If you have ever had to choose a moving company for a local or long distance move, you know the decision is not always easy. As a leading moving company, United Van Lines is pleased to share with you some important things to look for, as well as basic steps that will help you choose wisely among moving companies.
Don’t Fall Victim to Moving Scams!
Watch out for these indicators when evaluating moving companies:
Moving companies that ask for cash deposits before they begin moving your items is a definite red flag.
Check moving companies’ websites to ensure they have a physical address in your area. Having no address, a residential address, or just listing a P.O. Box could be an indicator the business is not legitimate.
Look for a U.S. DOT number on the companies’ website. All companies should have active operating authority and adequate insurance.
Also, check moving companies’ websites to see if they are members of organizations like the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB). When companies are members of these organizations, it is often an indicator they are committed to providing good customer service.
Rogue movers and other moving scams pose a real threat and unfortunately the internet has made it easier for such scams to thrive. This underscores why it is so important to not only evaluate pricing, but also the reputation and experience of moving companies when making your decision.
You can trust United Van Lines, a proud member of the American Moving and Storage Association, to deliver the best in your moving experience.
In addition to using the above signs of a potential scam, checking the DOT website,protectyourmove.gov, for helpful information and following the steps outlined below can be a great way to make the right choice among moving companies.
Word of mouth can be a great asset in selecting moving companies. Ask your friends if they have had positive experiences with any moving companies.
Talk to local real estate agents or consult the phone book to find moving companies in your area that have actual physical addresses and offices.
When evaluating moving companies online or in phone books, keep in mind that simply having a website or a large ad does not make a company legitimate.
Once you’ve made a list of prospects, contact the companies via phone to get the full company name and “doing business as” names, the number of years in business, address and phone numbers, website and email addresses, references and DOT and MC license numbers.
Then go to SaferSys.org, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website, and search for the company using the DOT and MC license numbers to see safety information, any orders to cease operation, licensing and other information.
Obtaining price estimates
Reputable moving companies in your area will comply with the federal regulation requiring an in-home estimate. A representative will want to visit your home or facility in order to survey your goods and provide an estimate of cost. Be sure to schedule at least two visits so you have confidence in the estimates you receive.
Beware of estimates given over the phone or Internet. The way you describe your belongings and the way a moving company views them could differ, leading to changes in pricing. Additionally, when you move across state lines, you’ll find that your charge is based on the actual weight of the load being transported, as well as your starting point and destination and several additional factors. A face-to-face meeting will clear these points up and help to ensure accurate pricing from the beginning.
During the on-site estimate, take the time to show the representative every item you wish to have moved. You could easily overlook items in the basement or the major piece of furniture you have sent away for repairs or stored elsewhere, but doing so could lead to additional charges at moving time. And remember, this should be a two-way conversation. The mover should be asking you lots of questions so they can price the job accurately and prepare adequately for the move. You should feel free to ask any questions you need to assure your confidence in the company.
Inquire about “valuation” options. Valuation provides protection from loss or damage to your possessions. The valuation option you choose determines the basis upon which any claim will be adjusted and the maximum liability of the mover. The liability of a mover for loss or damage is based upon the mover’s tariffs, as well as federal laws and regulations, and has certain limitations and exclusions. Valuation is not insurance; it is simply a tariff-based level of motor carrier liability.
Be wary of quotes that are substantially lower than the rest. “Low-ball” price quotes could result in significantly lower quality service or they could be an indication of a mover who plans to “up” the price in a moving scam. One of the many horror stories shared by victims of moving fraud involves a rogue mover taking household goods “hostage” and demanding large sums of money – sometimes thousands of dollars – before returning the possessions. (In these cases, the mover often gives the customer a low bid and then ups the price once the goods are on the truck.)
Names and reputations set moving companies apart
It can be tempting to choose a mover that promises to offer the lowest price. But when you are considering something as important as moving your possessions, as well as the significant investment involved in moving, you are far better off selecting from one of the names you know. Moving is an area where experience counts and reputation is well-earned, because taking a chance with the wrong moving company could be costly in more ways than one.
Evaluating multiple moving companies’ estimates
Consider the attentiveness of the salesperson. Do you have confidence that he or she will be there to help you through planning, packing and loading?
Take a drive past the mover’s office or warehouse. Does it reflect the level of quality and professionalism you expect in a service provider?
Movers are required by law to provide you with a copy of the brochure “Your Rights and Responsibilities.” In this brochure, the “110% Rule” is explained. The rule states that under a non-binding estimate, the mover cannot require you to pay more than the amount of the original estimate, plus 10 percent, at the time of delivery. You are obligated to pay any remaining charges over the 110 percent amount within 30 days.
The importance of timing
Make arrangements for your move well in advance – at least four to six weeks before the moving date. If at all possible, try not to move when everyone else wants to move. Throughout the year, the end of the month is a busy time for movers because of the expiration of leases and preferred closing dates. The summer months – May to mid-September, when children are out of school, are “peak season” for movers. Schedule summertime moves as far in advance as possible and again, try to stay away from month-end moving dates.
What to do when scams occur
Unfortunately, some consumers will still fall victim to rogue movers this year. Fortunately, there is a service called MoveRescue available to help. Those who feel they may have been scammed should contact MoveRescue at 800-832-1773. Consumers who call this number will talk to a representative who will assess the situation and direct the caller through the appropriate next steps. MoveRescue, which is supported by a network of law firms throughout the United States and sponsored by United Van Lines, serves as a central source for consumers who need assistance or anti-fraud information. In some cases, MoveRescue even offers “shipment rescue” for goods being held by rogue movers.
United Van Lines is America’s #1 Mover®. United Van Lines offers a full range of moving and storage solutions from do-it-yourself to full-service. With headquarters in suburban St. Louis, United Van Lines has over 400 affiliated agent locations. For more information about United Van Lines visit UnitedVanLines.com.