If a mistake is made on the estimate, or the company hired to do the move disagrees with the price quoted on the written estimate, you can find yourself having to pay more for the move, or your belongings will be held hostage. Read all every contract carefully.
Some will make sure their estimates match those of the moving company, but others will leave out details just so they can give you a lower quote, and then you’re left having to pay extra money on moving day. In order to get the job done at a reasonable cost, be sure you are hiring the right company.
There are ways to protect yourself from disreputable firms, including resources provided by the US Department of Transportation. Here’s how:
Why use a broker?
If you can find an honest one, moving brokerage firms can offer some advantages:
The brokerage will get bids from several companies and can find and negotiate the best deals; just be careful of a “bate and switch!”
Your move is less likely to be canceled
If a truck breaks down or there’s a delay, the brokerage can tap into the capacity of its network and find a moving company near you at the last minute.
If something goes wrong, the brokerage can threaten to stop sending jobs to that particular moving company.
Remote area servicing
A moving brokerage has access to a lot of truck capacity, so they can find trucks traveling through less-trafficked regions.
Avoiding moving fraud
All of the above sounds great, right? But what you’ll most likely encounter is a moving scam, especially with interstate moves.
That lower pricing offered is often too low, which means the mover charges increase the day of your move, or the whole moving process gets stopped until you approve a new contract with a new price. Unless you do, your property won’t get unloaded into your new home.
And although your move is less likely to be canceled, many reputable companies don’t want to work through a brokerage, so you can expect a lower-quality mover that will simply cancel your move if something better comes along.
As far are negotiating prices, that sounds great, but if something goes sideways, the mover will blame the brokerage, the brokerage will blame the mover, and no one takes responsibility. This makes it almost impossible to resolve disputes or complaints.
Check the Better Business Bureau
It’s important to do your research. At the Better Business Bureau, you can find information on moving companies and check their complaint history. Also, check with your local business bureau and the department in your state that handles consumer complaints. Some consumers never complain, but you are likely to find reviews from customers on Google and other websites.
Look for a storage association-certified mover
The American Trucking Association (ATA) awards ProMover certification to American moving companies after they pass a thorough background check that includes their operations and work history. These companies agree to operate within honorable business practices, and certification adds another layer of assurance your property will actually arrive.
Look for red flags
How do you know if you’re dealing with a moving scam? There are many warning signs:
No onsite inspection
Any legitimate brokerage or moving company will perform an onsite inspection to see exactly what belonging you’ll be moving. It’s a huge red flag if they refuse to do an inspection either in person or over a video call. There is no way for them to get an accurate inventory and give you a cost if they never see your property.
They demand a large deposit upfront
A small deposit is okay and normal whenever you have work done, whether it’s a contractor or a moving company. But asking for a large deposit upfront is one of the red flags. Paying a moving deposit is standard with all movers. If you cancel your move, the company will have some compensation. But the deposit should be small and refundable if you give enough notice. If a moving company wants big money, it’s probably a scam.
They demand cash
A legitimate brokerage and the movers they hire will never demand cash. When you pay for something with a credit card or check, there’s a paper trail. Cash leaves none, which makes it more difficult to supply proof when you have a dispute. Protect yourself, and if a mover asks for cash as part of their payment terms, take a hard pass.
Check the FMCSA database
There’s a United States department whose main concern is trucking and safety. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offers advice on its website for consumers to select movers, but perhaps the most valuable tool is its registered mover database. A brokerage is required to be registered with this United States department, the FMCSA, not just movers. No registration or lapsed registration is one sign of moving scams.
In the database, you can find:
- The headquarters location of the moving company
- Moving company contact information
- The status of their registration
- What type of moving business it is
- Where to file complaints about damaged items, missing items
- Information on safety
Get written estimates
If you decide to use a brokerage, also get a written quote from a few actual movers. It’s a warning sign if you are only offered an estimate over the phone. Any estimate should include an in-person or video inspection of your household belongings and valuable items.
Make sure your moving company has insurance coverage
A mover, by law, is required to offer insurance coverage for your belongings. Make sure they give you insurance information. This insurance coverage usually is in the form of:
- Released value coverage: This is the most basic coverage required by federal law. It should be provided for free. It is based on weight and pays up to 60 cents per pound per item. To protect yourself, you should choose another option. If valuable items or other belongings get lost or damaged, you will spend a lot of your own money to replace them.
- Full value protection: Movers are required to provide this by law, and if they don’t, it’s a sign of moving fraud. This coverage has to be purchased, and it pays for the current market replacement value, replacement with a similar item, or to repair the item. If you decide to purchase full-value protection insurance, get the details of the moving company’s plan so you know how it determines replacement value and so you know what things you might do that can affect the limit of the mover’s liability.
- Other liability insurance: Some offer this for purchase. It’s not required by the FMCSA and is governed by state law. A separate liability insurance policy pays for the insurance amount your purchase minus the basic carrier liability amount – up to 60 cents per pound.
Make sure the moving companies have a local address
The written estimate you get from the brokerage should have the moving company name and address. Make sure it’s a mover with a local address. Call them. Make sure an employee answers the phone in a professional manner.
No address? Possible moving fraud or rogue movers. Shady movers will also make frequent moves to a new location, making them difficult to find. They also undergo frequent name changes, so look for that as well. Also, check that they have a website and all applicable license numbers are listed; otherwise, you might be hiring a rogue mover.
Check your estimates
You always want to make sure to get the best prices, but you also want to protect yourself from that shady mover. Not only check that your estimate reflects what you are actually moving, but you want to get a binding estimate. This means the mover is bound to the estimate and cannot charge more when you take delivery.
Skip the Brokers and Go with a Mover You Can Trust
Hercules Moving and Packing sets the standard for long-distance and interstate moves. Hercules Movers is a fully licensed and insured long-distance moving company.
All of our drivers are long-distance certified, background checked, and have the experience to make your relocation stress free. We even assign you a moving coordinator to make it the best experience possible. We’re family owned and operated and have been providing quality moving services for more than 20 years.
We offer free quotes! Just fill out our form or give us a call at (888) 605-0708 and let’s get moving!