Service members, Defense Department civilian employees and their family members complete nearly half a million personal property moves and seventy-thousand privately owned vehicle (POV) shipments every year. About half of those take place during the busy mid-May through August timeframe, known as the "peak season" for moves.
Making a permanent change of station (PCS) move can be a stressful experience, especially during peak season. However, armed with the right information, every PCS move has the potential to be a success.
During the week of March 20-24, the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) will present PCS Week, a focused opportunity to inform and educate service members, DOD civilians and family members about how the household goods (HHGs) and POV shipment process works.
Throughout PCS Week, SDDC will provide actionable information to make upcoming PCS moves as smooth and efficient as possible by publishing a wide variety of PCS information, tips, and educational videos via its public webpage (www.sddc.army.mil), Facebook page (www.facebook.com/hqsddc) and Twitter feed (www.twitter.com/hqsddc).
SDDC's Personal Property directorate is the program manager and administrator for the Defense Personal Property Program, or DP3, which oversees the Defense Department's household goods and POV shipment programs. DP3 uses the Defense Personal Property System (DPS) to coordinate PCS moves, along with two web-based resources to help service members and their families plan and schedule shipments: www.Move.mil for household goods and www.PCSMyPOV.com for POVs.
By becoming familiar with the information provided during PCS Week, being aware of the many helpful PCS resources available on the www.Move.mil and www.PCSMyPOV.com websites, and knowing what to expect throughout the move process, service members and their families will enjoy a far better PCS move experience.
Household Goods Shipments
The best way to ensure a positive household goods moving experience is to start the process early, even before a DOD customer receives PCS orders, by creating or reactivating their DPS account through www.Move.mil. Aside from being the system of move execution, the site contains important information to include links to the downloadable "It's Your Move" and "Shipping Your POV" pamphlets.
"DPS accounts can be created as soon as customers learn they are due to move," said Air Force Lt. Col. Todd Jensen, SDDC's director of Personal Property. "The earlier customers are in the system, the more familiar they will be with DPS when they execute their move. With the right information, customers and families can set the stage for a successful PCS."
In addition to DPS, local Traffic Management or Installation Transportation Offices are also available to provide expert help for HHGs or POV shipping. If these installation-based traffic management experts cannot answer questions directly, they have contact information for the next level of support, regardless of the issue.
Once permanent change of station orders are received, DOD Customers should immediately submit their move request in DPS. To submit their counseling application through DPS, customers must upload a copy of their orders and their signed shipment application (DD Form 1299) to the Installation Transportation Office in order to complete the mandatory self-counseling process. The ability to upload orders directly into DPS was a recent enhancement to the system and will simplify and expedite the counseling process for customers.
SDDC recommends having more than one packing date in mind when submitting proposed move dates; being flexible during this phase is extremely important. Due to the nature of the peak move season and the potential for limited moving company availability, some installations may require 20 or more days of advance notice. Having alternate dates can help customers avoid unnecessary changes in travel plans and expensive travel purchases.
Requested pick-up and delivery dates are not confirmed until the DOD customer and commercial carrier mutually agree on them. Pack, pick-up and delivery dates are normally scheduled on weekdays, and the customer or designated representative must normally be available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on those days. Customers who are unable to negotiate dates with their commercial carrier can always contact their transportation office for assistance or alternative options.
"Flexibility in scheduling is important throughout peak season, but it is even more critical from mid-June through the Fourth of July holiday," said Daniel Martinez, SDDC's Personal Property Business Processes Division Chief. "Any schedule adjustments that can be made by customers to avoid that timeframe could greatly reduce move planning stress."
It is also important to know your entitled HHGs weight allowance in advance. Any shipment that exceeds the weight entitlement could result in an excess cost to the DOD Customer.
"In addition, customers should work with their local transportation office and transportation service provider (TSP) to request a reweigh of their goods if they are close to their maximum weight allowance," said Martinez. "They can even ask to witness the reweigh."
During the packing process, avoid shipping small or extremely valuable items such as stocks, bonds, jewelry, coins, coin collections or gold bullion. If shipping high value items, ensure they are documented on a high value item inventory sheet. Keep these items secured until the inventory is prepared and all items have been accounted for.
Changes or updates to the move process or schedules must be communicated by the TSP via phone and email. It is critical that current contact information is updated within DPS to keep DOD customers in close contact with the TSP throughout the move. Customers should not use phone numbers that may change during the move, or military email addresses that may be unattended or disconnected.
If the commercial carrier misses the agreed upon pick-up date or the required delivery date, DOD customers may be eligible to file for an inconvenience claim. Customers should review guidance on "Filing an inconvenience claim" on www.Move.mil and contact the carrier directly. Inconvenience claims are not filed in DPS but should be filed directly with the TSP. Customers should seek assistance from the local transportation office if they have any concerns about inconvenience claims.
After Your Move
Should the need arise to file a claim for loss or damage to your property, the DPS web-based system is the mechanism to process household goods claims with the TSP in a quick and efficient way. Unlike inconvenience claims (which are not filed in DPS), customers can take pictures of and upload damaged property claims into DPS, make offers and counteroffers, and settle claims directly in DPS.
TSPs have 60 days from the time a claim is submitted to respond to the claim. Customers who are not satisfied with their claim can always transfer all or part of the claim at their local installation through the military claims or legal office. If assistance is needed in filing a claim, more specific information is available on www.move.mil or through the legal office.
Once the move process is complete, take a few minutes to answer and submit the eight question Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSS). This survey is critical, as it helps to determine future use of your moving company for other DOD customers and their families. By submitting the survey, you play a direct role in keeping quality movers in the program and identifying poor performers for removal.
"The Customer Satisfaction Survey is key to the success of the program," said Jensen. "We take CSS feedback very seriously and use it to ensure higher performing movers are awarded more shipments and provide service to more of our DOD customers." SDDC is working closely with the military services and local transportation offices to help ensure that CSS comments are reviewed and acted upon to improve the move experience.
POV Shipment and Storage
Many of the concepts that apply to the shipment of HHGs also apply to shipping POVs.
Upon receipt of orders, logging on to www.PCSMyPOV.com is recommended. Once on the website, you will find critical information about turn-in and pick-up location and procedures, appointment scheduling protocols and in-transit vehicle status. Although appointments are not required at all Vehicle Processing Centers, scheduling an appointment with the servicing location can help limit turn-in or pick-up wait times. Customers who miss scheduled appointments run the risk of extended wait times or delays in service.
In order to process vehicles, DOD customers must bring all paperwork when turning in a vehicle. For the safety of customers and vehicle handlers, it is also required that any outstanding vehicle safety recalls are completed prior to turn in. Detailed information about recalls, vehicle preparation, paperwork requirements, claims, and other critical information can be found on the www.PCSMyPOV.mil website or through your local Traffic Management or Transportation Office.
DOD customers can also call the International Auto Logistics toll-free Call Center at (855) 389-9499 for more information.
Start the move process early, be flexible, and ask questions throughout the move process. By becoming familiar with the information provided during PCS Week, being aware of the many helpful PCS resources available on www.Move.mil and www.PCSMyPOV.com, and knowing what to expect throughout the move process, DOD customers can prepare themselves for the best PCS move experience possible.
Follow SDDC during PCS Week March 20-24, 2017 at www.sddc.army.mil/, www.facebook.com/HQSDDC/, and www.twitter.com/HQSDDC.