Moving from the West Coast of Florida to the West Coast of the US is an exciting change, but it comes with a long to-do list: finding a new home, worrying about schools and neighborhoods, maybe even looking for a job. One of the critical tasks on the list is finding a great moving company to handle your relocation from Tampa to California so that you can focus on the other essential aspects of the move.
Start the selection process for a mover by knowing what you are looking for. Are you moving a whole house full of furniture and miscellaneous items? Do you need to transport a car and a boat as well? What about your office? Do you have a storage unit that you want to include, or will you need storage temporarily in the new location? These questions will each influence your search for the right Florida moving company. So, where do you start?
Make a list of the services that you want the moving company to provide and do some research to find reputable moving companies. There are many to choose from, and most are really good, but unfortunately, there are a few shady operators out there, and you want to stay away from those. One way to identify the winners is to limit your consideration to movers which register with the FMCSA—the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. All movers engaged in interstate commerce must register, so failure to do so is automatically an indication of a company you don’t want to work with. Also, the FMCSA maintains a database of information on registered carriers, which will help you identify those with the best safety and consumer satisfaction histories.
The FMCSA created a brochure called Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move. This helpful resource is available online, and movers must provide it to you before you engage their services. The pamphlet explains moving company jargon and outlines what movers are responsible for, and how you can protect yourself from unscrupulous operators. Reading through this document before you begin to discuss the move with potential vendors will give you the knowledge you need to understand the industry’s terms and negotiate with confidence. Doing your homework will also prepare you to recognize red flags and avoid falling for traps.
A full-service moving company can offer you a menu of options for your move, and you can choose what you need. When the company representative comes to your home to conduct the initial walkthrough, you will discuss the full range of services, including packing, unpacking, crating, bulky items, auto transport, storage, etc. Remember, the FMCSA requires the mover to do an in-person, visual inspection of your household goods. Be very suspicious of a firm that is reluctant to do this and offers you a price based on your verbal description of what you want to ship. The weight of your shipment is the most significant component of your move’s cost since the weight and the distance comprise the line-haul charges, which average around $4,000 for a cross-country transfer. The moving company needs to see what you want to move to craft an accurate assessment of the weight.
This is important because many companies prefer that you accept a non-binding estimate, and they may charge a fee to offer a binding estimate. Let’s break down the difference between the two. A binding estimate is a commitment by both parties to a price based on the weight that the mover estimates. Suppose that the mover evaluates your shipment at 7500 pounds, and gives you a cost of $5,000, with no storage or packing. You will examine the inventory they use to determine the weight and verify that it is comprehensive. If you do not add any items to the shipment or request any other services, the price does not change, with one possible exception. That circumstance is if the mover encounters impracticable operations at the destination. “Impracticable operations” refers to some unforeseen condition requiring additional labor to complete the delivery. Usually, the situation was unexpected, and it might be that the new home has a parking restriction, or unreported stairs, or even a long, steep, and winding driveway. Still, in some way, it requires extra time and effort that the mover is entitled to charge for. There are limits to these charges, which are explained in the mover’s tariff, provided to you with the estimate.
A non-binding estimate, on the other hand, is subject to increase if the weight appraisal is low. Suppose that you have the same assessment of 7,500 pounds, with a price of $5,000, with no storage or packing services. This time, though, the estimate is non-binding, and when the shipment is weighed en route, the weight is higher by 2,000 pounds, and the mover gives you a bill with a 20% increase in cost. Be prepared for the potential difference, and make sure that you have a trustworthy Tampa moving company that isn’t providing you with a low estimate to win the business, fully intending to surprise you later.
FMCSA prohibits movers from demanding more than 110% of the amount on a non-binding quote in exchange for delivery. This rule protects consumers from “rogue operators” attempting to “hold hostage” their belongings to force payment of exorbitant invoices. If the mover has additional charges to collect, it must bill them after 30 days.
The final option is a binding estimate not-to-exceed, and with this type of bid, the price of the move can go down, but not up. If the weight forecast is low, the charges do not reflect an increase, but if the weight is lower than the bid, the costs will be reduced.
In every case, the mover must provide a written estimate and include a complete inventory that reflects the goods to be shipped (based on the visual inspection.) The estimate must include the mover’s tariff, which explains all potential fees for services like packing, storage, stairs, long carries, extra stops, and other accessorial charges.
The estimate also will explain the options for insuring your shipment. Movers must offer both Full Replacement Value Protection and Waiver of Full Replacement Value, also known as Released Value. Full Value Protection furnishes replacement coverage for anything lost or damaged. There are limits and exceptions, and this option carries a cost in addition to the move’s price—the mover’s tariff details the terms, pricing, and limitations. The Released Value option has no additional cost, but the coverage is limited to $0.60 per pound, per item. That is not going to pay to repair or replace anything worth moving. While you may be tempted to save money by forgoing the Full Replacement Value Protection, you will probably be better off by reducing the shipment (donating some older items to a charitable cause) instead and maintaining your peace of mind protecting your delivery. You picked a great moving company for your Tampa to California journey, but sometimes things go wrong, and it’s better to be prepared.