Moving is stressful and exhausting. The last thing you need is a shady mover that plays games with the price and mishandles your goods. While most movers are professionals that provide good service, there are some bad actors in the business that take customers and their goods for a ride. Here’s how to protect your stuff and your wallet from rogue moving companies.
Shady practices of rogue movers
Even though hard-working, honest and reputable companies predominate in the moving industry, the Better Business Bureau receives thousands of complaints each year about rogue moving companies.
An incompetent mover breaks or loses your goods. A dishonest one provides an attractive estimate, but once your goods are loaded on his truck, doubles or triples the price claiming that your job was bigger than he originally believed. A mover like this will hold your goods hostage until you pay the additional charges.
Avoid red flags
Here are some ways to protect yourself from rogue moving companies.
- Conduct thorough online research before choosing a mover. Since shady companies may change their names frequently to avoid bad online reviews, make certain a company you’re considering has done business for many years under the same name. Be aware that rogue moving companies may have professional-looking websites and falsely claim an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Ask for local references and be sure to check with them before making your decision.
- Obtain three written estimates from well-reviewed companies. Make sure the estimates include costs for overtime as well as for packing supplies.
- It’s a red flag if the moving company wants to give an estimate over the phone without seeing your belongings. The mover should be willing to do an in-person estimate in your home or a virtual walk-through where you use your mobile phone to show everything to be moved.
- Beware of companies that want to base their estimate on the cubic feet of goods moved. Insist on an estimate based on weight, which cannot be manipulated like one based on cubic feet. The standard practice is to weigh the moving truck empty and then again once loaded to calculate an accurate weight.
- Is your home difficult to reach by truck? Are you moving into a place with stairs or an elevator? To avoid unforeseen charges, discuss any aspects of your situation that may make your move more difficult before signing a contract.
- Get a binding estimate from the mover, or at least a maximum estimate over which the mover will not charge you.
- The moving contract should be filled out in detail as to what is being moved and what is not. All of your goods should be named on the contract. Never sign a blank or incomplete contract.
- Avoid any company that requires a deposit of 20 percent or more and/or payment in cash. Reputable movers require payment only upon delivery and accept other forms of payment.
- Be aware that rogue moving companies may use rental trucks rather than vehicles bearing their own name and logo.
- If you’re moving to another state, check with the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Association [USFMCA] for any disciplinary actions against a mover you are considering. Also, check to see that the mover has the required license from the USFMCA.