Moving from Florida to California is just trading one set of beautiful beaches for another, right? Both states have incredible coasts, although the water is quite a bit warmer in Florida, which allows for some pretty sweet diving and snorkeling. Colder Pacific Ocean currents don’t feed hurricane-strength winds, so California wins that tradeoff. Both states cherish their outdoor, healthy nature-loving lifestyles, even if they differ on politics. You definitely won’t miss the humidity, and in California, you can find whatever climate you want—mountain, desert, or coastal or inland valley.
It’s a big deal, moving from Florida to California, and you want to choose the best moving company for the job. How can you find a full-service, reputable company that can handle all the details so you can have confidence that your move will be taken care of professionally? Start by choosing a mover registered with the FMCSA. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, part of the Department of Transportation, regulates interstate movers and brokers (more about brokers later.) FMCSA requires that movers follow the rules designed to protect consumers by providing them information and adhering to ethical business practices. Every registered moving company will have a number issued by the DOT, and you can research their safety record and complaint history by checking the FMCSA database.
Professional moving companies must conduct a physical survey of the household goods that you want to be moved, unless the residence is more than 50 miles from their office or their agent’s location. You can waive this requirement, but you shouldn’t. The best way to craft an accurate assessment of a shipment’s weight is to see what it will include. That makes sense, and the movers you are considering should not hesitate to take the time to come and perform this inspection. With that information, they produce an estimate of the shipment’s weight, which is the basis of the price they will charge you.
Estimates can be binding or non-binding. The moving company will usually prefer to offer a non-binding estimate, while the consumer prefers the security of a binding estimate. If the estimate is binding, it means that the price charged will not increase, even if the weight forecast by the company is low, as long as the shipper does not add anything to the inventory. The inventory is a comprehensive list of everything the mover noted in the physical walkthrough that is to go in the truck. Sometimes they call it a cube sheet or table of measurements. You should make sure it is complete, and that each company from which you receive an estimate works from the same inventory. That way, your comparison will be valid.
The movers also must provide you with a copy of their tariff, which is a list of all potential costs for which you may be responsible. These include the line-haul charges, which is the transportation portion of the move, plus charges for accessorial services for packing, crating, assembly of furniture, and long carries and flight charges. Tariffs also explain fees for impracticable operations, which is what the moving company calls conditions that can’t be foreseen but must be resolved to complete delivery. To illustrate: if your destination is a high-rise apartment, the need to use the elevator for delivery falls under impracticable operations. If the standard delivery truck isn’t allowed to park in front of the building for an extended period, that will result in additional charges as well. In contrast, a rural delivery with a steep winding driveway can cause other obstacles.
One essential requirement for movers and brokers is that the representative provide you with a copy of or link to a brochure FMCSA has created, called Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move. This document details these and other rules, provides helpful hints, vocabulary, and additional vital information for movers.
A moving broker arranges for a move to take place but does not perform the transport, often working with several different moving companies to find the one that is the best match for the consumer’s circumstances. This practice can be beneficial to you if you find a scrupulous broker with good contracts with reputable moving companies. The broker can save you from spending extra time going through the process of negotiating with more than one company by finding the ideal match for you. The FMCSA oversees brokers, and their records are maintained on the database along with the moving companies’ histories. They are required to have written agreements established with any mover they contract for a consumer.
Sticking with the FMCSA registered companies is an excellent first step to ensure that you are engaging a reputable mover for your relocation. Those enterprises will provide you with their dispute resolution plans when giving you an estimate, so review that before choosing. While thousands of claims are filed every year, most involving lost or damaged goods or high prices, FMCSA states that almost all are amicably resolved.
Pay attention to the representative of the companies you are considering. A person should answer calls to the number provided, and the person should identify the company by name. If you call and always get a voice mail recording, or the phone is answered only by a vague greeting such as “moving company,” you should be suspicious.
If the company is unwilling to provide any of the FMCSA brochure’s information, don’t hire them. If the company representative asks you to sign any blank or incomplete documents, refuse to do so and do not hire them. If they suggest that you don’t need to worry about something in the contract, be wary. These are red flags. If they ask for a cash deposit before loading, be very cautious.
When you are in the process of obtaining estimates, if one company submits a weight forecast that is notably different than the others, it could be a scam. Be sure that the inventory is complete and inquire about the reason for the difference. If the estimate is non-binding, you may be stuck with a big surprise when the shipment is delivered.
The mover will provide you with two options for the valuation of your shipment. The default is Full Value Coverage, which will replace or repair any item lost or damaged, up to the declared value (with certain exceptions.) This coverage comes with an additional cost, determined by the moving company, and the fee will be stated in the moving estimate. Usually, there is a deductible applied. If you do not want to pay for the coverage, you can choose to waive it and have a valuation of $0.60 per pound applied at no additional charge, but you will most likely be disappointed if anything in your shipment is damaged. If it is worth moving, it is probably worth more than sixty cents per pound.