Moving is one of life’s more stressful activities, largely because it’s such a massive disruption.
Think about how much missing your morning coffee can throw off your day and that’s a pretty minor routine. Moving disrupts not only all of your routines but those of your significant other and kids. Their stress piles on top of your stress.
The last thing you need in the middle of all of that is a dishonest moving company that doesn’t do the job properly or tries to overcharge you.
Granted, the law will come down on some of them. Over on the East Coast, the Maryland attorney general actually penalized one moving company to the tune of over half a million dollars.
Of course, you’re still better off getting the right moving company up front and avoiding the hassle.
So let’s dig in and look at some tips for picking the right movers.
Hire a Local Moving Company
It’s tougher for a local company to scam customers.
For example, if the company is a fantasy that only exists on the internet, a drive to their “office” will expose the ruse. In fact, you should plan on visiting the office of whatever mover you pick before you officially hire them or agree to sign a contract.
Chat with the person at the front desk. Ask the owner or sales rep to show you the trucks and loading equipment. Ask how long the crew members have worked as movers on average. A reputable mover shouldn’t balk at these questions or struggle to answer most of them.
You should walk away from this meeting with good feelings about your choice. If you walk away feeling wary, move on to another mover.
Get Several Estimates
Most movers will offer tentative quotes on their websites. A reputable moving company will wait until they do an in-person review before committing to a quote.
Make sure you get at least three or four of these in-person quotes. It helps you establish a baseline range.
Assuming you ask for identical services from all the movers, their quotes should sit in the same neighborhood. A very low or very high quote should serve as a warning sign.
Watch out for movers who don’t ask questions. At the very least, they should ask what’s going and what isn’t. If you want packing help or need supplies to do it yourself.
Moving costs are primarily weight-based. So, the estimate will change based on whether you plan on taking those solid oak bookcases or not.
Check Out the Company with the DOT
Companies that offer interstate moves must register with the Department of Transportation. The DOT makes this information publicly available and you can search for your mover. Your mover might display their DOT number on their website.
If a mover offers interstate services and you can’t find them in the DOT database, they’re either running a scam or moving people illegally. Either way, steering clear is your best bet.
Look for the Online Reviews from Prior Customers
Most moving companies can produce references and glowing testimonials, but you must take those with a grain of salt. No business owner in his or her right mind will direct you to someone holding a grudge.
Dig deep into those reviews. An overall good rating can mask specific complaints.
Maybe prior customer found the actual pickup and delivery sound, but the crew was rude.
Say you plan on using a company’s packing service. Scour those reviews for references to the packing services.
Were people happy with the care the movers took? Did things arrive broken? Was the company responsive and proactive to address issues?
If you can’t find specific information on the services you want, look for places to post questions for former customers.
Getting as much information as you can upfront limits the nasty surprises later.
Watch Out for Big Deposits
Some very reliable movers ask for a deposit before starting. Fuel and employees cost money, after all.
On the whole, though, these deposits are small. Think in the neighborhood of 15%-20%. It’s more of a good faith payment than anything else.
A majority of movers don’t ask for any deposit ahead of time. They collect their pay on delivery or by invoice.
It’s a bad omen if you run across a mover who asks for a large deposit up front. Even if they are legitimate, they’re probably cash-starved with their business teetering on the brink. You don’t want your home packed up on a truck when the business closes forever.
The more likely scenario when someone asks for a big deposit is some kind of scam. Walk away and don’t look back. You’ll save yourself a world of headaches.
Pick a Mover with Straightforward Fees
There are certain scenarios where a mover will charge you extra because of the hassles involved.
Say, for example, you currently live in a 3-story Victorian house with narrow stairs. Bringing things down the narrow stairs from the second and third floors won’t prove easy. You can expect a fee for that.
A good mover will typically charge a flat fee for these kinds of problems. At the very least, they’ll tell you the fees as part of the estimate.
If you live in a house with tricky features and the mover doesn’t mention the hassle fees during the estimate, ask. Their estimate might already include the fees or it might not.
Dishonest movers will sometimes wait until after your house gets packed up before hitting you with all the fees. Essentially, they hold your stuff as a hostage. It’s illegal, but it happens.
Parting Thoughts on Picking the Right Moving Company
Choosing the right professional moving company is equal parts information and intuition.
You want a mover that operates locally, gets good reviews online, and as the right licenses. You also want a mover that asks pertinent questions and gives a quote that’s in the same neighborhood as the other quotes.
At a certain point, though, you must also feel good about the mover. They shouldn’t struggle with basic questions or seem cash-starved. It’s always better to walk away from a business that gives you a bad vibe.
Five Star Moving & Storage offer long distance, residential and commercial moving and storage services. For more information about our services or for a free quote, contact us today.