May is National Moving Month. (Who knew?) When it’s time to move, who will you trust with your precious belongings? Unless you plan to rent a truck and press your friends into helping, you’ll want to consider these tips for choosing a moving company. Choose carefully.
Ask Your Friends. Talk to friends, family, and colleagues. People who have moved recently may have good suggestions for you. Another outstanding resource? Realtors®. Real estate professionals are constantly working with people on the move. Ask for their recommendations.
Check Online Reviews. Start with the Better Business Bureau. Look at referral services like Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor. Once you’ve narrowed your search to a few companies, do an internet search to see what information you find. Try searching with the company name and a term like “reviews” or “complaints.” You can’t trust everything you see online, but you may see patterns in reviews, both positive and negative.
Licensed And Insured. Ask for written proof that the mover is licensed through either the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or a state, county or other local agency. Then go online and look for the latest information about the company. Ask for written verification that the mover carries insurance. Ask if the mover is a member of a trade association, and then check online to be sure their membership is up to date.
Get More Than One Estimate. Talk to at least three companies, and ask for written estimates. A verbal quote is not enough, and the estimator should come to your home and look at what you want moved. Take your time reviewing the estimates, and don’t be pressured into signing a contract before you’re ready. The estimates will be lengthy, and may include unfamiliar terms, so ask for explanations and make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. You’ll want to know the price, but don’t hesitate to talk about payment, too. When and in what form will you pay?
Look Out For Scammers. There are red flags that will alert you to a shady operation. Check the address for the moving company, and go there in person if you can. Does it appear to be a legitimate business, or just someone’s house? (Or even worse, a P.O. Box.) Does the mover want money up front? A deposit is reasonable, but a request for cash or more than about 20% of the move cost should make you think twice. Don’t be tempted to take the low bid just because it’s cheaper. A bid that is significantly lower than the other bids may be a sign of a sketchy operator. On moving day, if the mover shows up in a rented truck, think hard before you let them take your goods. Your belongings may never arrive at your new home, or they may be held for ransom until you pay an additional amount.
A Few More Ideas. Don’t ignore smaller local companies. They may be less expensive or provide some extras because they’re competing with the national brands. Ask if your mover provides used boxes for free, or at a greatly reduced price. Find out if the mover will place your furniture where you want it, or just in a particular room.
If it turns out that the moving company is you, a few friends, and a rental truck, make sure you reward the team. Organize pizza, sandwiches and drinks in advance. And remember, no beer until the last box is in your new home!