7 tips for hiring a moving company
Asking questions before hiring can help avoid moving disasters. (Photo by Meredith Rizzo)
Tips for hiring a moving company
Industry experts suggest homeowners ask prospective moving companies for the following:
1. The company’s U.S. DOT number and/or motor carrier number. Twenty-eight states require both state and U.S. DOT registration. You can search a federally registered mover’s complaint history at protectyourmove.gov.
2. A copy of the tariff, which lists items for which you could be charged, such as a “stair” fee, packing tape and a “long carry” fee.
3. Length of time in business.
4. Information on the moving crew’s status with the company. Are they employed by the company, temporary hires or casual laborers? Do they perform background checks on all?
5. A copy of the mover’s bill of lading, liability insurance and valuation coverage policy. All movers must assume liability for the value of the goods they transport. “Released value” is a no-cost option that provides minimal protection, requiring movers to cover any damages at 60 cents per pound, per article. “Full value” is the most comprehensive option, but cost varies.
6. A timetable for performing the move, including packing and arrival date.
7. Does the company perform the move or work as a household goods broker? A broker can’t represent himself as a mover, doesn’t own trucks and generally has no authority to provide an estimate on behalf of a specific mover.
How much much does moving cost?
A binding estimate is a written agreement made in advance with your mover that clearly describes all services provided. It guarantees the total cost of the move based on the quantities and services written in the estimate.
A nonbinding estimate is what the mover believes the cost will be based upon the estimated weight of the shipment and additional services required. However, the final charges are based on the actual weight of your shipment, the services provided and the tariff provisions in effect.
Some movers offer a “guaranteed-not-to-exceed” estimate, which allows the consumer to pay the binding estimate or the actual cost, whichever is lower.
According to American Moving & Storage Association, the average cost of an interstate move is about $4,300, based on an average weight of 7,400 pounds and distance of 1,225 miles.
The average intrastate move costs $2,300, based on the same weight and a crew of four. Prices may fluctuate, depending on where you live.
What's the difference between intrastate moving and interstate moving?
Rules and regulations governing the moving industry depend on whether it’s a move within the state (intrastate) or one that requires crossing state lines (interstate).
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration oversees interstate movers and legally requires them to:
• Obtain licensing by FMCSA and display their U.S. DOT number in any advertising.
• Provide arbitration if consumer complaints can’t be resolved amicably.
• Give homeowners a copy of “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” brochure.
• Allow homeowners to review their tariff — a list of rates and charges — for a particular shipment.
• Furnish an accurate summary of their complaint handling procedures, including a phone number.
It’s important to note that FMCSA has no authority to resolve complaints against an interstate mover. However, the federal agency may investigate a specific mover if the agency receives multiple documented complaints.
The investigation may result in the mover’s license revocation and/or fines. To file a complaint against an interstate mover, call FMCSA at 888-368-7238.
Best practices mandate intrastate movers also follow federal standards, and most are subject to state laws. The American Moving & Storage Association recommends consumers check with their state’s moving association, public utility agencies such as a state’s department of transportation or commerce, Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau before hiring.
AMSA sponsors a third-party dispute settlement program for its 3,200 moving company members. For a list of state moving associations and state-by-state regulations, visit moving.org.