The moving industry is complicated. It uses a lot of lingo that most consumers don’t understand: You get your estimates as ‘binding’ or ‘non-binding’; movers use a ‘tariff’ to determine rates; when the mover ships your goods, you receive a ‘bill of lading.’
And when you go to check out your mover, you run into a mass of regulations. If you’re moving within your state, your state government regulates your move; if you’re moving across the country, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration does. Finding (and understanding) information about your mover on either of these agencies’ websites can be hard, too.
It’s understandable, then, that most people don’t put in this kind of gumshoe work. However, there are three basic moving pitfalls that, if avoided, can help save you from a lousy experience with poor moving companies.
1. Not getting an in-home estimate.
The moving company needs to see exactly what they need to move. If they don’t, it’s near impossible to derive accurate moving quotes for your move.
Have them come to your home to see exactly what you need moved; otherwise, you could be in for a nasty surprise on moving day if they claim you have more belongings than you indicated on your inventory.
Don’t give an inventory over the phone or complete one online. You will have a hard time putting together an accurate inventory on your own, and it also gives unscrupulous moving companies the opportunity to claim that your inventory was incorrect and void the estimate – on moving day, no less.
While on the subject of unscrupulous moving companies, one easy way to decrease your chances of hiring one is to start your search using a database of pre-screened, pre-qualified movers. Check out Web sites such as MovingQuotes.com , which matches consumers with pre-screened, competent movers.
2. Not choosing a mover with a local presence.
There are many reasons for this.
First, it’s a good idea to visit the moving company offices to ensure they’re a legitimate mover and not just a broker that’s going to give your move to someone else.
Second, it will put your mind at ease to see the moving company’s facilities, its names on the trucks, etcetera.
Third, logistically, it’s just easier. If you’re moving from Texas to Seattle, how can a moving company in Ohio do your move? Will that moving company REALLY be handling your move?
Finally, if you must follow up with the moving company for a damage claim or something else after the move, having them nearby makes that process much easier.
3. Going with a low-ball bid.
Beware of an offer that sounds too good to be true. You will almost certainly pay for it in some other way.
True, some companies might offer a lower price, but make sure it’s a reasonable discount. First, you should get at least three moving quotes for your move. If two of the movers are priced around the same level, and the third comes in with a price that’s 30 percent less, you need to be skeptical.
All moving companies face the same costs, so if someone is telling you they can do your move for a lot less, it’s probably because they will make up the difference by larding on a bunch of ridiculous charges later, such as excess packing charges, or claims that you added stuff to be moved after you got your estimate.
Packing up and moving – whether across town or across the country – is always a nerve-racking experience. The thought of dealing with a potentially disreputable moving company adds another layer of unnecessary complexity. By avoiding these three common mistakes, you will increase your chances of having an easier, less stressful moving experience, and move on to enjoying your new home.
Written by Tim Johnson