Household Goods Shipping Mishaps – Military Spouses Share Their Stories

Updated January 2022

Household Goods Shipping Mishaps – Military Spouses share their stories – USAA Member Community.jpg


The most frightening thing about moving is not the new town, or the worries of making new friends and navigating a new place; but the fear of what could happen to your belongings on the way. I asked some fellow military spouses and military spouse bloggers about their worst household good shipping experiences and some of them are scarier than the latest horror movie I watched.


The pandemic has magnified the existing problems with scarcity of moving supplies, trucks, packaging materials has made making it to your next duty station with undamaged goods a bigger gamble.


Emery: They lost all of our HHG for 2+ months. We're still missing a few pieces and had to throw out some damaged stuff…


Kim She is Fierce : Our last move (before the one I'm in the middle of currently) they arrived at our location earlier than they were supposed to and put our things into storage. 2 days later when we got there they couldn't find any employees to take it all out and deliver it, so we waited another almost 3 weeks. When they delivered it we learned that storage hadn't been the only time they'd unloaded and reloaded it, they'd repacked it all on the side of the road during the trip to try and fit more things in the truck! We had thousands in damages. The last thing they pulled off the truck was my husband's drill cane which had apparently fallen out of a box and the mover was kicking it along the bottom of the truck... I had to tell hubby to grab us some coffees for the safety of the movers!


Elaine: We moved during the government shutdown, plus they were running background checks on everyone coming on to base. Our moving truck was delayed over 10 hours on the day my husband arrived back home from deployment. Both times the military has moved us, they haven't been able to come over and survey our belongings. I've had to do phone interviews both times and they are never prepared with the proper amount of boxes or the correct space available in the truck. Too little room and we had boxes strapped to the back of the truck. Too much room in the truck and they had to make extra stops, out of the way, just to fill the truck and that added a week to our hotel stay because of the truck's detour!


Megan: We had a last minute move (10 days notice) and there was no other choice but to pack our house Christmas Eve (because they didn't show up on the 23rd as scheduled). 50% of our boxes were labeled "Christmas". It was a nightmare to unpack. They loaded cinder blocks into the truck (not our cinder blocks) to up the weight. Items were taken from three different levels of the house and placed in the same box (repeatedly). I had wrapped and labeled all curtain rods with hardware taped to them. They ripped them all apart and threw them onto the truck. Any specific directions given, the exact opposite was done. They packed their lunch trash (to include open bags with chips, crumpled up subway wrappers with crumbs) INSIDE boxes with our items. We purchased those lunches for them and tipped graciously because we were so thankful they were packing our house on Christmas Eve. They were so kind to our face, so professional. A different company unloaded our stuff and they said it was the worst move they had ever seen. Our next move was a full DITY and it went perfectly.


Casey: The worst thing we had was when they decided that our daughter's wooden blocks (heavy, old-style) shouldn't stay in the box that was strong enough for them (plastic tote, should have been just taped up). So they dumped the blocks into their box- on top of our (unwrapped) German cuckoo clock. That same move, one of the packers stole a necklace that I'd neglected to pack with my other jewelry (more a keepsake than something I wore). He took it out of the box, packed the box. We realized it months later.


Sterling: I had just had my antique dresser repaired. Like they dropped it off Thursday night and the movers came Friday am. Only one leg had a crack and it had been fixed. The movers broke the whole side off and claimed that it was like that because you could see where the leg had been repaired.


Ronnette: We only moved 2.5 hours away and it took them 2 weeks to deliver our stuff. As we were unpacking, multiple things were broken. All but one of my Thanksgiving decorations were broken along with Easter ones. They put the most random stuff in boxes and didn't label anything correctly. It's been an absolute nightmare. We haven't filed claims yet because there's so much. Big gashes in our footboard. Just thinking about all of this makes me irate. It also took them three days. Yes, THREE days to pack and pick up.


