Every year in the U.S., millions of people move – and amazingly, most of those moves go off without a hitch. However, among those smooth moves, some people do get burned by scams or unethical business practices.
Before you hire a mover, it’s smart to become an informed consumer. To help you find the most reliable movers and avoid fraudulent companies, here are seven best practices to follow.
1. Ask for Accurate Estimates
Reputable moving companies will take an in-person inventory of all your possessions and provide written estimates. The estimator should be thorough and check all your storage spaces, such as cupboards, attics and garages. A significant percentage of the moving company’s price comes from the weight of your items and how much space they take up in the moving truck.
Be sure to get thorough in-home estimates from at least three different moving companies, and be wary if one estimate is significantly lower than the others.
2. Don’t Pay a Large Deposit
Most reputable moving companies don’t require customers to pay a large up-front deposit before the move. Also, you should only pay upon delivery. If you pay in advance, you relinquish control over when you will see your belongings again.
When you do pay, always use a credit card with purchase protection, so you have some insurance in case of any fraudulent activity. One common practice among unscrupulous moving companies is to hold people’s belongings hostage until they pay a cash ransom.
3. Read Reviews and Complaints
Before signing a contract with a moving company, search online to see what previous customers have said about them. Find out whether they have any complaints on file with the Better Business Bureau or your state attorney general’s office. You can also review the company’s complaint history by using the mover registration search tool on the Department of Transportation’s website.
Some companies attempt to avoid complaints or government oversight by doing business under a variety of names. Be sure the company has a local address and is insured. When you call, their employees should always answer the phone with the full name of the business, instead of a generic “Movers” or “Moving company.”
4. Ask for References
Don’t be shy about asking any mover you speak with to provide a list of at least three customers from your area who have moved in the past several months. Call those customers and ask them for details about their experiences.
If you have family members and friends who have recently moved, their recommendations can be invaluable as well. You can also get a list of reliable movers from organizations such as the American Moving and Storage Association and state associations of movers.
5. Beware of Extra Fees
Are you moving to or from somewhere with lots of stairs, or someplace that’s difficult for the movers to navigate or access? If you anticipate the moving team encountering any situations that might make your move more complex or challenging, be sure to ask about additional fees you might incur.
6. Never Sign a Blank Moving Contract
Get absolutely everything in writing. The contract should list your mover’s estimate and any extra fees, as well as your pickup and delivery dates. Go over your contract with a fine-toothed comb to make sure it lists all your belongings. If something goes missing and it doesn’t appear on the inventory list, you won’t be able to file a claim for it.
7. Hire a Local Mover
If you hire a moving company based in your area, you’ll avoid falling into the trap of doing business with an unscrupulous mover operating solely online. You’ll also be able to visit the company’s office, meet some staff members and check out its equipment.
8. Plan Your Next Move With The Home Team
If you’re moving in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis or Columbus, count on The Home Team to help you make the process as smooth and painless as possible. Our goal is to provide the most efficient move with our streamlined, labor-only approach to moving. Learn more by reaching out today.