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Are you looking for the best moving company in the Baltimore area to help with your move? While you may dread the thought of moving, with the right vendor to support you, it doesn’t have to be that bad. Look at the bright side—now is your chance to put into use those Marie Kondo and feng shui concepts you have been reading up on the last couple of years. If you haven’t moved in a while, you can make the most of the opportunity, and if you move frequently, you already know how to take advantage of it, so just get started.

How can I find the best movers in the Baltimore area?

Baltimore is a great metro area to move around in—so many wonderful neighborhoods to explore and easy access between them. It makes the hunt for a new home less stressful, and fortunately, there are plenty of top-notch moving industry service providers to help you when the time comes. Experts recommend that you start the process early when planning your move, especially if you are relocating during the summer months. Warm weather is the peak season for movers. Families prefer to relocate when their children are not in school, especially if the move is more than a few miles. College students often move in and out with the academic calendar also. If you can avoid June and July, you may have an easier time scheduling, but if your move is in the busy season, make sure you reserve a moving date early.

Before you decide on a mover, interview at least three companies, and get a written estimate of what they will charge for your move. Consumer advocates say this is the best way to find the right mover for you and avoid moving fraud. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous operators are out there, and it is up to the consumer to be aware of the scams they may try to pull on you. Some regulations govern interstate movers, and these are designed to help you recognize and avoid moving company swindles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration oversees long-distance movers, but you may only be going a short distance and not crossing a state line. If that’s the case, the local moving company isn’t obligated to follow all the same policies. Maryland’s legislature passed a law in 2019 that will require all local movers to register (similar to how the federal rules work), but they haven’t fully implemented it yet.

Why do I need three estimates?

Getting an estimate is a great way to get to know the moving company before you decide which one to hire. First, ask the companies to come to your home and do a physical walk-through to see what you are moving. If you are moving long-distance, this is required, but the company might not offer to do this if you are making a local move. Regardless, it’s the best way for the mover to understand how much stuff you have to move and how complicated or easy the move’s logistics will be. There are significant differences between what your furniture weighs and what another person’s weighs. Also, people collect and save in different amounts.  We have all seen those “hoarder” shows on television. Moving one of those families that keep everything would be a lot more work than loading up an average residence. But the moving company doesn’t know what end of the spectrum your belongings fall into, and they can’t make that determination from a verbal description or an online form.

When the mover’s representative comes to complete the survey, they will create an inventory of what you expect to move and give you an estimate, or quote. For a long-distance move, the mover bases the quote on the shipment’s weight. For a local move, it factors in the time required to complete the work. Either way, the estimate should state whether it is binding or nonbinding. A binding estimate is a guaranteed price, with a few exceptions. If the mover misjudges the amount of time the move will take (or the shipment’s weight, in the case of an interstate move), they can’t raise the price as long as you didn’t add anything to the load that wasn’t on the inventory. If you add some extra boxes or furniture, the price will increase, just as it will rise if you decide to have the movers handle the packing after the estimate is submitted. But if nothing changes, the price stays the same. If the mover gives you a nonbinding estimate, they could raise it if they assessed the move wrong.

Some moving companies use a low estimate to try and get you to hire them when they know they can’t do the work for that low price. This “low-ball estimate” is one kind of moving scam and is more common when you accept an estimate over the phone or online, but it could happen with an in-person visit as well. The mover offers you a very attractive price to set the scam up, and you gladly accept it. Then, on moving day, the movers begin to load your goods. Partway through the loading process, the team lead or supervisor (usually the driver) tells you that you have way more stuff than they thought, and they have to raise the price. Now you are in a predicament because half your house is already on that truck. The rogue mover counts on you agreeing to pay the higher price rather than telling them to unload. Either way, it’s a mess.

Another potential trap is the deposit. Honest movers are usually paid when the service is complete. Occasionally, a company will ask for a deposit to hold a date, but it should be minimal if they do. A dishonest company may ask for a large deposit upfront and then disappear. You have paid a sizeable amount to the company (or a broker), but no one shows up on your designated moving day. You may find that the company was a shell, continually changing names to stay ahead of law enforcement, or it might be a faraway call center.

How can I avoid these scams?

The Better Business Bureau receives around 13,000 complaints and negative reviews annually about moving companies. You should check their website for information about any company you are considering. If the company makes interstate moves, check the FMCSA site as well. There you can ensure that the mover is appropriately licensed, and you can also review its safety history and complaint disposition. After you meet with the companies you are considering and check these resources, ask for references before making a final decision. A reputable business will be able to offer you some recent customers to talk to. You can ask about their experience and assure yourself that you are working with a trustworthy company. Don’t rely on the glowing testimonials that a company has posted on its website—they can make those up. It’s safer to talk to people who have used their services. Also, get a written estimate and never sign a blank or incomplete document. If you take the time to meet with the movers in person before deciding, your chances of engaging a good mover are much better.

 

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