• Stephen Warneke

After tons of complaints, a moving expert gives consumers advice on how to do it right!


The Steve Warneke Show has received so many complaints against moving companies lately, we wanted to hear from an expert on how to keep you from falling victim to hidden prices, last-minute price raises, and a whole host of other problems plaguing consumers.

We found a moving company with an A+ rating at the Better Business Bureau and stellar, positive reviews. Joe Rondinelli, a manager at Bekins of South Florida with 45 years of experience, is here to help educate consumers.

Many consumers are finding that they call one company that turns out to be a broker and then they end up dealing with two or three companies. So is there a benefit to working with a single company?

"I would suggest never working with brokers, because of the liability that you have on your furniture. A broker...will book the job, take a percentage down, and they will then farm out the difference to a [different] van line, which is usually like a ma and pa place, or a place that you have no idea [of] their credentials."

Mr. Rondinelli cautioned against these secondary van lines since the consumer doesn't know if they have workers comp, if their insurance is valid, etc.

When you're looking at dealing with major van lines like Bekins...you're looking at a one-stop-shop. We do the packing, we do the loading, we transport it, we unload it. All our guys are background checked [sic], they're in uniform, they work for their contractors. Most of them have their own trucks, their tractors, and they work for us under our umbrella."

When Steve moved from Denver to Florida about five years ago, the moving company sent a representative to the house to look things over and take a professional, experienced inventory. This process sounds much more reliable than having the consumer sending a list, having it be unintentionally incomplete, and then getting charged an upped price when the movers show up at your door.

Mr. Rondinelli confirms that having an estimator come out to take the inventory is the best method for consumers to avoid surprise upcharges. He also emphasized the necessity for the estimators to review the list of what the customer is and isn't moving, what services they do and don't want.

"There are three types of estimates: There is a binding firm price, meaning that that's what you pay, [whether] it's a weight comes in less [or more], whatever happens, you pay that price. The other one is called a 'not to exceed estimate'. That one means if you say have 5,000 pounds and it's going to cost you $5,000, you're going to pay that or less. And then the third one is called a 'name shipper', which means that whatever it is, it is."

Mr. Rondinelli NEVER recommends the 'name shipper' option. He also warned consumers to really pay attention and be prepared for packing your belongings. As Steve pointed out, most people never realize just how time-consuming packing really is, and how particularly you have to pack certain items for safe transport.

"What happens often is that [consumers] don't get their packing done, and so we get out there, and we have to do what's called an amendment to the estimate, or what we do is we say, 'Because you didn't get this done, now it's going to change the estimate, because you weren't able to get this done, or some of the items that you thought you would sell at a garage sale or [would have] given to your aunt or uncle that didn't happen, so now [sic] we have to do a change of order so the consumer and every customer that we go on has to be wise."

Speaking of careful packing, it's common for some items to be damaged or go missing, especially in a big move. Our last question for Mr. Rondinelli was about the best type of insurance to get for a move.

"It's called 'valuation' and it's called 'replacement coverage'. The minimum liability we have on all moves by tariff is 60 cents per pound per article, and that is really nothing.
[At] Bekins Van Lines, we can do either [sic] $0 deductible, $250, $500, $1,000 [deductible] to keep it low...
I always recommend that you should go with 'valuation', which is the six times the weight of your shipment, and is the minimum value. But in saying that, you also have to remember that if you have PBO (packed by owner) box that you're saying that you're a professional when you pack."

To 'wrap it up', Mr. Rondinelli shared his final thoughts and tips on the best packing procedures when moving.

"When you do that, you're going to use a movers box, you're supposed to make sure it's filled all the way to the top, and you need to make sure that you packed it properly. If you do all those things and you still have damage, you run into a problem with the claims department when you have additional coverage.
I would always recommend that you always have us pack all your breakables, high values items always, and then leave it to you to pack up books, papers, clothes, pots and pans, shoes, all the stuff that nothing could happen to."

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Until next time...