Pitfalls to Beware When Hiring Movers

Some customers complain about moving brokers who call them back shortly before their move and say they need additional "deposit" money because the move is going to be more work than they first thought. This is questionable because the broker is not the one who does the work, but he is probably the one who pockets the deposit. It might just be one more way for a salesperson to make extra money off your move. Is it worth it to you to spend thousands of dollars on somebody whose primary service to you is writing a furniture list over the phone and then picking a mover for you?

Avoid Unknown Movers

When you arrange your move through a broker, you might not know who the actual mover is going to be until the last minute. Or you might be told one mover will be handling your move, then another shows up on moving day. If you're going to entrust a company with all your worldly possessions, don't you want to check its reputation first?

The FMCSA says it's crucial. After all, the mover could be unlicensed or uninsured. The company could be one of these fly-by-night outfits that steal your stuff or loads it up and then demands more money before unloading your belongings.

Steps for a Smooth Move

Check your mover's reputation. For any movers you're considering, plug their names into a search engine. Put it in quotes along with the word "complaint" or "scam." See what your search reveals. If you get back lots of negative information and you see clear trends among the complaints, watch out.

Ask the government. You can also check government complaint records here.

In-home estimate. Only do business with reputable companies that will come to your house and give you an in-person estimate. That's the only accurate way, and the best part is, most moving companies do this for free.

Binding estimate. Insist on a binding "guaranteed not-to-exceed" estimate. Use that lingo. That means, if your goods weigh less than the estimator thought, you will pay less. If they weigh more, you will still pay what the estimator quoted you.

Additional Advice from MoveRescue.com

1. Go with a name you know. Find companies that have been in business for at least 10 years.

2. Get a referral. Ask friends, family, neighbors and colleagues for recommendations.

3. Ask for an in-home estimate. Because transportation charges are based on move distance and weight, the company should physically look at your belongings.

4. Don't be hooked by the lowest price. Get three estimates. If one is much lower than the others, that is a red flag.

5. Don't pay a deposit upfront. Most companies only request payment at the time of delivery.

6. Do your research and verify company affiliations. Find a list of movers licensed for interstate moves by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Some disreputable movers lure customers by using names similar to reputable companies. Check the reputable company's website to see if the mover is affiliated.

7. Get it in writing. Get pickup and delivery dates in writing.

8. Know your rights. Federal law requires movers to give customers a copy of the "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move" brochure before an interstate move.

Source: MoveRescue, a pro-bono organization endorsed and sponsored by Mayflower Transit.

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