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Suppose you are looking for a good, reliable moving company to help move from one place to another. In that case, you probably know that you need a dependable company with an excellent reputation and a truck.

How do you find a company with a truck near you to help get your move done?

Start by looking for moving companies with a truck that are honest and hardworking, like you. Most of them are, and it’s not difficult to avoid those just out to make a quick buck. If you are planning a local move, the companies will charge you based on the amount of time it will take to perform the move and the number of movers and trucks. Labor charges vary widely from region to region, but the average cost of a short distance move is less than $1000. How much stuff you have, how far you are moving, and how much work you do yourself all factor into the ultimate cost.

Local (intrastate) moves are not subject to the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation. However, you may find that the moving companies you consider still abide by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) rules because they also do interstate jobs. Either way, most states have agencies that oversee movers that conduct moves within their borders, and you can check to see what the rules are in your area. It might be the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Consumer Protection, or even the Public Utilities Commission. When you are considering which mover to hire, check with these agencies to determine whether the company has an unfavorable complaint history or safety violations. You may also want to search the Better Business Bureau site for information. If the company is registered with FMCSA, check their Motor Carrier number there. Many movers are members of the American Moving and Storage Association and may also affiliate with state associations.

When you are beginning your search, ask for referrals from friends and family. Sometimes moving companies have alliances with local nonprofit or philanthropic organizations. Realtors may have recommendations as well. Once you have some ideas, ask the company for references from recent customers and call them. Do not rely on published reviews, which could be fabricated or compensated. Talk to the actual clients and find out what they did and didn’t like about the moving company.

How do I avoid moving scams?

There are more than 40 million moves in the United States every year, and the great majority go well. Unfortunately, complaints against scammers are on the rise, so you do need to be careful. There are some red flags to be on the lookout for as you consider moving companies:

  • Watch out for name changes. Some firms stay one step ahead of the BBB and government watchdog agencies by changing their name constantly. Be skeptical of a company that lacks a local address or phone number. If you can’t contact the person who you initially spoke with, that’s a red flag. Also, if you have trouble reaching anyone, or if the office phone is answered by a generic greeting like “moving company” instead of the name of the organization they provided to you, it may be a scam operation.
  • Large deposit requests are unusual. A reputable company will expect to be paid most or all of the move’s cost when it completes the work. If the mover wants a large deposit, especially a cash amount, that is suspicious. Once you pay cash, you lose your leverage. Paying by credit card secures your ability to dispute the charges if something goes wrong.
  • Be wary if they don’t want to do an in-person estimate. For interstate moves, a visit to your residence to conduct a walkthrough of the contents of the move is a requirement. Local transports may not have the same stipulation, but a legitimate mover will be happy to do it. Professional movers understand that this is the best way to accurately assess the move’s scope and provide a valid estimate. If the mover tries to steer you to a verbal or online description of your shipment or does a cursory walkthrough, it may be setting you up for a lowball estimate, followed by holding your goods hostage until you pay much more than agreed.

The reputable mover will walk through your home, looking at everything, and creating an inventory list of what you plan to move. They will ask questions and make notes about anything that you plan to add or delete before moving. That way, they can devise a precise forecast of the labor needed (or weight, in the case of a long-distance move) for your relocation.

  • Never sign a blank document. This suggestion sounds obvious, but shady movers have been known to hand potential customers a blank or partially completed contract for them to sign, saying that they will fill in the rest when they get back to the office. After all, who wants to sit around waiting for them to finish up all that paperwork? Don’t sign anything blank or anything you haven’t thoroughly read and understood. The contract must specify the type of estimate—binding or non-binding and must include the valuation protection you are getting. Remember that these rules are for interstate moves, but ask what the rules are in your locality, and make sure that you understand how they apply to your move.

Movers have more leeway in how they write contracts for local moves, which means you have more responsibility to read it and ask for clarification before you agree. Ask the mover to explain what extra fees you may encounter. Are there additional costs for stairs or elevators? Do they charge more if something must be carried a long-distance? These items are listed in the mover’s tariff, but the company representative can tell you how they will be applied in your specific case. If you compare estimates between moving companies, understanding the extra fees will also help make the comparison equivalent.

Should I have the movers do the packing for me?

The answer to this question is maybe! Moving is a big project, and it saves time and effort to have the movers do all or some of the packing. They are professionals, after all, and you have devoted considerable time to choosing the right company. More than likely, they will do a better job, faster, packing your stuff than you can do. On the other hand, they will pack everything, and you will lose out on the opportunity to sort through and decide what to move and what to dispose of. Moving is a great time to recycle and donate items that you no longer need or use but to reap that reward, you have to go through the sorting process yourself. If you do contract the moving company for packing, check each box inventory before it is sealed. A generally worded box description will not serve as a back-up for a loss claim if anything is missing. Keep in mind that if you have items of extraordinary value, you should move them yourself or double-check to ensure that you have arranged for appropriate protection.

 

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