Sun, 23 Apr 2000

Don't trust blind faith when choosing a moving firm

Along with the death of a spouse and discovering you were adopted, moving house can rank up among life's most traumatic experiences.

The operative word is "can". While it is not as clear-cut and simple as bundling up possessions, loading them into a truck and getting the show on the road, moving can be made easier with the right company.

But moving should definitely not be about winging it and hoping everything comes together at the end of the day.

That attitude is the quadratic formula for disaster. Treasured heirlooms can be destroyed, much-loved objects lost and charges can mount up in the nightmare scenario of trying to set off to a new country where the police are not on the look out for you.

"The best move is, of course, the one you remember the least because it was so uneventful," said Mary, an Englishwoman who is a veteran of multiple moves.

She said she knows of horror stories in which people's possessions were treated haphazardly, with the inevitable result that items were ruined. "That kind of job is really not on because what you own is such a personal part of you."

Going it alone is almost impossible, defeated by the logistics of moving a huge amount of items smoothly and safely through the maze of bureaucracy and tradesmen.

Removalists can turn out to be best friends or despised incompetents, which is why it is essential for the prospective customer to take time in deciding which company can live up to all its promises.

This applies not only to checking out firmly established reputable international moving companies -- like Crown International, Worldwide Movers, IFM Move Well and Global Silverhawk -- but those entrusted to make local moves.

The history of the moving business in Indonesia mirrors the country's economic development. The professionalism of moving companies increased by degrees as more expatriates entered Indonesia in the mid-1980s when the economy started to boom.

As the boom years continued through the early 1990s, keeping customers satisfied remained essential, particularly because so many projects are landed through word-of-mouth networking.

Recent tumultuous events have shoved the moving business back to center stage. In the midst of the May 1998 rioting and the unsettled months afterward, two-thirds of the expatriate community reportedly shouted a quick goodbye to Indonesia as they fled the country as fast as their moving company would take them.

The expatriates were shipping out -- and many are now returning as the economy picks up -- and a range of new firms have opened up shop to try their luck in the sector.

Unfortunately, many may be seeking quick profits and have little in the way of supporting companies and infrastructure to validate their operations. Through the process of survival of the fittest, Ashley Luff of IFM Move Well believes the market will support only the best of the bunch.

"There are a lot of companies which are trying to make hay while the sun shines," Luff said. "But we know who's reputable, who uses their experience and know-how."

One of the most reputable moving companies is Global Silverhawk Indonesia, which is the only international moving company in the country to offer the services of a bonded facility in Jakarta. This bonded facility provides a secure location for all the services normally conducted at the port of entry. The bonded certification allows Global Silverhawk to handle both sea and air shipments to and from Indonesia, and ensures that upon arrival your shipment will proceed directly to Global Silverhawk's warehouse without delay.

Once in the bonded facility, the Global Silverhawk staff works closely with customs agents to expedite the clearance process and are on site with the customs officers at all time. This bonded service also eliminates the need for demurrage and other charges.

Mary said she uses a general rule of thumb when selecting a mover. "First, suss out which are the best companies. Ask around and talk to friends to find about their experiences and what they have heard."

Once the choices have been narrowed down, Mary meets with the companies individually and asks for checkable references from past customers to see whether the firm lives up to its word.

Price, while important, is not the be-all and end-all of choosing a moving company. "Sure, you can save a little with some movers but end up with half your crockery smashed and some missing items."

She stays around for the packing process, not so much to interfere as check that she has made the right choice. "You get to see the professionalism of the crew."

Mary vouched that she would not hesitate to step in and stop the job if she was uncomfortable with the way it was handled. "Ultimately, my possessions are part of me, I am paying for the job and I have a right to have a say in how they are handled." (dey)