How to Choose a Moving Company

Posted on May 11 2012 - 1:55pm by Tim Eyre

The month of May contains many little celebrations – spring weather, end of the school year, blooming lilies and National Moving Month! Maybe moving isn’t as exciting as lilies opening up for the world or kids throwing down backpacks for the summer, but it’s part of everyone’s life at some point.

As I’ve mentioned before when discussing how to pack moving boxes, I think hiring a moving company is worth it. I’m not lazy, just practical! However, hiring a mover does require some thought, even if you’re only moving a mile away. It’s important to protect your wallet and your belongings by hiring a reputable mover. After all, moving should be memorable for the right reasons – being handed the keys to your new home, walking over the threshold for the first time as the new tenant or owner, and celebrating with pizza amid all the unpacked boxes.

Unfortunately, moving time for some is a time they’ll remember for getting ripped off or taken advantage of by scammers. In 2011, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) received more than 9,000 complaints against movers. Those complaints include goods being “held hostage” for additional payment, lost or stolen belongings, damaged items, late deliveries, and giant increases over quoted estimates. You can avoid moving hassles by doing some simple research and looking out for red flags with these moving tips.

Estimates, Research and Insurance

The BBB and the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) recommend getting at least three written in-home estimates. They caution against relying on quotes received over the phone or online.

Before you commit to a mover, check up on them at the BBB website, which offers more than 17,000 moving-related business reviews. Also, explore the resources available at AMSA, including the ability to search for an AMSA-certified ProMover for interstate moves.  The government requires a license for interstate moves, and you can check your moving company’s status online at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website, Protect Your Move.

In addition to choosing the right mover, you’ll need to select proper insurance coverage for your move. BBB and AMSA recommend purchasing full (replacement) value protection instead of the required minimum coverage of .60 cents per pound. Why? Because electronics and other items are worth more than they weigh! Effective on May 15, interstate movers are required to include the cost of full value protection in your estimate, so look for it.

Red Flags for Rogue Movers

The FMCSA advises you to watch out for red flags that may signal you’re working with a rogue moving “company” that may hold your goods hostage for more money.

  • No Name, Location: A reputable company should answer the phone with their company name when you call, not a generic name like “movers.” They should also have a local address on their website, as well as information about licensing and insurance.
  • No Offices, Warehouses: Rogue movers may not have warehouses or offices, or, if they do, the properties may be poorly maintained.
  • Estimate without Inspection: Interstate movers should offer to inspect your goods before giving an estimate. Rogue movers may provide a too-good-to-be-true estimate over the phone. They may also claim that all of your goods are covered by their insurance.
  • Payment Before Move: You shouldn’t have to pay in cash or put down a large deposit before a move.
  • Rental Trucks:  If your movers show up in a rental truck rather than a marked fleet truck owned by a moving company, then you may have trouble.
  • No Booklet about Your Rights: During the planning stages of your move, interstate movers are required to give you a booklet called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.”

After you’ve done your research, hired a great mover and unpacked, check out my post on what to do with those pesky used moving boxes. And finally, enjoy the new place!

Tim Eyre



1 Comment so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Roz May 17, 2012 at 11:38 am -

    I currently live in Hallandale Beach Florida and need a cedar chest, that belonged to my grandmother, and a few boxes moved from Memphis TN. They are located in a storage facility that have the keys to the lock in their office in my file. Does anyone know a reputable moving company that will pick up items, pack, and bring to my Florida condo? I'd like to have the items picked up no later then June 10 but am not in a hurry to have them delivered to me. Condo rules prohibit delivery on weekends. Also, what would be a "normal" range as far as cost?