How to Hire a Moving Company
First off, try to get a reference from a friend who has moved recently. Ask if the moving experience went smoothly, if there was any breakage or missing items. If you can’t get a personal reference, ask your real estate agent, and then be willing to interview companies. Here are some areas to research:
Licensing and bonding. The Interstate Commerce Commission offers a pamphlet called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.” Call your local ICC office for a copy if you’re moving out of state.
Local moving costs. These are usually calculated by adding the hours the truck is used multiplied an hourly rate.
Long-distance costs. These are calculated on the total weight of your shipment and the distance traveled.
Packing. These costs are not included in a basic moving bid. Ask for the price up front to avoid any confusion. If you opt to have the company do the packing, they will inventory your stuff and describe any existing damage. Ask for a copy of the inventory form.
Payment. Most movers only accept money orders or certified checks. Find out in advance, because movers will not unload until you pay them. Tipping the driver is optional.
Reputation. Ring up the Better Business Bureau and your local department of consumer affairs to find out if any complaints have been registered against the company. Ask for and actually contact references. Ask for an ICC performance report, which movers are required to file annually. Since moving companies prepare their own reports, however, be aware that unless there are gross misstatements, the reports go unchallenged. Find out if the company is a member of the American Movers Conference (www.amconf.org), which requires members to meet certain standards.
Storage. These costs are also separate from the moving costs, and loading and unloading from storage is also extra. Have the price spelled out in advance.
Written bids. Remember that the bid is a ballpark estimate and plan accordingly. When talking to references, ask how close their bid was to the final cost. Be sure to get estimates from at least three companies. Once a qualified estimator has gone over all your belongings, get the estimate in writing. You can ask for a binding estimate for an extra charge.