Moving can be stressful, no matter if you are moving across the country or just across town. One way to make the process easier is to let the professionals handle it and hire a moving company. Looking for the right local moving company requires some effort on your part, but it will pay off. You don’t want to hire a shady company that doesn’t show up, tries to raise the price at the last minute, or doesn’t do a good job. If you are going to trust someone with your stuff, you need to check them out first.
There are many ways to find an excellent local moving company. You may want to start by asking friends and family if they can recommend a company they have had a good experience with in the past. Referrals based on success are often excellent leads. Other sources can include your workplace. Your office or school’s human resources or procurement department may have a good working relationship with one or more moving companies. Local companies may offer discounts to members of local civic or business organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, so you should check there as well. But no matter how you find the companies to consider, remember that you need to investigate them to ensure that you want to do business with them.
Unlike interstate moving companies, local movers are not regulated by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), which is part of the Department of Transportation. However, since many local moving companies also perform interstate deliveries, you may find that you can choose from companies registered with FMCSA. If so, you can check out their safety records and consumer complaint history in the administration’s searchable database. Interstate movers have DOT numbers that they display in their advertising, and they must abide by federal regulations in their interactions with consumers.
For local moves, the company is subject to state authority jurisdiction, often the public utility commission or a consumer protection agency. You should see what they require and find out if your state maintains records on complaints or violations. Moving companies may also be members of the American Moving and Storage Association. Certainly, check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in your area. It never hurts to check online review sites like Yelp, but remember that these can be manufactured or incentivized, so they may not always be unbiased.
First, watch out for red flags. One of the best reasons to have the movers come to your house to give you an estimate is that this is your chance to get to know them—you can watch them in action and decide for yourself if they know what they are doing. On top of that, it’s only common sense that they can’t tell you how much it’s going to cost if they haven’t seen what you are planning to move. If the person giving you the quote shows up late and doesn’t seem professional, that’s a bad sign. He’s the one making the sale, so they aren’t representing their company well.
Another sign to be wary of is if the mover doesn’t have a real office or its own trucks. If the person you interact with for the estimate is never available again, and someone else (or no one) answers the phone when you call, that is suspicious. If the movers have a rented truck, that indicates that they are not an established company.
Low estimates usually don’t seem like something to worry about, but they might be. If you have obtained estimates from several local companies (most experts recommend getting at least three), don’t automatically take the lowest one. A local moving company will probably charge you an hourly rate, not with a guaranteed maximum. If there is a significant discrepancy between the estimates, ask questions. See what is different between the movers’ quotes and determine why the costs are higher or lower. One estimate might be all-inclusive, while another is just the loading and unloading. One may not include the charges for the drive (some states allow an hourly fee for driving, and in California, you will pay for the time the mover needs to drive both ways), materials, insurance, and other possible services like long carries or stairs. In that case, the estimates may not be comparable.
The best way to protect yourself is to choose a respectable company and ask the right questions. Please make sure the company is insured and licensed and has a legitimate address and their own equipment. Examine the contract (automatically exclude from consideration any mover that doesn’t have a written estimate and agreement) to determine if it reflects what you have discussed verbally with the representative. Don’t assume that it does. Never sign a blank document, an incomplete document, or one you haven’t read.
Be wary of a moving company that wants a cash deposit, or a large portion of the fee in advance. It is customary for moving charges to be paid on delivery, and most legitimate companies accept payment via credit card. If you pay before delivery, you have no leverage with the mover if something goes wrong, and if you pay in cash, you have no recourse after the fact. They know this. A company with your money in its pocket doesn’t have to worry if you aren’t happy. If you pay using your credit card, you can dispute the charge unless they perform to your satisfaction.
Ask about their dispute resolution program. Even top-notch moving companies encounter accidents, which is why they have systems in place to handle issues that come up. If the mover tells you they don’t need a dispute resolution or arbitration program, that’s a bad sign. Talk to the mover about what is protected by their valuation coverage and what isn’t. Boxes that you pack may not be included unless the mover damages the container, rather than just the contents. Incidents not under the control of the mover may also leave you without a way to obtain reimbursement for any losses. Ask ahead of time.
Ask for references. The company should be able to provide you with a list of happy customers, recent ones. Granted, they are not going to give you the names of any unhappy customers, but if they can’t give you a good selection of satisfied consumers, you should wonder why. When you get the list, call some and make sure they are real customers. When you call, check that the employees are the same and that the roster of apartment movers hasn’t changed entirely since the happy customers got such excellent service.
Local movers are often small businesses, independent companies, or agents representing major van lines. They can also be franchisees of national chains. You can find a great local mover near you to perform your relocation if you use the available resources and do your homework.
Three Men And A Truck services moves nationwide. Below are some of the most popular areas we work in, and have movers and moving trucks ready to assist:
|New York City||Austin||Boston||Milwaukee||Raleigh|
|Los Angeles||Jacksonville||El Paso||Albuquerque||Miami|
|Chicago||Fort Worth||Nashville||Tucson||Long Beach|
|San Antonio||Indianapolis||Las Vegas||Atlanta||Tulsa|
|San Diego||Seattle||Memphis||Kansas City||Tampa|
|San Jose||Washington||Baltimore||Omaha||New Orleans|