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by: Bridget Daniels Carlson

With a standard move, you usually have to attend a TMO/ PPO class where some paperwork will be handed to you that you will need to sign and turn back in along with a copy of your orders. From there the Military takes over. The Military will hire a private contracted Moving Company to move you. Typically the movers will schedule to come out and do a pre-inspection move so they can get an idea of how much supplies they will need as well as how much room on the truck. If for some reason during the pre-move inspection you don't like the way the moving company is handling things (or treating you for that matter) contact the TMO at once so a new company can be assigned.

On moving day the moving company will send out individuals (depending on the amount of stuff you have there could be 4 or more people) to pack up ALL of your stuff.

With that said here are some tips to make things go smoother and to help you to prepare for this adventure.

Get a Special Power of Attorney. The first thing you really need to do is have your spouse (the Military member) get a special power of attorney from JAG which will allow you to deal with the TMO office in his absence (he will be busy enough trying to clear).

Carry a camera. A camera will come in useful while movers are there. Some of the other tips below show why. Make sure the camera has plenty of memory and a full battery (with extra if possible).

Make sure you take pictures of and have a list of EVERYTHING you own. If you have to file a claim, they will sometimes require proof that item was in your house (typical for claims in which the item has gone missing). Either on the back of the picture or on a sheet of paper, list the Item name, purchase date, purchase cost, where it is located in the house, and where it was bought at. In fact I use a Microsoft Access Home Inventory template which can be downloaded for free from Microsoft. It has fields for all those items plus a place to upload a picture and each page can be printed and placed in a binder. If you have receipts make sure to attach it to the hard copy of your inventory sheet.

Before the movers get there, pack any items you will take with you. Things you plan on taking with you, should be packed and placed in one central empty area that can preferably be locked so the movers cannot get to it. They will remove everything from the house and place it in the truck. So if it is something you do not want moved make sure that they cannot get to it. Check out the list of things you NEED to move yourself.

Watch the movers. One of our readers said it best when she said "Watch the packers like a hawk. Don't be afraid to speak up and tell them how you want things done. And don't take attitude from any of them". Not everyone is non-trustworthy, but this is your stuff. You want to make sure that they are not the one damaging the items and claiming the damage was already there. You also want to make sure that they are not erroneously saying things are damaged, just so there will be less chance of a claim. YES they do this! They could also fail to list a carton or item on the inventory sheet. If possible plan to have the exact amount of trusted people there that there are movers. So one person can watch one mover. Cartons or wrap should indicate your name, what room and general contents the carton came from. You should monitor all inventory sheets carefully as they may depict damage to your goods such as a gouge verses a minor scratch, which could relieve them of liability at the other end of your move; or fail to list a carton or item on the list.

Clean house before movers come. Whatever is in the house will get packed. This includes trash. Anything that you are leaving behind or that is trash, put it outside in one location.

Don't sign anything without reading it first. They will most likely ask you to sign off on the inventory of items as well any damages those items have. Read it thoroughly and if you believe that there is an item that says it is damaged and you don't believe it ask. Ask them to show you where. Take a picture, of that item. If the item is not damaged don't sign it and ask to speak to his supervisor.

PRO Gear - Separate and mark PRO Gear BEFORE the movers get there. Additionally PRO Gear MUST say PRO Gear on the movers inventory sheet in order for it to not count against your weight allowance.

Plastic Totes - We all use them to get organized especially for storing seasonal items. However, it is up to the carrier's discretion on whether they will ship the owner packed totes as is or if they will unpack and repack items into boxes. Keep this in mind when shipping already packed totes. Tape may not be used on the totes to secure the items. If the items are meant for permanent storage, the use of plastic containers are prohibited and cannot be used.

Flat Panel Televisions - You are responsible for the pre and post transportation servicing of the TV at origin and destination (to include any costs for disconnecting/un-mounting at origin and reconnection/mounting at destination. The TSP is responsible for the wrapping/packing at origin and unwrapping/unpacking at destination. Crating is only authorized for TVs with screens over 60 in, subject to PPO approval. The original manufacture's container may be used if the TSP determines it is serviceable.

Outside Items - You will be responsible for disassembling / reassembling all outside items such as swing sets, trampolines, sheds, etc.. Items must be disassembled, clean, and free from all pests before movers can load the items.

Water Beds - You are responsible for draining and making sure the waterbed is dry.

Wall Hangings - Wall hangings, pictures, or anything else that is mounted on walls will need to be "un hung" as it is your responsibility to do so if you wish to have those items packed and moved by the TSP.

Electronics & Electrical Items - It is your responsibility to un-hook all electronics such as stereo's, small appliances, TV's, etc...

Washer / Dryer - It is your responsibility to unhook, unplug, and drain your washer and dryer before the move and reconnect after the move.

Lawnmowers, Weed Eaters, & Other equipment - Must be drained of all gasoline and oil. Gas containers must be free of gas, fumes, or odor. Items must be clean and free of any grease. Hoses/cables should be securely taped down.

Furniture - It is the carriers responsibility to disassemble items being shipped other than the items stated above (sheds, swing sets, etc... which are your responsibility) and then reassemble them at the destination location.

Items must be accessible - Items stored in attics must be brought down. Items in storage facilities must be located near the loading area. Items that are located in an area that is not adequately lighted, that do not have a finished floor, or that do not allow a person to stand erect will need to be moved to an area that meets all of those requirements.

Excess costs - If you go over your weight limit you will be held responsible for the excess cost.

Take small valuable items with you- Government liability for loss and/or damage is $40,000 per shipment. It is suggested that you take with you any small valuable items that can be hand carried.

Before the TSP leaves - do a walk through with the driver to ensure all items have been packed, loaded, and shipped! This also allows you to inspect for possible damage Carrier may have done to your home such as knocking holes (or gouging) your walls, handrails, or floors. If you discover such damages, the TSP is obligated to repair, and such damages should be jointly recorded for record.

Boxes & Packing Trash - It is the TSP's responsibility to unpack, reassemble, and remove all trash from packing materials including boxes. DO NOT LET THEM TELL YOU THEY WILL COME BACK ANOTHER DAY TO PICK UP THE TRASH. Once they leave, they leave.

Upon delivery - Monitor inventory items as they are being unloaded to insure you received what you shipped. Look for possible damage or missing items. If you discover such items you must list these on the 1840 form, which the carrier will give you to sign before leaving, as will they leaving you with 3 copies. If you detect any damage or missing items after delivery you can report the items on the back of the form which is called 1840R. You must mail that form to the carrier within 75 days and/or report it to your local claim office within 70 days from the date of delivery. Essential missing items must be replaced by the carrier within 48 hours of delivery. See how to file a claim.



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