Hidden Fees?

fees

Now that Pesach has past we’re in the season of Questions & Answers.  This is when summer shippers ask questions on services, timing, cost and ultimately, hidden fees…

When people ask me if there are “any hidden fees” it makes me laugh — and sigh.   I laugh because of the absurdity of the question, and I sigh because such a thought/concern exists in our niche market.

Why is this question so absurd to us?

First, why would we ruin our good name, which has taken years to establish, for a couple extra dollars?

Second, any gain from hidden fees would quickly destroy our reputation through social media like Facebook.

Third, how could I sleep at night?

Fourth, even if there were hidden fees, why would I fess up to them?  

Fifth, if you’ve seen our proposal, you know it’s very well detailed.  Why?  Because we want you to be knowledgeable and prepared, with no surprises – or hidden fees.

(Speaking of our proposals, we use a cloud-based proposal management software which tracks and reports viewing activity.  We know when somebody reads a lot or when they look only at the pricing.

The activity reports confirmed what we’ve suspected for a long time – most people don’t spend time reviewing the details of their shipment.)

Sixth, it would be an act of heresy and a very mean thing to do.

Are their potential extra charges?

Yes, there are a few unique delivery situations resulting in additional fees, which are all clearly listed & explained in the proposal.

However, if that page never gets viewed, the charges could be misconstrued at “hidden fees” — and that’s too bad because they were never hidden, just never read.

 

Unlocking the Mysteries of Volume

Recognize these iconic chairs? What's the volume? Answer at the bottom.

Recognize these iconic chairs? What’s the volume? Answers at the bottom.

 

Volume is the biggest cost factor in international shipping.  It also happens to be one of the hardest concepts for people to understand.

 

Due to it’s complex nature, we’ve spent considerable effort explaining it in a variety of ways.

Spreadsheet.  Initially, we would sent out an Aliyah Lift Volume Estimator spreadsheet filled with the volumes of common items throughout a home.   Customers could plug in the quantity and get an approximate volume.   (I think we will revamp this and offer it again.   Additionally, I looked at apps on the market and/or developing an app specifically for Aliyah Lift Shipping.  Perhaps we will put that together in the near future.)

Video.  A couple years later we produced two videos ( Volume Video 1 & Volume Video 2) showcasing 10 household items per video and their volume, set to some fun lounge music.  It’s a passive learning experience and a good way to get the basics of how big things in the home are.  (Based on the views it seems these tools are underutilized.  Maybe two minutes is too long to spend….)

Hybrid – Lists, Picture and Dimensions.  Here at our 200 Cubic Feet – Minimum Shipment webpage we approach the concept with different approaches – including the absurd, because maybe that will help somebody too!

Visual.  Just the other day, in our home office. we were discussing creative ways to explain volume and the idea occurred to me – pictures of rooms loaded with furniture and the volume of each item clearly labeled.  It seemed so obvious but yet, I had not seen it before!

Home Survey.  Ultimately, a home survey with our highly-skilled surveyors is the best way to get an approximate total volume.  Since we value our agents time, we prefer to set up surveys once we have a good feeling we will be handling the move.

 

So, without further delay, we present our latest webpage > VOLUME CENTRAL

(The volumes are approximate and may not reflect what’s in your home but it should help.)

 

And now for the answers….

Bunkers

Archie & Edith’s chairs were once on display at the Smithsonian museum.

Archie’s chair is about 25 cubic feet, Edith’s chair is about 15 cubic feet and the table between them is about 5 cubic feet.

 

 

 

In Defense of Working from Home

Work & Living

Working at the store & relaxing at the office

I was recently told by a customer that another shipping company spoke very disparaging of Aliyah Lift Shipping at a recent NBN event in the US.  They tried to instill fear in him with phrases like “one-man show” and “working from his basement”.

We think that’s the lowest form of business conduct and would like take this time to 1) point out the advantages of working from home and 2) why Aliyah Lift Shipping is a logical choice because of them and 3) dispel the faux importance of industry affiliations.

