Moving Experience: Madisen’s Move with Bellhop

Eager for a new start in a lively neighborhood, new mom Madisen decided to pick up stakes and move her family from Parrish, Florida, to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Madisen - a Bellhop moving customerShe briefly considered a DIY move, but with a six-month-old baby and a new home, Madisen and her husband knew a full-service mover was the way to go.

In exchange for a $500 moving stipend, Madisen joined the moveBuddha Better Moves Project to share every step of her move with you. After a lot of research, she ultimately settled on Bellhop as her long-distance mover.

So, how did they stack up? Madisen tells all in this guide, including where Bellhop shined and where their team missed the mark.

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Move day takeaways for Bellhop customers

  • Communication: Madisen wouldn’t change a thing about Bellhop’s communication—they were perfect!
  • Pricing accuracy and transparency: Bellhop was transparent about all pricing and Madisen loved the affordability. The move was even more affordable after Bellhop reimbursed Madisen for damaged items.
  • Professionalism: Madisen had some issues with Bellhop’s loading team, but the moving coordinator and unloading team were the picture of professionalism.
  • Timeliness: Madisen had a lightspeed move where Bellhop delivered her items in Chattanooga the next day.
  • Loss and damage: Unfortunately, Bellhop’s loading team failed to wrap Madisen’s furniture and belongings, so she had to file a damage claim. Bellhop reimbursed her $500 for the trouble and paid $900 from Madisen’s insurance claim.
  • Would Madisen use Bellhop again? Yes, but she would watch the movers next time to make sure they protected her belongings.

Madisen needed help moving from Parrish, FL, to Chattanooga, TN

As a new mother to a six-month-old baby, Madisen wanted to plant permanent roots in a more youthful neighborhood. She and her husband planned to move to their dream city, Chattanooga, to start this next chapter of their lives. They upgraded their 1,600-square-foot, two-bedroom loft for a 2,800-square-foot home, giving everybody plenty of elbow room in the new space.

Bellhop Moving truck at a home

Madisen needed help deciding between a DIY option by booking a rental truck or hiring a full-service mover. The couple ultimately agreed that a full-service moving company would be the best option to move their household goods, a pottery kiln (yes, you read that right), a large painting, and a very fragile plasma TV.

After all, they had a six-month-old in tow and just bought a new house—they needed all the help they could get.

Going into the moving process, Madisen was most worried about her stuff being stolen or broken. She’d heard horror stories about damages, difficult claims processes, and thefts and didn’t want to deal with any of it.

Madisen mostly worried about packing 50+ boxes worth of stuff for two bedrooms, an office, and their in-home pottery studio. She needed a mover who would treat her belongings with care—especially when she wasn’t there to watch them.

Madisen’s move at a glance

Move date February 3, 2024
Moved from Parrish, Florida
Moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee
Distance 615 miles
Move size Two bedrooms, an office, and a pottery studio
Moving company Bellhop
Moving quote $3,600
Actual cost $3,600 ($2,200 after damage reimbursements)

Madisen got quotes from three full-service movers and one rental truck company

Eager to find a reputable moving company, Madisen searched Google and Yelp. She found good information, but it was overwhelming trying to compare different movers.

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Luckily, Madisen stumbled onto the moveBuddha site. The clear design and honest Moving Experiences made it a cinch to compare multiple companies in one place.

After a week of research, Madisen narrowed her search down to Bellhop, Mayzlin, Safeway, and Penske. She threw Penske into the mix out of curiosity, but once she saw how much the full-service movers offered, she focused solely on full-service movers.

Company Estimated volume/weight Estimated cost
Bellhop 1,084 cubic feet (7,588 pounds) $3,600
Safeway Moving 1,084 cubic feet (7,588 pounds) $4,800
Mayzlin Relocation 1,084 cubic feet (7,588 pounds) $4,700
Penske Truck Rental N/A $1,500

Madisen chose Bellhop for its pricing and good reviews

Bellhop’s quote was $1,000 lower than the other full-service movers and had great reviews, which made the choice a no-brainer for Madisen. She also liked that their headquarters were in Chattanooga—so the company already knew the city.

Madisen hired Bellhop to wrap furniture, disassemble furniture, load her stuff, transport everything, unload her items, and assemble and stage furniture in the new house. Her quote also included $48,000 in moving insurance at no additional cost.

Bellhop was very helpful leading up to the move and answered all of Madisen’s questions. They stayed in contact with Madisen in the weeks leading up to the move. They even double-checked that Madisen ordered the right box to ship the fragile TV before moving day.

All in all, Bellhop’s excellent pre-move service made her feel like she was in experienced, professional hands.

To prep for the move, she went room-by-room with her husband to decide what to keep and donate. Together, they packed everything and stored the boxes in the garage to speed up moving day.

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At A Glance
  • Quick and easy booking process
  • National 4.75/5 star rating (these guys are good at what they do)
  • Dedicated move concierge specialist
  • Pay as you go service. 2-hour minimum and then prorated down to the minute
  • The time clock starts when the movers arrive and ends when you tell them
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Moving day had some hiccups

Madisen paid a 10% booking fee to reserve her move date and paid the balance in full three days before move day. It’s a bit unusual for moving companies to require payment in full before moving day, though. It’s more common to pay a deposit and then make two more payments on moving day and upon delivery.

