Imagine this: you’re standing on your front steps with every single thing you own locked up tight in the moving truck parked outside. The mover walks up to you, says there are extra charges for this, this, and that and, until you pay what he asks, he won’t relinquish your stuff. Or, even worse, the final box gets put on the truck, it drives off into the sunset, and that’s the last you ever see of your worldly possessions.
Researching movers is worthy of a serious time investment. While the majority of moving companies are legitimate and above board, the mere fact that a website exists called “moving scam” is proof enough that they can’t all be accepted at face value.
The best time to move is between October and April; moving companies aren’t as busy then and are more willing to negotiate a better rate. If life dictates that you have to move during the summer months, book your movers way in advance. And if you’re unlucky enough to have to move the last week of July--always the busiest week of the year--try to work at least three months out.
Getting recommendations for reputable movers from friends, colleagues, professional organizers, or realtors makes a lot of sense. If that’s not an option, ask the movers you’re interviewing for customer contact info to help with your decision. At Org&Relo we work with many different movers, and we definitely know the ones who set the bar high. For example, any mover who slides a box across a hardwood floor is off our dance card!
Don’t accept an estimate over the phone. The only way you can get an accurate accounting of your moving costs is to have a real person walk around your house while taking notes. Show the estimator everything you want moved, including items in the attic, storeroom, or outside shed. If on moving day the foreman thinks you have more than was calculated, he can challenge the original estimate before it’s all loaded on the truck.
Make sure the estimator knows about any challenges in the destination home like stairs, narrow doorways, or unusual distance from the front door. Find out whether estimates are binding or non-binding (this often depends on whether you’re moving out of state). Request specifics on the company’s insurance policy--there is always a deductible unless you pay an additional fee. When you get your estimate, ask clarifying questions about anything you don’t understand. Don’t make assumptions that something is covered if it’s not written down. Cross anyone who requests a cash deposit off your list.
When you have a shortlist of three or four companies that look good, do an initial screening by checking with the Better Business Bureau and Moving Scam. You can also scan reviews on Yelp. If the company is local, do a drive by and see if they look established and legit. Next, check with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to find out about consumer complaints. SAFER Web can provide you with safety and licensing information.
A good thing to pay attention to with movers is whether or not you feel you’re being listened to. Are the people you’re interacting with attentive to your needs? Moving is a stressful, time-consuming undertaking. You want to work with an organization who respects all aspects of the process--including any anxieties you may have or special details you want addressed.
Do your research well in advance so that you don’t have to make a rush decision about this important aspect of your move. Once you find a good, reputable mover, you’ll be able to sit back and let them take charge. That’s worth more than I can say.