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Protect Yourself and Your Stuff: How to Hire Quality Moving Services

by: Jessica Santina
01 Dec 2010

Although moving is a hassle, the majority of the 40 million-plus moves are handled by companies that provide quality moving services. Unfortunately, though, thousands of people each year are bilked by disreputable people claiming to be "professionals"--9,000 of them in 2006 alone, according to the Better Business Bureau.

These people have had their belongings held hostage, paid considerably more than their estimates, had their items damaged, or simply been left stranded amid their un-moved belongings once the deposit check cleared.

Why would you lovingly wrap and protect your belongings, only to put them in the hands of total strangers whom you know nothing about?

What You Can Expect From Quality Professionals

The following services should be offered by any reputable moving company:

  • An on-site inspection of your belongings, to get a sense of the weight and bulk of items and to ask thorough questions about your plans.
  • A written, thoroughly detailed estimate, which is explained to you clearly.
  • Payment due upon delivery. You should never be expected to pay more than a deposit ahead of time.
  • Membership or affiliation with the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), State Associations of Movers, or the National Association of REALTORS.
  • Positive references from at least three people.
  • A local address.
  • A company-owned truck (not rented).
  • A pamphlet entitled "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move," which is required of movers by federal law.
  • The assumption of some level of liability for the value of goods transported. The aforementioned pamphlet will explain how this works.
  • A fully spelled-out contract indicating all estimates, fees, pertinent dates, liability and claims protections, and any exclusions. No professional should ever expect you to sign an incomplete contract.

Ask the Right Questions

Not sure where to start in the moving services evaluation process? Here are some basic questions to ask of any professionals you're considering for your move:

  1. How long have you been in business?
  2. How much experience do the members of your staff have?
  3. Are you a member of AMSA?
  4. What is your record with the Better Business Bureau? Have any complaints been filed against you? If so, how were they dealt with?
  5. Can you furnish references?
  6. Do you have a formal quality ratings system for your van line? Can I see the scores?
  7. How are specialty items (piano, antique furniture, pool table) handled? Do you have third-parties involved in those moving services?

While a quality moving service will be able to answer these questions, you should also trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right about the professionals you're talking to, it's probably best not to put your belongings in their hands.

Diane Benson-Harrington • The Top 10 Moving Scams • http://move.realtor.comhttp://move.realtor.com/Move/Moving/Promover/MovingScams.asp • National Association of RealtorsSpotting Rogue Movers Before They Have Your Goods • May 02, 2007 • http://www.bbb.orghttp://www.bbb.org/us/article/spotting-rogue-movers-before-they-have-your-goods-700 • Better Business BureauHiring Professional Movers • http://move.realtor.comhttp://move.realtor.com/Move/AMSA/hiring-professional-movers.asp • The American Moving and Storage Association

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