How to Move to a New Home Without Getting Fleeced

The ABC News Fixer gives tips on dealing with moving companies.

— -- Summer is the most popular time of the year to move – but it’s also prime time for unethical moving companies to pad their bills and hold goods hostage.

The ABC News Fixer has recently heard from several consumers who got ripped off royally on a household move.

Here’s what to do before you move, to make sure it goes smoothly:

  • Go to to read their tips and red flags, and check the records of the movers you are considering. We can’t stress this enough. Lots of problems could be avoided by heeding the info on that site.
  • When choosing a company, ask friends and family for recommendations and check out their complaint records at and other online sites. Get estimates from at least three and beware low-ball offers.
  • Know whether the company is a broker or a mover. A broker doesn’t do the move itself; it hires someone else. And the price the broker gives you might not be binding on the mover that shows up on your moving day.
  • Never accept an estimate over the phone, even if the company claims it’s binding. You want the most accurate estimate possible, so have the mover come over and look at your things as well as the layout of your home and property. That way, they can’t complain later about the long gravel driveway or the four flights of stairs.
  • Understand that the basic insurance offered is usually only worth 60 cents per pound for lost or damaged goods. An expensive item that doesn’t weigh much can’t be replaced for that amount. Consider purchasing extra insurance for more protection.
  • It may sound silly, but it’s worth noting: Do not sign blank or incomplete documents!
  • With a written binding estimate, the movers must release your goods after you’ve paid that amount. They are not allowed to hold your goods hostage to try to get more money before delivery. If the mover has legitimate additional charges, they may bill you for those, but not until after they release your goods. (The same rule applies to non-binding written estimates, but in that case, the consumer can be made to pay 110 percent of the non-binding price to get his goods released.) Remember this rule -- it exists to protect the consumer from a “hostage” situation.
  • Any changes to a binding estimate must be agreed to by both parties before any items are loaded onto the moving truck. In other words, the movers aren’t allowed to wait till midnight, after your stuff is on the truck, to say it’ll cost an extra thousand dollars.
  • - The ABC News Fixer

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