 

Home Office

The Work Day that Never Ends.   It’s true, work can start first thing in the morning answers questions on WhatsApp with customers in California and it can finish at 1:00 in the morning after sending out the last of the proposals, and you know what?  It’s great!

We might work all day long, but it’s off-and-on throughout the day, and that’s great for corporate moral.

World Headquarters.  Our high-production world headquarters is snuggly located in the quiet city of Maalot.  There’s plenty of work-space, the environment (my family) is great, the view is great, plus we get occasional visit from cats and jackals.

Honestly, I cannot imagine a more idyllic environment to work in.

Smaller Workload – Better Service.  Although we started 8 years, we seem to be the youngest shipping company focusing on olim and, subsequently, the smallest – and that’s completely fine.  Others in the industry have quotas, filled email boxes and may resort to scare tactics to meet their goals.

I am relieved to say that we do none of these things, except work long hours in the summer and fall.   Our smaller workload allows us to focus on your needs with clarity and cheerfulness.

 

The Logical Choice

The International Shipping Process.   International shipping only exists through the use of agents.  If a shipping company has an office/crew in one country, like the USA, then they’ll use agents in all the other countries for their deliveries.  It’s nearly impossible to operate otherwise.

Maximum Flexibility.   Since we don’t have an office/crew in the US or in Israel, Aliyah Lift Shipping is essentially a broker of services.  We have developed a great network of agents for packing/shipping and for deliveries.

We have the knowledge, experience and agents to provide you with an outstanding experience and the security that you deserve.

 

Industry Affiliates & Organizations

FIDI and More.  Some companies may boast about their industry affiliations (those organizations at the bottom of a website or email) and have even pointed out that Aliyah Lift Shipping has none…

Once I took the time to look into these organizations to see if there was any real value behind them.   I found they are little more then complete the form, pay your money and BAM – you are a member!

If affiliations are important to you, you can rest assured that nearly every company we work have these affiliations.

 

If you have ever worked from your home, then you already know the benefits and can understand my words.  If you would like to discuss your shipping plans, please call or email us at AliyahLift@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

Moving to Israel 1 : Avoiding Potential Delivery Charges

house

One of the last things people think about when finding a home in Israel is the effect it will have on their delivery.

Coincidentally, some of the most ignored information in a proposal are the potential delivery charges….

Scary, huh?

Here’s some ideas to consider when looking for your first home in Israel:

Extra Stairs.  Our services provide delivery to the second floor (about 32 steps) without an elevator.

Potential Scenarios :  Many cities are situated on hills, thus many homes may have many steps to the door, or apartment buildings may not have an elevator and/or if they do, not everything will fit and some items need to be hand carried up the stairs.

Long Haul/Carry Delivery.  Our services includes delivery up to 20 meters from the truck to the door.

Potential Scenarios :  Again, some hillside home have parking at the top or bottom of the hill and the distance to the door is greater then 20 meters.  Other homes are simply a long way from the parking lot, or places like Tzfat or the Old City in Jerusalem may not have close, normal parking available.  All of these situations might be ideal for living in, however the delivery will cost more.

Difficult Access.  Our delivery includes delivery through normal means and not through convoluted, Plan B methods.

Potential Scenarios :  This is one of those situations where you know it when you see it or after Plan A has failed.  Wide or bulky furniture may not make it up a narrow staircase or with tight turns in narrow hallways.

[I recall a local (Ma’alot) delivery where the construction of the entrance to the home was such that a couch could not be delivered in the normal way.  In the end, it was suspended by ropes from the upper level and delivered through a window.  (Needless to say the crew would have rather taken it through the front door if they could have.)]

Shuttle Service.  Mostly applicable to container shipments where close/ample parking is not available/legal.

Potential Scenarios :  Homes with their only access is from a busy street or where parking is continually filled up and the truck/container has to be parked further away.   Again, places like Tzfat or the Old City, where roads cannot accommodate a container.

External Lifting Equipment.  When normal delivery is simply not possible.

