The movers have packed up the last of your furniture – that old rocker that’s been in the family for several generations, left in your capable hands – they’ve closed the freight doors and are about to leave with everything you own, when your stomach churns and for a fleeting moment you wonder if you’ll ever see that family heirloom again. I’ve had some great experiences with moving companies and one that still leaves me shaking. It only takes one incident, which in my case involved the police, a lawyer and a very aggressive television crew, to make you realize how important it is to do all you can to ensure your belongings are in the best possible hands. So, how do you choose a reliable moving company?
Most companies have websites that list their services, service history, destinations they will move to, and roughly how much it will cost. This is a great place to get background information and to start compiling a list of potential companies. Also, most companies will list contact information, including e-mail addresses, allowing you to ask questions and be provided with a written response.
Also ask around. Most people you know have moved once or twice in their life, so ask friends, family and colleagues if they can recommend a company, or if there's a company they don't recommend. Both lists are invaluable when choosing a mover.
If you don't have anyone to ask, the best place to start your research is on MovingScam.com. This is a website dedicated to revealing moving scams before they happen to you. Check out their articles, and in particular, their message board where individuals will post on moving company problems and warnings. Great resource and a great place to post your questions and to find answers.
Contact the Better Business Bureau. Find out if any of the companies on your list have generated any reports. Information you can get will usually contain any grievances filed and if the grievances were resolved successfully. It's rare that a company does not have any unhappy customers; the key is to ensure that if there were complaints, that in the end, the customer was satisfied with the result. Read the report carefully, and if you're thinking of using a company who had a grievance filed, ask them specifically about this case and how it was resolved. Depending on the severity of the complaint, you may choose not to pursue this company.
Go to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website and find out if your potential mover has a Department of Transportation (DOT) number. This number ensures that the company is registered with the Department of Transportation.
According to FMCSA, there are signs that the company is a rogue mover. They offer the following tips:
- The mover doesn't offer or agree to an on-site inspection of your household goods and gives an estimate over the phone or Internet—sight-unseen. These estimates often sound too good-to-be-true. They usually are.
- The moving company demands cash or a large deposit before the move.
- The mover doesn't provide you with a copy of Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move, a booklet movers are required by Federal regulations to supply to their customers in the planning stages of interstate moves.
- The company's website has no local address and no information about licensing or insurance.
- The mover claims all goods are covered by their insurance.
- When you call the mover, the telephone is answered with a generic "Movers" or "Moving company," rather than the company's name.
- Offices and warehouse are in poor condition or nonexistent.
- On moving day, a rental truck arrives rather than a company-owned and marked fleet truck.