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8 Major Mistakes When Picking a Mover

Making mistakes when moving isn't just annoying -- it can be downright PAINFUL. So please heed these common mistakes that people make when choosing movers.  

1. Getting moving quotes over the phone: You really think a guy on the phone can give you a precise estimate of how much it will cost to move all your worldly possessions?

No way. No how.

Insist on an in-home estimate. They need to see everything you have to move. Maybe you can get an accurate moving estimate if you have a very small move, but it still pays to have someone look at your stuff in person.   

Also, with a phone quote, you have no proof you gave them an accurate inventory of your items. And come moving day, the movers could say you didn't give a complete inventory, and now your move will cost more than the estimate -- you have no way to prove otherwise.

2. Not getting estimates from several moving companies - The only way to get an accurate sense for what's "fair" is to have several moving companies give you estimates of how much your move will cost -- after they see your stuff in person.

3. Choosing a mover that lowballs – We can't say this enough: do not not not choose the moving company that has a dramatically lower quote. That's the No. 1 way to get scammed. Do you really think someone who comes in 25 percent to 40 percent below other movers has such lower costs?


Here's how it goes: You get the low estimate now, and all of a sudden extra charges start piling up until you're at or above the estimates you got from the other movers. Worse yet, a rogue mover holds your goods hostage until he gets his money. Speaking of extra charges...

4. Not asking about charges not in your base rate. Some companies might have cheap rates, but charge a bunch of money for extra charges.

The most common is packing materials.

The movers will rightly insist that everything is boxed, or protected with shrink-wrap or moving blankets. If you don't have your items protected, they'll do it for you, and they'll charge you for it. This can add up to hundreds of dollars.

Other charges to ask about: How does the company handle travel time? Will I face a 'long-carry' charge? Is there a fuel surcharge?  

Finally, don't take the mover's word on this: Insist on seeing any extra charges in a written estimate. (See this article on shrink-wrap charges, and this article on moving boxes charges.)

5. Choosing an unlicensed, uninsured moving company. Moving companies need to be licensed, and they need to be insured.

If you're making a move in-state, your state government regulates your movers -- see this list to see how your state regulates movers, and how to check on them.

If you're moving to another state, the federal government has jurisdiction -- specifically, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of the Department of Transportation. Go to Protect Your Move to check up on the moving company's licensing, insurance and its complaint history.

6. Not getting a binding estimate – Never let someone start your move without a written contract that spells out what services you will be receiving and how much you will be paying. If you do not feel comfortable with the moving estimate or the contract, don't sign it. Follow your instincts. (However, be aware that if you add items to your move after you sign the contract, that binding estimate becomes void.)

7. Failing to disclose everything to the moving company – Maybe your apartment is on the fourth floor of a building with no elevator; maybe you actually DO want to move that metal shelving unit in the basement; maybe the street your new home is on is just a wee bit too small for the moving van.

None of these obstacles is insurmountable, but they WILL make your move more expensive; if you don't tell the mover about them during the estimate, you will be charged for it later.

8. Not understanding your insurance options – During a move, things can go wrong. In most cases, your household items will not be covered under your homeowners' or renters' policy. See this article for your options for protecting your goods.  

Your Next Move:

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In the Press

A Moving Company's Moving Story
June, 2012

Relocation.com's survey was recently featured on the front page of USA Today. The headline entitled "Moving in Hard Times" highlighted our results that moving and relocating behaviors were only moderately influenced by the economy.


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