Maybe you’ve made it all the way to the end of a survey promising to “find you a mover” only to be bombarded daily with annoying promotional texts. Maybe you’ve heard horror stories about priceless furniture being broken or stolen by seedy moving companies.
The financial and emotional costs of hiring a reliable mover might have you wondering whether you’re better off selling all your worldly possessions and re-furnishing completely. You want movers who are honest, dependable, and hardworking – hopefully even competitive with their pricing. This how-to guide will help you weed out fraudulent movers and entrust your belongings to a reputable organization.
3-Step Moving Checklist
Step 1: Validate the Company’s License and Insurance
If the movers you’re researching don’t have a physical address, stop there.
Any reputable company that operates commercial vehicles will have a DOT (Department of Transportation) number that you can plug into a database. This allows you to check up on the company’s safety rating and more, including any record of crashes. If you’re moving interstate, the mover must give you a copy of the DOT booklet called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.”
For what the database can’t tell you, you should read online reviews. Sites such as Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and CitySearch provide ample feedback on any workforce’s attitude, skill, and pacing. The number and nature of complaints will give you an idea into your mover’s ease of process. The timeliness and accountability of the company’s response to complaints, especially on social media, will also indicate the level of care you can expect for you and your items’ wellbeing. Any service awards or associations are also a bonus.
Step 2: Get a Binding Estimate
Never pay a deposit and never sign a blank contract. Your estimate, fees, and pick-up and delivery dates should all be listed on a contract ahead of time to appropriately attribute liability in any scenario. Only pay on delivery, after you and the mover have accurately calculated hourly rates that are fair to both of you.
Ask the moving company for a written binding estimate or a binding not-to-exceed estimate to avoid surprise fees. Your state will have its own rules about whether an estimate is binding (or allowed).
Be aware that a mover can challenge an estimate on moving day if your items are larger than expected. This is why it’s important to have a thorough walk-through with the mover prior to loading. They should verify any items to be left behind, the distance between your new and old home, and any additional services expected.
You have 9 months to report any damaged or missing items to the moving company and file an insurance claim. So open every box when it’s delivered. The mover then has 30 days to acknowledge your claim. If they don’t deny the claim, they have 120 days to honor one of the following contracts:
Full (Replacement) Value Protection:
- Moving company offers to repair items or pay for the cost of repairs.
- Moving company offers to replace an item with one of similar quality or pay to replace the item. Verify whether this coverage is limited to items over $100.
Alternative Level of Liability:
- This is the cheapest option and one you specifically have to sign for. The moving company will pay to recover no more than 60 cents per pound of an item.
Step 3: Research Hidden Fees
There’s more to moving than safe transportation. Storage, cleaning, and packing can all be provided by the right mover, but be wary of the right cost. If you wrap and protect your items yourself, the mover is not responsible for any damage. If they pack for you, you might pay enormously for boxes and materials.
Any unexpected overtime may contribute to your fees. Tiny streets, long, heavy carries to the door, and stairs or elevators all impact the size of the moving truck, and ultimately the size of the job. Getting measurements for the full scope of the project, not just your doorways, will keep you from incurring higher costs.
There are additional fee factors such as fuel, season, and days of the week that all vary with each mover. Research thoroughly for an informed decision, and ask the mover directly for what you can expect.
Don’t let moving keep you from the excitement of your new home!