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April 13, 2012

Armywide News

Official offers tips to beat DoD moving rush

By Elaine Sanchez, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. — With military moving season about to kick into high gear, officials are urging Department of Defense (DoD) customers to book their moving dates early and to remain as flexible as possible when doing so.

Careful planning is vital to ensuring a smooth move, especially during the busiest season, which generally runs from May to August, said John Johnson, branch chief for the personal property directorate quality assurance division. The directorate, part of the Army’s Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, manages the personal property program for the DoD.

Each year, about 225,000 DoD and Coast Guard household goods shipments are slated for movement during the summer months, officials said.

With school out for the summer, or about to be, many parents view that stretch of time as the least disruptive for a Family move and set their sights on moving over the Memorial Day or Fourth of July weekends to take advantage of the extra days off. But this moving cluster can stretch the Transportation Service Providers resources to the limit and potentially create backlogs, Johnson said, as military shipments compete with private-sector moves during the peak moving season.

“We move almost half of our DoD customers in the summertime,” he said, noting the “peak of the peak” season takes place toward the end of June through the Fourth of July. Customers who are set on moving around this time may run into some roadblocks when trying to lock in specific dates. However, they can tip the odds in their favor by booking their moving dates early, essentially beating the moving rush, and keeping flexibility in mind when doing so, Johnson advised.

“If you go with a specific time in mind and can’t move outside of that, it makes it more challenging,” he explained.

Johnson noted some exceptions to this rule, particularly when customers have a limited time frame in which they can move. In these cases, he advises customers to consider a personally procured move, formerly known as a do-it-yourself move, where customers find their own movers or move their household goods themselves; DoD civilians can be reimbursed for authorized expenses not to exceed the Government constructed shipment cost (GCC); uniformed personnel are eligible for an incentive payment of 95 percent of the GCC.

DoD customers and their Families have two options to manage moves, officials said.

First, they can visit their local installation transportation office or personal property shipping office to start the move process.
People also can create a personal moving calendar with checklists, phone numbers and links to helpful information, Johnson suggested.

He also suggests people rifle through their garage or basement and get rid of unwanted items to reduce their shipment’s weight. “No one wants to get a bill for being overweight” on their shipment, he said, referring to authorized weight allowances based on rank and dependent status.

A quick method for estimating weight is to calculate about 1,000 pounds per room, officials said, or by using the weight estimator on the website site www.move.mil.

Johnson also stressed the importance of taking the time after the move to fill out a customer satisfaction survey, which serves as a “scorecard” for transportation service providers (TSP). Providers get business or don’t get business based on their survey scores, he explained, providing incentive for TSP companies to do a good job. “Higher scores mean more business,” he said.

Johnson also pointed out that the process to file a claim for missing or damaged property has changed. People formerly filed a claim through the military claims office (MCO). But now, customers initiate the claim process online through the DPS. The TSP then contacts a claimant directly to discuss how to get estimates or repairs.

Customers who require assistance with processing their claim aren’t on their own, Johnson stressed. They can contact their local MCO for guidance and advice.

(See related story.)

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