You prepared, researched like a BOSS, and have the perfect house lined up at your next duty station. Way to work it! Moving day arrives, and you entrust thousands of pounds of your life to a crew of packers and movers and hope/PRAY for the best!
Now, listen friends — sometimes this goes smoothly and without any major issues. If you get through a PCS with minimal damage and heartache, stop reading this and go buy a lottery ticket! No, really — we’ll wait…
Sometimes, however, it can go really, really badly. Summertime is peak moving season and transportation companies are usually overwhelmed by the demand. We know, it confuses us too why “This is such a busy season” seems to be the go-to excuse. Every. Single. Year. There is a huge margin for error on their end and unfortunately we bear the brunt of those errors and suffer the material losses.
So, what do you do when it all goes wrong? You need to file a claim with the moving company, otherwise known as the Transportation Service Provider (or TSP). They broke/lost/mishandled it, so they are responsible — not your insurance, not the military, or the Department of Defense. You have 75 days to file the Loss and Damage Report, which initiates the process. After that, you have nine months to file your Claim (what you want them to do about it).
It seems like an overwhelming task (it’s a doozy), during a time when you’re already stressed to the max. But if your losses were significant, DO IT. Not only will this help replace/repair your things, but it will help the DoD track how well their contracted companies are performing. So help out your fellow movers by reporting bad movers!
Step One —Where to Go
- Log into the Defense Personal Property System (DPS) using your Electronic Transportation Acquisition (ETA). You should already have this from when you started your move (via move.mil), but if not go ahead and register.
- In the upper left hand side of the screen under “My Approved Applications” click on the “Claims” tab or “Defense Personal Property System (DPS).”
- This site contains thorough tutorials and instructions for filing your claim, so I’ll spare you the exhaustive step-by-step.
Step Two — Complete a Loss/Damage Report
- From the “Claims” tab, select “Start My Loss/Damage Report.”
- Click on the icon to the right of the GBL number (General Bill of Lading) blank box. If you have had more than one PCS you will see all of the GBL numbers here.
- Select “Add/Update Claim Items” click on “Add Claim Item.” Add as much information as possible under each item you’re claiming. Don’t forget to click “Save” after every item entered.
- If you have photos of the damaged items (please have photos), go to “Upload File Attachments” and click on “Add.” Search for your photos select the photos and click “Save” and “Upload File Attachment.” Tip: Snap photos of damaged items as they’re coming off the truck and consolidate them all to a folder on your computer desktop.
- Once you’re done adding all the items, scroll to the bottom and click on “Submit Claim To TSP.”
- That’s it for the report, but don’t stop here!
Step Three — Submit Your Damage Claim
The Loss/Damage Report is only one step. This form basically initiates the claims process and serves as notification to your TSP that you intend to file a claim. The report must be completed with 75 days of delivery of your HHGs. Your TSP will then contact you regarding your actual claim, which you have nine months to file. The itemized damage claim must also be filed through the DPS site, and resembles the process to file the Loss/Damage Report – with a little more detail. Once you’ve catalogued all the damage to your items, you can submit the claim to your TSP through the DPS form (I know, enough already with the acronyms!).
Step Four—Hurry up and Wait
So what can you expect to happen now? The TSP has 30 days to respond to your claim. They can either repair your damaged items, compensate you to have items repaired, or settle with you for the Full Replacement Value (FRV) of the item.
If they do not respond within 30 days of the claim, or respond with an unacceptable offer, you can transfer your claim to the Military Claims Office (MCO). They’ll compensate you for the depreciated FRV, and take over the fight with your TSP. If they do well, they’ll pay you the difference.
Just remember — if you had a mishap or an all out PCS tragedy, there is something you can do about it! It’s tedious, and time consuming, and literally the LAST thing you want to deal with, but there is hope! Get organized, make your voice heard, and hang in there.