Do Your Research
Every year, 40 million Americans move, and many hire professional movers to simplify the process. Moving is always a lot of work, but the right movers can make the experience less stressful. While researching movers may be overwhelming, it’s worth it to take the time to find a trustworthy company you can rely on.
Save money and ensure your move goes smoothly by following these tips for finding the best moving company.
Related: 18 Hidden Costs of Moving
Rely on Word of Mouth
The first step when looking for movers is to get in touch with friends, family members, neighbors, or coworkers who have moved recently to see if they have recommendations. Their personal experiences are worth more than online reviews and can kick off your research with some well-respected companies to contact.
Check Online Reviews
If you don’t have any personal recommendations to base your research on, start the process online. Check reviews on Google, Facebook, and Yelp by looking for companies with over 100 positive reviews and an average rating of four stars, or higher, out of five. Once you’ve found a company that is well-reviewed, look over some of the comments written by past customers to see if there are any red flags.
There are plenty of websites and Internet-based brokers which will help you find movers, but you’re better off looking for local companies who actually have offices in your area. This will help you avoid potential scams as well as ensure they can send an employee to your home to give you an estimate. When you go through a broker or third-party company, you won’t necessarily be able to verify anything about the reliability of the actual movers.
Confirm Whether They’re Federally Registered
Before contacting a moving company, look for their Department of Transportation (DOT) number, which should be available on their website. With this information, you can confirm their federal registration and insurance status by using the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) search tool. It will also display any complaint history the company may have. Note that while DOT numbers are required for interstate moves, they’re not always used by local movers.
Check Their Complaint History
If the mover does not have a DOT number, there are other ways to see if they’ve had official complaints lodged against them. Use the search tools provided by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and movingscam.com, both of which aggregate information that may be helpful. You can also check to find if they’re registered with the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), which ensures they’re willing to comply with the organization's standards and best practices.
Get a Written In-Home Estimate
In order to compare the prices of several moving companies, the first step is to begin collecting estimates. While it’s certainly simpler to get estimates over the phone, they won’t be able to give you an accurate appraisal without actually seeing all of your furniture and household goods. Keep in mind that while local moves are typically estimated by the hour, long-distance moves are estimated based on weight and distance.
Ensure They Offer the Services You Need
It’s important that the estimator does a thorough walk-through of your entire property to access everything that needs to be moved. When the company’s representative arrives to provide your estimate, be sure to discuss any large or unusual items to confirm they have the necessary experience and equipment to safely move them. Some potential items to discuss include hot tubs, pianos, pool tables, and large aquariums.
Request a Binding Estimate
When it comes to long-distance moves, moving costs can add up quickly. In these cases, it’s prudent to request a binding estimate, which guarantees you won’t be charged more than the amount quoted. While many companies draft binding estimates for free, it’s legal for them to charge a fee to do so. The regulations regarding binding estimates vary from state to state, with some requiring them for interstate moves and others forbidding them. It’s important to note that even with a nonbinding estimate, movers cannot legally charge more than 10 percent over the quoted price according to the FMCSA.
Don’t Pay a Deposit
Be wary of any company that requests a deposit before your moving day. While it may seem logical to pay a portion of the moving fee in advance to secure your date, requesting a deposit is actually not a standard practice in the industry. Be sure to do a deeper dive: Research any company that asks for an advanced deposit to confirm they’re well-reviewed and don’t have a significant amount of online complaints.
Compare Your Estimates
While it can be tempting to choose the lowest offer you’ve received, be sure to go over all of the details of your estimates before making a final decision. Verify everything that’s included in their services, and weigh that information with the information you’ve found online about each company. When it comes down to it, you should choose the movers that you feel most confident in and with whom you most easily communicate.
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