Moving your home can be a daunting task, and choosing the right moving company is one of the most important steps you will take during the process. It is important that you thoroughly research your moving options and prospective movers before hiring a team to spend the day in your home, moving all of your items. You should be aware of what to look for and what to avoid when selecting the company that will relocate your home.
Friends and family members will keep your best interests in mind, so they will share the names of moving companies that they have had success with—and warn you against those that provided substandard service. Get the names of a few companies so you can compare rates, reputation, and availability.
The prices that moving companies charge vary widely, so make sure you speak to at least three different companies to get an idea of what is fair and accurate for your particular move. The companies you call should not charge to provide you an obligation-free estimate. If they do, choose a different moving company. Also, inquire about what charges make up the estimate: does the price include movers, truck fees, mileage, valuation, supplies? Will there be additional fees during the move that were not covered up front?
Because humans are involved in picking up and moving furniture and belongings, damages do happen. Ask the moving companies you’re considering for your move about their damage or claim rates. The industry average is about 17 percent, so a move coordinator/sales representative that tells you that damages don’t happen with their company is not being honest. If you can find a company that has a much lower damage rate than the industry average, you should pursue that company further.
Reputable moving businesses are members of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and their local chambers of commerce. Look at how long the company has been a member of the BBB and how many claims there are—open and closed—as well as the time period in which the claims occurred.
Homeowners shouldn’t be concerned if there are one or two claims over a one or two year period of time, but if there are multiple claims that occurred in a shorter time period, they should choose a different company.
Sites like Yelp! and MyMovingReviews.com offer a great place to learn about other peoples’ experiences with a moving company. One thing to remember, though, is that the people who review sites are very passionate—either to the positive or negative—about their experiences, and you will very rarely read reviews from those who fall in the middle.
By law, every moving company has to provide you coverage of your individual items up to $0.60 per pound (meaning that a moving company would reimburse you $60.00 if your 100 lb. dresser were damaged). Beyond that, they are not legally required to do anything else. Many reputable companies will offer additional valuation to protect your belongings, and it is often in your best interest to explore other options to ensure that you are protected if a damage does occur.
When moving across state lines, a moving company must provide a fixed price (otherwise known as a binding estimate). Again, the law is on your side and does not allow movers to charge by the hour for interstate moves. Moving companies may account for how many hours they think it will take when determining the price, but the price they tell you when they book is the price you’ll pay when the move is completed for interstate moves
A reputable moving company is able to process checks (certified and/or personal) and credit card payments. If the company you’re working with requires a completely cash payment, they are likely not the type of professional movers you want relocating your home.
The moving company you choose may require a credit card number upon booking your move—this may be held for security purposes or for cancelation fees. It should not, however, be charged until the movers have arrived at your house on moving day. If they require a large deposit just to secure a move date, it is in your best interest to find a better moving company.
You are inviting people into your home to physically relocate your belongings. You should be comfortable with the moving crew that will be taking care of you, and confident that they will move your home in a damage-free manner. While price is very important, experience, damage history and reputation should also be taken into account.
Working with a professional moving company is the best option when moving your home, as their experience and strength cannot be matched by the do-it-yourself mover. When knowing what to look for in a mover, you increase the likelihood that your move will be affordable, done by a team of trustworthy movers, and your belongings will be transported safely. So give yourself enough time in the planning process to look for the mover that most closely fits your needs.
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Photo Credits: Moving van courtesy of Cambodia4kids.org Beth Kanter/Flickr Creative Commons; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com