What’s the best way to move from Seattle to California?
Relocating from Seattle to California may not seem that far. Still, depending on where in California you are going, your move is likely to be over 1000 miles, which is close to the average interstate transfer distance of 1225 miles. That “average” move has a typical cost of around $4900, based on a weight of 7,400 pounds, which should accommodate the contents of a three-bedroom home. So, how to get started?
Find a top-notch moving company to get you from Seattle to California, and the process will be much less stressful. Put effort into identifying the right mover to partner with on this adventure, and you can enjoy the ride instead of worrying about the fate of your flat-screen and your family’s cherished dining room set. It’s essential to know your rights and responsibilities and how to find the best moving company for you.
How do I find a great moving company for my Seattle to California move?
Start by limiting your consideration to companies that register with the FMCSA. That stands for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. It is the part of the Department of Transportation that regulates moving companies and brokers, along with other trucks and buses involved in interstate commerce. Any commercial vehicle engaging in interstate commerce must acquire a US DOT registration number. Most states require the same for trucks engaging in intrastate commerce as well.
FMCSA maintains a site called Protect Your Move, which helps consumers planning interstate relocations. It contains a database of information on registered movers and brokers that includes safety and complaint history. It has a list of helpful hints on choosing a reputable mover and how to spot the “red flags” that may signal a rogue operator. The site also explains what your rights and responsibilities are as a consumer. FMCSA publishes these in a brochure that movers will also make available to you when you obtain an estimate for their services.
What are the red flags to look for when choosing a moving company?
There are many clues to tip you off that the moving companies you are dealing with may not be legitimate. Here are some of the giveaways:
- The company website doesn’t have a local address and fails to include its DOT number or insurance information. Remember, the company is required to have that DOT number and to include it in their advertising. It should be easy to find on their website. A local address is one good way to show that the company is legitimate, rather than a call center operation in a distant city.
- When you call the company, you can’t reach the representative you dealt with before, and someone answers the phone with a generic greeting like “moving company” rather than the business name they used when talking to you. When you see their truck, it does not display the company name, and it may be a rental.
- The mover’s representative does not want to conduct a physical inspection of your household goods and offers an estimate of the price of your move based on your verbal description. FMCSA requires an onsite inspection as part of the estimation process. The mover must provide you with a written estimate that includes a comprehensive inventory of all items included in the move. Often, the bid that the mover submits without completing the walkthrough seems “too good to be true” and is lower than the other estimates you may receive. In a variant of this scheme, the mover will give you a range of prices and tell you that it will provide a final cost after loading the truck.
- The mover demands a cash payment or a large deposit before the move. While a request for deposit is acceptable, it should be clearly stated whether the amount is in addition to the estimated charges or subtracted from the total. One frequent scam involves customers paying a deposit with the understanding that it is part of the total payment, and then later being forced to pay the entire amount to a driver who claims no knowledge of any deposit paid.
- The mover asks you to sign blank or incomplete documents or provides an incomplete inventory. Never sign anything that is incomplete or that you do not agree with or understand.
What else do I need to know about choosing a mover?
Now that you know how to spot a disreputable moving company, you are on your way to finding the right one for you. FMCSA recommends that you obtain estimate from at least three movers and carefully compare them. This process helps you get to know the movers, so not only will you get a reasonable price, but you will also engage a moving company with which you feel comfortable. Estimates are essential, and insurance is too.
Estimates can be binding, which means the moving company is committing to the weight estimate they offer you. Suppose you get a binding estimate of $6,000, based on 8,000 pounds of weight and no packing, but it does include two flights of stairs at the origin residence and one stop to pick up some extra boxes from your storage unit. If that is in the written estimate, and you don’t add anything to the inventory, that price is reliable. The only thing that can cause an increase in cost is what movers call “impracticable operations.” Those are unforeseen conditions at the destination that result in additional labor charges. The charges weren’t in the estimate because the movers didn’t know about them.
An example would be if your new San Francisco condo doesn’t allow the standard-sized moving truck to park in the street, doesn’t have a loading dock, and the mover must shuttle the delivery in from a distance. Or, you have a fabulous loft with a narrow winding staircase that requires some real contortions to accommodate your baby grand piano. Those are impracticable conditions, and the cost of those services will be added to the bill.
A non-binding estimate does change because it is subject to the shipment’s final weight (moving trucks, like other trucks, are weighed on the highway). As the shipper, you may observe the weighing process or to see the weight ticket when you receive the invoice. The mover will provide their best estimate of the shipment’s weight, based on their experience, but if the result is more, your bill will be adjusted. This reliance on their judgment is another good reason to choose a professional. a
The moving estimate will include your two options for insuring your belongings. One is included at no additional charge, and when you are trying to save money on the move, it may be tempting, but think carefully. This choice, called Waiver of Full Replacement Value, will only provide reimbursement for any item lost or damaged up to $0.60 per pound. That amount is not cumulative over the weight of the shipment but is per piece. That means that an item weighing twenty pounds (including your new flat-screen television) will only be reimbursed for $12.00 if destroyed. The other option, Full Replacement Value, the mover will charge you for, but this is coverage at what your shipment is actually worth, although there are some limitations and exceptions. If your household goods are worth moving, they are probably worth the additional cost of insuring. The price for this valuation, and the exceptions and limits, will be detailed in the estimate, binding or non-binding.