Every once in a while, a terrifying story hits the news where people’s goods were held hostage by a moving company or of the FBI raiding a moving company’s offices. How do you find a good moving company?
Of course, these are worst case scenarios and most moving companies act within the law. Still, a couple of months ago, I did some competitive research and what I found shocked even me, and I’ve been in this industry since 1997.
While scam movers definitely exist, I truly believe that most moving companies are mostly honest. Still, there are ways for you to protect yourself.
A good moving company will let you verify their license
Whether you are moving locally or long-distance, your moving company will have to carry both a federal license and a state license. The license numbers should appear on all correspondence and trucks. Verify the licenses through the state and federal database. If you can’t find their license information, ask for it.
A good moving company will encourage you to read their reviews
Individually, online reviews are worth very little, since they’re opinions, but dozens and hundreds of reviews show patterns. Every moving company makes mistakes, but do they respond to negative reviews? Do they try to resolve situations? What kind of bad reviews do they have?
A good moving company will have a local office
The competitive research I mentioned earlier dealt with moves to and from Western states. Imagine my shock when for the next several weeks, I was inundated with calls from a Florida number asking if I had chosen a mover.
While Florida has their share of perfectly respectable moving companies, for some reason, they also attract a lot of the rogue movers. That doesn’t mean all bad movers will call you from a Florida number. However, the company you choose should have a local office with a local phone number.
Read the fine print
As with anything else, you always want to read the fine print. Don’t worry, moving contracts are nowhere as complicated as your credit card’s terms and conditions. One of the biggest complaints against moving companies is them charging more than the initial estimate. Oftentimes, what you think is an estimate is just an hourly rate and the company’s minimums.
If you want a more exact estimate, you should either guide the estimator through your home or tell them exactly what should be moved. Even after you do that, look through the inventory sheet and make sure they left nothing out. Ask about additional charges such as fuel and travel times (in California, instead of “travel time,” local movers can only charge you for the the round trip from your old place to your new one and back). Be sure to let the mover know whether a truck can park close to your front door. You should also tell them whether you have stairs or an elevator.
Featured image via Pixabay.