How to Choose A Moving Company

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The last thing you need if you’re pulling up stakes is for your mover to hijack your belongings. But it happens. A lot.

Each year, thousands of of people are bilked by movers or have their belongings lost or destroyed due to incompetence. Don’t become one of them.

Ask around
Don’t just pick a company after a quick Internet search. Ask friends and family members for recommendations. A good source of information is your real estate broker; he or she has seen plenty of botched moves. Look for companies that have been in business for a while. Then ask the moving company for references. And follow through.

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Investigate your mover
Is the company a broker? Sometimes one company farms out the work to another. If that’s the case, find out who, exactly will actually more your things and investigate both companies.

Consult the Better Business Bureau, your state consumer agency and the American Moving and Storage Association, the leading industry association, to see if there are any complaints lodged against your mover. Interstate movers are regulated, loosely, by the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration so if you’re moving to another state, make sure your mover is registered with the agency and DOT number.

Consult a Web source like or RateItAll to see if any movers your considering was the subject of a bad review there.

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Get an estimate in writing
Don’t settle for an oral agreement. And make sure the mover comes to your home and does a thorough check. Does the company require an upfront deposit or pre-payment in cash? Not a good sign. You shouldn’t pay the mover until all your household goods have been transferred from one house to another.

Ask about additional fees and get answers in writing. Extra labor, stairs, or parking problems may increase the price. Make sure you know how the company calculated all the costs and ask if you don’t understand how the calculations were made. Almost any variation from the standard moving from point A to point B can be grounds for an extra charge. Some of them perfectly legal. For instance, long distance moves are subject to a linehaul charge which may not be included in your estimate.

If you have furniture that needs to be disassembled, ask the moving company when they provide the estimate if this service is included. Other additional charges may be imposed for preparing appliances for moving. Check to see whether your mover does this and what the cost will be.

The lowest price isn’t necessarily the best choice
Sometimes movers lowball you to get the job ,so get more than one estimate. If you consult three movers and one of them submits a bid thousands of dollars less than the others, that’s a red flag that could mean extra charges later.

Get insurance
Movers are only liable to pay a percentage per pound for damaged or lost goods. It might be a good idea to purchase full replacement coverage. Needless to say, read over any policy carefully to make sure you know what’s covered. If your household things are going to be stored for a while, visit the mover’s warehouse first.

Before the driver leaves
Make sure you have a copy of your contract and an inventory of your belongings. As the to see the driver’s license; get his full name, truck number and cell phone number, too.

Consult “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move,” the booklet put out by the moving industry’s regulator, the FMCSA. Make sure you’ve crossed the Ts and dotted all the Is so that if you need to lodge a complaint, you’re covered. But don’t expect miracles if it comes to that. With only a handful of investigators to cover the whole country, many cases slip through the cracks.

If you do have to lodge a complaint, contact the moving company first to see if you can resolve it with them. Then proceed with FMCSA, the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission and/or your state or local consumer agency.