The world of moving has its own arcane and confusing language:
* A tariff sets how much a moving company charges for a move.
* The contract you receive for your move on moving day is called a ‘Bill of Lading.’
However, your confusion about relocation terminology can start even before you start searching for moving companies.
For instance, what’s this thing called a ‘van line’?
In its simplest terms, think of a van line like a franchisor. Much as McDonald’s has franchisees that own and operate the actual restaurants independently, van lines use ‘agents’ in the same way — an agent is a van line franchisee that operates on a local level.
Moving companies that are not part of a van line are labeled ‘independents.’
There are advantages to using a van line:
* A van line agent can tap into van line’s tractor-trailers for long distance moving, which usually means greater precision in delivery dates, and fewer chances that your items will be offloaded en route and bundled together with another shipment headed toward your destination.
* Also, the van lines are pretty thorough on enforcing quality control at their agents, so an agent that gets a lot of complaints can be kicked out the van line system. You’ll be less likely to face a scam operator on the van line level.
However, because of the overhead associated with a van line, a van line move can often cost more than a move from an independent.
The van lines will say, of course, that the advantages outweigh the disadvantage of cost.
There are about 20 van lines around the country, including the biggies like United, Mayflower and Atlas, with agents nationwide in most larger cities.
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