You want to hire a mover. But the last thing you want is to get ripped off. That’s certainly a legitimate fear – moving scams are so well-known because they happen so often. But you don’t have to live in fear when you hire a moving company. You just have to know the right way to approach it.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong When Hiring A Mover?
- The mover doesn’t show up when they say they will show up, knocking your schedule off track
- The mover quotes a low price, but they don’t have all the services you want and you end up doing a bunch of stuff (like packing everything) yourself
- The mover puts everything on the truck and then charges you a higher price than what you negotiated
- The mover breaks stuff and does not take responsibility
- The mover shows up with untrained, clearly unprofessional people
- The mover puts stuff on the truck and then you never see it again (the worst-case scenario)
Does that cover most of your fears? Now, here’s the good news: It doesn’t have to happen to you. Read on to find out why.
Top Tips When Hiring Movers
The following consumer tips apply no matter where you are or where you plan to move. You can have problems with a mover in a small town just as easily as in a big city. On the other hand, you can also find a great mover in most locations. Just keep these 12 tips in mind.
Do Your Homework
One of the most common mistakes people make when hiring a moving company is waiting until the last second and making a fast decision. That’s a strategy that often leads to regret. Research the moving companies in your area. Only consider movers who offer the services you need, such as packing services or auto transport. Things to remember when doing research include:
- Start with online reviews. Keep in mind that every business gets negative reviews from time to time. But overall, you want a trend of positive reviews. Also, search for patterns where people complain about the same issues. Also, check with friends, family, and associates for any recommendations they might have on a good mover.
- Check out websites. The company’s website should have information showing proper licensing by the state and federal government. It should also clearly spell out the company’s services. Be wary of “word salad” content with few facts about the mover’s services.
- Find companies for your move. Different moving companies handle different types of moves. If you plan to move from New York to Florida, you’ll need a company licensed for interstate moves. If you have a small, local move, some companies work specifically in that area.
- Better Business Bureau. Once you’ve narrowed your search to a few businesses, check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure they do not have complaints filed against them. Also, stay aware that some companies switch names to avoid complaints, so avoid companies that recently had a name switch.
Get More Than One Estimate
Narrow your list of choices down to the best 2-4 movers, then contact each one of them. See what kind of quote each gives. Keep the following in mind when asking for a quote.
- Know the exact distance you want to move (pricing is partially based on distance)
- Tell the movers, in detail, the items they need to move. Leave nothing out.
- Provide a range of dates for when you want the move done
- Specify what services you want (i.e., packing, storage, auto transport, etc.)
- Ask about any extra charges that could occur on moving day
Keep in mind that the only way to accurately give a quote for a move is by getting an in-person inventory of everything that needs to get moved. If you offer the above information and answer any other questions the mover might have, you can get a ballpark estimate, but you need them to come to your home to make a more accurate one.
Know What Services You Require
As noted above when asking for an estimate, you need to only consider companies that offer the services you require. It’s worth expanding on that idea. Because moving is stressful and costs money, people often miss the forest for the trees. They get caught up in details and miss the big picture.
For example, do you really want to pack everything, or do you want movers to do it? Do you need a mover who offers safe storage space? Are there family heirlooms or expensive items – pianos, motorcycles, classic cars – that need to get moved? If so, you will need movers who provide those levels of service.
Find Out About Insurance
Every legitimate mover must carry insurance. However, these policies – usually mandated by the state – can differ depending on your location. In some cases, the minimum amount required by the state may only compensate you based on the weight of the item. Others require full coverage where the mover must pay the cost to replace a broken item. The costs to the customers also can vary. The bottom line: find out the details of the insurance coverage they offer for damaged or lost items. Also, research third-party insurance options.
Don’t Sign a Blank Contract
Don’t sign anything that does not include the final price. When you get down to deciding between a couple of movers, have them come to your home to get an accurate assessment of the cost based on an inventory of what you plan to move. They then should offer a price that doesn’t change when moving day rolls around. You should only sign a contract that provides a maximum amount for the move, barring any special services you request from that point on.
Don’t Pay a Large Deposit
This is another way to separate you from your money. Good movers ask for payment for services rendered, not for payment before they put anything on the truck. When you pay in advance, you lose control of the situation. Hold back payment until the move is done, or move onto another mover who doesn’t ask for huge amounts of cash upfront.
Select a Moving Date
Everyone has a plan A for a moving date, and you should try to stick to that as best you can. However, it’s also smart to have a Plan B date that will also work. If you have flexibility, it’s also wise to choose a time that is not super busy – movers tend to get busier at the beginning of summer, for example. Generally speaking, moving during the winter months gives you a better chance of getting the movers on the dates you want them. It also is less expensive in most cases.
Other Considerations When Hiring a Mover
While the above covers the major points to remember when you hire a moving company, there are other issues to keep in mind, as well. They include the following.
- Be wary of low-ball moving estimates, that’s often a “bait and switch” tactic
- Always ask about extra fees, such as for moving belongings up or downstairs
- Ask movers for references from past customers
- Pay attention to how the moving company treats you from the first contact, it will say a lot about their customer service
- Lean toward experienced movers who have plenty of reviews
- Check everything once you unpack to look for damage or find if something is missing
The best advice is not to give up and settle! Moving your belongings is one of the most important things people can do. You want a reliable, professional, and ethical business when you hire a moving company. Those types of moving companies exist. You just have to take the time to find them.