Choosing the best moving company can be a tough task. A Google search can present before you countless moving companies, but the question is are you read to hand over your antique go-go boots or your prized piano into stranger’s hands? A 2012 report by the Better Business Bureau stated that they received more than 7,700 complaints about movers in the US. Most of these complaints were related to damaged or lost property; however, the list also comprised of charging for un-worked hours because of late arrival and not sticking to the estimates made before the move. So how do you choose the perfect moving company or more importantly, what to look at when choosing a moving company?
- Get Referrals
Searching for moving companies from a phone book or the internet can be a daunting task. Ask your friends, co-workers and real estate agents if they can recommend a reliable moving company. The other point worth observing is that you want to get an in-person evaluation of the total moving cost. Never depend on an estimate that comes from an individual who has not even looked at your belongings to be moved. The estimates that you get from websites aren’t totally accurate. An important aspect when choosing a moving company is to find the mover on your own and stay away from the rampant scams going on at several sites. Also, do not use the services of household-goods brokerage. This is because they act as a broker and are not regulated by the laws. A wise idea would be to get in touch with a reliable moving company and ask them to make an in-home estimate.
- Perform an initial screening
This is the second important step to be followed while choosing a moving company. After you gather a list of trusted movers, go online and carry out a thorough background check. An easy way is to visit Better Business Bureau. You can also email or call the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) to find out if the recommended movers are members of this organization since this indicates that they are in unison with the published tariffs of AMSA and take part in its arbitration program. Becoming a member of AMSA is voluntary though. Even though if a moving company is not a member of this organization, they can still be trusted as long as they have no red flags in other areas.
Ensure to take a look at the reputed consumer-advocacy site like movingscam.com since they have a list of blacklisted firms with an infamous history of customer grievances besides general information and tips on the moving industry. The other technique is to carry out a search with the name of the company at Rip-off Report.
- Get as Many Details as Possible About the Company
It’s crucial to gather as much information as possible about the company. This is in fact an imperative thing to take into consideration while choosing a moving company. Ensure that the company does not contract the job but does it on its own. Find out how long they have been in the industry. You’d perhaps settle for a company with a rich long history and not a newcomer. By the time you call them for an in-house evaluation, you should have collected the following details:
- The full name of the mover and other names under which they do business.
- The firm’s website, phone number, address and email.
- The contact information and names for the references of the company.
- MC (Motor Carrier) and USDOT (U. S. Department of Transportation) license numbers.
- Get the booklet of USDOT titled “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move). Under the Federal law, interstate movers should provide this guide to you. If they don’t you can have a look at it here. When it comes to moves within the state, companies are regulated by the DOT (Department of Transportation) of the state or the commerce commission. In some states, you’ll find them having their own moving-guide brochures.
- Trade associations audit firms before giving them and approved seal or membership. The moving company that you choose should have the logo “American Moving and Storage Association’s ProMover”. If not, carry out a search for approved movers from the website of American Moving and Storage Association.
- Does the Mover Have any Reviews Online?
Go online to read honest and genuine reviews of the company. Social media sites like TrustLink, Citysearch and Yelp will give you a better idea into other client’s experience with the particular firm. But be extremely cautious and don’t make your choice solely on the basis of these reviews. This is because most victims who have contacted Moving Scam found their mover on the internet. Online reviews are definitely handy but that should be done in the end.
- Follow the Rule of Threes
Never settle for the first estimate given by a company. Instead, request at least three different movers to give you an in-person estimate. The next step is to ask them if they will give you a written, irrevocable estimate or a not-to-exceed binding estimate. Both these estimates will ensure that there is a guaranteed cap for your move costs. Even though the non-binding estimates are considered legal, the US Department of Transportation warns that you should hope for the final costs to be higher than the estimated value. The charge for your binding estimates will be offered free by most movers except interstate moving companies.
For interstate moves, the estimates will be based on the weight of the goods that will be moved along with the move’s distance. If you wish to move within the same state, the rules related to estimates can differ. In some states like California, moving companies give a written and binding evaluation which is signed while in places like Illinois, such a thing is not allowed by the government. Either way, the estimates made by the movers depend mainly on the moving time.
- Show Everything to Your Estimators
Showing everything that has to be moved to your estimators is another important thing to consider while choosing a moving company. If on the day of moving, the foreman thinks that you have considerably more goods that what was initially estimated, it’s possible that he question the original estimate prior to loading on the truck. He cannot pressurize you to pay an increased amount; at the same time he won’t move your goods at the original estimate. At that time, you’ll not have other options to choose from.
It’s also important to inform your estimator of any conditions both at your old and new home that might make the move complicated. These include elevators, stairs, o a huge distance between the curb and the closet door.
- Peruse the Estimate
This is also a strong point while choosing a moving company. Generally, the estimate is a document signed by the representatives of the moving company and you. This signed document and the inventory list, which comprises of the goods to be moved, are the most important documents which should be provided by your mover. Such documents usually have the words “written binding estimate” mentioned at the top along with the signature of the mover and the date present at the bottom. The estimate for an interstate move should clearly elucidate the quantity and type of goods that will be shipped, the distance of the move, the timings of loading and delivery, and any extra services like packing provided by the mover.
If you want to buy insurance from the company, ensure that you understand the expenses and other necessary details related to the coverage. In case of a move within the state, try to get a written estimate on the hourly rates and the additional costs. If you have any doubts with the estimate, you can always ask them. Also, you can request the mover for a revised written estimate if required.
- Does the estimator pose any question to you?
Although mentioned last in the list, this is perhaps a vital factor while choosing a moving company. If the estimator hasn’t asked you a single question and gives you an estimate straightaway, take a step ahead and run as fast as you can.
Moving can be an expensive and stressful affair. However, if you take all the precautionary measures and stick to the points mentioned above, your move will turn out to be a wonderful experience.