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How to Prevent a Horrible PCS Move

by Lizann Lightfoot - September 27th, 2021

How to Prevent a Horrible PCS Move

PCS moves are the military version of a horror story: everyone knows a terrifying account and is scared that the same thing will happen to them. Just take a look at Facebook or Instagram, and you will see and read about one disaster move after another. We’re talking about true and terrifying stories of lost items, broken heirlooms, drivers lying about HHG weight, packers putting garage items in the same box as clothing, movers showing up on the wrong day, movers who can’t get on base because of their felony record… and more. Suffice it to say, we could fill a book!

The PCS system, at times, seems broken with very little accountability on the part of the packing and moving companies military families must deal with.

Here is what some families have reported after a PCS move:

  • “We had the guy come look at all our damage today, and he made me feel like I broke the stuff myself. He was so rude!”                                                                                                                                                                        

  •  “I’m missing all my utensils, measuring spoons, cups, cookie cutters, mixers, etc. All of our items were checked off as well.”                                                                                                                                                                                                     

  • “Moving company denied our claim on the dryer THEY broke in the move. Their reasoning is that we can’t prove it worked before the move.”                                                                                                                                                           

  •  “All baby gear, beds, refrigerator, washing machine, mattresses, couches, anything upholstered or material was deemed total loss and not cleanable. What was cleanable is still destroyed by water damage but is a separate claim.”

On what planet is this acceptable? We would never accept this poor level of service from any other company. Can you imagine your hair dresser giving you green hair and claiming it’s okay because you never said you didn’t want green hair? Or how about your house cleaner who breaks your vacuum but won’t replace it because you can’t prove it wasn’t already on the fritz!?

Here at PCSgrades, we believe there are easy, yet influential, steps we can take as a community to help facilitate a better interaction between the pre-move inspectors, packers, and movers we all come into contact with as part of the PCS process.

Step #1: Put the movers on notice

Let your moving company, the pre-move inspector, and all the moving personnel who come to your house on moving day know that you will be rating your moving experience on DoD approved websites. This doesn’t have to be a negative thing or a threat. You can tell them how excited you will be to be able to rave about their company following your pack out and move! They will see that you expect them to work safely and efficiently to pack and move your belongings to your new duty station. When you give this notice to everyone who will come into contact with your HHG, you are putting the ball in their court. It is up to them to decide what type of grade they will receive.

Step #2: Leave a review and grade them

Your PCS experiences–good or bad–are worth something! You can share what went well (or what went horribly wrong) to save other military families from headaches and frustration during their upcoming PCS moves. PCSgrades lets you review your movers so other military families can learn from your experiences. If they take care in packing your treasures, transporting carefully, and communicating effectively throughout the move; you can take great pleasure in giving them a Grade A! But breaking Grandma’s china or losing half your shipment will undoubtedly end up with a low grade.

Now you might be thinking, “So what? Will anyone really care about the grade I give?” The short answer is YES! Your review will show all potential future customers (your fellow military families) as well as transportation offices that the service provided was great…..or substandard.

Bad reviews could lead to termination of contracts and loss of future potential business. At the very least, if you see that the company slated to move your HHG has a low grade, you can request another company. The DoD may or may not grant your request. You can always choose whether or not you want to move yourself in a DITY/PPM or a partial DITY/PPM.

You can read moving company reviews on

In-depth reviews can highlight the shortcomings of a particular company, so you can better guard against them.  If you read reviews about your moving company that indicates a history of damaged electronics, would you consider a partial DITY for your most precious electronics?

Giving notice to your movers that you plan to grade their work starts to put some of the control back with us, the military community–control we so desperately deserve.

Lizann Lightfoot

Lizann Lightfoot

Lizann Lightfoot, the "Seasoned Spouse" is a professional writer and speaker for the military community. After two decades with her service member, her family has been through 7 deployments and 6 PCS moves. Lizann has raised 5 children and published several books for military families. Her most recent book is "Open When: Letters of Encouragement for Military Spouses" published Sept 2021 by Elva Resa. You can find Lizann's articles and resources at