Every other move, my husband has gone into the transportation office, sat down for a half hour or so, hammered out all the details, and walked out of there all set to go. This time when he went in, he was given a piece of paper with a web address and directions to log onto a secure site and arrange our move that way. He was booted out of the office in a few minutes.
I suspect that he, busy man that he is, was perfectly happy with that at the time.
Unfortunately for me, that meant that the arrangements weren't done that day, and the piece of paper sat on the kitchen table, then my desk, for some time. Eventually, I decided it could wait no more, so I did it myself. And guess what? It took way longer than a half hour, the secure government website was anything other than user friendly, and we weren't all set to go when it was over.
Besides reducing me to tears on multiple occasions, lack of a human interface meant that simple questions and clarifications went unanswered, and miscommunication was actually increased as I struggled to guess what their questions meant, exactly. I don't remember how it was phrased, but one question was about the date we wanted to commence the move. Now in my mind, this is the day that we want people coming into my house to start packing up.
But actually, that was wrong of me. The date THEY meant was the day the truck showed up to take my stuff away.
So, I put in June 11th. This coming Monday. The day I want packers to come and pack me up.
Once I submitted this information to the anonymous governmental server, I started receiving all sorts of email confirmations. There was one from the transportation office. There was one from Mayflower, a moving company. There was one from A. C. White, a moving company. There were a bunch from "Shipment Manager" which I think is the transportation computer system. Now, I know that the transportation office is nothing except a bunch of people who send your paperwork off to others, so their emails are of minimal importance. It's not like the person assigned to our move is actually following our move and making sure that things happen as they need to. Oh, no.
I do not know what the relationship is between Mayflower and A. C. White. Both say they will be handling our move, but not exactly which aspects of it.
It was a guy from A. C. White who came to look at our stuff to see how many days it would take to pack. So I guess they are taking care of that part of it? When this gentleman was finished, he had the forethought to confirm the dates with me, and that's when I learned that the 11th had been put down as the day the truck would come, so the packers had been assigned to come on June 6-8. Since this was more than a month ago, we had plenty of time to correct that and change it to June 11-13.
Bill sent an email to the woman at the transportation office. We got an email confirmation back.
But I knew that wasn't good enough. I called Toni at Mayflower a few days later. Sure enough, it was in the system, but not in the system. However the transportation office chooses to communicate with the moving companies has no follow through.
Back when I worked for a big fat paycheck at a civilian company, one of my jobs was ordering supplies from the manufacturer and coordinating the delivery with the customer and the installation crew. Sometimes I even had to call trucking companies. Of course, this was back in the days before email, but even picking up the phone and calling somebody didn't always guarantee that every single document would reflect every single change. I had to call multiple times and re-confirm everything. Oh, and guess what? If things got screwed up, it was my fault. Oh, and guess what else? If I screwed up, sometimes it cost money to fix it - money that usually came out of the profit, which meant less money for my employer and less commission for the salesman.
So I find it more than a little annoying that the people who work in the transportation office do nothing other than update a computer system and then let everybody else be responsible for checking that system, noticing changes and acting accordingly. And since they didn't even take the time weeks and weeks ago to sit with my husband and enter our information for us, I fail to see what purpose this office actually serves the military.
Harumph. (My sister has gently mentioned the possibility that I am more annoyed with people and life in general when I am pregnant. She is very very right. However, this doesn't mean that I am wrong in being annoyed with annoying people...rather it means that my usual sweet disposition and charitable attitude is only functioning at about 80% capacity. Pregnant or not, this system could be vastly improved. I just wouldn't complain as much about it if I weren't hormonal.)
Back to Toni at Mayflower. Toni changes everything in her system. Or so she says. Again, I'm not really sure what Mayflower is responsible for. Things become less clear the more I interact with them.
I did not call A. C. White. I should have called A. C. White, because on Tuesday, the 5th of June, I got a phone call from A. C. White. After Alfonso identified himself, I said, "Don't tell me you're calling to say you're coming to pack me up tomorrow." There was a silence on the other end. And then he told me that he was calling to say they were coming to pack me up the next day. I dimed out Toni at Mayflower, and he seemed to know who she was and said she had not called him and made the changes.
So there seems to be some sort of relationship with these companies.
Alfonso said he'd call me back. They must not be hugely busy right now, because they were able to change our pack dates to June 11-13 with no apparent trouble. Of course, come Monday, I may have a single packer here, but at least for now we're all pretending that we're good to go.
I thought that would be the end of it. I didn't know of any other people I could possibly call to make sure that they knew of our changes.
Yesterday, the phone rang. It was a trucker wanting to come and inventory our stuff. That means he looks at all the furniture and notes ding, dents and scratches (a very tedious job). He sees how many men it will take to load and how long. He decides if he needs any special equipment. Now, I really appreciate that this guy wants to do this in advance of the load day. Noting all the scratches on the furniture sometimes takes hours, depending on how detail-oriented the trucker is (and how badly he's been charged by customers who claim he is responsible for what he feels are pre-existing conditions). We've also sat around and waited for one or two more guys to show up so that they could get the piano loaded. So, coming in advance means the load day goes faster and more smoothly.
Unfortunately, I had to tell this diligent trucker that our load day wasn't until Thursday. Somebody had to hire this guy. Mayflower? A. C. White? I don't know who gave him his marching orders, but nobody bothered to tell him that the dates had been changed. Having been on the other side of these transactions, I know that mistakes like this can cost people money. What if that guy isn't available on Thursday to drive a load of stuff to Tampa? Maybe he's contracted to drive a load to Kansas on Thursday. Maybe he's contracted to pick up a load in Tampa on Wednesday and drive it to Kansas. Now maybe he has to drive empty down to Tampa. Or maybe he sits for a week doing local loads or no loads. It's just not right.
I received one more phone call on Friday, from Alfonso at A. C. White. When we submitted our original information to the transportation office, we did not have a new house address yet. Since we don't want delivery until July 9th anyway, this was O.K. Our stuff is going into storage for a few weeks. (Just so you know, our experience is that this is not a good thing, but it is unavoidable in this move. When your stuff goes into storage, it gets handled off and on an extra time. And you aren't there to watch them do one of the unloads and loads, so they aren't necessarily going to be as nice with your belongings as they would be if you were right there watching them. The most damage we ever had was after a move where our stuff went into storage. It was awful. And, I'm not saying that definitely your furniture gets used while in storage, but we've heard stories of people finding evidence that indicates it has been.)
Anyway, Alfonso wanted to know if we had a delivery address in Tampa yet. "We do," I told him, "but we don't want delivery until July."
"So, it's going into storage?"
Oh, yes. And even though we've submitted our new address into the system, I guess I'm glad nobody checks that, since my landlord doesn't need somebody showing up at 8 am in a week trying to delivery our stuff there.
I'll have to make sure that my trucker has a delivery address of a warehouse somewhere.
Because that's my job.
Two more days to get ready. I'm off to work outside before it gets too hot - moving our bird feeder to the garage, dismantling our raised garden bed. And I've got linens from 6 beds to wash and dry. Fun stuff.