Firstly, even before talking with a mover, decide in advance which goods will be shipped and which will be sold or given away. Then consider whether or not you would like the mover to pack and what other type of additional services you may want. Remember that packing is always a separate bid from moving. An estimator may come to your home and create a bid, or make an estimate by talking to you over the phone. Moves that are less than 50 miles away are usually priced by the hour. For longer distance moves, estimates are based on weight, usually per 100 pounds.
Call or email the movers you are considering for the job and ask for an estimate. Get involved in the estimating process and try to meet with the relocation consultant to survey your home and prepare a written estimate. Ask each prospective mover how long his or her estimate is valid for and question whether the estimate is a binding or a non binding. For the difference between binding and non binding estimates see VanLines.coms guide on estimates. Never accept an estimate over the phone and do not consider using a company that offers you this service.
Inform the mover of any possible unusual situations on either end so your estimate can be more accurate. Make the mover aware of any problems that he may encounter at the delivery such as parking problems, road access, street accessibility, delivery time restrictions or if there are any stairs or elevators involved. The cost of your move can increase for such occurrences. Try to reserve a parking space for the moving van if your new home is on a congested street. If the moving crew has to carry your load more than 75 feet from the moving van to your door you may be charged for excessive distance. Some neighborhoods may prohibit trucks over a certain weight. The driver will offload your possessions into a smaller vehicle and the charge for that can be quite high. Advise the relocation consultant if you anticipate this situation arising. In addition, advise the consultant if you are moving to a high-rise building where an elevator reservation is required. This can cause problems for the delivery schedule if the mover does not know about this in advance and additional charges will likely apply.
To check the reliability of the moving company you can contact the local Better Business Bureau (BBB) to inquire about the companys complaint record and how these complaints were resolved. Ask your friends, family and neighbors for recommendations and advice on movers.
Check for the DOT license number. All movers are required
to be licensed however interstate movers are required to meet
two additional criteria,
1. Publish their tariffs or price list and make it available to anybody who request a copy
2. Participate in a dispute settlement program and to offer neutral arbitration in the event a dispute arises. A dispute may arise in the event loss or damage happens to a shipment while in the hands of the mover.
You can get "performance reports" on larger, interstate
moving companies by calling the Interstate Commerce Commission
(ICC). Call for the number of the regional office closest to you.
Most states do not regulate intrastate moving, however, call your
state transportation department to find out if they license movers
in your state or have any performance information about individual
Contact your local department of consumer affairs and ask if there are any complaints registered about the movers you're considering. If the move is within your state, request the same information from your state's transportation department and public utilities commission. Keep in mind that there are usually two sides to every story. A pattern of many complaints, however, is not a good sign.
Ask all movers for references.
Be sure to understand the coverage for loss or damage of your shipment. All licensed movers must provide liability for the value of goods they transport. There are different levels of liability that you need to be aware of. You need to understand the amount of protection provided and the additional charges that may apply. See VanLines.coms guide to moving insurance to understand the different options.
Ask the right questions such as: