In the US we seem to believe that big is better, but is it really? Having just completed a move from New Hampshire to Arizona with Bekins Van Lines, the answer based on the customer experience I had would say no!
This letter then is my response to the CEO of Bekins Van Lines, explaining what I expected versus what actually happened. My expectations are based on being a frequent mover (CT to NY, NY to CA, CA to CT, CT to NY, NY to Tokyo, Tokyo to CA, CA to NH and now NH to AZ) although this is the first move I was paying for. I also ran a handyman business (8 years, serving over 2,000 homeowners) so I've got first hand experience with customer service.
Working with Bekins Van Lines
So let's start at the beginning. I contacted Bekins for an estimate based on positive feedback from someone who just moved with them. I picked Bekins from 3 companies based on the quality of the estimator, and a website that is profesisonal and comprehensive although at the time, I didn't review it thoroughly. Bekins claims (direct quotes from their home page):
- Bekins Van Lines is the superior choice for simple-to-complex relocation services.
- We’re now the fourth largest residential and corporate moving company in the United States.
- We are large enough to provide services all over the country … but small enough to accommodate each customer’s needs.
- Because we insist on the highest level of service and quality, we accommodate your needs 100 percent of the time. Our Total Quality Commitment Program ensures that our standards only improve for future moves.
My hope is that this letter will help improve Bekins customer service. Reality is my phone calls, messages and email on Friday evening and Saturday were ignored, so the claim to accommodate needs 100% of the time isn't true!
The Moving Process Expected from Bekins Van Lines
To provide balanced feedback, I provided a moving company report card earlier. The packers and moving team did a good job – it was Bekins corporate and the local agent who failed in your process (or lack of) and communications.
|Yes||Estimate – Called to schedule estimate; got confirmation call & estimator arrived on schedule, answered all questions that day & follow-up phone calls (but I had to initiate all calls).|
|No||Scheduling – After telling estimator he had the job, expected an email explaining the process & paperwork requirements; waited a few days, before calling to ask what was required to get the move scheduled.|
|No||Insurance – Had to ask several times about “high value inventory” which another estimator explained to me; I sent photos of everything but questions given to local agent's office never answered.|
|No||Contract – Signed & faxed estimate back to Tobins & Sons. Never received … oops, finally found a link for the top item, in the estimate to where I could download the document:
|No||Schedule Confirmation – Bekins “move manager” said I'd get a confirmation call 1-2 days before arrival; all I got was door bell ringing at 7:45 am; van driver called day before, asking if he could come early (in 2 hours).|
|No||Packing Paperwork – Expected an overview of paperwork early so I could read in advance; instead asked to sign everything when work completed, so no opportunity to discuss anything.|
|Yes||Packing – Went okay except the packers didn't have boxes large enough to accommodate wall hangings, so they used (and charged for) twice as many boxes? We packed 80 to 100 boxes ourselves, and gave packers boxes … so how do these get priced out?|
|No||Loading Paperwork – Estimate gave me the option of observing the van weigh-in before & after loading; too bad the van driver never received this information … so why bother asking me?|
|Yes||Loading – Wondering if the driver knew our home was 4 stories; turned out coming early was the only way they finished loading … at 9pm Friday night; after short discussion, I did get to view the van weighing in about 10pm.|
|Yes||Arrival Scheduling – van driver gave me an estimated arrival day & called to confirm this Thursday, for arrival late Saturday/early Sunday.|
|No||Payment – Expected but never received an updated estimate/invoice explaining increase in charges; Single message left middle of the day Friday, asking me to call for payment but only found message (working & on the phone most of the day).
At which point I decided to enjoy my Saturday because it was Bekins problem, not mine!
|No||Payment Before Unloading – Walked the driver through the house & then he called his emergency contract to process payment; he wanted full but undocumented amount which I refused to pay – explained I was only paying legal obligation of estimate plus 10% (why it pays to read your paperwork); corporate person wanted sympathy for having to do this all at home & from a tablet which I obviously didn't care about.|
|Yes||Unloading – a long day but good teamwork with driver & his teammate. Provided bagels for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch & water throughout the day because it's easy to get dehydrated in Arizona; finished around 8:30pm and we were all very tired.|
|No||Move Manager Apology – Got a call on Monday – too little, too late; clearly doesn't understand customer service as he forgot to ask if there was anything outstanding that he could help resolve like …|
|No||Final Payment – Now over 2 weeks & waiting for whoever at Bekins (or Tobins & Sons) to call about final payment; I'm not calling as it's their problem … but will send this letter to|
What is Bekins Van Lines Role in Customer Communications & Business Processes?
There is some valuable information on the Bekins Van Lines website, but it's not being shared by the local agents. Most homeowners don't understand the relationship between local agents and Bekins. If you want to deliver a quality experience, you (Bekins) need to provide (email) an overview of the process. It should include:
- Moving process – Written documentation explaining the steps and paperwork we will be asked to sign throughout the moving process.
- Roles and responsibilities – for the homeowner and all service people, involved in each step of the process. Ideally this would include the person's name and contact information.
- Emergency contact – as this one missing item would have made a huge difference in my experience and response as outlined in these 2 blog posts. My best recommendation to all homeowners is to NEVER use a moving company that doesn't provide them with a 7 x 24 emergency contact.