Planning for a long distance move from Baltimore to Boston means that you are on the verge of a significant life change. Baltimore to Boston may only be 400 miles, but it is a different environment. While the populations are similar, Boston is more densely packed and is the most populous city in its urban area. Boston is the hub of the region that holds 35 colleges and universities, including some of the nation’s finest. Baltimore is no academic slouch but is far behind with thirteen post-secondary schools. Both cities are steeped in history and culture, so you will find much to love no matter where you settle. But before you can enjoy and appreciate your new home, you have to get through the move, and to do that; you have to find the right mover.
Finding a moving company to support you in your move from Baltimore to Boston is an integral part of your relocation plan. To start, ask friends, family, and co-workers for recommendations of movers they had a positive experience using. Even if your move is not work-related, your human resources or purchasing department may be able to share the names of moving companies that have assisted with corporate moves in the past. Develop a list of companies that you want to check out for consideration.
Since your move is long-distance and between states, any mover you may hire must register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, which regulates interstate commerce as part of the Department of Transportation. FMCSA maintains records on moving companies’ safety history and complaint records. You can check these records as a first step in evaluating the company’s past performance. While you are on the FMCSA website, download a copy of the informative brochure the agency created. It’s called Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.
While every mover must provide you with a copy of this publication with your estimate, you will be better informed if you read it in advance. In it, you can find definitions of standard moving industry terms and a description of the rules that movers are obligated to follow. FMCSA has developed the rules in an effort to reduce moving company fraud, which it views as a rising problem. Keep in mind that choosing a registered mover is an excellent way to protect yourself from scams, but you should not stop there.
It’s a great idea to take consumer advocates’ advice and get at least three in-person estimates (price quotes) before you choose a moving company for the job. When you start searching for movers on the internet, you may get several responses from companies that assure you they can provide you with a fair price just by listening to your verbal description of your move scope or by having you complete an online form. This approach is not a good idea unless your move is minimal and straightforward. Most of us (who are not professional movers) can’t guess how much our furniture weighs, and difficult to describe over the phone or by filling in the blanks of a computerized form. My house full of furniture looks and weighs a lot different than yours does, and yours is not the same as anyone else’s.
That’s why FMCSA has a regulation that requires the mover to come to your home and look at everything you want to move. This part of the process is called the visual inspection, or in-home survey. It’s required for every interstate move unless your residence is more than 50 miles from the mover’s location or unless you waive the requirement. If you are working through a moving broker, the broker or the mover has to do it. As the mover’s representative walks through the home, they create an inventory, which is a very detailed list of what you have in your home. They will assess the shipment’s probable weight, based on their experience, and then provide you with a price quote based on the weight and the distance from Baltimore to Boston.
Estimates are either binding, in which case the price is firm, even if the mover misjudged the weight, or nonbinding, in which case the price may go up if the weight is higher than anticipated. The movers will weigh the truck at a highway scale on the way from the origin to the destination, and the mover is required to submit a copy of the weight ticket that the final price is based on. In addition to the shipment’s weight, the price includes any services that you have requested (or that you need). Services include packing, crating, bulky objects (like pianos, hot tubs, pool tables, and exercise equipment), and furniture preparation. Services can also include going up flights of stairs or waiting for elevators. The mover has a list of these fees and what they charge for each. This list is called the mover’s tariff, and they will give you a copy along with the estimate.
One reason you should get more than one estimate is to compare not only the price quotes but also the movers. Talking to the moving company as you walk around your home with them is an excellent way to get a sense of how professional they are. You are choosing a company that is going to be responsible for loading and transporting all of your belongings, so it is crucial that you find a company you trust. If you get three estimates, and two are similar, but one is very low, you may wonder why. If that mover submitted a non-binding estimate, it could be trying to lure you into selecting it with a “low-ball” price and then raising the price later. One common moving company scam involves the moving crew loading part or all of your goods and then letting you know that you had more than they anticipated and demanding a higher payment. If you refuse, they may then insist that you pay them to unload. However, these scenarios are far more common in situations where you have not obtained an in-person estimate. Usually, these unscrupulous companies don’t want to go to the trouble of making an extra visit for the appraisal—they prefer to do that over the phone.
Another excellent way to weed out the shady companies is to ask them for references. Remember, you have already checked their status on the FMCSA site, and you can also go to the Better Business Bureau website and look for both positive and negative reviews of their work. Like FMCSA, the BBB is concerned about the prevalence of fraud in the moving industry and is trying to help consumers protect themselves. But before you make a final decision, ask the company you are considering for some recent customers you can talk to. An honest mover will be happy to give you this information. If the mover balks, that is a red flag, and you would do well to select someone else for the project. Call the contacts and ask about their experience. If the company did a good job, they would be sure to say so. And once you complete your move successfully, you can do the same good deed for your mover and the next customer looking for a referral by sharing your recommendation.