TRANSCOM: Peak PCS Season Updates
by Lizann Lightfoot - April 24th, 2022
This blog was published in 2021. Watch the 2022 updated TRANSCOM interview above, or watch the original video here: https://youtu.be/uB69CTz8leQ
Guest: Rick Marsh, Director of the Personal Property Program at TRANSCOM
What is PCS season looking like this year?
The volume is lining up with typical levels. Our summer schedule is filling up, even into August. Right now, the challenge is about availability - getting movers to show up.
Like many industries, movers are seeing labor shortages and also in the commercial non-DoD market. This means a lot of frustrations for customers with moving companies not keeping appointments, and with deliveries getting delayed. As things go into storage, we will have challenges in July and August getting things delivered on time.
You can see how often TRANSCOM military deliveries make it on time and how busy our movers are by visiting the TRANSCOM website here.
If a family's shipment is turned back just before the date, what should they do?
They should first call the Transportation Office to see if another transportation service provider (TSP) is available. Then they should call the chain of command to let them know they may need relief of report dates, relief with the housing office, or other entitlements that fall outside the transportation realm.
If a TSP is assigned, and the local agent cancels the moving date, what should the family do?
Do those same two phone calls listed above, but you can also call your moving company directly. Any moving company worth their salt should be able to walk you through the schedule and what they will do to make it right.
If everything is packed up, and shipments aren't picked up, what can families do when there's no driver?
Make those phone calls, you don’t need to solve this alone. Send it to a local agent or TSP to take it to a storage facility. If folks are comfortable camping out in the house for a while, contact the company for an Inconvenience Claim, so you don’t come out of pocket for those immediate expenses.
If families want to secure their own storage unit, definitely talk to your transportation office first to make sure you can get reimbursed for that expense.
If no TSP is assigned, when does a family need to make other plans?
If you are a short fuse shipment, getting picked up within 10 days, then give it 2-3 days for the office to figure it out. All other requests take about 10 days to get TSPs scheduled throughout the installation processing office and return the TSP to the customer. This is from the time you request shipment until your requested pick-up date.
How does an inconvenience claim work on the front end of the move?
There are some nuances here, but if your shipment has been turned back and can’t be booked by another TSP on the original timeline, there can be an Inconvenience Claim. It may include extended rent, home cleaning fees, and other charges within reason. This is specific to a TSP who has committed to handling a shipment and then doesn’t handle it. The customer shouldn’t be bearing the cost.
Moving companies are supposed to initiate the conversation about Inconvenience Claims, but not all will do that. If you think you are owed one, then bring it up. They should know the rules of when it is required. Use the chain of command and transportation office to highlight it if needed. All TRANSCOM military contractors and movers should know the process for handling Inconvenience Claims.
It’s worth highlighting the right answers and wrong answers. You can’t immediately go out and spend your own money, or suddenly change course and choose to do a PPM. You need to first exhaust other options with your chain of command.
July and August moves should still expect customer service, timely communication, phone calls, and emails. You shouldn’t have to guess if or when a company is coming to your house. You should expect your home and belongings to be treated with respect.
If you are trying to schedule a move originating in the US, you might expect some delays during the peak PCS months of July and August. Overseas moves are at usual capacity for peak season moves and timelines.
What solutions are coming from TRANSCOM and the move industry?
The DoD is paying competitive rates to help get past some of the challenges. Increasing funds helps increase the labor. No one in leadership thinks that service members should be forced to handle a PPM or start spending money out of pocket. We need to exhaust all possible options first.
TRANSCOM recently awarded a contract to a new Global Household Goods carrier, which will hopefully streamline some of the military moving process. While there will be a transition period for this new company to make changes, our hope is that the new contract will mean military families will see some improvements.
Where can families find resources for moving?
Military One Source now has all the official content (replacing the Move.mil site of the past). There is also good information coming from Facebook pages like the PCS grades groups.
Moving trucks are more expensive now. What if the rental price is higher than our weight allotment?
Go back to the Transportation Office and request actual cost reimbursement. In a typical PPM, your reimbursement is tied to what we would have paid the industry. An Actual Cost Reimbursement is used in limited scenarios, but it is situations like this where you had to spend above the industry average because you were forced into a PPM.
This year, there are some additional fees that will be covered with a PPM. The services have identified things that need to get rolled into the cost: bulky items, pick-up from extra locations, and fuel surcharges. These can be added to a PPM voucher to make sure a customer is properly compensated.
Do inconvenience claims cover extended hotel stays for missed dates?
It depends on your scenario, but yes, if you are forced into a hotel because the moving company changed the timeline, then you should not pay out of pocket. The inconvenience starts on the day after expected delivery. If it isn’t covered by the Inconvenience Claim, then you should check other reimbursement options and PCS entitlements to see if it can be covered.
Who should military families reach out to with moving issues?
Each of the services has new help desks that are available for transportation-type issues. TRANSCOM has a 24-hour help desk. If you have broader relocation issues like report date issues, start with your chain of command. We don’t always have Relocation experts with DoD. Families have been voicing these concerns for a few years now, and we are still working on it. We can work closely with the moving industry to improve capacity, and adjust some rules.
Any messages for our military families?
I have heard reports of moving companies encouraging families to cancel their shipment so the transportation office can find someone else to cover it. Don’t do that! It’s highly unethical. Don’t go into DPS and cancel a shipment. Instead, talk to your transportation office and report the moving company. They may be trying to avoid Inconvenience Claims. We want to hear about any misinformation like this.
If you are absolutely stuck and have exhausted other channels, you may email Mr. Marsh directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch the full video of this and other helpful webinars at the PCSgrades YouTube channel.