Bellhop moving boxes packed up

Madisen received several emails and texts from Bellhop leading up to the big day. She appreciated their proactive communication because it meant zero surprises.

On moving day, Bellhops’ loading team of one driver and four movers arrived on time at 8 am. While the communication was stupendous, the quality of the loading movers could have been better. They took care with some items, while they were pretty haphazard with her couch and bed frames. Bellhop forgot to wrap her items with blankets—and it didn’t help that the moving truck bed was covered in dirt.

Madisen felt uncomfortable, but trusted that they were the experts. She was busy loading her car, moving small items out of the house, and wrangling a baby, so we understand why she left Bellhop to their own devices.

It took four hours to disassemble furniture and load everything onto the moving truck. Bellhop promised to deliver Madisen’s belongings the next day. She secretly expected up to a week, but either way you slice it, that’s an incredibly fast turnaround time. Some movers need up to 30 days to move items from point A to point B, so Bellhop’s turnaround is fantastic.

Delivery went quickly, but had a few surprises

Bellhop pulled off the unthinkable and delivered Madisen’s things the next day. They trickled in 15 minutes around their scheduled arrival time, but they got straight to work.

Bellhop moving truck delivering belongings

Bellhop used a different crew to unload Madisen’s belongings. This crew was a little shocked at how loaders packed and placed everything in the truck. In fact, this crew pointed out damage to Madisen as they unloaded items from the truck.

While the unloading crew did their best to work carefully, the loading crew’s job damaged three couches, a fabric bedframe, a metal coffee table, a brand new baby crib, and the dining room table.

While they unloaded, Madisen cared for her baby and told movers which rooms to take the items to. She put paper signs on each door so they would see which room the boxes needed to be in.

The unloading crew put the furniture (including the damaged furniture) back together again. However, Madisen and her husband had to redo the bed because it was so wobbly that they couldn’t sleep on it.

Bellhop also refused to put the crib back together for “liability reasons.” Madisen was fine with putting it together herself, but the loading crew misplaced the screws and hardware.

Unloading took about three hours. Aside from the damages caused by the loading crew, moving into the new home was otherwise uneventful. Madisen’s kiln arrived without any damage, which was a huge win.

However, there was so much damage to her furniture that Madisen reached out to Bellhop to file a damage claim. They took $500 off the cost of the move as an apology and reimbursed her for $900 in claims for the damaged furniture. 

The claims process was fast, easy, and painless. She took photos of the damage and sent Bellhop links to the damaged items. Bellhop sent her the reimbursement in just a few days.

The money was nice, but Madisen says it didn’t cover the cost of the higher-end furniture. Everything was beyond reasonable repair, so Madisen sold the furniture dirt-cheap on Facebook Marketplace just to get it out of her house.

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Our take on the move

While the damage to Madisen’s things is definitely not our idea of a hassle-free move, a lot of things went right.

It was smart of Madisen to load her moving boxes into her garage before moving day. Instead of asking the movers to dart all over the house, she could simply direct them to the garage to save lots of time.

Bellhop also gave Madisen a nearly unheard-of one-day turnaround for her move. That’s probably because she moved in February, which is the slow season for movers. You likely won’t have the same experience if you move during peak season in, say, July.

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: the damages. The loading crew’s job clearly left a lot to be desired, but oversights and damage can happen.

For one, Madisen should have spoken up when she realized the movers weren’t using the blankets and pads Bellhop promised they would use. It’s tough, but it’s always best to watch movers as they work and speak up when you see something you don’t like. Madisen agrees: in hindsight, she would have been with the movers while her husband loaded the car and cared for the baby.

With that said, Bellhop did a tremendous job responding to the damage claim. They promptly replied to Madisen’s concerns and agreed to make things right. They paid out the claim and cut her a deal on the total cost of her move to make up for the inconvenience.

So many moving companies have sluggish or confusing claims processes. We applaud Bellhop for making it easy for Madisen to move forward with minimal hassle.

The verdict

She wasn’t thrilled about the damages, but looking back on her move, Madisen acknowledges that it went pretty well.

Bellhop had world-class communication. They were always there when they said they would be and never left her hanging. The quote for the job was bang-on and had zero unexpected fees or changes.

Madisen rates the experience at a 4/5 because of the not-so-great loading job and damages. However, Bellhop apologized and made things right, so she isn’t too upset about it.

In hindsight, Madisen wishes she had kept a closer eye on the loaders. She would have demanded they wrap everything like promised. If you’re moving, Madisen recommends keeping an eye on how movers take your items apart (in case you need to put them together) and make sure they’re wrapped well.

She would use Bellhop again, but only if she could be more hands-on with the workers. She still felt the company was great and did everything they could to make it right. None of her items were missing or stolen, and Madisen loved that her stuff arrived the next day.

Overall, Madisen believes she got her money’s worth with Bellhop, especially after receiving the sizeable refunds.

Here’s how Madisen rated Bellhop’s performance on a scale of 1 to 5:

  • Communication – 5/5
  • Timeliness – 5/5
  • Quote accuracy – 5/5
  • Overall experience – 4/5

Do you have an upcoming move? Share your moving story with the Better Moves Project to earn a $500 stipend. Sign up now.

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