems ridiculous to be buying grapes from >5000 miles away in a season when grapes should be available <1500 miles away) . They cost $1.99/lb at the grocery store. If you don't mind sharing, do you know what the shipping cost was /lb or /kg? I'm guessing it was more than $1.99.

  2. farfa11e says:

    meelwood, I just checked our waybill, and they calculated that we had 1260 lbs of stuff in 180 cu ft. Movers generally charge by volume, not by pound, but for the sake of this exercise, we can work it out for $/lb. We paid £1417 which is equivalent to ~$2228 at that time. That means it was actually $1.77/lb which is cheaper than your grapes, especially considering our move was highly inefficient, both in route, packaging, time, and the fact that we were not bulk. It’s good that you asked, actually, because it really puts it in perspective. One of my colleagues here did a similar move in 2008 from Cambridge to Squamish, and he said that he was unlucky to move right before the shipping industry bottomed out; for roughly the same amount of stuff, he paid ~£8000 to move. The British pound wasn’t crashing as fast as the US dollar that year, so at ~$12,575 for let’s say 1500 lbs of stuff, he paid $8.38 per pound. Yikes! That’s almost as expensive as lobster!

  3. geochemom says:

    I am seriously stunned how relatively inexpensive that was! My guess was it was going to be at least $3-4/lb. I feel bad for your colleague though- the cycles of the economy can really sting.

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