Baltimore Maryland Local Moving Companies
Congratulations! You just bought your first house in Baltimore, and you are mostly finished with the paperwork (who knew there was so much?) and ready to move in and start decorating. Now you need a moving company to help move from your rental into your brand-new home. It’s an exciting time, but busy also, and you want to find the best local mover in Baltimore. Or maybe you are moving from a small home to a larger one or the other way around. No matter what prompts your relocation, it’s smart to get some professional help in completing the move.
How do I find the best local mover in Baltimore?
Finding a good local moving company is a bit different than finding the right vendor for an interstate move. Movers that work within state lines are not required to register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. They may do so anyway if they do some of their jobs for long-distance clients. Maryland has a new law that requires movers to register with the state, but it is still in the planning stage. This situation means that the consumer doesn’t have a simple way to verify the movers’ credentials. Still, there are some simple steps you can take to increase your chances of identifying and engaging a reliable, reputable company to work with on your move.
Start by asking people you know for suggestions. People will usually be happy to tell you if they had a good or bad experience with a vendor, whether it was a moving company, a car salesman, or some other kind of service. Ask people who have moved recently. This process will help identify good providers and put a red flag on some you want to avoid. Ask your realtor or rental agent if they are aware of any good moving companies—they may have other clients who have reported positive experiences. You might also ask at work. Even if your move is not related to your employment, your human resources or purchasing department may have some companies to recommend.
Maryland has a trade association called the Maryland Movers Conference, which is part of the Maryland Motor Truck Association. The Conference encourages moving companies to join, as a sign that they are legitimate operators, and to offer consumers a way to identify reputable organizations. They also have a Registered Movers Program, which affordable moving companies can voluntarily join. If they do, they agree to follow a code of ethics and a system for arbitrating disputes. You can find out more at the Maryland Movers Conference website. The website has a helpful guide to moving with tips on finding a mover and avoiding scams. Some of their suggestions are:
- Do your research. This step is critical. Once you get some suggestions, either from people you know or via an internet search, it is essential to take some time and research the company’s performance and reputation. You can’t assume that the company website’s highlighted testimonials are legitimate, although they may be. You should check with neutral sources, such as the Better Business Bureau. The BBB collects good and bad reviews of moving companies (and businesses in other industries as well.) You can also check with FMCSA (if the mover does interstate work) to review the safety history and any customer complaints that have been filed. Also, check to see if the company belongs to the American Moving & Storage Association or the Maryland Movers Conference. These are voluntary associations, but membership is a good indication that the company is an upstanding corporate citizen.
- Be aware of subcontracting. The company you hire to do the work may be great, but it may subcontract your job to another company if it is busy. Sometimes movers book more work than they can handle, especially during peak season. If no one cancels, they may find they can’t perform all the projects scheduled, and they may resort to hiring unskilled labor or passing some work along to less-qualified crews that you didn’t select.
- Verify if the local company is really local. The internet is a great tool, but it can also allow a rogue operator to appear to be a local company when it may be far away. Ask for a local address, and check to see if it is an office (or warehouse) rather than a post office box or residence. Shady operators booking business over the phone or internet may not be in the Baltimore area at all. If they get you to hire them, they may send an unskilled crew of temporary laborers in a rented truck to do the work. Or worse, they might just ask you for a large deposit and disappear.
- Get an in-home estimate. Probably the best way to stay away from moving industry scams is to ask for an in-home estimate. This step weeds out the rogue elements in a couple of ways. First, if the company is actually in a faraway call center, they won’t easily be able to send someone to do the estimate. Second, it isn’t worth their time to visit you and create a fair assessment of what the work is worth. If the company is a legitimate mover, they will gladly comply with your request for a visual survey and written estimate. It is in their interest as well as yours for the quote to be accurate. Also, meeting the Baltimore County moving company representative is an ideal way for you to decide if you are comfortable with how they will approach your move. Professional movers will take the time to answer your questions, and they will have some of their own as you go through the details involved in the project.
- Ask questions. When you are comparing the estimates, don’t just accept the low bid. The bids might include different services, so it is essential to look at what’s included in each one. Perhaps one vendor gives you a price that only includes loading the truck, driving to the new residence, and unloading it. The next one might submit a quote that adds packing the fragile items, plus the cost of packing materials and wrapping your furniture in plastic before loading it. Ensure that you are comparing similar services.
- Read the contract, and never sign anything with blank spaces. No one wants to read the long, boring agreement, but moving contracts, in particular, have a lot of fine print, and you may need to know some of what’s in there. For example, if you pack your goods, the mover may not be responsible for breaking something even if they drop the box. Make sure you understand how that works and how the valuation (which they might call insurance) will reimburse you if anything is damaged or lost. Consumers often elect to “roll the dice” by doing without adequate valuation coverage during a move. Unfortunately, it may be a mistake if things go wrong.
The good news is that if you follow these helpful guidelines, you will most likely find an excellent moving company to assist you in your local Baltimore move. Don’t forget that summer is the peak moving season, so start planning early, and if you are moving in summer, schedule as far ahead as you can.