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Nov 21, 13:06
Question by metz1055 (Max)


How to find a good moving company

What is the best way to check each moving companies, before hiring. How can I be sure I have a good moving company? Moving from New York to North Carolina in 2007. Max, New York City

Nov 23, 02:59
Answer by julie (Julie Owens)

Max,

If you decided to use a full-service moving company for your long distance move I would recommend to follow those 6 steps to make your choice of mover a safer one.

(This 5-step process does not guarantee that your move will actually go as smooth as you want, but it will surely help you avoid most of the pitfalls of hiring a mover).


  1. Make list of all your items. Before making any calls or Internet searches prepare a list of all the items you plan to move. The catch is to prepare the initial list that you would most probably change as you get closer to the moving day, but for now you should list as many items as you can think of and not change it until you get to STEP 6.


  2. Get several estimates. Now its time to get some estimates. Your goal is to get phone and email estimates from 6-10 different companies, so start from making a list of potential movers. If your friends/relatives can recommend companies they personally used have them listed on your list first. You can also find companies in any local Yellow Pages book or website, but if you need a faster solution then you can use a multiple online quote service (you can use our form right here). This way movers in your area will call you and/or email you their quotes, so you can quickly collect enough estimates to move to the next step.

    Keep in mind:

    • use the same inventory list when talking to each representative,

    • make sure you write down which quote you got from which company,

    • write down the name of representative, his/her phone number, company name and US DOT number (license number),

    • make sure the company is not a broker,

    • demand your estimate to be in pounds (lbs) and not in cubic feet.


  3. Visit SaferSys.org. SaferSys.org is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) web site where you can search for motor carrier license information. You can use this resource to check each company you got an estimate from for their licensing and insurance information.

    Here is how you check a moving company on SaferSys.org: find "FMCSA Searches" and click on "Company Snapshot". Check "USDOT Number" (checked by default), type the company US DOT number in the box, and click "Search". If the DOT number is correct you will get a page with lots of information. Here is what you care about the most:

    • The company name, address, and phone numbers - should be the same as what you got from the company,

    • "Out of Service" field must read "No" and the "Out of Service Date" field must read "None",

    • Under "Operation Classification" - "Auth for Hire" must be marked with "X",

    • Under "Carrier Operation" - "Interstate" must be marked with "X" (since you are moving out of state),

    • Under "Cargo Carried" - "Household Goods" must be marked with "X",

    • Under "Inspections" - it should smell fishy to you if the company's average is much higher than the national average, or if they have been in business for three years, but dont have any inspections.


    Next check the company's insurance. At the bottom of the page there is a link titled "FMCSA Licensing & Insurance site". It will bring you to the insurance report for this company. Click on "HTML" button - it will bring you to another page with lots of information. For your case:

    • Under "Authority Type" the mover must have at least "Common" listed as "Active",

    • Under "Insurance Type": "Insurance on file" column - "BIPD" must read at least $750,000, and "Cargo" must read "YES".



    If any of those requirements are not satisfied - simply mark this company off your list. You still want to keep its estimate in your collection though - it will help you better understand the market situation.

  4. Visit Better Business Bureau. After filtering out some bad seeds its time to do some consumer feedback research. The fastest way to check company's public record is to visit Better Business Bureau and run a search for this company name or phone number. What you are interested in is the number of complaints that this company has on file. Basic rule of thumb: a company is worth staying on your list if it has less then 5 resolved complaints in the last 36 month. Higher number of complaints - just not worth the risk. Keep in mind though that BBB record could be somewhat biased in some cases, since they might not show the real picture for companies listed as their members. Also, "satisfactory" record with the BBB is not a guarantee that the company is claim-free.

  5. Submit investigation request on MovingAnswers.org When you reach this step you should have 5-6 companies still on your list (if you dont - then try to get more estimates and repeat steps 3 and 4 for those companies). At this point you can submit some or all of the companies on your list for a deeper investigation by our team (in form of asking a question and placing it under Finding a Mover->Company Public Record). We will perform a wider research to see if the mover of your choice doesn't have skeletons in their closet.


  6. Schedule visual estimates. By that time you should have 3 movers that successfully passed all 3 investigation steps. Call them and schedule visual estimates. The goal is to have a professional visual estimator come over to your place and give you a written estimate for your move. Here are the things you should keep in mind:

    • Have the estimator see all the items you plan to move.

    • Dont sign anything.

    • Dont give any deposit.

    • In the end of the survey insist on flat price (also called "guaranteed", "fixed", or "binding not-to-exceed").


    Also, make sure you get (and write down) satisfactory answers to the following questions:

    • Are there additional surcharges for things like parking problems, road access, street accessibility, delivery time restrictions or if there are any stairs or elevators involved? (Hint: all those costs should already be calculated into the flat price)

    • What is the estimated delivery time and will the driver give you prior notice?(Hint: you should get a reasonable delivery window)

    • What is the level of insurance coverage for your move? (Hint: basic liability for interstate moves is 60 cents per lb per article)


    • What is the process of filing a claim? (Hint: should be very easy procedure)

    • How do I pay for the move? Cash, credit card, money order, or personal check? (Hint: cash only is not good)

    • Is there a deposit that you are required to pay? If yes, can it be refunded in case you choose to cancel the move? (Hint: deposit should be refundable and as small as possible)

    • When do I pay? There can be different payment arrangements, make sure you understand the details. (Hint: try to negotiate most of the payment to be made when the move is completed)

    • How long the company is in business? (Hint: the longer the better)

    • How many trucks does it own? (Hint: the more the better)

    • Does the company have its own interstate trucks, or it uses subcontractors? (Hint: it is always better to hire company that own interstate trucks, although in reality most of the moves are done using interstate subcontractors that do not do pick-ups directly)

    • Will the company perform the move, or its just a broker? (Hint: if its a broker send them home and mark them off your list immediately, unless you specifically want to hire a broker to handle your move)


Basically, those 6 steps should provide you with enough information to make an educated choice of a mover for your move. Keep in mind - there are many ways to save of your move beside getting the lowest estimate (which usually does not guarantee you a good moving experience or much of a saving at all) - such as deducting moving expenses from your taxes and other (Read our Moving Guide -> Saving on your move).



Good luck with your move,

Julie Owens @ MovingAnswers.org


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Nov 28, 18:11
Comment by metz1055 (Max)

Can you please explain under the FMCSA management information systems for INSPECTIONS when it say 'if the company's average is much higher than the national average it smell fishy' Not sure I understand what that means.


Nov 28, 18:19
Comment by julie (Julie Owens)

Its pretty much straight forward - if the company had inspections, and the result shows that it has more incidents, crashes or unfit drivers then the national average for those numbers - its a sign that using this company might be risky.

Julie







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