Choosing the right moving company for your next move is a crucial decision. It can mean the difference between an easy affordable move and a huge headache and extra expenses. You might think it is enough to look at a moving company’s website, talk to them on the phone, and read a few reviews. However, you’ve really got to do more research than this to make sure you are getting a reputable moving company. The very first things you will want to do if find out if the moving company is legal or not.
1. Contact moving companies and set up price estimates
No real moving company is going to give you a price estimate over the phone. It just isn’t possible to accurately estimate costs without seeing your amount and type of belongings first. You will need to do research on moving companies. Find some that have good reviews and set up in-home moving estimates with at least 3 of them.
2. Did they give you a copy of “your rights and responsibilities when you move”?
All moving companies are legally required to give you a copy of this booklet which outlines the laws around the moving company industry. If the moving company didn’t provide you with this booklet, then steer clear!
3. Get vital information
During the home moving estimate, you will need to get this following information from the moving agent:
• All DBA names that the moving company operates under (DBA = doing business as)
• DOT and MC license numbers
• Company address
• Email address
• References of former customers (call to check them!)
• Local phone number
4. Check that the moving company is licensed and insured
For local moves, you will have to check with your state consumer affairs agency to see if the moving company has the proper license requirements. Luckily, this is now pretty easy to find online.
For out of state moves, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a program called SaferSys. Which can be used to check moving companies? You can go to www.safersys.org and check if a moving company is licensed and insured to work. You will need the company’s DOT and MC numbers to perform the check online. The website will tell you information like what type of items they are allowed to transport (it should be for “household”) and if they have any complaints against them.
Remember: Never sign any documents that you don’t understand!
When you get a moving estimate, you are under NO obligation to use that moving company. The moving company should provide you with a written estimate of the costs of the move. DO NOT SIGN THE ESTIMATE. Estimates are meant to be non-binding. You then get a few more estimates from other moving companies, decide which mover you want to use, and only then will the final contract be drawn up.
If a moving agent is pressuring you into signing a contract during the estimate, then steer clear. Never sign anything before you are ready, have taken time to read over everything, and understand all that is and isn’t included in the costs.