Potential Scenarios :  This is a very rare situation when goods, like a piano, cannot fit in the elevator and the delivery is in a tall building making hand carrying unrealistic.  Effort is always used to avoid using an “outside elevator”.

Final thoughts…

Please keep these potential charges in mind when moving to Israel and looking for your first home.  And, if you do find “just the right place” and some of these charges might apply, then you’ll be prepared for the added expanse and life will be better.

Also, the delivery crews would much rather have a simple, straight-forward delivery — it saves them time and energy and probably increases their chances of a higher tip.

 

Don’t Put Your Dreams in the Hands of Others

SAM_01611

Imagine the following scenes throughout Shmueli’s life in the thriving religious community of Goshen, Indiana, and how he never fulfilled his dream to make aliyah and live in the Holy Land.

Scene 1 : Childhood Dreams

Little Shmeuli is 7 years old and just finished examining a big picture book of Israel and it’s holy sites.

Shmueli: Mommy, I want to move to Israel. It looks really fun there! Can we move mommy?

Mommy: No, sorry sweetie. Abba has a good job here in Goshen, and anyway the Israeli kids are really too rough. You might get hurt. Maybe someday, but not now.

Scene 2 : The Teenage Zionist

Years later, Shmueli is now 16 and just finished viewing the Goshen Yeshiva senior class trip pictures of Israel on Facebook.

Shmueli: Abba, looking at all those picture of Israel really makes we want to go there. The Cohens made aliyah, why don’t we?

Abba: It’s not a good idea to disrupt your yeshiva learning, Shmueli. Learning in Israel is a lot different and it might be hard on you. And anyway, Mashiach will come some day soon and we will all go there!

Scene 3 : Passion Rekindled

Shmueli is now 21 and in his third year of Goshen Yeshiva Beit Medrash. After learning the halachot of Sheviit he feels the desire to move to Israel and consults with his Rebbi.

Shmueli: Learning the halachot of sheviit has stirred up my feelings to make aliyah, and get land of my own so I can fulfill those mitzvot. What do you think?

Rebbi: Now is not a good time. You’re still young, and anyway, your father has got college plans for you starting next year, right? You have your whole life to make aliyah – don’t get all worked up about it now. Think of your future.

Scene 4 : The Good Parent

Shmueli is now 28 years old, married with four kids and a degree in programming. After the Shabbat drasha about the meraglim, Shmueli approaches Rabbi Greenberg with a nagging question.

Shmueli: Rabbi, I have been thinking about making aliyah lately. The kids are still young, my wife is interested and I can support the family as a programmer. I think it would work out fine! What do you think?

Rabbi Greenberg: Bad idea. The government is filled with wicked people, Israeli children will be hard on your kids, your standard of living won’t be nearly the same. Stay here. You have a nice home, cars, a night seder – what more could you ask for? Wait a few more years – until your kids are older.

Scene 5 : Planning for the Future

At age 35 Shmueli has a couple more kids and has advanced in his programming. His oldest is 14 years old and is doing well in school. After looking at another Nefesh B’Nefesh charter flight arrival on Arutz Sheva he calls the Rosh Yeshiva of Goshen Yeshiva to speak about making aliyah.

Shmueli: …we would like to make aliyah. We can support ourselves financially, my kids are doing well in school. I would like to pursue the idea further. What does the Rosh Yeshiva think?

Rosh Yeshiva: Shmueli, I have know you a long time and have seen you grow to be quite a talmid chacham and a baal hesid. But, you have to know that your son my not “find himself” in Israel. You may find him doing “other things” – things that you don’t want to think about. You have to think about your kids, and what is best for them. Goshen is good for you and you are good for Goshen. You have plenty of time to make aliyah.

Scene 6 : Not too Late

Ten years later, two kids are married and his other children are in school, some are doing poorly and some are doing well. After finding that an old friend on Facebook has moved to Israel, Shmueli turns to Yaakov, his chavruta of 13 years for his opinion.

