Best Moving Companies Near You
Finding the best moving company near you is an important task. You have a big project to plan, and you want to find the ideal company to support you. Even if it feels intimidating, don’t worry. The process of choosing the best mover is simple and worth the effort.
How do I find the best mover near me?
Start by talking to your friends and family about any moving company experiences they have had recently. You may know someone who has moved, so ask them if they recommend the mover they used. It is equally helpful to get names to avoid. If someone had a terrible encounter, you would be able to strike that one off your list. Some movers have affiliations with the Chamber of Commerce, local non-profits, or college alumni organizations. If you belong to those, you may get some ideas by asking around. Another place to check is with your employer. Even if you are not moving on behalf of your company, the human resources or purchasing department might have referrals for you.
Once you develop a list of ideas, it’s time to do some research. Start with FMCSA—that is, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and it regulates interstate motor carriers, including interstate movers and moving brokers. Your move might be local or regional, but chances are the moving company you use will still be licensed to do interstate work, and so it will register with FMCSA. FMCSA keeps track of the safety records of moving companies and maintains a database of customer complaints. Many companies will also be members of AMSA, the American Moving and Storage Association. AMSA offers eLearning courses for its members and resources for both large and small operators. A company that is a member is likely aboveboard and honest.
Also, check with the Better Business Bureau, which collects and verifies both positive and negative comments about all industries, including movers. The BBB received over 13,000 complaints about moving companies each year for the last several years and notes that the internet has made it easier for rogue operators to scam unsuspecting consumers. The scammers use paid advertising to appear near the top of searches, and may use local mail handling services to create the appearance of a local presence in an area that they are not close to. These operations may pose as moving companies or brokers. Brokers connect consumers with movers, and while many are honest, some are not. The shady company may have false reviews on its website and friendly people on the phone.
How can I avoid scam operations?
One of the best ways to be sure that you are dealing with a legitimate moving company is also an excellent way to find the best provider for your move. That is to meet the representative in person to get the estimate. FMCSA rules require that companies based every interstate move estimate on an in-person survey of the household goods to be transported. If the company you are considering is reluctant to conduct a visual survey, they may be hiding the fact that they are too far away or planning a low-ball estimate to get the job. A reputable company will come and walk through the residence, looking at everything, and making careful notes to create a comprehensive inventory. The inventory is the basis of the estimate. The weight of the shipment determines interstate move estimates. Some companies will instead supply a quote based on volume or cubic feet, possibly indicating a scam.
A mover can give you a binding or non-binding estimate. If you have a binding estimate, that is a firm price to transport and deliver the goods listed on the inventory. If you have a non-binding estimate, the cost may go higher if the weight forecast is inaccurate, and the actual weight turns out to be more significant. However, the company is only permitted to charge 10% more than the estimated cost in exchange for delivery. If the actual price is higher, they must proceed with delivery and bill you later. This rule is intended to prevent a common form of moving scam, in which a company submits a very low bid for the job and then demands an excessive amount of money before it will deliver the household goods.
More than half of the complaints filed with FMCSA last year involved overcharging. It has become common for rogue operators to solicit business based on verbal estimates and then fail to provide services or raise the prices substantially at delivery. Unfortunately, these sham companies may also disrupt your life in other ways. Suppose you accidentally engage an unscrupulous operator that hires local temporary workers and a rented truck to complete your move. In that case, your possessions may be loaded by people who don’t know what they are doing, resulting in your goods being damaged or destroyed.
Watch out for companies that don’t have a local office and don’t have equipment with the company name displayed on the side. Suppose the person you speak to is different whenever you call back. In that case, that is a red flag, as is a phone number that always goes to voice mail or is answered with a generic greeting such as “moving company” instead of the name of the company you think you are doing business with. Also, be wary of an operator that requests a large deposit or cash in advance. If you pay cash, you have no recourse to dispute the fees once the service has been rendered. If you pay in advance, you have no leverage to motivate the company to provide good service.
Once I find the best mover, what do I need to do?
When you identify the best mover for your interstate or local move, follow a few commonsense guidelines to ensure that your move goes well. If you plan to do the packing, start early to allow time to sort through your accumulated belongings and decide what you want to take with you and what it’s time to dispose of or give away. Everything you don’t move is less to unpack in the new home and less weight for the shipment. If you have a storage unit, start with that to try and eliminate unnecessary items that you can sell or donate. Look at the furniture you have and decide if it suits your new home. Remember, if you engage the moving company to pack, they are probably more efficient than you, but they will pack everything.
It would be best if you take some things with you in the car or by air, so they aren’t at risk. This list includes your most valuable jewelry, critical financial records, other vital documents, medicine and medical records, keys to your car, safe or home, cash, and anything that is simply too sentimental to lose, such as a wedding album or other photographs and videos. Finally, there are some items that the movers won’t take. These include anything hazardous, like fireworks, ammunition, propane tanks, and charcoal, motor oil, gasoline, other chemicals, pesticides, and household cleaners like ammonia, paint and paint thinner, and even nail polish and polish remover. Don’t pack any of these items, or if something goes wrong, your mover will not be liable for any damages—you will be.