You’re at your next duty station, and hopefully you read the advice I posted previously (see How to Manage Your Household Goods Move (outbound). If so, you should be well prepared for your inbound shipment. The following steps should help you.
1. Decide whether you’re finding a place right away, or whether you need temporary storage. This will help your personal property office guide the movers on what to do with your stuff. If you’re going to deploy right after reporting, and you don’t have a family, you might be better of trying to store it right away.
2. Contact your personal property office. They’ll walk you through the process, as well as tell you to register on www.move.milif you have not already done so. Most likely, this is how you’ll file your claim, should you need to. However, having a person walk you through will help you learn how to do it by yourself in future moves. If you don’t have a guide, ask the personal property office if they have one available.
3. Schedule your delivery. But first, make sure you have legal possession of your property. Even if you own your house, if there is a tenant or the previous owner still in it, you will encounter problems. Get this resolved up front before scheduling so that there are no issues. Again, make sure you have no other commitments during your delivery timeframe.
4. Move-in day. It’s next to impossible to keep track of every single thing, especially with kids running around, the cable guy coming out to install, & coordinating pizza. The most important part is to make sure that you have the inventory that you had during your pack out. As people walk by, try to mark off box & item numbers from the inventory. If you’re married, one of you can manage which room everything goes in (usually the missus volunteers for this job), and can manage unwrapping the valuables. A couple of move-in notes:
-Movers are required by contract to assemble anything that was disassembled during the move. However, since this gets tedious, and the attention span goes down the further in the day you get, so learn to pick your battles. Also, if you have missing parts, you may as well ask them to move on to something else.
-Movers are also required to unpack anything you want & remove all packing material associated with those items. If you can, avoid having them unpack your valuables & breakables—especially in the later afternoon (refer to the attention span rule mentioned above).
-It’s only stuff. Some stuff is more important than others, but in the end, it’s stuff. People make honest mistakes—don’t beat them up about it. If something bad happens, the moving supervisor will make doubly sure that it’s documented & you’ll be reimbursed, full replacement value, during the claims process.
-At the end of the day, you’ll sit down with the moving supervisor to sign the paperwork. Make sure you note any discrepancies you’ve noticed, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t catch everything. You have a certain period of time (70 days from receipt of your shipment) to submit a list of damaged items (also known as the DD1840), and even longer to file the actual claim. Check with your personal property office for more details. Make sure the supervisor gives you copies of everything you sign. If he doesn’t, then notify the household goods office so they can help you get the paperwork from the moving company.
-Relax. Crack open a beer, soda, bottle of wine, or whatever floats your boat. Let yourself be glad that the day is over—after all, you still have to figure out where it’s all going to go.
My next column will focus on how to file the claim, and make sure you’re properly compensated for damages.