If you are moving and need to find a mover at the last minute, there is no need to panic. You can find a good moving company near you. Plenty of high-quality short notice movers will have time to fit you into the schedule. For quick moves, you can also look for movers from sites like craigslist. There are some steps you can take to make sure you get the right one signed up to take care of your move.
If you are moving out of state, FMCSA has your back. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is responsible for oversight of all commercial vehicles engaged in interstate commerce. While the agency’s foremost mission is highway safety, it promotes regulations to protect consumers from fraudulent practices in the moving industry as well. Movers who perform transports across state lines need to register with FMCSA, which maintains records regarding safety history and consumer complaints. Their rules apply to move brokers, who facilitate arrangements between consumers and movers and the moving companies themselves.
First, you will know if your potential mover is registered with FMCSA. It will have a Motor Carrier number issued by the DOT (Department of Transportation) and use it in its official communications and advertising. If you are working with a broker (more about those in a minute), the broker will have a DOT number. You can check with FMCSA to find out safety violations, accidents, and unresolved disputes of short notice moving companies.
Second, registered moving companies abide by the regulations published in the brochure called Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move. While these only apply to interstate moves, most reputable interstate movers will do an excellent job with your local move also. Movers must provide you with a copy of the pamphlet when you are considering contracting for their service. They also will provide you with the following:
Understanding the rules will help you avoid scams and choose a reliable mover. One of the most important regulations is about the estimate. The Rights and Responsibilities publication explains that there is more than one kind of assessment, but regardless, all estimates must be based on a physical survey of the household good you want to transport. By visually inspecting the items to be moved, the company representative can create an accurate inventory of the shipment and devise an estimate of the cost. If you contact a mover that does not want to conduct the in-home walk-through, just go on to the next one on your list.
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Even though the FMCSA rules don’t apply to local moves (moves within the same state are exempt, and moves of less than 150 miles are usually considered local), you can use the same quality standards to find your mover, even when moving on short notice. That DOT motor carrier number is a sign of reliability, and if you investigate the mover on the FMCSA site and they haven’t done well, you can assume they won’t do better on a local move.
But remember, the estimate you get will probably be different. Rather than estimating the shipment’s weight, the short notice moving company will give you a quote based on an hourly rate and how much time he thinks is necessary for your job. Industry experts say that loading the contents of a three-bedroom house takes three movers about four hours. Unloading would add 3 hours, and that doesn’t include the packing, which would add another 6-8 hours.
On average, a local move of around 10,000 pounds (enough for a three-bedroom home) will cost $1,000, but you should check local rates, and if you have any specialty items, the costs can add up quickly. Just moving a piano can be $400.
Using a moving broker is one way to streamline the search for the moving partner you need. If you are looking for a mover, chances are you will hear from at least one broker, so you do need to know the difference between moving companies and moving brokers. Movers have trucks, and they employ people to pack, load, and transport goods. Brokers do not. Brokers facilitate arrangements between movers and consumers, similar to how mortgage brokers might help you find the best home loan or an insurance broker might scout out several different car insurance companies trying to find the best price for your circumstances. If you find a good broker, you can go through all the move details one time and let the broker work with their affiliated moving companies to find the best one for you.
But there are some disreputable brokers, and you should be careful. Ensure you are not talking to someone in a “boiler-room” operation that will scam you. Brokers are permitted to provide estimates for companies they have written agreements with, but those estimates still must be based on a visual inspection. Never sign a blank document and be skeptical if your only contact is with the broker—there may not be a moving company at all. If the broker wants payment in advance, especially a cash payment, that is a red flag. Payment should generally be rendered to the mover when delivery is complete. Always ensure that you have the terms in writing and if the driver tries to make changes during loading, have them stop work until everything is clear and agreed in writing. That’s the best way to protect yourself.