Choosing the right moving company can be hard work. In 2012, the Better Business Bureau received over 7,700 complaints about movers in the United States. According to the BBB, most complaints stemmed from alleged lost or damaged property, but charging for un-worked hours, arriving late and not honoring estimates also made the list.
Moving day is stressful enough without having your stuff arrive broken or with a surprise bill. To avoid it, you’ll want to vet potential moving companies. It only takes a little extra time, and can save a bunch of hassle.
1. Get Referrals
Searching the Internet or browsing a phone book for moving companies can be daunting. Start by asking friends, family members and coworkers if they can recommend a moving company. If you’re working with a real estate agent, ask the agent for a referral.
2. Follow the Rule of Threes
Don’t settle for the first estimate you receive. Instead, ask at least three different companies to give you an in-person estimate, since no company can really give you a thorough estimate without seeing your stuff.
3. Watch Out for Red Flags
Keep an eye out for red flags during the estimate. For example, most reputable moving companies won’t ask for a cash deposit before you move. If the mover seems hungry to get the money upfront, it might not be a legit business. Also, during the estimate, note how professional or unprofessional the movers seem. If they show up late, seem unsure of their abilities, or can’t answer your questions, look for another company. And be wary of any movers who show up in a rented moving van. A professional company will own its own equipment.
4. Make Sure the Mover Is Licensed and Insured
The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issues a U.S. DOT number to licensed interstate movers. If you’re moving out of state, verify the moving company’s license through the FMCSA’s protectyourmove.gov site and request the company’s U.S. DOT number; you’ll need it if you have to file a claim against the company later. If you’re staying in state, check with your local consumer affairs agency. You can find a list of local agencies through the FMCSA’s contacts database.
5. Check With the Better Business Bureau
Research the moving company’s track record with the BBB, which you can do free online. Stick with moving companies that are BBB accredited or at least have a good rating. If the moving company isn’t listed with the BBB, consider looking for one that is.
6. Ask About Professional Accreditation
Trade associations vet companies before giving them a membership or approved seal. Look for a moving company carrying the American Moving and Storage Association’s ProMover logo. You can also search for approved companies directly from the American Moving and Storage Association’s Moving.org site.
7. Verify the Address
Ask for a business card or pull up the mover’s website and then look up the listed address online or through the phonebook. Make sure the moving company’s address is listed and registered under the company names. Be wary of any address listed under a residential name.