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If you’re one of the millions of homeowners planning a move this year, you might be thinking about hiring a moving company. It certainly sounds like a great deal, since it will relieve you (and friends and family who would end up helping you) of the majority of the physical labor involved with packing, loading, transporting, unloading and unpacking all your stuff.
But hiring out that work comes with its own type of stress. It’s your stuff after all, and you’re trusting a lot of folks you don’t know to handle it with the same care you would. On top of that, you’re trusting them to not overcharge you or scam you with a low estimate that turns out to be too good to be true.
Look Out for These Deal Breakers
The U.S. Department of Transportation developed a list of red flags homeowners can use to identify what it calls “rogue” movers:
—A mover should always offer to conduct an in-home inspection of your belongings before they estimate your moving costs.
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—The mover should not demand that you pay cash or a large up-front deposit.
—If the company’s website doesn’t include a local address or information about their registration or insurance, keep looking.
—The mover should not tell you that any damage to your belongings will be covered by their insurance.
—If you’re moving from one state to another, your mover is required by Federal regulation to provide you with a copy of the booklet “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.” If they don’t, you can be sure this moving company doesn’t care too much about following the rules.
—If the offices and warehouse are in bad shape or nonexistent, or if employees answer the phone by saying a generic “Movers” or “Moving company,“ steer clear.
—On moving day, the movers should arrive in a company-owned fleet truck. If they show up in a rental truck, contact the company for an explanation before the movers come into your home.
Put Your Cyber-Stalking Skills to Good Use
Once you’ve found some moving companies that seem legit, is there any way to make sure they are 100% on the up-and-up? Here are three ways to get the goods on your mover:
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1. If your mover is transporting your belongings from one state to another, they’re required to have a USDOT number issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Go to www.protectyourmove.gov to make sure your mover’s license is current.
2. Requirements for moves within a state are regulated by the individual states. The FMCSA provides an online tool to help you locate local authorities who can answer your questions about a mover you’re planning to hire.
3. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if your mover has a complaint history.
About Those Estimates …
You’ll want to get estimates from several movers so you can compare prices and services. As we mentioned before, your estimates should be based on an in-home inspection of your household goods. Your mover has the option of giving you a binding or nonbinding estimate. The difference, obviously, is that with a binding estimate your final cost will not exceed the estimate. With a nonbinding estimate, movers are required by law to deliver your possessions for no more than 10% above their original estimate.
As with any service, the cheapest mover is not always the best mover. Some things are more important than price—like getting your stuff moved safely and on time. Keep that in mind as you compare potential moving companies.
Start Your Search With Trustworthy Recommendations
Friends, family and coworkers are a good place to start your search for a quality moving company. Your real estate agent is also a great resource for recommendations. If you’re not yet working with an experienced agent, we can put you in touch with a high-octane, high-energy real estate agent in your area today.