Imagine this scenario. You choose a moving company, set up a date for pickup and delivery, and sign a contract with the movers. A few weeks later, you're standing at your new house and all of your things are locked inside a truck out front. The movers have piled a bunch of extra charges onto your bill and are telling you that if you don't pay the fees, you won't get your things. The people you thought were going to carry the heavy stuff and make your moving day so much easier are now holding your belongings hostage.
Unfortunately, these types of things happen. So you need to be ultra careful about choosing a moving company and very vigilant about managing your contract with that company. Read more tips on the next 10 pages.
First things first -- do some informal research to see which moving companies do quality work. Send out an e-mail to friends to see if they have any recommendations or warnings about moving companies they've used in the past. If the companies you're interested in offer references, call those references. Once you narrow down your choices, check with the Better Business Bureau about any moving companies you're considering. If one of those companies has had a number of complaints filed against it, then that's not the company you want to use.
Get More Than One Estimate
For interstate moves, charges are based on the weight of the items to be moved, the distance to be moved, packing and other services. Get two or three estimates well in advance of your move. You may even want to meet with a relocation consultant in person and have him or her come out to your home. That way, the consultant can take a look at your belongings and make a solid estimate on how much it will cost you to transport them. When you speak with the moving companies, ask whether their estimates are binding or nonbinding. Do not accept an estimate over the phone.
Make Sure the Mover is Aware of Everything that Must Be Moved
Make sure the mover is perfectly aware of everything that has to be moved. And here's why: The cost will increase if anything is added to the shipment that was not included in the estimate. Also, make sure the mover is aware of any special circumstances that might make the move challenging. For example, is there a possibility that the moving truck will have a hard time parking at your new place? If the mover has to park far away, you may be charged extra money for the walking that movers have to do to get your things to your new place.
If you have renters or homeowners insurance, then your belongings are insured when they're at your home, but not when they're on the road between homes. So for a long commute, you might want to consider purchasing moving or relocation insurance. Unless you pay the movers to pack your belongings, it's unlikely that they will be insured against breakage caused by improper packing. If you want to ensure coverage for broken items, you can always ask the movers to pack your belongings. There are several types of insurance packages to purchase. The moving company is liable for a certain dollar amount multiplied by the weight of the shipment, up to a certain amount.
Pay Close Attention to the Contract
The mover will issue you a bill of lading, a legal contract between the customer and the mover. Be sure to read it carefully and make sure you understand the agreement before you sign it. Then, be sure to hang on to your copy of the bill of lading. If something goes wrong, you'll want to have it handy to state your case. And once you sign the bill of lading, you must pay what it says you're supposed to pay. Look for the bill of lading to include the following: name and address of mover, the type of payment method it accepts, time of pickup, minimum and maximum amounts to pay and other details about payment.
Ask Questions About the Contract
Make sure that any contract you enter into covers rates and charges, the mover's liability for your possessions, dates for pickup and delivery, and claims protection. Read the document carefully. Don't worry about making the moving company wait while you look the contract over to make sure you understand everything that's included. Moving company scams are not uncommon, so you want to make sure a moving company is on the up and up before you sign a contract. If something in the contract looks fishy, trust your instincts and ask questions. You don't want your moving company to hold your things hostage and force you to pay extra costs.
Move During the Winter
If you have the option to move between October and April, you may be able to receive a better price. If your move is scheduled between June and September, the busiest time for movers, be sure to call well in advance for estimates and to settle a contract. When you are choosing between moving companies, remember to leave the estimates from each company sitting out on your kitchen counter or dining room table when movers come by your home to assess your things. That way the moving companies know they have competition, and they'll be more likely to negotiate a deal with you.
Stick to Your Delivery Date
Once your shipment is picked up, you may incur storage costs if you change the delivery date. So try to make sure you're able to move into your new home on the scheduled date. Otherwise, you may wind up having to put your things into storage for one night, which will cost you money that you could have saved had you been more organized. There are other hidden costs to consider as well: Moving a difficult item like a piano may cost extra. You also may need to purchase extra insurance coverage for your high-priced art or hire special handlers for those items.
Check Your Inventory to Make Sure Nothing Was Lost or Damaged
Movers are responsible for loss or damage to goods caused by the carrier. If anything is missing or if cartons are damaged, this should be noted when you check the inventory sheet at delivery. Moving is hectic, and you may think you don't have time to look through all the boxes when they arrive at your place. But you should go through your inventory sheet and make certain your things look like they are in good condition and that they are all there. At the least, you should verify that everything on the list has been delivered.
Make Sure the Company is Legit
Moving scams are pretty rampant, and you want to be sure the company you work with is legit. So, check up on it. Pay a visit to the company to see whether it seems like it's on the up and up. Are the trucks labeled clearly? It's not good if they're not. You can search for the company's motor carrier license information on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration SaferSys Web site. Plug in the DOT number the company gave you to see if everything looks correct. For example, the address you got from the company should match the address on the SaferSys Web site. If you're moving to a different state, the moving company should be authorized for interstate moving. There should also be a check next to household goods. For more information, check out Movingscam.com.
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