Shmueli: I just got an email from an old friend who made aliyah. He says ‘It’s the best thing he has done and his family loves it there.’ !

Yaakov: Man, I would put that on the back burner if I were you. A lot of kids go off the derech. It’s a big problem. Maybe you should move when all your kids are grown and on their own.

Scene 7 : The Golden Years

At age 61 Shmeuli is making plans for retirement with his friend and accountant, Hillel Ash.

Shmueli: I think the time has come for me to retire and make aliyah, you are my accountant – what do you think?

Hillel: You have a lot of people relying upon your support, both financial and personal. You’ve got grandchildren who love to come visit you. How can you leave all this behind? Work for another eight to ten years and then go. Stick around, your needed here in Goshen!

Scene 8 : The End

Shmueli dies at age 79 leaving behind his wife, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. After the hespedim, Shmueli’s body and his closest family members board the next El Al flight to Israel for his burial place on Har HaZiytim. As the plane taxis to the runway Shmueli’s wife converses with their oldest son.

Wife: You know, your father always wanted to live in Israel….

cemetary

 

Post Script

This little story was originally published in a blog I wrote when we first arrived in Israel and it seemed to have touched many lives.

One day I received a call from a man who read the story, shared it with his wife and in the end made aliyah.  He thanked me with profuse tears in his voice.  Seems Shmeuli’s story was his story – but with a better ending.  He and his wife made aliyah.

PBO – Packed By Owner

boxes of booksThere is  a lot of discussion about self-packed boxes & shipments.  Are they red flags for an inspection?  Are they covered by insurance?

So, without further ado, here’s the scoop on PBO boxes…

Verifiable.  First, if you chose to pack your own boxes, don’t tape them shut – the contents need to be verified for the inventory.

Responsibility & Coverage.  Also, the inventory will list the box/item as PBO because 1) it is, 2) it may effect insurance coverage and 3) if there would be a security problem then the owner would be responsible and not the packing crew or agent.

Insurance.  The insurance company may cover PBO boxes of non-fragile goods, like clothes, linens or books, since there is very little chance they will get broken.  Obviously, PBO boxes of china, glass, and the like are not covered in an All Risk policy.

Inspection.  In our 8 years for shipping we’ve had 3 container inspections at the Haifa port (none at Ashdod) and I believe they were all self-packed and self-loaded containers.  Two were more of a random selections and the third, well, that made the headlines due to reasonable suspicion.   (We know the details of this shipment very well and it was one big ugly misunderstanding/mistake.)

If you have any questions about PBO boxe, please send us an email at AliyahLift@gmail.com

 

Mobile, Sitemap, Zopim and Search

zopim

I love to improve things.  Mostly, I love to improve systems.  I guess that’s one good reason why Aliyah Lift Shipping is here – I wanted to improve the shipping system.  Well, that and because I love to help people.

This post is a little self-indulgent as it’s about what we’ve done over the years to make AliyahLift.com a great source of shipping information, giving our customers confidence and security – and that’s OK, right?

Since we started in 2008 our website has gone through two major reworkings and a fine-tuning just about every year during the slow season.  

Why all the work?  

Because we want to provide clear information in an ascetically pleasing format.   In fact, I think we have done more to provide the best in website information then other in our market.

Here’s a list of our internet improvements:

Zopim.  Our first technological jump that we did before anybody else was Zopim – that little orange, “click to chat” balloon in the lower right corner.

Mobile.  A couple years ago we made a mobile website.  It wasn’t fancy but I heard it was important as mobile internet was gaining in popularity, plus search engines like them (or so I have been told).

WordPress.  About two years ago we switched to a WordPress platform website and, although it was hard work to start with, we think the change was positive and are loving the client functionality.

Cloud-Based Operations Software.  Although not website-based, we shifted more of our operations to the cloud.  We have cloud based accounting software which allows clients to pay with credit card directly, plus it looks great on a tablet or phone.  Also, we use Tinderbox for our online proposal software, allowing us to provide more great information to our customers, clearly and professionally.

