Finding a moving company that charges by the hour in the District of Columbia area might be handy for several reasons. You may need a small number of things moved into storage or to get a new purchase home from a shop that doesn’t deliver. You might want to rearrange the furniture in your current home but prefer to stand back and watch instead of sweating through the actual work. Whatever the reason, you can find a reputable moving company to take on your project for an hourly rate.

How do I find a mover that charges by the hour in D.C.?.

Most movers that handle local jobs will be happy to offer an hourly rate. Most will have a minimum of two or four hours, and possibly a minimum travel time for driving to the site as well. For example, if you just need two movers for one hour for a small job, you might pay for two hours of moving labor at $100 an hour, plus an additional hour for drive time at $50 an hour. (Those prices are just examples, and the actual hourly amount charged will vary, depending on what moving company you select.) The smaller the project, the more difference the minimums make on the overall price, so it may be wise to ask a lot of questions and shop around. Not all companies have the same policies.

Also, keep in mind that some minimums may be negotiable if you are looking for a moving company during the off-season. Peak demand for movers is during the summer, and high demand runs from April through September, so you aren’t likely to get any lenience on the minimums during that period. You might have better luck asking for an exception on a quiet Tuesday in January if you call a mover with an empty schedule and some employees who need work.

If you are moving more than a few items, don’t choose a mover based on a verbal or online quote for the price. The mover should come to your house or apartment and complete a physical survey of everything that you want them to move for you. The mover’s representative will look into your cupboards to get an idea of how much there is to move, assess the difficulty of the move logistics (things like narrow stairways or busy elevators make a difference), and give you an estimate.

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There are hundreds of movers—how do I choose the right one

The moving industry is a big business, but most of the companies involved in it are small. In fact, almost half of all moving companies in the U.S. have less than five employees. That small company might be a genuinely independent mom and pop firm, or it might be a local franchise of a national organization or an agent affiliated with one of the well-known long-distance movers. No matter which type of company you prefer to engage, it is up to you to ensure that you choose an honest one. Most are, but there are enough unscrupulous operators that the Better Business Bureau reports receiving over 13,000 negative reviews and complaints about moving companies every year. Similarly, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates interstate movers, logged nearly 5,000 complaints from consumers in 2019. Despite those numbers, the problem is probably much more severe, as most people who endure a negative experience or even fraud don’t report it.

Finding the honest movers and avoiding the shady operators takes a little work on your part but is time well spent. Here are some tips for choosing a reputable hourly moving company for your job in the D.C. area:
Get more than one estimate

Don’t jump at the first company you talk to and assume that it’s a good deal. Spend the time to compare quotes from several companies. Ask about how they determine the price, especially if one estimate is a lot higher than the others. If one estimate is very low, it could be a scam, and the company might be planning to surprise you with a much higher bill when moving day comes along. Double-check to be sure that any services you ask for (like packing or crating) are spelled out on the estimate in addition to the hourly charge for loading and unloading.

Verify that the company has a real office

Some shady companies actually work from a distant city, pretending to have a local operation in D.C. The address they give you is a Post Office Box or even a residence, not a warehouse or office facility. When the move date comes, they will send some unskilled day laborers with a rented truck to complete the move you have contracted for, which is not ideal. You could end up with your goods being damaged, and you could end up with no movers at all.

Be suspicious if the mover asks for a large deposit or cash

Most moving services expect to be paid for when the move is completed, and typically moving companies accept credit cards. If you pay in advance, you have surrendered your leverage to compel the company to complete the job. Further, if you pay in cash, you no longer have the ability to dispute the charge as you do with a credit card transaction. If you do pay cash, always get a signed receipt so you can prove that you have paid.

Never sign any blank or incomplete documents

This admonition sounds like common sense, but it is tempting to be distracted by a moving company representative who tells you they will fill out the paperwork later; if you would, please just sign it now. It sounds logical—who wants to sit around and watch while they complete a long list of furniture and other items? Unfortunately, signing a blank or incomplete document can lead to trouble for you later if the unscrupulous mover fills in the blank with something you did not approve or intend. For example, a higher price than the one you agreed to pay or an incomplete inventory of what you are asking them to move.

Check references and licensing

If you are crossing a state line, the mover must be registered with FMCSA, and you can check for their Department of Transportation license number. Even if you aren’t crossing a state line, the mover should have a DOT license anyway since some of their work doubtless involves more than one jurisdiction. The FMCSA website also has information on movers’ safety records and complaints from consumers. Check the BBB for reviews and do an internet search using the mover’s name plus the word “scam” to see if you get any hits. Finally, ask for local customer references. A good moving company will gladly share information for recent clients who can talk about their experiences with the mover and their service.

When the move day arrives, be ready. If you are paying an hourly rate, time is money, and movers will charge you for waiting time if you aren’t prepared. Have the boxes packed and stacked by the front door to save time. Label boxes according to their destination at the new residence. If you are moving from or to an apartment with an elevator, reserve it if possible. Arrange for parking as close as possible to your door to avoid any extra distance charges.

Written by Chris Townsend

Chris Townsend

Chris Townsend is a moving professional and relocation expert that has more than 10 years of experience in the moving industry. With a background that includes working in virtually every aspect of the company, he has distinguished himself as an integral part of our operations with expertise in all things related to moving.

If you have any questions about moving, our services, or anything else you think he may be able to help with, you can contact Chris by emailing him at Chris@threemenandatruck.net

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