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Friday, October 16, 2015

TGBKA, Day 27: Weight Allowances

Weight Allowances

Man, when it rains it really does pour! The Unaccompanied Baggage pack out was on Day 26, and if you'll remember from this post I have been very nervous about the weight allowances and how to estimate how much my stuff weighs. According to our PPO Counselor, I was to have not more than 350 pounds of stuff for myself and 175 for each of the kids for the UB shipment. And you'll also remember from the same post that our PPO Counselor and I had a disagreement on how much of our HHG allowance that I could ship. She said 25%, I read the regulations and saw 50%. She highlighted 50% and handed it to me, still saying that I could only ship 25%. It has been a big mess, people!

On Day 27, Sweet Baboo got an email telling us that our UB shipment weighed 715 pounds. The emails said, "DPS has detected the possibility you may have exceeded your authorized JTR weight allowance of 600. Please contact your destination Transportation Office and request a reweigh of your shipment prior to delivery and/or for additional assistance."

Packing all of our UB goods into the truck!
Did you read that math? The email said that I went over our 600 pound allowance, but according to the math the PPO Counselor gave me I should have had a 700 pound allowance. Sure... either way I went over. But when you're paying per pound for your stuff to get flown to Korea, 100 pounds is a big deal. I'd rather pay for 15 pounds over rather than 115.

Once the goods are in the crate, there's no unpacking it to make it lighter!
The crate gets sealed, and there is no going back.
That afternoon I called my PPO Counselor. Her voicemail was as helpful as she was in person. I intended to write a separate blog post about my experience in the Personal Property Office, but was busy running around trying to get accurate information. So I'll BLUF you: She. Was. Awful. She spent the entire time giving me no information, getting frustrated with my questions, and telling me that I shouldn't call her if I have any other questions. (She gave me three handouts with phone numbers for Jacksonville, Florida should I have any questions or problems.) When I insisted that I read the packs of papers that she handed over to me to sign, she was visibly irritated. I'll admit, I scanned a few of them and signed them because I was starting to let her behavior affect my confidence in my understanding on what should be happening.

To sum up her desire to help families get the information they need to ship their household goods to a new duty station, her voicemail says it all: "Hi, this is ______________. I'm unavailable at this time. If you need assistance you may call _______________ at ______________. Again, that's _______________. Have a blessed day." Does she encourage the caller to leave a message so she can get back with them? Nope. She passes the caller off to another person... by asking that person to call somebody else. She couldn't be bothered to be helpful when I was in her office... and that attitude is extended in her voicemail. But man, I'm glad she gave that name and number. Because the man I called next was over the top helpful!

When Helpful PPO Counselor called me the today, he stopped what he was doing to look up our situation in the computer. According to him, here is how the math should work out:

Sweet Baboo was given 600 pounds to ship his HHG back when the tour was supposed to be just him. When his orders were amended to authorize the girls and me to join him, we were authorized an additional 350 pounds for my UB shipment, 175 pounds for the Elder, and 175 for the Wee. That would allow for 700 pounds for the girls and me, on top of the 600 pounds that Sweet Baboo was authorized to pack (1,300 pounds total). His shipment ended up only being 250 pounds (he forgot a few things). I asked Helpful PPO Counselor if the remaining 350 pounds that he didn't use were use-lose, or if we could use some of that in the shipment that we're over on. He said that since our orders are amendments to his, and we had to do the shipments in two separate shipments, the weight allowances were not use-lose. So technically, I had up to 1,050 pounds to use on our UB shipment... not 700, not 600. He said that I should not be "over" on our weight allowance (since his shipment plus ours equals 965 pounds), and I shouldn't receive a statement of charges.

But that doesn't change my overall HHG weight allowance. Yes, we are authorized 13,500 pounds total (UB + HHG + NTS), but we can only take 50% of that 13,500 to Korea (UB + HHG). The other 50% has to either go to the trash, donation hole, sold, or NTS. What a relief! He looked it up, verified it for me, and when I told him that my original PPO Counselor quoted me 25% he said that she was wrong. (Sweet Baboo took time out of his duty day to head over to his PPO in Korea to ask why our PPO Counselor here would say 25% and they were at a loss as well). So after Sweet Baboo's 250 pound shipment in July, and our 715 pound UB shipment this week, we still have 5,785 pounds of HHG that we can ship to Korea. I think if I ship that much stuff, Sweet Baboo may have a few words to share with me about my definition of "packing light"... but it's nice to confidently know what my allowances are! Now we wait to see what the HHG shipment will weigh... and if we get a statement of charges.

During all of this, I was doing my best to research the regulations. But when my original PPO Counselor handed me the highlighted regulation (that told me I was authorized 50% of our total weight allowance), she also told me that she wasn't confident that she was handing me the most updated regulation (and informed me that it wasn't her job to keep me abreast of the most updated regulation). This caused me to ask what her purpose in the office was, but that didn't go over very well. My research did turn up this document dated October, 2014. It has so much information in it that I wish I had during the last four PCSs!

It lists weight allowances by rank:
Because this was so hard for my original PPO Counselor to get to me at first!
It discusses pro-gear:

Because my original PPO Counselor didn't tell me the weight limit for PBP&E.
It discusses pro-gear for the spouse:

This will make a huge difference in our weight allowance... all of my studio equipment needs to be stored.
It even discusses how to prepare for your appointment with the PPO Counselor:

As a person who reads regulations so I can be fully informed, this document is 31 pages of pure gold. The information it contains would have been supremely helpful had I had it before my PPO appointment, or even if the PPO Counselor gave it to me at the appointment. I have phone calls to make next week, now... but I'm glad I know this info now rather than later! I'm just hoping the information it contains isn't outdated now that we're in the new fiscal year.

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