There are countless, unscrupulous outfits that often prey on people’s emotions when it comes to such a stressful time such as moving.
They might ask for a large deposit. They could charge you drastically more than the original quote. They might even hold your stuff hostage in their truck until you pay up.
Of course, the best defense is to spot a moving company scam early. But do you know the signs or what red flags to look for when dealing with these types of predators?
Today, 5 Star Moving and Storage provides all the insight you need to protect yourself from the added stress of unforeseen and unwarranted moving costs.
#1 Know Who You Hire
Many companies will change their names often to avoid repercussions or lawsuits, so be sure to ask for physical company addresses, plus DOT numbers and proof of licenses, insurance and whether they are bonded. Check for a website, too.
These are the first steps when looking for a reputable moving company and must not be skipped.
A good place to start is to ask for referrals from friends and family or neighbors in the area, even your real estate agent if you just bought a house. Chances are that a reputable company’s name will keep popping up time and time again. If you’re already talking to a company whose name never comes up, they may be one of these frequent name-changing outfits.
#2 Dollars Should Make Sense
It’s easy to spot a moving company scam if they give you a low, low price based on the number of rooms you have or square footage in your home. There are so many variables that any price you’re given won’t be accurate, and you’ll likely get hit with a much larger total when it comes time to pay your movers.
While an in-home estimate is typically the best way to get a proper estimate, a reputable company may also walk through your inventory over the phone. They will get a list of all furniture, appliances and large items, inside and out, as well as discuss how much stuff you have hidden inside cabinets and dressers. A representative will also ask about items you might have stored in your garage and attic. Once they have a detailed picture of your moving needs, a much more accurate estimate will be provided.
Don’t forget… honest movers will never ask for a large deposit beforehand or payment in cash, and you shouldn’t accept these terms. When things start wrapping up, first make sure that all of your belongings are where they should be, then use a credit card. This enables you to dispute charges if needed.
#3 Best Practices Say a Lot
When it comes to moving, there are a lot of logistics to manage. Your mover should walk you through the process using industry best practices. Here are a few things to expect from a reputable company:
- The moving company should give you a handbook called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.” This is actually required by law. The handbook spells out what to expect from the mover and what you can do to ensure an easier move.
- A good company will go over packing costs and details with you, including coverage for damage to items they will be packing. (Boxes you pack will likely not be covered)
- There should be no hidden fees. This is another way to spot a moving company scam. Low prices and minimal questions are red flags. Your mover should ask you about stairs, tight areas, narrow streets and other factors, then include any added charges up front in the estimate.
#4 Read Before You Sign
Get absolutely everything in writing – the estimate, any fees and inventory – and NEVER sign a blank contract. Also, make sure everything is itemized and accounted for on your inventory sheet. This way, if an item needs to be replaced, there will be no question that is was on the sheet in the first place. It may seem like common sense, but it is one detail that’s often overlooked.
If you are receiving a guaranteed quote, be sure to read the fine print for items that have been left out but could up to thousands of dollars in difference. In some instances, you may feel safer with a higher estimate, especially one that spells out all the costs in writing – labor, packing, fees for oversized items or stairs and anything else that needs to be taken into consideration.
#5 Don’t Procrastinate Unpacking
Another rule of thumb is to always unpack your items before your rights to claim damage are up. With a long move, we often feel the need to take a break and leave some of the unpacking until later, especially if it was clear across the state or long distance. It’s understandable, but that’s just asking for trouble and unanswered claims in the long run. Read between the lines and look at what dates you have to submit such a claim if need be.
So, What’s with the Moving Company Scam?
In 1980, the Household Goods Transportation Act was passed, granting moving companies the right to provide customers with “binding estimates”. This essentially opened the door to competition based on price instead of service. This created an influx of scammers offering low-price, low-quality moving.
Now, to spot a moving company scam, it’s up to you to do the research, check references, look up Better Business Bureau ratings and ensure they’re properly licensed, insured and bonded. Scammers prey on people who do not take these steps, and they’ve made quite a bit of money rolling the dice in this way.
Protect Yourself with 5 Star Moving & Storage
By following the tips we’ve shared here, including taking the time to research completely and well ahead of schedule, you’ll be able to spot a moving company scam!
If you choose 5 Star Moving & Storage, you can rest assured that we are bonded, certified and insured. You’re welcome to stop by and quiz us. We are also military (DoD) approved and a Prime Agent for Arpin Van Lines, which requires us to maintain stringent service standards and high-level quality scores.
Best of all, we’re just a phone call away and always ready to help out with your long or short distant moves. With 5 Star, moving into your future will be a breeze indeed.