Fact Versus Fiction: Key Information to Know about Moving
FICTION: All moving companies are the same.
Moving companies vary widely, from services available to customer support to fees. And that's not a big surprise, given the vastness of the U.S. moving industry. (It generates about $10 billion a year in revenue, according to the American Moving and Storage Association, or AMSA.)
When choosing a mover, make sure they are insured and licensed with the Department of Transportation. (Relocation.com only works with licensed, insured professional movers.) Check the company's history with the Better Business Bureau, and see if they are a member of a local or national moving association, such as AMSA. AMSA has more than 3,700 members and ensures that they maintain high standards of conduct and service.
FICTION: Moving companies and services cost the same anytime of the year.
According to 2005 U.S. Census Bureau statistics (the most current available), nearly half of the 40 million Americans who move each year do so between May and September. Not only will demand for moving companies and equipment be higher in the summer, rates will also rise accordingly - typically five to 10 percent higher than off-peak periods.
FICTION: It doesn't matter whether the consumer gets an estimate over the phone, Internet or in person.
An on-site estimate based on a physical survey of all the items to be moved will be much more accurate than an estimate provided over the phone or Internet. A physical walk-through with the moving company ensures both parties know exactly what to factor into the estimate and to prevent any unexpected surprises - and charges - on moving day. Consumers should get written estimates from at least three companies.
FICTION: A large deposit is generally required prior to the move.
Professional movers generally don't require a deposit before the move, and if they do, it's generally just a small "good faith" deposit. Also, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) regulations don't allow movers to require consumers to pay for their move before it takes place. Instead, payment is due at delivery, when the truck arrives at the new home.
FICTION: Self-hauling is always less expensive than hiring a mover.
While this may be true in many cases, it's important to factor in all costs associated with self-moving - it's not just the truck rental! For long-distance moves, calculate the cost of travel, including gas, tolls, room and board, etc. There's also the expense of renting and insuring the truck, renting additional equipment such as dollies and furniture pads, insuring valuable possessions and hiring additional help. Ultimately, many consumers find that it's easier and less stressful to hire professionals.
FICTION: All Internet sites that offer moving quotes are the same.
There are many Internet sites that offer quotes, but few verify that the movers in their network are licensed and insured professional movers. Be sure that the Internet site screens and only has only quality movers in its network.
FICTION: Anything can be packed and moved.
There are certain items that moving companies may refuse to transport, due to federal laws and company regulations. They include:
- Car batteries
- Cleaning solvents
- Lighter fluid
- Liquid bleach
- Loaded guns
- Motor oil
- Paint thinner
- Pool chemicals
- Propane tanks
- Weed killer
In addition, it's generally a bad idea to transport anything that is perishable, such as food.
FICTION: A full-service move is too expensive for budget-conscious consumers.
Compared to the other tasks involved with buying, moving and settling in at a new home, moving is probably the most physically demanding and stressful on consumers and their families, yet the least expensive part of the move. Deregulation in the industry has helped lower the cost and improve the service quality in the industry. Additional ways to cut costs further, including negotiating a lower rate with the mover, or picking a slower time of year to relocate, when rates are generally lower.
FICTION: A move can be scheduled around any chosen loading and delivery days.
It is unlikely a moving company can schedule a move to deliver on an exact day because of restrictions by the federal government for the hours that a driver may work, weather conditions and loading or unloading enroute if the truck is less than half full. Most moving companies will commit to a delivery spread of several days and try to accommodate consumers' needs. However, they are only required to deliver within that spread, not a precise day.
FICTION: By using a professional mover, consumers are automatically covered for any damages or lost items.
Federal guidelines require a moving company to give you a limited amount of valuation at no charge, generally 60 cents per pound coverage based on the net weight of the shipment. For example, coverage on a 100-pound article would only be $60, which is obviously not enough to replace most articles. The mover will make additional valuation coverage available for an additional premium. Also, it is recommended to check with the current homeowners insurance carrier to see if coverage is available, and compare the premiums.
FICTION: Using a professional mover requires that they do a 'full service' move, including all of the packing and unpacking, in order to get valuation coverage, making it way too expensive to use a professional mover.
A moving company can actually provide alternative ways of pricing a move to help meet budget constraints. Most moving companies will check the condition of cartons pack by the consumer to assure that they can be transported safely. If the moving company is satisfied that it is OK to move, the individual's coverage would still be in effect. It is advised to ask the moving company for other options for pricing in order to meet budget requirements, as most companies will offer alternatives to full service moves.
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