GoodMigrations helps expats move abroad with confidenceBy Adam Vagley • Oct 22nd, 2012 • Category: Consumer Help, International / Expatriate
"Do you want to come live and work in Australia?"
That was the message from an old colleague waiting for me when I went to shut down my computer one night.
I knew the answer was “Yes” before I even rationalized it to myself.
My wife, Sharon, was onboard as well.
Genesis for the Site
And so began the adventure of moving our stuff across the world. I figured I’d just hop online, do a quick search, and find lots of reviews of moving companies — after all, this is the age of transparency, where everything is published and accessible on the internet. Turns out I was very wrong.
I found it incredible that there wasn't a trustworthy, consumer-friendly resource available to determine which movers were among the good, the bad, and the ugly. While there was some information "out there" it was scattered and inconsistent. Existing review sites were mostly unusable thanks to fake reviews. Expat forums had dueling posts — one person would say Company X is great, then somebody else would reply that Company X is terrible but Company Y is good, and so on.
Obviously, the cost of picking the wrong mover can be substantial and I came across plenty of horror stories about price gouging, lost or damaged goods, delayed delivery, and movers who became unreachable when there was a problem.
And so I spent hours of my life digging through what limited information was available so I could make something resembling an informed decision. A handful of movers were consistently recommended, others were clearly sketchy, but for the great majority there wasn't any feedback. In the end I went with a company that I felt comfortable with and, except for getting our stuff a month later than estimated, nothing went wrong.
Because of the stakes involved, it boggles the mind that you can find more about the track record of a restaurant, where a meal might cost you $30, than you can for an international mover, whose service might cost you thousands. And it was crazy to me that with tens of thousands of people moving abroad each year their experiences weren't captured so consumers could get insight into a company's performance.
Given this challenge, my wife and I launched GoodMigrations with two main purposes. One is to educate people about the process of moving abroad so they can protect themselves. The second is to collect customer reviews of international movers' performance so others can make an informed decision about who to hire.
We went live in April 2012 and have been actively engaging the expat community around the world to build awareness and solicit reviews. Thus far the feedback from other expats has been wonderfully positive.
Moving abroad is an emotional process. One expat I contacted told me she "blocked the whole experience from my mind as being stressful and traumatic."
With subjective ratings, emotion can lead to a review that's not a fair representation of a mover's performance. For example, if a single vase is broken in a move from the US to the UK but otherwise everything was intact, the cost quoted was accurate, and the transit time estimated was accurate, I'd suggest that it was a successful move. However, if the customer was particularly attached to the vase he or she might ding the mover with a 1 star rating.
To avoid this scenario GoodMigrations' star ratings are based on objective factors. The review form focuses on three aspects of a move: Cost, Time, and Condition. Namely, did the move cost what was quoted, did the shipment arrive within the transit time estimated, and was it damage free?
More than anything else (and as this post and this post on our blog indicate) we’re committed to keeping the reviews on GoodMigrations legitimate so it doesn't suffer the degradation that occurs from fake reviews on sites like Yelp and Citysearch. These other sites are no longer trustworthy when it comes to finding a mover. Some of the fakes on these sites are so entertaining I actually started a series on the GoodMigrations blog called "Funny Review of the Week."
We audit all reviews before they're published and viewable on the site. We request additional information from the person who submitted the review if anything is suspicious or if the company is on our "watch list" for bad behavior, such as spamming other review sites with fake reviews. A few companies from around the world have submitted fake reviews, been caught, and haven't tried it again.
Providing Social Proof for Good Movers
Beyond helping consumers, GoodMigrations is a platform for good movers to show their worth.
There are certainly rogue movers out there only interested in a quick buck. But most companies are consistently providing great service to their customers and they deserve the social proof that an independent site like GoodMigrations provides.
Part of bringing transparency to the world of international moving means including both good and bad movers, just as Yelp includes 5 star restaurants and 1 star restaurants. From a consumer’s perspective, knowing who to avoid is as important as knowing who is reputable.
And as GoodMigrations grows it will become apparent to consumers which companies belong in each category. The movers who invest in their people, systems, and equipment so they can deliver on their promises will ultimately be able to use GoodMigrations to distinguish themselves from the movers who don’t.
Then everybody wins!
Adam Vagley grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. After graduating from Cornell University, he worked for a medical startup in New York City before jumping ship to a technology consulting firm.
Vagley's been in IT consulting for the past five years and he and his family have lived in Sydney, Australia for two years.
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