Long Distance Moving Companies Near You
If you are one of the three million Americans planning to move to another state this year, you are probably looking for a professional moving company to support you in your long-distance move. It’s one thing to round up some friends and pick-ups for a local move, but you are likely to need help for a long-haul interstate move.
How do I find long distance movers near me?
Start with a move plan and an understanding of how the moving industry operates, and you can find the right partner to work with on your long-distance relocation.
The Department of Transportation regulates interstate moving companies like they do other motor carriers that travel between states. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, known as FMCSA, is charged with reducing accidents and casualties on interstate highways. It is also responsible for protecting consumers from fraud perpetrated by interstate moving companies. To that end, FMCSA requires all interstate movers to register and maintains a database of information on their safety records and complaint history. FMCSA regulations apply to move brokers (brokers facilitate moves by making connections between consumers and movers) and moving companies. Most states have rules like those adopted by FMCSA, but they may not be as stringent or as well enforced, so if you are engaging in a local move, your service provider may not follow the same rules.
What are the rules for long-distance movers?
Interstate moving companies must visit your home to conduct an in-person inspection of what you are shipping. FMCSA established this rule to ensure that movers provide a thorough and accurate estimate of what the move entails. There are exceptions when the mover does not have a representative within 50 miles of the residence, or the customer waives the survey. If a company asks you to waive the visual walkthrough, you are better off just choosing another mover. Reluctance to conduct the in-person survey is a red-flag for potential misconduct on the part of the mover. Even a reputable company cannot get a complete understanding of your move’s nuances without seeing the home. There are many differences in the amount of furniture and other contents between homes of similar size. While one family may have tons of saved possessions, another family might be minimal collectors who have much less to move.
Once the vendor completes the survey, it will provide you with a written estimate of the service cost, often called a quote. For long-distance moves, the mover will base the price on the weight of the shipment. The average weight for a 3-bedroom house move is 10,000 pounds. It may be higher or lower, depending on your circumstances. The estimate will be binding, non-binding, or binding-not-to-exceed. A binding estimate is a commitment. If the shipment’s weight is lesser or greater than what the mover forecast, the cost of the long distance move stays the same. If the estimate is non-binding, it is more of an approximation, and the price of the job will go up or down once the final weight is known. If you get a binding not-to-exceed estimate, then the move’s cost will not increase if the weight is more than predicted, but the cost can be reduced if the actual weight of the shipment is less.
Some things will result in a higher final price, no matter which type of estimate you obtain from the vendor. Along with the transportation charges based on weight, the quote includes the cost of other services needed or requested for the move. Packing services are charged on an hourly basis by most movers. If you engage the mover for packing, you will also pay for the materials they use (boxes, bubble wrap, paper, and tape). Many people enjoy having professionals take over this part of the move process, while others prefer to personally perform the packing. One argument in favor of having the movers do it is that they know how to protect your fragile items for the move, and they can pack more quickly and efficiently than you can. One negative result is that they will pack everything without considering whether it is time to donate or discard some items you may no longer need. Definitely consider having the movers oversee the preparation of specialty items like artwork. Anything that is valuable needs expert preparation, and the item may not be covered by the movers’ liability if you try and pack it on your own.
You will also pay extra for stairs or elevators if the movers have to use them to complete the move. If you have a long steep driveway or other obstacles that prevent their truck from staging adjacent to the house, you may see additional fees for that as well. Those conditions apply to the destination as well as the origin. Sometimes these circumstances are not apparent in advance, and if that is the case, the fees may appear on your bill at the end of the delivery. The mover can only demand a percentage equal to 15% of the total charges at the time of delivery but can invoice you for additional costs later. Similarly, if you have a non-binding estimate, the amount due on delivery of the shipment will not be more than 110% of the forecast, but if the total charges are higher, you will receive another bill after 30 days.
How do I know if the mover is following the rules?
The best way to protect yourself from an unscrupulous mover is to ensure that you engage a mover registered with the FMCSA. It will have a motor carrier number; it will provide you with a written estimate, an order for service, and a bill of lading. You can find out more about the requirements for movers in a publication called Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Are Moving, which the moving companies will provide to you, either in written form or via a link to the FMCSA site. You should obtain estimates from at least three registered movers, and before you settle on one, check its references. Ask for recent customers and then call them. Talk to the customers about their experience, and if possible, verify that the employees are the same.
Be suspicious if you have trouble contacting the company that provides you with a quote, or if you can’t find evidence of the business name in the FMCSA database. It could be a shell operation, changing names to stay ahead of authorities, and you might be the target of a scam. Likewise, if one vendor’s estimate is significantly lower than the others, that is a red flag. The company could be planning to load your household goods into their truck and hold them hostage until you pay a great deal more than you have agreed. You should also be wary of a request for a large deposit or a cash deposit. Most legitimate companies expect their payment when they deliver the shipment. If they have the money upfront, they have no incentive to perform as agreed. Using a credit card gives you the ability to dispute the charges if something goes wrong. Finally, never sign a blank or incomplete contract or receipt. Read through any documents the moving company gives you before you sign. This practice is good common sense for any business transaction, and following it will help you avoid the rogue operator and stick with the honest movers for your long-distance move.