Have you heard horror stories about moving scams? It should be reassuring to know that there are millions of moves each year in the US, most without a single hitch. So there’s no need to stress out. But with so many moving companies to pick from there are some important steps you should take to choose the right moving company. Here are our tips and suggestions, in 5 basic steps.
Step 1: A Starting List
With so many local moving companies out there, making the right choice can seem like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be when your first step is to quickly narrow down the list.
Just picking one from the local phone book or getting quotes from a few isn’t nearly enough. It’s best to start with a list of movers recommended by friends, relatives, and co-workers. Your real estate agent can also be a great source for reputable moving companies. You can also do an online search for companies in your area, then narrow that list down to those with lots of reviews and a 4- or 5-star rating. But as we’ll see, don’t rely on just those reviews and recommendations.
Step 2: Initial Screening
Next, do a brief background check by searching for each prospect on your local Better Business Bureau’s website (www.bbb.org). Look through the results carefully — there shouldn’t be any red flags. You may also want to check with www.movingscam.com.
Step 3: Diving Deeper
Once you’ve narrowed your list down to 3 or 4 companies it’s time to get an in-home estimate for their moving services. Be sure to ask for the same level of service (they pack versus pack yourself, schedule time-windows, etc.). Show them exactly what you want to be moved including items in the yard, garage, and attic as well as alert them to any special conditions at your new home (such as stairs and elevators, the distance between truck parking and the home, and so forth). That way you should be able to directly compare the several moving quotes.
Carefully review and compare the estimates, highlighting any differences. Ideally, fees for special conditions (such as multi-story buildings and narrow access), supplies, tolls, and so on should be listed as separate “line items.” If you have any questions, call the moving company and ask away.
NOTE: Most local moves have non-binding estimates — the price can change with the actual weight and other factors. A binding estimate is a fixed price that won’t go up. But it won’t go down either, and there’s probably a safety factor for the movers built-in. A not-to-exceed agreement can be a good balance between cost and upside risk.
Things To Look For
- A good company will conduct a thorough inventory of our home before providing a moving quote. That includes a complete walk-through, even having a look inside large cabinets and furniture (with your permission). If they don’t gather enough information to make a reasonably accurate assessment of weight and volume their estimate may well be below what they’ll actually charge.
- Do they offer references from prior customers? If not, ask for a few from the most recent 3 or 4 months. Then actually call the references.
- Do they seem professional and businesslike?
- Have they been in business for several years? Preferably 10 or more years.
- Reputable movers rarely require a large deposit ahead of moving day.
- No physical address, just a post-office box or website, suggests they may not be a stable company.
- A change of business name may be hiding prior complaints and BBB issues.
Step 4: Background Check
Once you’re down to just one or two movers you may want to spend some extra time to confirm key information. In addition to the BBB, you may want to use the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website www.fmcsa.dot.gov. You’ll need the company USDOT (US Department of Transportation) ID number. Key info to verify includes licensing, insurance, and incorporation in your state.
Step 5: Take Your Pick
Now that you know how to choose the right moving company, you can make your decision with confidence. Please contact us with your concerns if we didn’t make it to the top of your list.
\You’ll find more advice at https://www.consumerreports.org/moving/how-to-choose-a-reliable-moving-company/.