To ensure your belongings are in good hands, remember…a little research goes a long way!
One of the most overwhelming parts of buying a home and moving is selecting a moving company. Your friends are ready to make recommendations and there is an abundance of ads online and offline featuring the best moving company – but which one is the best fit for your needs?
Depending on what kind of move you’re planning, the process can vary, but there are always a few constant key factors:
Licensed is key
The most important thing to research is the company’s legal status. There are a lot of moves claiming to be licensed and insured, but unless you make that confirmation, you can’t take it at face value.
At a local level, many states have rules and regulations to monitor household goods carriers. The state Department of Transportation or the Public Utilities Commission are the authorities responsible for overseeing intrastate movers. Make sure you contact the relevant authority.
The agency that grants permits to all moving companies engaged in the interstate transportation of household goods is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), so make sure you contact them before planning a move.
The FMCSA regularly executes safety, economic and legal compliance audits to protect consumers, and the data is available as a public record. The agency’s Safety and Fitness Electronic Records System allows you to check whether a mover is licensed and insured, as well as their inspection results.
Don’t even consider moving to another country without researching whether your chosen company has been approved by the FMC. Make sure that the ocean transportation intermediary involved in the moving process is certified by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), the federal agency responsible for regulating U.S. international ocean transportation to protect U.S. consumers.
Once you have verified a mover’s legal status, check out their reputation. Don’t be an easy catch by some flashy ad that is skillfully designed to attract you and oftentimes mislead you.
Valuable and trustworthy recommendations often come from other people who have experienced the difficulties of moving. As you’re browsing through reviews of movers, pay attention to comments about movers’ attitudes throughout the entire moving process.
And, just because someone had a bad opinion of a mover, do your own research on how the company handled the problem before you dismiss them. If it’s only one customer who left the negative feedback, they might have been too picky. However, if there are too many bad opinions about the company, then steer clear of it.
Another way to gather information is to see if they’re members of moving associations or if they have other special accreditations. If a company is involved in moving industry groups, it implies that the company has adopted an innovative approach to business and keeps up with what’s happening in the industry.
A good indicator that the company keeps its lines of communication open is to check out their social media presence.
A strong presence in social networks is also a good indicator that the company keeps its lines of communication open.
Additional services that add value
When it comes to disassembling furniture and electronics, packing items of extremely high value, providing custom crates to ensure safe transportation for works of art, or using a rigging system and a lift to hoist items through a window, you should always ask if it will cost extra for these services. Always find out what other additional services are available — and at what price.
If the moving company doesn’t have a physical address, take that as a red flag. If they don’t provide a written estimate after surveying your home, take that as a warning sign.
Here are a few other red flags to watch out for:
- Asking for a large deposit in advance
- Giving an unrealistically low or outrageously high estimate
- Not providing you with the FMCSA booklet “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move”
- Asking you to sign blank or incomplete documents
Remember, the more you research your movers, the better equipped you’ll be to make a good choice.