How to Choose a Mover
Congratulations! You’ve sold your house and are ready to move on to a new life in your next home. But if years’ worth of living won’t fit into the back of your pickup truck, it’s time to consider hiring professional movers. Your friends will thank you for it. They may even recommend a few.
Personal recommendations can be a good place to start. Since you should get estimates from at least three moving companies, you can also ask your real estate agent, thumb through the phone book or search online. Just beware that, although there are reputable moving companies on the Internet, there are also a lot of scams. To reduce the risk, your search should focus on companies with offices in your city and companies that have been in business at least 10 years.
Information you need to obtain and verify includes:
- The full company name, address and phone number
- DOT and MC license numbers (so you can ensure they have the license authority and insurance to legally move you)
- How long they’ve been in business
Check with your secretary of state’s office for the Articles of Incorporation to verify basic company information. SaferSys, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s web site, provides reports that include company information, as well as details about the size of the company, if it’s authorized for hire and for interstate operation, inspection records, licensing and insurance.
Once you have verified the company’s validity, you need to investigate its reputation. The FMCSA has a Safety Violation and Consumer Complaints hotline (1-888-368-7238) you can consult and there are various message boards, such as MovingScam.com, you can check. It’s always a good idea to contact the Better Business Bureau. Finally, ask for references if they weren’t referred by someone you know.
Face to Face
If you’re satisfied with the reports, schedule an in-home estimate. Do not accept an over-the-phone ballpark figure based on cubic feet. Don’t be afraid to let them know you’re comparison shopping – and ask about differences in pricing and services compared with other companies.
Don’t be afraid to interview the company. Questions should include:
- Is the quote binding? This usually requires an onsite review of your possessions for accuracy. Phone estimates are usually not binding.
- What does the quote include? Look for hidden extra costs, such as parking, storage, fuel surcharges, long-carry charges, etc.
- What kind of insurance is included in the quote and what else is available? Standard coverage is 60 cents per pound, but most moving companies offer reasonably priced upgrades. Alternately, you can obtain third-party insurance.
- Will items be transferred? Long-distance moves may require transfers to other trucks, which can be accompanied by extra handling charges. It can also increase the risk of loss or damage.
- What is the process if items are lost, stolen or damaged? Know the extent of their liability, especially if you are doing the packing.
Every moving company is required by law to give you a “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” brochure.
Deal directly with the movers who will be handling your items: don’t accept sub-contractors or brokers. Do not hire a moving broker. Consumer protection laws don’t apply to Household Goods Brokers. If anyone other than the moving company you hired shows up, fire them.
Be clear about conditions for refunding the deposit, as well as the amount due on delivery. Don’t hire movers who work on a cash-only basis.
Know what you’re signing. Read the contract and understand it.
Moving Day is stressful even when it goes according to plan. Finding a moving company you can trust with everything you own can make the difference between a safe, successful move and a disaster. Take precautions. Plan ahead and do your homework.
Lori Lovely is a real estate contributor for the Indianapolis real estate website of ICON Realty Partners, LLC. The website, located at www.indyhomespecialist.com, features helpful information about buying and selling homes in any market.
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