Sometimes when you try to save money, it ends up costing you way more. And sometimes, it doesn’t only cost you more money but time, and I’ve long said that time is actually your most valuable asset. In the worst cases you lose both, which is what happened during my recent move from New York to California.
I tried to use PODs, a contactless moving and storage service, to move. After all, I am pro-disruption and pro-innovation, which is what I thought the company was all about in the moving and storage containers market. Having moved 15 times in as many years for jobs in television news, I know how stressful it can be. I always opted for a more full-service version, valuing my time and mental health over a few extra hundred dollars.
This time, I thought I would try to save some money as the chief Rich Bitch I am and try something new and mobile. The company had marketed itself as being cheaper than traditional moving options and stellar in customer service. That could not have been farther from the case. It was a nightmare from start to finish and I would have paid double what I had before I heard about the company from a friend to save myself from the chaos they caused in my life.
I will spare you most of the stressful, banging-your-head-on-the-wall worthy details and opt to quickly get you some helpful resources so that you never have to experience the maddening nonsense I endured. But let’s just say they misquoted me the size of trailer I needed, which led to a cascade of issues including being left on the side of the road with my furniture at 6 p.m. —a bucket of tears—on a Saturday with no help until they reopened Monday. I needed to quickly rebook an entire trip I was making by myself across the country (no easy feat in general but especially during COVID), extend a lease because I was supposed to move out that day and hire tons of extra last minute help to ensure I didn’t lose my mind and health before driving for a week alone or both. This chaos not only cost me thousands of unexpected dollars but hours trying to untangle the mess with their reps and executive team.
Now, I haven’t had many gripes with companies, but the one time I did with AirBNB they went above and beyond to make it right with kind and immediate responses, a refund and even a gift card for dinner. This is not what happened when I had a problem with PODs. As evidenced by the hundreds of complaints on the Better Business Bureau—including pushed delivery dates and no-show drivers—there are likely a lot of you like me who might not have the bandwidth or investigative journalism background to make a terrible experience right on principle.
I am nothing if not a principled person. I have covered business and companies for nearly two decades. This is the first time I’ve been livid enough to use my platform to show the dysfunction of a company based on my personal experience. So, this is not my modus operandi. If you’re moving soon, it’s my hope that you don’t add more stress and turmoil to our already stressful and tumultuous lives these days.
If I were to do it again, I would use some tried-and-true options like Paramount Transportation Services or Northstar that do the packing, moving and unpacking so that you’re not looking for three services (loaders at original destination, mobile storage company and unloaders at the end destination) to get one job done. If I were going the mobile storage route again, here are the things not to forget:
- Don’t forget that you still have to hire movers and if you use the services they recommend and vouch for, be prepared to literally do all the heavy lifting from the place you are moving out of to the place you are moving into.
- Make 100% sure that you understand the size of the containers you are getting based on the stuff you have.
- Make sure the towns you are leaving and going to don’t have restrictions like mine did, which had strict 4-hour moving windows and extra surcharges beyond what I was quoted.
Calculate this out because chances are all these pieces are going to cost you more than starting with the seemingly more expensive option to begin with. If it’s still better for you to go the mobile storage container route, try these:
- U-Pack is a subsidiary of ArcBest run by an incredible CEO, Judy McReynolds
- U-Box is part of U-Haul so the heft of that whole company is behind you in case of an issue
- Smartbox was acquired by SIRVA’s worldwide relocation and moving services
Please note I haven’t tried any of these, but if I were to do it all over again, I would do my due diligence and price compare those instead. I’ll also be writing more articles with tips on saving money while moving and tax considerations to take. Basically, I’ll do whatever I can using my platform to save you the grief and not get taken advantage of.
Sure, I’m a finance expert who has all my bona fides and written 3 books (with 7, yes 7, more to come) but I don’t know everything. In fact, I’m learning and growing every day. We all are. And, I will continue to pass along the advice I give you from my own experiences and what I learn from them.
While I was shuffled around from customer service person to customer service person at PODS and even had hours long calls with their “chief of staff of the executive team,” whose role was intended to be a consumer advocate but was anything but, I received this response from their marketing rep: “It has been quite a crazy moving season for us like no other as you can imagine.”
Actually, I can imagine. And I would hope and root for more excellence, not less, because of and not in spite of these times. The reverse is wrong financially, both for customers and I believe ultimately PODs or any company for that matter in the long run.
A version of this article was originally published on Thrive.