Blog.  There is a lot of great information I want to share but cannot find a way to put it in the website, so our blog is the solution.

WP Plugins.  Taking the advice of my good friend in the SEO industry, we installed a “Request a Quote” hovering tab on the right side of the screen.  Plus, we are always looking at other intuitive plugins to make your time on our website all the more productive and enjoyable.

Sitemap.  The latest in our website advancements is for the vision impaired, and that’s a Sitemap webpage.  I recently learned the blind/vision impaired rely upon the Sitemap page for website navigation.  It’s not likely we’ll have many vision impaired people on our website, but at least if they come, it will be easy for them to learn about shipping.

If you have any suggestions on how to better improve our website or our operations, please let us know.

Here’s something really fun – the progressions of AliyahLift.com over the years.

From oldest to newest : January 2009 (http://bit.ly/254OO6H), January 2012 (http://bit.ly/1pMdL6K), August 2014 (http://bit.ly/22n5LH8).

You can look at other websites in recent history at the Wayback Machine website > http://archive.org/web/

manyboxes4

Our beloved boxes from our previous website.

Pie Chart for Pi Day

Since it’s Pi Day (March 14th — 3.14, get it?) it only seems appropriate to post a shipping pie chart, right?

This pie chart is for a 20′ container with a residential live load in a local NY neighborhood.  (A “live load” is when the driver waits in the truck while the container is being loaded.)

Even though I have been in the business for years now it never seems to amaze me how much of the pie is for trucking.

Why is trucking so expensive?  

Well, it’s not always and it depends on the area.  For example, recently we did a live load in Dallas and it was cheaper then this proposed live load in NY.  Remember, Dallas is HOURS away from the port in Houston…

Here’s how the trucking rates add up — base rate x fuel surcharge + residential charge* ($100-$175) + chassis split ($75-$100) + chassis rental ($30 per day) + 2 additional hours of driver detention ($60-$80 per hour) + any other toll roads or potential port congestion charges.

PieChart

 

* Trucking companies have increasingly eliminated residential work since the risks can out weight the profits.   In some cities there’s only one or two trucking companies to work with.

Finding Gratitude in Shipping

CaptureThere is a general rule — if you want to hide something special or important, put it in a place where nobody will look.  This is the relationship between gratitude and shipping!

People dread going through their homes deciding what to take, and, what not to take.  For an older family it can take weeks and even months to get ready for their packing day.

Why not take this time and utilize it to its fullest?

When going through your home and figuring out what to ship, take note of an item and think about how you got it & how it’s helped you.  Once you’ve come to a higher-level of realization and appreciation for the item, thank G-d with words because — He gave it to you.

If Perkei Avot tells us that a “wise person” is somebody who is “happy with what he has“, then you will be a super-genius at the end of your aliyah preparations!

Security with Sanity

SurveyThe general consensus with our customers is that doing the insurance is the worst thing about shipping.  Think about it — you have to record, as accurately as possible, everything in your home, and assign replacement values!

We at Aliyah Lift Shipping suggest the following approach to get maximum security while maintaining your sanity.  We call it the “Large-Medium-Small Attack Plan“.

  1. Large.  Start with large items like furniture/appliances and high valued items in each room.  On your application, record the quantity of each item and the value per item.  Do this room-by-room, but remember, focus on large and valuable first.
  2. Medium.  Once you have all the large and high-value items accounted for, start on smaller, lower-valued goods – like lamps, rugs, folding chairs, etc.   Again, going room-by-room, record the quantity of each item and the value per item.
  3. Small.  Next, going room-by-room, work on the smaller and more voluminous items in your home — books, clothes, lines, dishes, etc.   This is definitely the most tedious part, so you might want to spread it out over a few days.

IMPORTANT : If you have similar items but with very different values like paperbacks & hardcover or Lennox & melamine or crystal wine goblets & simple glass cups — insure these separately because the values are different.

The general rule is – the more detailed and exact your inventory, the better your coverage is.