Angie’s List tips for consumers on the move:
Plan ahead: Start researching moving companies four to six weeks in advance, especially if you’re moving during the peak summer months. Movers tend to charge higher rates during this time. Try to arrange your move for the middle of the month – the first and last days of the month are typically a busy time during the summer.
Research your mover: Red flags include an unmarked truck, dirty packaging materials, and employees without uniforms.
Constant contact: If you’re moving a great distance, hire a mover who offers an online tracking system so you can virtually watch your belonging as they move across the country. Regardless of the distance involved, get phone numbers and back-up phone numbers in case you need to reach the drivers.
Check credentials: Moves from one state to another require the company to be registered with the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Intra-state moves are governed by state consumer affairs agency or Attorney General. Ask for proof that your mover is insured against damage and be sure you understand how you would file claims and be compensated should something go wrong. Ask for proof that your mover is insured against damage and be sure you understand how you would file claims and be compensated should something go wrong.
Get at least three estimates: Have the companies come to you for an in-home estimate and show them every item to be moved. Local and intrastate moves are usually priced by the hour, while moves across state lines must be based on the certified weight and distance shipped, plus the amount of special services, such as packing. Be as detailed as possible with the services you need on moving day so the company can provide the right size crew and truck.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is: Never hire on price alone, especially if that low bid is significantly lower than your other estimates. Just because a mover’s hourly rate is the lowest doesn’t mean it’s the best choice. The move could take longer, or items may be damaged – leading to a higher overall cost.
Pay extra for help or pack yourself? If you can afford it, let the movers do both the packing and unloading. The items they pack will be covered by the company’s insurance. Itemize the items to be moved, making note of existing scratches and other damage. Take photos of valuables as proof of pre-move condition.
Bigger may mean bigger costs: Some items, like a piano or safe, will cost more to move than couches and chairs. Additional charges may also apply if the movers have to go above and beyond, like getting an antique armoire up a twisting, tight staircase.
Additional services: Adding services to your move can change costs. For example, the company may charge you for packing supplies, wrapping up big items and assembly/disassembly of furniture. Determine what you want done and get costs for each step.
Do you need insurance? Movers usually carry insurance - generally 60 cents per pound, for each item, but you may decide to purchase more. Check first with your homeowner’s insurance to see if the moving process is already covered. You may want to move expensive or sentimentally important items yourself.
Be available: Make sure the mover knows how to contact you. If you cannot be reached at destination, the mover may place your shipment in storage to avoid delaying other shipments and that could mean additional charges for storage and handling.
Get it in writing: Items such as delivery dates, the mover’s responsibility for loss of damage, estimate, payment method, etc. should be in writing. Don’t sign any paperwork the movers hand you after unloading until you’re sure there’s nothing missing or damaged.
Common moving scams: Reputable movers do not require large deposits to “hold the dates” or “ensure prompt service.” They also do not require you to pay in advance. Payment is due on delivery. Reputable companies charge by weight and distance.
Got damages? If you notice that a box is damaged at delivery, open it in the mover’s presence and have them confirm the condition of the articles in the box. Note any damage on the inventory form. It will be easier to collect on damage if you discover it with the movers still present.