With the millions of moves that take place every year in the U.S., it’s a minor miracle the majority of them go smoothly. During a move, there are many decisions to make and countless logistics to manage so it’s easy to feel confused and overwhelmed. How then, can you take some of the stress out of one of your biggest decisions – choosing the right moving company? By following these tips you’ll be able to select the right team to execute your move.
Research Quality Moving Companies and Ask Around
A reputable moving company will have an updated and accurate website with numerous stellar reviews, ratings and a list of awards they’ve received. Get recommendations from friends and colleagues who have recently gone through the moving process themselves. Your real estate agent or moving concierge may provide valuable insights into the moving industry based upon their years of good and bad experiences. You may also obtain a list of reliable movers from associations such as the American Moving and Storage Association and state associations of movers.
Consider reviewing a booklet from the Federal government entitled Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move. It contains information about moving across state lines what you can do if your goods are lost or damaged during the move.
Remember Your Moving Priorities
If you hire a mover based solely on the lowest price, you may be sacrificing things that are actually more important, like getting your possessions moved safely and delivered on time. And remember, movers are required by law to deliver your goods for no more than 10% above the price of a non-binding estimate. This is known as the 110 percent rule.
Avoid Moving Companies
with a Name Switch
Some companies avoid being assessed by the Better Business Bureau by doing business under a variety of names. Be sure the company has a local address and information about licensing and insurance. Their employees should answer the phone with the full name of the business. Find out if there are any other names the company “does business as,” as well as their state and federal license numbers. Search online to see if there are complaints about the company.
To find out more about the company’s history, call the consumer complaints hotline at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 888-368-7238.
Verify Your Mover’s License
To avoid moving scams and rogue movers, make sure to ask whether the moving company is properly licensed. All professional interstate moving companies should have a license number issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation. You can check their license number and complaint history here. On the other hand, local moving companies who only relocate customers within the same state are regulated by the state – not the U.S. Department of Transportation. Therefore, local movers should hold a state license. It’s important to note each state has their own set of moving regulations and license requirements.
Is Your Moving Company Experienced with Your Specific Type of Move?
Be sure to ask the moving company whether or not they have ample experience handling your specific type of move. For instance, if you’re moving to a high-rise apartment building, a townhome with multiple stories (and steps) you should inquire whether the moving company has experience with this. Movers should be well-prepared to handle anything coming their way – i.e. parking restrictions, steep stairs, no elevators and small doorways.
Ask for References
Ask any mover you are considering to give you references. Tell them you want at least three customers from your area who they have moved in the past three months and then contact those customers to ask direct questions about their experiences.
Get an In-Home Written Estimate From Several Moving Companies
The estimate should be based on an actual in-person inspection of your household goods. This is a chance for the company’s representatives to get an accurate assessment of all the items you want to move along with any accommodations that might need to be made. They should also check out elevators, stairs or narrow doorways and be calculating them into your quote. An estimator who performs a quick walk-through without noting what you plan to move is going to be off the mark. Be prepared to tell the estimator which items you don’t want on the truck—the items you plan to give away, donate to a charity, sell at an estate sale, or leave behind for the new owners. A reputable moving company will take inventory of all your belongings and determine the bulk of your move. The estimator should be thorough and check all of your storage places such as cupboards, drawers, garages and bookcases. A large component of the mover’s price is based on the volume and weight of your stuff and the space your goods take up in the truck. Be sure you understand this estimate and that it is as accurate as possible.
After you’ve had your in-home estimate, the company should submit a written quote. It should contain any particulars you’ve discussed including what materials will be provided and what will be packed by the movers and what will be packed by you. Get absolutely everything in writing and never sign a blank contract. The mover’s estimate and any extra fees should be listed, as well as your pick-up and delivery dates. Read your contract and make sure it covers everything pertinent to your move.
Are There Additional Moving Fees?
Do you live in a two-story house or are you moving into one? Moving to or from an apartment building without an elevator? If so, you’ll likely be charged extra for the movers’ having to navigate stairs. Have a narrow street that won’t fit a moving van? Expect a surcharge for the transfer of your belongings to a smaller truck for delivery. Make sure to ask your mover about any additional fees that may apply to your situation.
Many moves require the removal of items such as chandeliers, sconces and wall mounted televisions. Some moving companies provide this service, but many companies will turn to the homeowner to hire the electrician or handyman. It’s important to understand whether or not the moving company will handle this. Inquire if they have recommendations for these services or if you will have to bring in your own assistance.
As relocation specialists we are regularly asked to help our clients to select a professional mover. The above steps and strategies are what we employ as we help people move into new homes. To ensure your move goes according to plan it’s important to be informed about every step in the process. Most cities have hundreds of moving companies from which to choose but if you consider these recommendations you’ll have success selecting a quality mover who best suits your needs.