May is National Moving Month, and with the housing market as hot as it is in the Treasure Valley, it’s likely a busy time for moving companies. In fact, movers are one of the most searched companies on Better Business Bureau’s website.
Last year, BBBs across the country handled more than 1.4 million requests for BBB Business Profiles from consumers looking for movers; while 6,314 complaints about movers were registered with BBB. Some of the more common complaints we hear about include damaged or missing items, bills that were higher than estimates, late deliveries and in some cases, goods held hostage for additional payments.
Some common red flags to look out for include movers who demand cash or a large deposit up front and movers whose website has no address and no information on their registration and insurance.
BBB offers the following tips on preparing for a move, finding a trustworthy moving company, and avoiding scams:
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▪ Do your research. Look up movers through the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA). These groups identify movers that have pledged to uphold high standards of trust and to resolve complaints quickly. Many movers that are BBB Accredited Businesses are also AMSA ProMovers. Note the length of time a company has been in business and read reviews from previous customers.
▪ Get multiple estimates. Written in-home estimates help you make an informed decision. Show the mover everything that needs to be moved. Watch out for extremely high or low estimates. It doesn’t guarantee the best deal. And don’t stop at estimates over the phone or by email. The company may be able to offer a suggested estimate, but it can change when they see the amount of stuff they have to move.
▪ Get it in writing. Read everything carefully and make sure you have it all in writing. Get copies of everything you sign, especially the most important document, the bill of lading, which is the receipt for your goods and the contract for their transportation. Ask for written documentation of any special terms and conditions, complete costs, payment timelines and warranty information. If it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist. Never sign any blank forms.
▪ Know your rights. Some laws require interstate movers to provide you with specific information that explains the moving process, as well as your rights and responsibilities during and after the move.
▪ Confirm they are insured. Make sure your mover provides full-value protection insurance for any lost or damaged possessions. Insurance is by the pound, so expensive items such as a television may need additional replacement cost coverage in case it is damaged. It’s also a good idea to find out what your household insurance will and won’t cover during a move.
▪ Take your valuables with you. Cash, coins, jewelry, photographs and important papers should be taken with you or shipped separately using a shipping service with tracking numbers and insurance.
In the United States, check out the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website, protectyourmove.gov for more tips when planning your next move. Download the BBB App at bbbapp.org to find a trustworthy mover near you.
Veronica Craker, veronica.craker@ thebbb.org, is the content and communications director for Better Business Bureau Northwest +Pacific. To check a business or report a scam, go to bbb.org or call 208-342-4649.