How to Pick a Reputable Moving Company
Whether you are moving your home or your business, there are certain common considerations and questions to answer when picking the best moving company to meet your needs. Doing some research is well worth the time to ensure your mover is reputable and trustworthy. Here are tips and resources on what to look for and how to find out what you need to know.
Is the Company Registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)?
Every Interstate mover must be registered with the Federal government and have a U.S. DOT number. It is easy to look it up that number. There you will find basic information on the company. Simply go to the FMCSA database to search for the moving company you are considering. There you can find any complaints that have been filed as well as their safety rating.If you are not moving out of state and using a local mover, a local consumer affairs agency can be helpful. There is a list of consumer affairs agencies on the FMCSA website.
There are many places to look for reviews. Google and Yelp are two of the larger sources and are good places to start. Positive reviews speak for themselves of course but even negative reviews can give you helpful information. Every reputable moving company’s goal is to provide an easy move with no issues, but sometimes things happen and there will be a few (not many) negative reviews even with the best company. When reading negative reviews, look to see how the company has responded. A conscientious company who cares about the satisfaction of their customers will often respond to those reviews.If the company is problematic, there will be consistent elements to the negative reviews such as low-balling estimates and then hitting their customers with extra fees that the customer must pay in order to receive their belongings.Also telling is if the company has no third-party reviews at all. This is indicative of a scam. Scam artists usually change company names and websites regularly to avoid detection.
Does the company require an in-person walkthrough of your home or business?
It is impossible to create a thorough, accurate estimate without seeing everything being moved, and a legitimate moving company will not do it. They may offer you a rough ballpark, but it will never be a definite, binding quote or contract. These visits, whether in person or virtual, are important for several reasons:
- It allows the mover to accurately gauge everything being moved. This ensures your estimate contains a full accounting of the weights and a complete inventory (be sure they see everything. If you surprise your mover with extra items on moving day, don’t be surprised when you are charged extra to account for the increased weight)
- It allows you to meet your mover, ask questions and discuss any special needs you may have. Being able to experience in person the professionalism and knowledge of a company’s representative will also help give you an impression of the overall company.
If a company says they will give you a binding quote over the phone, sight unseen, that is a big red flag.
Get at least three quotes
When you are moving it is best to get 3 quotes from different movers. In addition to helping you find a company you feel secure about, you can also see who best meets all your needs and can work within your budget. One important thing to watch out for is a company that provides a quote that is too low when compared to the others. Grossly underestimating a quote is a common scam.It is a form of bait and switch. You are quoted a very low price, everything is loaded onto their truck, and in order to get your possessions back, you must pay a price way above the quote. They are essentially holding your belongings hostage.
Ask for references
One of the best references is a friend, relative, coworker, or someone in your networking group who has recently moved. They are someone you know and trust and will speak honestly about their experiences. Also ask the mover for 3 references of recent customers and be sure to contact them and ask specific questions about their moves.
WATCH OUT FOR THESE RED FLAGS
- The company is charging by the cubic foot rather than weight. This is not done by reputable moving companies. Always check the estimate closely to make sure they are arriving at the estimate by weight.
- Do they require a signed contract prior to creating an in-person estimate.
- Requiring a large deposit – This is not customary in the industry. Most reputable companies do not require any deposit. Occasionally, due to the circumstances involved in a specialty move or during the busiest season, a mover will require a small deposit but never a large one.
- Being asked to sign a contract (or worse, a blank contract) or pay in advance before you’ve had a chance to review the estimate to your satisfaction. Remember, a ballpark or quick estimate is not a binding contract. Never sign anything before you are comfortable with the company, the estimate, all the details. Do not give them money or your credit card information . Being pressured to sign or pay up front are both warning bells!
A Word About Brokers
“A moving broker is a company that arranges for the transportation of your cargo, utilizing for-hire carriers to provide the actual truck transportation. Moving brokers are sales teams that book your move and sell it to an actual moving company”. They are not movers, they are salesmen.
While there are legitimate brokers, it is often easy for a scam operation to act as a broker. These scam brokers are online operations that try to pass themselves off as local companies. Because they own no equipment nor employ any movers, they take your money and hire other companies to do the job. You do not know who (if anyone) will be showing up on the day of your move. Often, they hire the cheapest, least reputable operation to do the job and you won’t know until it’s too late. Brokers often try to get paid upfront, and are not helpful if there are any issues or disputes with the movers who actually do the work.
Picking the wrong moving company can be disastrous. Luckily, if you do your homework, you can avoid being ripped off. With the on-line resources mentioned in this article and the knowledge you now have. you will be able steer clear of the scams and frauds, and you can be secure in knowing you have hired a reputable move who will meet all your needs for a successful move.
Let Sterling be your Full-Service Mover
Contact us to learn more about our full range of moving and storage services. We will work with you to make sure your move stays on schedule and is as stress free as possible.
Give us a call or fill out our online form, and one of our professional team members will be happy to answer all your questions and arrange a free, no-obligation moving estimate.