Did you know that moving is consistently ranked as one of the top 5 biggest stressful events in a person’s adult life? It’s true but, while moving is definitely bad enough, being scammed by your moving company is probably a bit worse.
In 2012, the last year for which new data is available, over 1.4 million inquiries and 9200 complaints were made against moving companies according to the BBB. Some of the problems reported were damaged goods, “bait and switch” estimates for moving costs, household goods being “held for ransom” at delivery time and deliveries that were extremely delayed.
It’s not that all movers are bad, it’s just that there seems to be a dearth of scammers in the industry. If you’re going to be moving anytime soon and you want to protect yourself, below are some of the best ways to do it. Enjoy.
- Get at least 3 estimates from reputable moving companies. There’s really no way to know if your estimate is accurate unless you have 1 or 2 others to compare it with.
- Make sure that your mover comes to your home to provide your estimate. Any mover that says they can provide an “accurate” estimate over the phone is either kidding you or kidding themselves.
- Make sure that your estimates are all in writing and that they include the price for the actual moving as well as any packing material and packing services, any extra services that you might need like crating and also insurance.
- Check with the BBB online as well as reading any online reviews and social media streams that you can find about the company you’re considering using.
- Check to make sure that your mover has an actual physical address. If you’re not sure, ask to see where they store their moving trucks and furniture that’s in storage. If they have a warehouse, make sure that it’s clean, well-kept and seems “legitimate”.
- Asked for references and make a phone call or 2 to talk to people who have used that mover already. If you’re mover won’t provide references, you probably shouldn’t use them.
- Keep in mind that movers cannot legally charge you more than 110% of their estimated price when they are ready to deliver your stuff to your new home.
- Before you sign any paperwork or contracts, make sure that there are no blank spaces left anywhere that the mover can fill in later with fraudulent numbers. ( There are only about 7 or 8 spaces that will be above your signature, so make sure they are all filled in.)
- If you are moving out of state (called an intra-state move) make sure that you purchase “full coverage” insurance.
- Most movers will have deductibles on their full coverage insurance and, if you want to save money, getting one of them will drop the cost of your insurance usually by 25 to 50% while only adding a $250 or $500 deductible. While this may sound like a big deductible, what you really should be thinking about when moving long-distance is not that 1 or 2 items will break but that the entire shipment will be lost in a crash, fire or other major catastrophe.
- On moving day if you are uncomfortable with anyone that shows up at your home, you can ask them to leave or ask them to stay on the truck rather than enter and leave your house all day. (If you really are uncomfortable, a quick call to your mover should definitely be your first reaction.)
- Every mover has a US Department of Transportation name and number on their paperwork that should match the truck that they bring to your home. If they don’t match, you might have a problem.
- Make sure that your mover fills out and Inventory sheet that has every single piece of furniture, every single box and every other item that is loaded onto the moving truck listed and numbered. You legally should receive a copy of the inventory before they leave on moving day.
- On delivery day you, your spouse, an adult family member or trusted friend should stand outside the truck as the furniture and boxes are unloaded and, every time one goes by, mark the inventory sheets to make sure everything is delivered.
Moving is certainly a stressful experience but if you follow the rules above, do some due diligence and use your common sense, you can make it a lot less stressful. Best of luck on your move and on your new life in your new home town.