At 5 Star Moving and Storage, we know there are unscrupulous fly by night companies that often prey on people’s emotions when it comes to a stressful time such as moving. You can avoid moving scams by following some basics we’ve outlined below. These tips will help you get through the process without feeling scammed or taken advantage of by one of these predators.
#1 Know Who You Hire
Many companies will change their names often to avoid repercussions or lawsuits, so be sure to ask for addresses, numbers, 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; these are the best pieces of advice you will receive. 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 the frequent name changers mentioned above.
#2 Dollars Should Make Sense
Someone who just tries to get your business over the phone without actually coming to inspect is a big red flag. Most people do not know how much stuff they have hidden inside cupboards and dressers, and the only way to ensure a proper estimate is to have the moving company inspect in person to give you an honest quote. Be sure the company representative does a thorough walk through and talks with you about everything that needs to be packed and/or moved.
Once the numbers come in, honest movers will never ask for a large deposit beforehand or payment in cash, and you should never accept these terms under any circumstances. When it does come time to pay, avoid moving scams by always using a credit card to ensure you’re protected (via the ability to dispute charges) and do not pay until all of your belongings are where they should be.
#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. 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
To avoid moving scams, 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, which 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 All the Scams?
In 1980, the Household Goods Transportation Act was passed, granting movers the right to provide customers with “binding estimates”. This essentially opened the door to competition based on price instead of service. This brought in a lot of scammers offering low price moving, without the support that is so necessary. Now, it’s up to you to do the research, check references, look up Better Business Bureau ratings and ensure companies are 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.
Avoid Moving Scams 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 avoid moving scams. You’ll also be able to reduce stress and protect your belongings by being able to identify a trustworthy company that cares about the business they provide.
If you choose 5 Star Moving & Storage, you can rest assured that we are bonded, certified and insured. We are BBB accredited with an A rating and members of the American Moving and Storage Association. We are also military approved and a Prime Agent for Arpin Van Lines, which requires us to consistently maintain stringent service standards and achieve 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. And if needed, we can even provide a storage unit that’s heated in the winter and cooled in the summer to protect your possessions. With 5 Star, moving into your future will be a breeze indeed.