The Depth of a Simple Question

man-talking-on-tin-can-phone

The Simple Question

There are questions in shipping that have more depth then what could ever be expected.  One such questions is, “Are there any other fees?”

If you’ve seen our proposal then you know it’s very well detailed — to the extent that we even include “tips” in the “Optional Charges” section.  (We believe it’s important to help the customer budget properly for the evolution.)

When this ‘other fees’ question is asked it indicates to me any/all of the following;

  • They are comparing quotes from different companies and want assurance that our pricing is, indeed, complete.
  • They didn’t read their proposal.  (Our online proposal tracking system allows us to see 1) what content was viewed, 2) for how long, 3) how many times and 4) the last time it was viewed.  These results have proven to me what I suspected for a long time — most people spend very little time reviewing the details of their move.
  • For the trust-based person, it’s a trust-based question.
  • They are getting their finances in order.
Email vs. Phone Call

If the question is asked in an email, it gives me time to respond accordingly – plus it’s documented.   However, if the question is asked over the phone, along with a volley of other questions, then it’s possible the answer might not be complete — and it’s not documented.

Any information withheld is not because of guile or deceit, it’s because my answer is based on the question and the context it was asked in.  Or, it was a simple omission — and that’s exactly what contracts are for.

The Answers

Now that you know the multiple nuances of the question, here’s the answers:

  • If the volume exceeds the quoted volume.
  • If a second pick up is requested.
  • If custom crated is required.
  • If a piano or other excessively heavy item is being shipped.
  • If storage is needed beyond what’s allotted at either the origin or destination.
  • If insurance is requested.
  • If tips are given.
  • If additional insurance is needed to cover the additional storage.
  • If port fees are not included.
  • If customs duties are not included.
  • If customs inspects the shipment.
  • If payment is made by credit card, wire transfer, cashiers check/money order, or if payment is sent UPS or FedEx….all these forms of payment involve fees.
  • If the delivery truck or container cannot be parked within X amount of meters from the door.
  • If the delivery is above the second floor without an elevator.
  • If the piano or excessively heavy item is being delivered above the first floor.
  • If a shuttle truck is needed for a container delivery.
  • If there is a second delivery.
  • If complete unpacking is requested.
  • If one needs to sort through their goods at the warehouse.
The Conclusion

Now you see what goes on through my head when I’m asked, “Are they any additional fees?”

It’s not a simple question when you want to give an honest answer.

 

Gross Volume 101

The industry standard in partial shipment billing  is based on the gross volume – the outside measurements (length x width x height) of a pallet or crate.

The gross volume is always more then the sum of it’s parts because 1) the pallet that the items are stacked on takes up space and 2) most often the stacked boxes do not form a complete cube.

Consider the two LEGO shipments below.

Imagine the pallet on the left is 48″ x 40″ and the boxes are stacked 48″ high – that would make the gross volume to be about 54 cubic feet or 1.54 cubic meters.

If you add just ONE book box (which is only 1.5 cubic feet) to the top of the stack, then the whole gross volume increases to 66 cubic feet or 1.88 cubic meters.

The amount of “wasted space” from the pallet and the unused space at the top amounts to 27% — that’s a considerable amount of space to be paying for but not actually using.   (The pallet itself is only 6 inches tall but it’s about 7 cubic feet.)

From surveying websites, it seems the accepted “wasted space” with regular household goods is 10% to 20% of the packed volume.   That means a stacked/palletized 300 cubic foot shipment would have a gross volume of 330 to 360 cubic feet.

 

A Great Example.

Often young people want to ship their bed and a dozen boxes.  When calculating the volume of each item it might come out to 100 cubic feet, but from the way it gets stacked on the pallet the gross volume could be much, much more.

Why?

Because the bed is long and the gross volume is based on the outside measurements.

 

If you have any questions, please contact us at AliyahLift@gmail.com.

Getting Married & Making Aliyah

marriedaliyah

Mazal Tov! Mazal Tov!

Over the years we’ve helped newly-married couples with generous discounts, but this year we’ve done much, much more — shipping at cost.

Why?

Young folks getting married and making aliyah have hearts filled with goals, ideals and dreams, and they need all the help they can get.

We, at Aliyah Lift Shipping, are doing what we can by offering our awesome shipping services at our cost.

It’s our wedding present to them.

So far, here’s the first couple we’ve had the honor to work with — the young and energetic Wind family — and here’s what they had to say.

We were really overwhelmed by the task of sending a lift, but as soon as we got in touch with Aliyah Lift, everything was surprisingly easy. Yitzhak was extremely responsive, helpful, and honest through every step of the process.  Both the packers and the delivery guys were exceptional, and well worth the price.  Yitzhak even gave us a generous discount because we’re newlyweds!

If you need to send a lift for your aliyah, there’s no question in my mind who to use.

 

So, If you know of couples up to age 28 years and getting married within 8 months of their aliyah date, send them our way!

Let us help them live the dream.

living

Shuttle Delivery

Here is a photo-story of a 40′ container delivery to a wonderful family in their first lovely home in Israel, but due to the location of the home, we needed to use a shuttle to complete the delivery.

 

zdriveway

The home is pleasantly situated midway down a picturesque steep & narrow hill.

 

zTry

The driver attempted 3 or 4 times to back up from the bottom, but was unable to.   (Coming from the top seemed like a better option but the chassis would have bottomed out on the sidewalk.)

 

zparked

Plan B was to park in a close and open location.

 

zshuttle

And unload from the container into the trailer.

 

zfinished

And make multiple deliveries to the home with the trailer.

 

Soon all the paper and boxes will be gone and the aliyah dream will commence!

 

 

Container Loading = Playing Tetris

tetris

If you haven’t heard of it before, Tetris is an old video game where buttons are used to guide falling tetrominoes (colored block packages) so they stack together and the spaces are completely filled in.

We’ve been told many times this is how our customer’s containers were loaded – like the Tetris game.

Our crews are Tetris masters

How did they get so good?  Simple, our crews have years of experience packing & loading containers.  They really know how to load ’em snug and with minimal wasted space.

Tetris-style loaded containers keep goods from shifting about during transit – reducing potential damages, and with maximized space, more can be included.

Other factors our crews keep in mind is weight distribution throughout the container and the nature of what’s being loaded – keeping fragile goods safe!

 

Self-Pack & Self-Loaded Containers.

Often families on a budget will opt for self-packing and self-loading their own container.   If this is on your agenda, the we suggest the following tips:

  • Solid boxes should be used for packing.
  • Small boxes are for books & heavy items and larger boxes for lighter items.
  • Double-walled “dishpack boxes” should be used for dishes and all fragile items.
  • Put FRAGILE stickers on goods needing special handling.
  • Do not skimp on the packing/wrapping materials.
  • Use linens or clothes whenever possible for additional padding.
  • Arrange your boxes and furniture in the order that they will be loaded.
  • Load first non-fragile, large items — furniture, boxes of books, etc.
  • Sofas and mattress should be loaded on-end.
  • Load last, but securely, rugs, fragile items or other items of special interest – like a child’s box of favorite toys.  (Rugs can quickly be laid down before furniture is unloaded and fragile boxes can be put in a safe place right after being unloaded.)

 

Whether you chose a self-pack or full-service shipment, we here to help you every step of the way.

 

 

 

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.