Eve: Our move from Lemoore to DC was the worst! First, the movers didn't show up to pack our house until 12pm. They were there 11 hours.... The truck couldn't hold all of our goods, so they packed our stuff on the outside of the back end of the truck (I have a picture for evidence). 3 out of 4 sets of mattresses were strapped to the outside of the moving truck! Of course not the old set that really needed replacing. The movers broke our furniture while they were taking it apart to pack it. They showed up in Virginia in 3 days! We were still driving across the country with our two kids and cat when they called. There was no way we were doing a door-to-door move. So our stuff went into storage, for 2 weeks!!! The storage company didn't have a driver to take it to our house. Finally it was move in day. We discovered a lot more damage (over $4000 in damage from the original movers). Then the driver backed into my car! He was taking the truck back to the storage unit to get the rest of our stuff and didn't see my car and ran into it. Nice, right??!! Well that drove the damage costs up another $2000. Luckily in the end of lots of paperwork, estimates, research, and phone calls we got most of our damages claimed and $$ in our pockets. Forgot to mention, they showed up in the moving truck with only 1/4 full of gas. They are supposed to weigh the truck with our stuff in it with a full tank of gas. The movers weigh the truck right after they pack it and take off. My husband noticed that the moving truck was only on 1/4 tank of gas. He asked them if they were going to fill the tank up before they weighed the truck. The movers said sometimes they don't fill up the gas tank if they feel that they have been shorted in their moving weight. So they will make up for the shorted weight in gasoline. Needless to say we were 1200lbs over in our weight allowance- which is about how much gas they needed to fill up their moving truck. For anyone who has the military move them, make sure to be pro-active and don't put up with anyone being disrespectful to you or your stuff. We called the local moving office on base numerous times during the entire moving process. File your damage claims, take LOTS of pictures of everything, and stand up for your rights. But also be respectful to the packers and movers, they are handling your personal belongings.


Lisa: One time the movers mis-estimated the amount I had in my shipment and brought a truck that was just too small. We didn't realize until the end and they obviously just jammed everything in. I wish I had spoken up. The final items were the big loose pieces like my lawnmower and my bicycle. Enroute the lawnmower ended up in top of my beach cruiser in the truck and bent it up pretty bad. It wouldn't have been such a big deal except that was the last birthday present from my dad before he died so it had sentimental value. Lesson learned is when you're uncomfortable about the way something is going--speak up! Like I wish I had!


Can you relate to any of their experiences? Please share your memorable PCS stories in the comments (and I wish you all the best of luck avoiding some of these terrors on your next move!)





Frequent Visitor

Fortunately we avoided a lot of the stories like those already shared. A wise person told me when I was a PFC that he NEVER had any problem moving. Hi secret. He said he always had cool sodas for the moving crew and bought them lunch and sometimes dinner. I took his advice and our moves were pretty smooth over my 25 years. Most people treat the movers like the enemy. I found treating like I would want to be treated worked every time. We did however, have a few problems. When I took the family to Korea for four years, when we came back some of our things had been placed in with someone else’s stuff and they didn't find it for two years until the other people came back from their overseas tour. (It appears to have been a warehouse error.) If I had to do it over again going overseas, I would have downsized a lot as some things don’t age well in long term storage. Of course there was the inevitable breakage that comes with most any move. Knowing what I know now, I would have bought more robust furniture that could stand up better on the moves. Towards the end of my career I did start packing some of my things myself and this helped. Also a little know tip is that you can get reimbursed for postage most of the time as long as you don't go over your weight allowance of course. However, once I shipped through a packing service instead of the post office and the receipts didn't show the weight of each item and I didn't get reimbursed. This is good for irreplaceable items like photo albums and such as you can insure them and register them so they are tracked. May be helpful. 

Cynthia USAA
USAA Service
USAA Service


Thank you for sharing your moving experiences with us and great tips! I'm sure many of our members will find this very helpful as you did when you were PFC. Thank you for your membership! 

Briana Hartzell USAA

Dear Spartan,

I too give the movers food and beverages (I hesitate to call it bribing- but I want to do everything in my power to make them feel nice feelings towards me as they pack up my goods).


I had never thought to use the post office to ship things (especially tracked!). This is an excellent idea! Thank you so much for commenting and sharing your wisdom!! Looking forward to more posts form you in the community!

New Member

I PCS'd in July 2017 and it was the worst possible dissaster known.  They threw everything in the crates and promised they would Re-Pack at the warehouse.  Didn't happen so most of our HHG's were damaged or destroyed.  So the TSP (Suddath) has basically been a pain to deal with and there is not governmental support.  6 months later and with affidavits, pictures, statements, etc. we are still right were we started.  The governent attitude is simply, this is just how it is, yet they are federally contracted to provide a service and get paid the same as a private company yet do not provide the same quality of move.  You may not think it is worth it, but please do purchase moving insurance.  Let them deal with the moving company and their sub-contrators.  This has been a stressful drain on the entire family and simply not worth EVER having to go through this again!

Briana Hartzell USAA


Oh goodness, what a nightmare. My heart goes out to you for the stress and financial burden this must be for you and your family  I truly cannot imagine. Thanks for sharing your experience and I wish you the best of luck on your journey for compensation for your damaged goods.