Nine Tips to Find Trustworthy Movers

Moving's stressful enough – why should you also have to worry about whether you hired the right moving company for the job?

Here's a list of nine easy things you should check on so you can feel totally comfortable with your mover.

1. Find a mover with a local presence. It's better for you if the moving companies work in the area, whether it's a local company or a local agent for a large van line. Working locally makes it easier for you to check it out, get references from local people, and maybe even pop down to check out their facilities. (Would you want an old broken-down truck to do your move? Probably not.) And don't book your move with an Internet broker; most just hand your business over to someone you know nothing about.

2. Make sure your mover is licensed. It's simple to verify this If you are moving within a state, that state does the licensing – check your state's website for who does this.

If you are moving to another state, it's the federal government. Check with the Federal Department of Transportation -- the website is http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/factsfigs/moving.htm -- to check up on the company. Many companies affiliated with a national van line use the van line's license and insurance when doing interstate moves, and that's OK.

3. Check with the Better Business Bureau for many unresolved complaints about a mover. The key words here are ‘many' and ‘unresolved.' A responsible mover may have a few complaints lodged against them -- the more moves a company handles and the larger the population in their market area, the more likely it is it will have at least a few complaints. But it should show an effort to remedy the complaints. The moving company's record with the Better Business Bureau should show that they have a satisfactory rating and that they respond to and resolve complaints.

4. Be sure the mover carries the right insurance. Most important is Workers' Compensation Insurance. Without Workers Compensation Insurance, if someone gets hurt moving (and that happens in an industry where heavy objects are being moved), you might be held liable if the moving company lacks Workers' Comp. This type of insurance substantially adds to the mover's cost of doing business, so it could be the first area an unscrupulous moving company scrimps on.

5. Get a recommendation – but not a recommendation from the moving company. Why would they give you a BAD reference? Instead, try to find someone who's worked with the company before – preferably a local company that does a lot of repeat business with a specific mover. If you can't find anyone, ask the company for the names of the 3 last people they moved –they're not handpicked references, so you have a better chance of getting some objective information.

6. Make sure your bid is in line with other companies' bids. Although it's important to get a good price for your move, you should treat any curiously low bid with a skeptical eye – why can that mover charge so little? Are they cutting costs in a way that could be bad for you (skipping on Workers' Comp, for example)? Or do they plan to make up for the low bid by hitting you with other charges later?

7. Make you sure you feel comfortable with the on-site estimator. The estimator is a reflection of his company, so if you feel uncomfortable at all – if you don't get your questions answered, if you feel any pressure, if the estimator is bad-mouthing the competition – keep looking.

For other information on finding trustworthy movers, check out this Website from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for more tips on finding a trustworthy moving company.

8. Make sure you moving company explains its pricing. Is the move hourly or by weight? The moving charges for most local moves are based on the time it takes to complete the move. Charges on long-distance moves within a particular state are often calculated based on the weight of the shipment. Again, the rules will vary from one state to another, but you want it crystal-clear to you how your moving company will charge for your move.

9. Get the right moving paperwork. If you are moving to another state, insist that you receive the following federally mandated documents from your mover:

* A written estimate that itemizes all of the services that make up the estimate for your total moving costs. Again, always insist on an "in-home" visual inspection of the goods you are moving. A phone or Internet estimate given by a mover will most likely NOT be the actual cost of your move. For the best protection get a guaranteed price or "Not-To-Exceed: Price when moving interstate.

* A "Table of Measurements" (also known as a "Cube Sheet") listing all of the items that you will be moving. The mover creates the Table of Measurements in order to calculate the size and weight of your move.

* You should receive an "Order for Service" signed by your selected moving company. The Order for Service protects you by spelling out the agreement between you and your mover regarding the details of your move.

If the mover is hesitant to provide you with any of these items you should reconsider using that company.

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