How to Select a Moving Company

I receive many questions about moving to Hawaii from the Mainland: “How to I select a moving company?”, “Should I sell everything and buy new when I get here or move everything?”

If you think you can sell your household goods for a reasonable price, it might be better to buy here.  However, household goods don’t usually sell for more than 10%of their value at a garage sale.  You can try and get an estimate from a moving company for the cost of shipping your furniture.  Problem is, movers always underestimate the cost of shipping.  They’ll tell you anything to get the job, but the contract states it’s just an estimate subject to weigh-in at their warehouse.  And who follows them down to the warehouse to watch them weigh the stuff?  They might estimate the cost at $5,000 but when they get to the warehouse they call you back and apologize for under-estimating the weight and the cost will now be $8,000.

One thing to consider, even though you may be in love with your current furniture, it’s probably mainland style stuff.  You may want to purchase new furniture in the more tropical styles which are available over here.  It costs between $10K and $20K to furnish a 2 bedroom condo depending on the quality.

If you do decide to ship your furniture over you have two choices depending on the availability of shippers in your area.  You can build your own crates and pack up your stuff yourself, rent a van, and drive the stuff to some shippers loading dock.  That’s what I did.  But I was in a business that used shippers all the time so I was familiar with using them.  I think I used Consolidated Freightways.  One problem with this method is that you then have to pick up everything yourself at Hilo or Kawaihae Harbor.

The other option is to hire movers.  If you chose to use movers, I suggest using a moving company that has a representative over here.  Here in Kona there is Kona Trans which is a United Van Lines representative. In Hilo, Big Isle Moving is a representative for North American Van Lines. When choosing a mover, the most important thing for you to do is ask around for recommendations from friends in your community. You need a 100% accurate list of everything packed and you need insurance, including maritime. You want to be there the whole time to watch the movers. Be sure and leave an extra day for the movers to complete their job. In other words, if the movers claim they will be done by a certain day, make your plane reservations for two days later. If they get done on time, stay in a hotel for a couple of nights. You will be glad you did, because if they take an extra day, you can then be there to watch them finish. Make sure that they do not mark any packages THEY pack “packed by owner”. Make sure each box has a consecutive number and that you have an inventory of what’s in each numbered box (this is very important for insurance reasons).  Make sure all the boxes get on the truck. If they fill the truck and say they have to go to the warehouse and come back; wait for them! That way you have proof that every box was on the truck. If anything is missing when you arrive then your insurance will cover it.  Try and follow them to the warehouse so you can watch when your items are weighted.  That way you can see the amount for yourself.  Over the phone, you just don’t know.

I have had clients get ripped off by the movers on the mainland. The truck drivers know you are leaving and will never be back. So they will mark boxes “Packed By Owner” so they don’t have to inventory the contents. Also, they pull the trick of not finishing on the day they know you are flying out. They say they have to take a load back to the warehouse and will be back. But they don’t get back before you have to leave to catch your plane. They then claim they came back and got the rest of the boxes the next day.  But they actually came back and stole the rest of the boxes. But there is no way to prove, once the shipment gets to Hawaii, when the boxes went missing. That’s why you have to watch them load every box.

Be sure and have the shipment insured. There are two insurances, ground and maritime. Get them both.

Three little known moving scams:

For an honest mover who will move your household items and vehicles, both to and from Hawaii, try Jim the Kona Car Guy.  He will fly his crew to your Mainland location, pack and ship your items, and still be cheaper than other movers!!  Cars too!  He gets volume discounts from the big shippers and can actually ship your car cheaper than you can.

Jim McCain

Best of luck, and I’ll see you when you arrive in Paradise!!