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Consumer Watch: PCS in 12 easy steps

May. 12, 2011 - 10:47AM   |   Last Updated: May. 12, 2011 - 10:47AM  |  
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Here are some steps to follow in your PCS move.

1. Get on good terms with your landlord

It helps to have a good relationship with your landlord, Army wife Theresa Donahoe advises. When her family's move was delayed last summer, as officials scrambled to find a company to pack and truck their goods, the housing privatization company on base extended their lease for a few days.

2. Request the correct type of delivery

If you're moving "door to door," your household goods are not put into temporary storage but are delivered right off the truck.

If you know you won't be moving door-to-door, don't request a direct delivery. Problems arise when you request a direct delivery and are not there to receive it.

3. Be flexible with dates

Try to target a range of dates because some moving companies will "black out" certain times, refusing military shipments on those dates.

4. Be wide open on moving days

Packing, pickup and delivery dates are scheduled on weekdays. Make sure you or your designated representative is at your home between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on the scheduled days.

5. Schedule a pre-move survey

Ideally, this is done at least a week ahead of pickup. The mover will assess types and number of boxes and special packing needed, for example. But sometimes schedules don't allow for a week of lead time, said Scott Michael, vice president of military and government relations for the American Moving and Storage Association, so prepare to be flexible.

6. Follow up to confirm dates

Once you request your moving dates, don't assume the dates are set. If you don't hear from the moving company within, at most, a week after requesting the dates, contact your transportation and personal property office.

7. Consider moving yourself

Service members and families can arrange for a "personally procured move" (formerly called a do-it-yourself move), said John Johnson of the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command. You can rent your own truck or hire a commercial mover yourself. Check with your transportation and personal property office beforehand to get the rules and ensure proper reimbursement. While officials can't point people to a particular company, Johnson said he has advised moving companies to give their brochures to officials at family centers on base. You may check there for starters.

8. Shoot for off-peak dates

Try to avoid moving between June 23 and July 8. That's the "peak of the peak" season, when everyone wants to move — not just military people, but anyone else across the nation who is moving this summer.

9. Make arrangements ASAP

The most important thing to do is to get to your transportation and personal property office to arrange your move as soon as you get your orders and figure out the dates. You">can also "self-counsel" online to set up your move.

10. Go online for resources

The">DoD website Plan My Move offers checklists and planners that can be customized to meet your family's needs.

The">Defense Personal Property Program website provides instructions, phone numbers, tips and other information about moving your household goods.

11. Stay in contact during the move

Keep in touch with the moving company as you travel to your new duty station. If your arrival dates change, tell the company immediately, and let the company know when you have your new address. If you want a direct delivery, you must keep in close contact with the company to arrange delivery and avoid having your household goods put into temporary storage.

12. Line up a point of contact

Find out in advance who to contact with problems or questions. Your first link is the transportation and personal property office. Once you're assigned a moving company, that's your contact. But if there are issues, contact the personal property shipping office. Phone numbers will be on the DD Form 1299 you are provided. Army wife Theresa Donahoe advises discussing contact information with the personal property office at that first appointment so that you know whom to call in the event of problems. The next time she and her husband move, Donahoe said, they plan to make sure they have the name and phone number of the local agent who will pack their goods, in addition to the moving company who is arranging it all.

A new rule requires a moving company to note in the Defense Personal Property System the name of the local company that will handle the shipment.

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