How To – Selecting The Right Moving Company

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    Moving can be great or it can be traumatic and one of the hardest things to forget about changing homes is dealing with a bad moving company.

    So, how do you select a company that will not only transport your stuff but get them there on time and in their original condition.

    This is a difficult task but by doing a little research and planning ahead if you can most of your problems can disappear. Planing and understanding your rights ahead of time will also let you resolve any problems that you can’t  foresee.

    What Type of Service will you be getting?

    Depending if you are moving locally or interstate your moving company may provide different services.

    What space will you be paying for? Moving companies may charge by the job or they may charge by the portion of the truck that your items are shipped in.

    You may also request exclusive use of the vehicle that ships your items  to reduce the chance your items might end up missing or delivered to someone else that gladly accepts them.

    If you are using a Broker to transport your items across the country you should get information about any third party shipper they may contract with and any insurance claim issues involved in their use.  Third party shippers often remove liability during their portion of the trip or may not honor full value claims. If this is true then make sure your shipper or broker will cover any difference for the full value of your items.

    Expedited or Time Sensitive Delivery is another option to make sure your items show up on time. Even if you do not request this service you should understand your movers claims for delays in shipping. Remember you are not dealing with Fedex… unless you are actually using them heh … but delays of days have been known to happen.

    Make sure you understand if the company will deliver on weekends and if not where your items will be stored.

    Storage is another part of shipping. Some shippers will hold your items at their warehouse so you do not need to contract with a third party storage center.  This is a good option if you expect differences in your closing dates and your departure.

    Some of the things you should look for:

    • Make sure your Mover is registered with the Department of Transportation with a USDOT number. You Can check online with FMCSA by accessing, or calling FMCSA at (202) 366-9805 for licensing and (202) 385-2423 for insurance. FMCSA does not have the authority to resolve claims against a moving company. However, you may file a complaint against a mover by visiting or calling 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238)
    • Ask for Estimates. If your moving company will not visit your home and provides you a general estimate you can expect they are not being accurate or honest on the final cost.
    • Before the move begins you should be provided a Bill of Order that describes your move in total and the costs associated. This is different then the estimate and because it is a contract for work to be done it will be more accurate with allowances for modification due to on the job differences.
    • Before the move you should be provided a dispute settlement document as required by law covering how you may make claims for any damaged property or other problems.
    • At the time of the move make sure your mover provides you with a Bill of Lading that describes all of your belongings. It should also describe the condition of items. You may want to take pictures.
    • Do not pay in full or provide a large cash deposit. The costs to actually make your move should be within the budget of any reputable mover. A smaller company may hire temporary day labor to move your items and that would be just one of the reasons for a large deposit. Always pay by check or credit card after you have inspected your items at their new location for damage. If they have your stuff and your money then you are really out of luck.

    Moving Insurance

    There are a few different offerings of insurance and the amount of recovery you can get may be based on whether you pay for coverage or accept free coverage that the mover provides.

    Released Value is often a free insurance that bases the value of the goods on the weight of the item. If many of the items you are shipping are expensive then this is probably the wrong insurance for you since you will only recover pennies on the dollar.

    Full Value insurance is often at the option of the customer and you will probably need to pay for coverage that will pay the full value of items that get damaged or lost in the move.

    Third Party insurance is sometimes available when you are making long distance moves that require an independent over the road company to haul your items.

    Do not sign a delivery receipt for your household goods if it contains any language about releasing or discharging your mover or its agents from liability. By law, you have nine (9) months to file a written claim. Strike out this kind of language or refuse delivery until a proper receipt is provided.

    Interstate movers are required to participate in a dispute resolution or arbitration program to address your loss and damage claims. If your mover does not provide you with information on its program, ask for it—movers are required to provide a concise, easy-to-read summary.

    Final Note

    Unfortunately Moving services are not the type of company that referrals or personal recommendations are often useful in your evaluation of choice.

    Most of us will only move a handful of times where we will need to use one. When you are younger you can stuff everything into your car or uhaul and dump your disposable furniture in the garbage.

    If you ask people that have recently moved in your area they most likely used a company in a distant city to move to your area.

    One exception may be contacting your companies Human Resources Department or talking with your manager about which companies are used to move executives in your business.

    Realtors are another resource but in all honesty do they really care once you sign the closing papers and you pay them their cut? maybe, maybe not..

    Finally although you may not want to deal with moving any of your items yourself it is important to protect your private items and documents.  You should really reserve space in your vehicle for these items an move them yourself.

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