How to find professional movers you can trust

Author
Christopher Noblit
How to find a good mover

It has been said that -- next to loss of a family member or a divorce -- relocation (moving) can be one of life's most stressful events and that relocation stress is worsened by an unprofessional, unprepared or underhanded mover. Alternatively, retaining the services of a high-quality licensed professional mover requires a little work your part, but the reward is great: a high-quality relocation with a minimal amount of stress.

So here are some sure-fire ways you can spot a qualified mover...a mover who you can trust...

1) Avoid booking your move with a internet based moving broker. Brokers are not movers and most brokers will hand your move over to a moving company you have not checked-out and done research on. Make certain that the company you book your move with will be the same company who actually performs your move.

2) Unless you are moving only a few specific items no mover can provide you with an accurate cost estimate over the phone or over the Internet...they must physically inspect the items you need to move. Therefore, make certain that you only consider companies which provide you with an in-home estimate during which you can make certain the mover understands exactly what needs to be moved and allows you to have the opportunity to interview the mover in person.

3) Make certain your mover is licensed...

  • If you are moving within a state, make sure the mover you are considering is licensed by that state's Department of Transportation, Public Utilities Commission or Bureau of Consumer Affairs to perform moving services within your state. A call to your local state moving & storage association will help determine if a mover is licensed. A list of state moving & storage associations is available at http://imawa.com/resources-2/movers-associations/.
  • If you are moving to a different state, check to make sure the mover is licensed by the Federal Department of Transportation, located at https://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov/CompanySnapshot.aspx. Don't take a company's word for it, call the regulatory agency or state association and check for yourself.

4) Check with the Better Business Bureau regarding constant numerous complaints at http://www.bbb.org. Note that a responsible mover may have a few complaints lodged against them -- the more moves they handle the more likely it is that they will have at least a few complaints -- but their record with the Better Business Bureau should show that they have a satisfactory rating and that they respond to, and resolve, complaints. In our opinion, any more than 5 Better Business Bureau complaints is excessive and any company with five or more complaints should be approached with caution.

5) Check the company's online Google reviews and Yelp reviews. Although many phony review websites have surfaced in recent years you can trust Google reviews, or other quality rating services such as Yelp. Search for your move by name on Google, like this: Smith's Moving & Storage, Inc. reviews. You should be able to find the company's "Google Maps" listing and be able to read reviews of the mover you are considering. But remember, everyone gets a bad review from time-to-time, so don't let a bad review or two carry too much weight.

6) Ask your potential mover if they carry Workers' Compensation Insurance. If you have doubts ask the mover to provide you with "proof of insurance" in the form of an "Insurance Certificate" issued by their insurance carrier. No responsible company will have a problem issuing you a Certificate of Insurance which proves that they carry which carries workers' compensation or public liability  insurance...and if they do then a red flag should be raised. And remember, without Workers Compensation Insurance you will be potentially liable for anyone hurt on your property. Workers' Compensation Insurance adds to the cost of doing business but it protects you if someone is injured during your move. Be suspicious of the very low bidder for they may be cutting costs by cheating on essential Workers' Compensation Insurance protection. Please read the article "The uninsured mover - A homeowners recipe for financial disaster for more information.

7) Make sure the mover's place of business actually exists. Beware of companies who provide no business address on their Website, business documents, or a company that is hesitant to provide you with their physical business address. It is important that you know where to track the company down if you have a problem. In fact, nothing can provide you with more information than a personal visit to your prospective mover's place of business; your mover should welcome such a visit and such a visit will teach you a lot about the company you are considering.

8) Get a recommendation or referral: a referral from a satisfied customer is one of the best sales pitches one can receive.

9) Make certain you get an accurate cost estimate. An accurate cost estimate is the foundation on which a quality relocation is based on. Read the article "How to get an accurate moving cost estimate" learn more on this subject.

10) If you are moving to a different state, make certain you read the federal government publication, "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move".

11) If you are moving to a different state, insist that you receive the following federally mandated documents from your mover. If the mover is hesitant to provide you with any of these items you should reconsider using that company (note that many state agencies also mandate documents of this type):

  • An "Order For Service" signed by your mover. The Order for service protects you by spelling out the agreement between you and your mover regarding the dates the shipment will be loaded and delivered, the estimated cost, and (if you are moving to a different state) the fact that the mover can only collect 110% of the estimate at the time of delivery.
  • A written estimate itemizing all of the component charges that makes up the estimate for your moving cost. Prior to the move date, insist on an in-home visual inspection of the goods you are moving. Accurate estimates can seldom be provided over the telephone. Never believe that a phone estimate given by a mover, will be the actual cost of your move.
  • A "Table of Measurements" (also known as a "Cube Sheet") inventory listing all of the items that you will be moving (pieces of furniture, number of boxes, etc.). The mover creates the Table of Measurements when he of she visits your home in order to calculate the size and weight of your move.

12) In the moving industry...more than any other...you get what you pay for. Hiring the cheapest mover is a one-way ticket to profound pain and stress. There's a reason why that mover is cheap and it usually starts with sub-standard day labor which results in undocumented workers in your home who are not movers and are people who are often unknown strangers to the company which has hired them. Professional movers hire documented, full-time, trained workmen. The best professional movers drug test and criminal background check their employees.

13) Trust your gut-instinct. Remember the old adage that if something sounds too good to be true...it probably is. If the company you are considering passes all of your research then trust your gut instinct and hire the people you feel most comfortable with.

We'd like to close by saying once again that retaining the services of a high quality, licensed mover requires a little work on the part of the consumer, but the reward is great: a high quality move with minimal stress and we urge you to spend a little extra time to assure that you locate one of the many quality minded licensed moving & storage professionals operating in our industry.

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