First, the movers.
We did a lot of research and shortlisted 4 movers of international repute. There was a post in Quora where someone had a harrowing experience with a mover who forgot to tell the people that the port at Goa is not vested with powers to clear international customs resulting in days of anguish and increasing expenses of storing uncleared goods at the dock. Finally he managed to speak directly to the officer involved and sort the mess out amicably.
So we had to make sure our mover delivered door-to-door from Singapore to Goa. And we wanted to deal with just one mover to minimize points of contact and keep it simple. We didn’t want the trouble of dealing with two different movers as there may be gaps in communication, and knowing Murphy, it is better to be on the safe side.
Our list comprised Allied Pickfords, AGS Fourwinds, KCDat, Santa Fe and RelocAsia. They all came on time, were very professional in their assessment and gave pretty much the same information. The container sizes varied slightly but the rest were pretty much the same.
All reverted when they said they would except AGS which was strange. I checked spam folder, nothing.
Allied’s email had gone to the wrong email id, which I found out when I wrote to them saying I hadn’t received any update from them, seems they had gotten my email id wrong.
Of all the quotes, we found Allied the most sensible. Followed by RelocaAsia. But the terms and conditions of the bordered on the ridiculous. Anything that happened to the crew while packing was our fault. If they lost the shipment in the middle of the sea, it’s our fault. Seriously.
After you choose the mover, the project is handed over to another person at the mover’s, meaning it’s not the same person who came for the quote. Note that they quote based on the container size, 20 foot or 40 foot etc. The assessment made by the representative usually matches up so there will be no surprises. That said, we thought there was a fair amount of space in the truck after all the items were packed. Later we found that most of the boxes were just half-full (not in the optimistic way either), when they could have easily packed more.
Our contact in Singapore, Christine was excellent. She was patient, helpful and cheerful, even though we had to change the date of moving 3 times. But the movers themselves were not as professional, more on that later.
Now, once you’ve decided on the mover, you will have to go through the pack they would have given you including insurance form and check list. This will take a good 10-15 days, depending on how much you have managed to accumulate over the years. We took about 3 weeks itemizing our 22 years of gathering, spending a few hours every day.
We created a spreadsheet for ornaments, electronics, furniture, and list of items in each room. We entered the original value (I had receipts for purchases made all the way back in 1996), a description of the item and insured value. The process was as exhausting as the list but it served as a good reference for us. And it comes in handy when claiming insurance for damaged items.
DVDs, CDs and Books
While I listed the name of each DVD, it is recommended you just give a lump-sum value for movies and music collection, unless of course you have signed copies of DVD/CD by your favourite director/musician. Same goes for books.
You are not allowed to carry perishables, spices, or even tea. One look at the container and you’ll see why it’s hard for anything less than teak wood furniture to survive that trapped heat for weeks. That leaves pots and pans, cutlery and crockery. Again, lumpsum value for insurance but you can be specific if you have anything precious.
Just make sure all of them are labelled properly so you don’t spend days figuring out the location of the box with your underwear. Mark the boxes with ‘bedroom 1’ and the name of the person whose clothes it contains, it’ll save you a lot of time while unpacking.
We collected a whole lot of stuff from our travels around the world, which we itemized in the list, with a description, value of the item, and when it was bought. Rough estimate will do.
Customs department requires your presence in the country when your shipment arrives in India. So plan accordingly. Make arrangements to stay at a friend’s place or book a hotel to tide you over after you move out and before you board the flight back home.
Get a local number so your mover in India can contact you and keep you posted about the status of your shipment. All going well, it should take a month. Remember, India has a lot of holidays. Once you are back, your mover will send someone to collect your passport for customs clearance. Your presence is not required normally. This process takes a few days, not longer than 4 or 5 days.
After this, you will be informed about the date of release from the port, make sure it gets out quickly as demurrage costs are quite high. Your mover will advice you on this. Make sure the house you are going to is ready for move-in.
If you need storage in the meanwhile, most of the movers offer facilities but the fee is quite high. Keep that in mind.
I'll write about our experience with Allied Pickfords in the next post.