Moving Companies Washington DC To Maryland
Moving from Washington DC to nearby Maryland is a local move, but also an interstate move. Maryland is the 19th most populous of the states, with little change over the last decade, and approximately 6 million inhabitants. Almost half of those live in Baltimore, with 2.8 million. The DC metro area holds over 5 million people, many of whom are Maryland residents, and only 720,000 live within the City limits.
How do I find the best moving company from Washington, DC to Maryland?
Finding the right moving company for a short distance move involves determining what is important to you, doing some research, and being careful to avoid shady operators. Moving company fraud is a growing problem in the US, and it’s up to each of us to protect ourselves from local moving companies trying to take advantage of consumers. Luckily, there is some help available.
Interstate moving companies are licensed and regulated by the Department of Transportation, which oversees interstate commerce. There is a specific agency within DOT called FMCSA, which stands for Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. It develops moving company regulations and maintains a database of companies that are licensed. It also has information on their safety records and customer complaint history. FMCSA has developed resources to help consumers understand the moving business and protect themselves against unscrupulous companies. One publication they created is called Important Information for Persons Moving Household Goods, and your moving company is obligated to provide you with a copy. Still, it’s a better idea to read it before you hire a mover. This document explains moving company jargon, describes the different types of estimates, and how insurance works, and tells you what to do if you have a claim.
So, let’s say you have some ideas about moving companies to consider for your upcoming move to Maryland. Perhaps you have friends or family members who recently moved, or maybe you did a search on the internet and came up with a few names. How do you know if they are good or not?
What makes a good moving company?
First, be aware that interstate moving companies must come to your residence to complete a visual survey of your household goods before they submit a price quote for your move. FMCSA requires this survey, and it makes sense if you think about it. Some companies will claim that they can determine how much your household contents weigh just by listening to you describe it over the phone or by reading a list that you complete online. But one couch can weigh as little as 100 pounds or close to 1000 pounds. A dining room table can be lightweight or have a massive pedestal that adds hundreds of pounds to the weight. If you take these differences and multiply them through all the items in a house, you can see why the physical walkthrough is essential.
So, be suspicious of any company that claims it does not need to do the in-person inspection of your shipment and asks you to waive the requirement in favor of a verbal or online list. (Currently, some companies are offering a virtual video walkthrough as a substitute for entering the home—accepting this may be a good option). The inventory that the mover creates during the walkthrough is crucial for determining the shipment’s weight and the move cost.
The estimate that the mover gives you after that step will specify whether it is binding or nonbinding. Some companies charge to prepare a binding estimate because that is a commitment to a specific price. If the shipment’s weight is higher than the mover estimated, you don’t pay a higher price if you have a binding estimate. If you have a nonbinding estimate, then the weight forecast accuracy is more critical since your cost will increase if the weight turns out to be higher.
There is a rule about how much a nonbinding estimate can increase, but it is a bit complex, and a mover that is not entirely honest may use the wording deceptively. The rule is referred to as the 110% rule because if you have a nonbinding estimate, the movers can only require payment of 110% of the amount of the estimated amount to deliver the shipment. So, if your estimate is $2,000, the most that the mover can charge at the time of delivery is $2,200. They can add some other charges, but this refers to the weight and transportation charge. However, if you owe the mover more money because the shipment’s weight was higher, they can still invoice you for the balance. They just can’t refuse to deliver your goods. It’s a little confusing, but it means that if your mover is trying to mislead you, it’s possible that you could end up with a much bigger bill later on.
Review the estimates and ensure that you are comparing similar types of quotes. Ask the vendors to explain any discrepancies and ask for more detail if something doesn’t make sense. If one estimate is much higher or lower than the others, find out why. Perhaps the mover overlooked something or included a service like packing that was not on the other estimates. One mover might have a charge for packing material that you can purchase less expensively on your own, and if you remove that item, the quote might be more competitive. Each mover has a list of fees called a tariff, and this includes service charges that may or may not apply to your move. If one is charging for a long carry, but the others are not, it is worth asking why. That is an advantage of having more than one estimate.
How can I decide between moving companies?
Once you have obtained estimates from at least three moving companies (as recommended by experts and consumer advocates), you are ready to research the ones you are considering. You have already checked their status on the FMCSA site to determine that the company is appropriately licensed and has a favorable safety record and few complaints. Next, you can check the Better Business Bureau, which collects positive and negative reviews from consumers about all kinds of companies. The BBB also has a process of accreditation for companies independent of the consumer reports it receives. As an indication of the growing scope of problems related to moving companies, the BBB received over 13,000 complaints and negative reviews about movers (in the US and Canada) in 2019 but believes that these statistics are significantly less than the actual extent of the problem.
Finally, ask the companies for references. Don’t assume that testimonials on a website are legitimate. The company can make those up. A good company will be happy to give you the names of some of their recent customers. You should call and talk to them about their experiences. One tip is to see if the same people are still employed. If “Joe” and “Roger” got good marks from the last clients, but left the company and have been replaced with “Al” and “Sam” the compliment doesn’t carry as much weight as it would if the former workers who did a great job were still there. If anything came up in your meeting with the moving company you are unsure about, make sure and ask the recent customer about it, and ask if they would choose that company again for their next move. That’s an excellent way to validate your final choice.