Other than one's wedding day -- and with none of the attendant joy -- the most stressful day in an adult's life is probably moving day.
Movers, we all know, rank just above car salesman on most lists of least trustworthy service providers.
Urban legends abound about couples whose furniture was held hostage until they coughed up extra cash for charges well above the agreed-to price, or truckloads of precious goods that never made it to that new homestead because the movers were, in fact, con men.
And some of these stories are no doubt true, or so my friends tell me, as they know people who know people to whom this
. (Friends, I should note, who swore, after they helped me move last time in exchange for pizza and beer, that they wouldn't be my friends if I asked them again, and rightly so.)
It's enough to make sore backs, dinged desks, broken china and scratched new floors seem like a quite acceptable outcome.
Still, fatalism is rarely a winning strategy, nor is it necessary for those willing to approach the matter with the care and forethought it so richly deserves. My wife, Lorraine, and I are in the midst of just such a move, from Brooklyn, N.Y., to the Hudson Valley, and have found it to be, if not exactly a pleasurable experience, at least a manageable one.
Our first, untutored move was -- surprise! -- to get references.
We were fortunate enough to know an unfortunate friend who's moved three times in the metropolitan New York area in the span of a year, and for the latter two he happily employed
. Two good experiences, in my book, are worth more than twice as much as one, but at the same time I did solicit the name of another well-known local company from a different nomadic friend.
We contacted each firm via email for a free estimate. Scanio called back in 10 minutes; we are still awaiting word from the latter. Don't call us, of course, and we won't call you.
Like many reputable movers, Scanio (which has also worked with several top museums, always a good sign) will provide an over-the-phone estimate, and I ran through each room in our two-bedroom apartment with a sales rep while on the phone.
Although the thought did leap to mind, "Underreport and they'll have to overdeliver!" good sense got the better of me. Plus, I soon learned that for two-bedroom apartments (such as ours) and larger, Scanio recommended a free, on-site estimate that would fine-tune the phone estimate and lock in a final fee that was guaranteed to be the charge plus or minus 10%, which set my mind at ease that there would be no surprises on the big day.
By that time, my mind would be already shot, consumed with address changes, dealing with the closing on the house and so on.