A cross-country move can cost as much as a good used car; even a local move can be a major expense. Approach hiring a mover as you would any significant purchase. Gather all the information you can from the moving company rep, including answers to these highly important moving day questions:
- Can you give me references of satisfied customers?
This doesn’t always provide the most telling info: I mean, what mover is going to give you names of dissatisfied customers? Am I right. But you can and should ask to see reviews that others may have left on social media sites like Angie’s List, Facebook and/or Yelp. This will give you a great indication of the quality of work that they do. One of our movers is the leader of using videoed customer testimonial on their website.
2. How long has your business been in business?
This question more about their reliability than anything else. You can a great moving company that has only been around less than a year. But a company that has stood the test of time is a better indicator that that they are legit and will most likely do a good job for you.
3. What do you consider extra expenses and what do you charge for them?
Now we are getting into the meat of the matter. Some states already regulate what are extra expenses and some don’t so that is left up to the mover themselves. But typical extra charges are multiple stops, heavy items, shuttling, elevators and stairs, and even boxes and supplies. Always get that spelled out on your estimate at the very least if you can.
The federal DOT (Department of Transportation) number as well as the state licensing number can and should be checked with the appropriate agencies. You can check the DOT number here. Moving companies are required to display these numbers in any advertising.
5. If it’s a local move, how does your company charge? By the hour, Number of movers, by weight?
This should always be specified on your written estimate. If it is not, then it is your responsibility, by law, to ensure that it is.
6. What kind of liability coverage does your company provide? And who is your insurance carrier?
Many companies will give you printed material explaining their coverage. If they don’t, be sure that you have written and signed proof of the coverage that you want for your load. And, this is important, if your mover doesn’t or will not give you this info DO NOT USE THIS MOVER as he is most likely a scam artist just waiting to drain you you of your hard earned funds.
7. Who does the packing and loading?
I think this stands to reason, that if you hire professional movers then you want the pros to do the actual loading/unloading of your things and not temps or day laborers. Many van liners as well call them often use day laborers to do their loading and unloading you may want to know this. Always a good question.
8. Are workers covered by worker’s comp and insurance?
This is important because you could be held liable if a mover falls or somehow gets injured if the moving company doesn’t have worker’s comp insurance or some other property damage insurance. So ask this question.
9. Was I given the printed information?
By law the moving company should have handed you a copy (or given you a web link) to the FMCSA’a Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move booklet. You should also ask for the tariff that the company uses for their moves depending on the state you are in. If you are not sure where to find that office contact your nearest state police post and have give you the people you should call.
10. How do you determine the weight of my shipment? Am I allowed to be present when it’s weighed?
Typically your mover will either do this at the location of origin or at the destination. It is your job to find out which. And by law, you have the right to view the weighing of your items. Believe it or not this is where most scams take place, so it is advisable for you to be present.
11. Do you charge extra time for travel time to and from my home or office?
It is almost standard for the moving company to charge for time driving to and from your home. It is called “portal to portal” charging. However, some local movers will charge when they arrive at your location. Those that do charge at the location are typically your cut rate movers so you should be on guard when they tell you this.
12. What is your cancellation policy?
Find out how much notice you have to give a moving company and how they want that notice to be given. Because it is not unheard of a moving company charging you for that move or even taking you to court. You need to realize, especially if your move is a large one, that they dedicated that time and personal just for you move and if you cancel last minute then they could be out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. So don’t blow this off. We would hate to see you pay double for your move plus the attorney charges to fight it. Ouch!
13. How do I pay for the move?
Most moving companies will take the “holy trinity” of payment methods: Cash, Check (personal or cashier) or credit card. It is always wise to ask, especially if you are planning on paying by credit card, if there are any surcharges. You never want to pay any deposit unless you have signed a contract, and even then it may not be prudent. You’ll have to determine that on your own depending on the relationship that you have developed with the movers.
14. how do you pack items with special requirements, such as electronics, glass fronted furniture, antiques, etc?
This is almost self-explanatory. Sometimes the typical moving pads that movers use will not be sufficient to wrap or protect some of your items. You will want to know how they are going to protect them e.g. are they going to crate them or put it in a special container or what. Also how are they going to label and inventory such items?
15. What kind of inventory system do you use?
This inventory is highly important to you and to the moving company. This inventory lets everyone know what has been loaded and in what condition that item was in when loaded. Make sure you get a copy and know how it was filled out.
16. Do you guarantee pickup and delivery dates? What happens if you miss one or both dates?
If you are moving locally this isn’t really much of a problem, but if you are moving more than 40 miles or out of state then you will need to know dates you can expect your stuff to arrive. Most van line companies typically promise 7 to 10 days but they are notorious for missing those deadlines. So you should be prepared for this. And if they do miss your arrive date is there a back up plan and are you on the hook for the extra time.
17. How much of the work can I do myself? Will it save me time and money?
Believe it or not, the more you do yourself the more time and money you are going to save. A good mover worth their salt with have different levels of rates depending on what you do for yourself.
18. If I pack myself, are there restrictions on the types of boxes I can use?
Most movers will want the standard size boxes. Try not to get mismatched boxes of varying sizes because this will slow down the loading of your possessions and it will make your movers highly irritable, and no one wants that. Totes are fine if you keep them light and and one size. It is a nice gesture though if you ask your mover about this.
19. What supplies do you provide? What’s included? What do I pay for?
Moving companies will always (if they are reputable that is) have on hand the standard equipment like dollies, straps and professional moving pads. Packing is normally done before the move and you will have to pay for the boxes, tape and paper that is used; as well as any specialty packing crates etc.
20. How do you handle disputes and damage claims?
So what happens when something doesn’t go as planned and your stuff is lost, stolen or damaged? How do you make a claim. This is the area where you will get the run around by unscrupulous moving companies. However, most movers have on their website a place where you can either request damage claim forms or fill them out online without hassle.
If you do have to take to the next step, I would suggest getting an attorney and using the courts to assist you because you are in for a battle. That is just the way it is until someone smarter than me fixes it.
Your Mover Loves It When You Ask These Questions
Your mover loves it when you ask these questions. Because anyone that will go through the trouble of asking these questions will usually be the person that is prepared and ready for anything and the moves go oh much smoother.
So don’t be afraid of asking these questions. It is your right and responsibility to do so. And by doing so you will be able to make a really good assessment of the mover and build that trusting relationship. After all you do want someone you trust moving your things because they are your things.
If there is anything else you feel we should put on this list, just drop us a note. We’d love to hear from you.