Don't Just pick a mover, ReviewAMover!
The movers have packed up the last of your furniture - that old rocker that's been in the family for several generations, left in your capable hands - they've closed the freight doors and are about to leave with everything you own, when your stomach churns and for a fleeting moment you wonder if you'll ever see that family heirloom again. I've had some great experiences with moving companies and one that still leaves me shaking. It only takes one incident, which in my case involved the police, a lawyer and a very aggressive television crew, to make you realize how important it is to do all you can to ensure your belongings are in the best possible hands. So, how do you choose a reliable moving company?
Most companies have websites that list their services, service history, destinations they will move to, and roughly how much it will cost. This is a great place to get background information and to start compiling a list of potential companies. Also, most companies will list contact information, including e-mail addresses, allowing you to ask questions and be provided with a written response.
Also ask around. Most people you know have moved once or twice in their life, so ask friends, family and colleagues if they can recommend a company, or if there's a company they don't recommend. Both lists are invaluable when choosing a mover.
If you don't have anyone to ask, the best place to start your research is on ReviewAMover.com This is a website dedicated to revealing moving scams before they happen to you. Check out their articles, and in particular, their message board where individuals will post on moving company problems and warnings. Great resource and a great place to post your questions and to find answers.
Contact the Better Business Bureau . Find out if any of the companies on your list have generated any reports. Information you can get will usually contain any grievances filed and if the grievances were resolved successfully. It's rare that a company does not have any unhappy customers; the key is to ensure that if there were complaints, that in the end, the customer was satisfied with the result. Read the report carefully, and if you're thinking of using a company who had a grievance filed, ask them specifically about this case and how it was resolved. Depending on the severity of the complaint, you may choose not to pursue this company.
Go to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website and find out if your potential mover has a Department of Transportation (DOT) number. This number ensures that the company is registered with the Department of Transportation.
According to FMCSA, there are signs that the company is a rogue mover. They offer the following tips:
- The mover doesn't offer or agree to an on-site inspection of your household goods and gives an estimate over the phone or Internet-sight-unseen. These estimates often sound too good-to-be-true. They usually are.
- The moving company demands cash or a large deposit before the move.
- The mover doesn't provide you with a copy of Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move , a booklet movers are required by Federal regulations to supply to their customers in the planning stages of interstate moves.
- The company's website has no local address and no information about licensing or insurance.
- The mover claims all goods are covered by their insurance.
- When you call the mover, the telephone is answered with a generic "Movers" or "Moving company," rather than the company's name.
- Offices and warehouse are in poor condition or nonexistent.
- On moving day, a rental truck arrives rather than a company-owned and marked fleet truck.
Make note of anything suspicious. And above all, if it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.
There are some do's and don't's that you should keep in mind when hiring a moving company to ship your household goods within the state. These tips will help protect you from fraudulent or rogue movers.
First, let's look at fees.
Intrastate/Local Moving Company Fees
Intrastate movers charge two different ways:
- Hourly rate. This may include a minimum hour amount such as two or three hours. It may also include a "one-time tip" charge, which is the cost for sending staff to your house for the initial pick-up. Also check with the company for any additional charges that may apply.
- A flat rate. This includes the items to be moved and any other circumstances surrounding the move and should address any stairs, parking, carrying charges, etc. Make sure you read the contract as additional charges may apply if you arrive late the day of the move or move-in or if there are additional items that were not included in the original shipping list. Also, if your stuff has to be stored overnight, there may be an additional fee. Usually, this can be negotiated if you inquire before you sign the contract.
- Investigate the company before you sign on the dotted line.
- Ask if a company is a broker. A broker is the go-between and will actually hire another company to complete the move. This means that you don't know who will be moving your things. If the company you're hiring is a broker, ask them for details on the movers who will be doing your move. Investigate both the broker and the moving company they'll be hiring.
- Be up front about all circumstances surrounding the move. If you have stairs, a difficult access for either the move out or move in or if there's an additional stop along the way. Being honest and thorough will save you money and time and the mover's will appreciate that there aren't any hidden problems.
- Ask for a written statement that includes all charges. If the move is based on an hourly rate, ask the moving company to put the hourly rate and any other fees in writing. If the move is a flat rate, ask the company to state the flat amount and any other fees that apply. Specifically ask if there will be any outstanding charges.
- Ask about the company's insurance policy for things that are damaged or lost by the movers.
- Ask how the company wants to be paid. Ask about the payment schedule up front. Most require a down payment with the remaining amount owing when your belongings are delivered. Be careful of companies that request cash only. This is a true sign of a rogue mover.
- Have someone at your old house so they can make note of the items being loaded on the truck and have someone at your new home to make note of the items when the movers deliver your household goods.
- Carefully review all the documents provided by the moving company. A moving company should supply you with a copy of your rights, a bill of lading, the old and new addresses and the number of boxes being transported, including a shipping list.
- At your new home, check off the boxes and items as they're loaded into the house. Make sure nothing is missing and carefully note any damage.
- Don't hire a company that refuses to provide an agreement.
- Don't hire a company that only takes cash
- Don't hire a company that seems too good to be true.
- Don't hire a company that isn't registered with the Department of Transportation.
- Don't hire a company that has any outstanding complaints.
- Don't let a company move your stuff until you have a written copy of any additional charges.
Remember if it sounds to good to be true it probably is !