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What You Need to Know When Hiring a Moving Company
12-12-2019 | Armbruster

What You Need to Know When Hiring a Moving Company

Remember when you moved into your first apartment, before you owned even a full set of dishes? You rounded up a few friends, stuffed as many boxes and clothes-filled trash bags into your car as possible, and stayed up all night unpacking. Moving wasn’t much of a big deal when everything you owned fit into your car. Now you have rooms full of furniture, full sets of dishware, closets full of clothes, books, tools, and electronics. At this point in your life, when friends no longer help one another move, it’s time to look at hiring someone to help. It can be nerve-wracking to let strangers handle your belongings, so you want to be sure you’re working with a reputable moving company. Armed with a little information, you can avoid unscrupulous companies and ensure that your move goes as smoothly as possible.   Check for AMSA Membership and Pro-Mover Certification The American Movers and Storage Association (AMSA) is the moving industry’s trade organization. Their Pro-Mover certification lets consumers know that a mover meets high standards of safety, ethics, and professionalism. Pro-Movers undergo annual reviews and are fully licensed and insured. Hiring a certified Pro-Mover means you’ll avoid unscrupulous businesses and the headaches that result from poor-quality services.

Be Wary of Moving Brokers Moving brokers are not actually movers. According to the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration, “Moving brokers are sales teams that book your move and sell it to an actual moving company.” Brokers are required to be registered with the Department of Transportation, but there are a lot of ways that working with a moving broker can cause problems for consumers. Dishonest brokers offer attractively low estimates that don’t honestly reflect the final of the move in order to gain your business. Consumers can be duped into paying hundreds or thousands of dollars in hidden expenses not included in the quote. Additionally, brokers often earn their commission by charging upfront “deposits” on the move. If something goes wrong with your move, they pass the blame to the moving company, and they’re on to their next sale. The really bad eggs out there contract with what are called “rogue” moving companies. It’s hard to believe this really happens, but rogue moving companies take people’s belongings “hostage.” This phenomenon starts with a lowball estimate which ends up being thousands of dollars less than the final price. When consumers won’t pay the inflated price, rogue movers will take the belongings to an undisclosed location and threaten to auction it off. (If this ever happens to you, check out Move Rescue for help.) Be sure to ask whether the company who is booking your move is a moving company or a moving broker. Brokers may not openly share that information.
Headquarters for Armbruster Moving & Storage, Inc Brunswick, OH
Headquarters for Armbruster Moving & Storage, Inc., in Brunswick, Ohio.

 

Look for Brick-and-Mortar Movers Look for moving companies that are local to you and have their own trucks, drivers, and a physical location. Brick-and-mortar movers are often small business owners and have their heart and soul in their companies. They are responsible for training their employees, and they care about whether your belongings are handled well. Their reputation is staked on every move they do, so they are more invested in doing it well. Reputable moving companies offer in-home consultations before providing you with a final quote. They look through all of your belongings, inside and outside your home, and calculate the price based on their estimation of the weight. Watch out for any company that does not offer this service. If you are being offered a binding estimate over the phone, consider that a red flag. Reputable movers aren’t looking to lowball their quotes. Providing an inaccurate quote can mean they end up losing money on the move. That’s something to keep in mind when you hear a too-good-to-be-true quote. What to Look for in a Moving Quote It’s important to understand the terminology used and what information should be included in a moving quote. It’s your right to ask about anything that you don’t understand. Transportation fee: Sometimes this is called the linehaul fee. Once a moving company has surveyed your belongings, they will quote you a price for getting your possessions from point A to point B. Sometimes companies measure your items by pounds, sometimes by cubic feet. In both cases that number will be applied to the number of miles between your current and future home to calculate the cost of the move. Packing and Unpacking Many moving companies provide packing and unpacking services at an additional cost. Be sure you’re clear on the pricing and what kind of help you’ll be getting. Binding or Non-binding Contracts Any quote should indicate whether the contract is binding or non-binding. If you are not clear which kind of estimate you’re receiving, ask.
  • Binding means that the weight of your shipment that the company calculates (before it’s loaded onto the truck) is the amount that you pay for, whether it weighs more or less than the estimate.
  • Non-binding means that the company gives you an estimate, but you pay the cost of the actual weight. This could mean you pay less, or it means you could pay considerably more. Not a good option if you don’t like unexpected expenses.
  • Binding Not-To-Exceed binds the company to their estimated price, but allows the consumer to pay the cost of the actual weight if it’s less than they are quoted.
Valuation of Belongings Valuation refers to how much liability a moving company is responsible for in the event any of your belongings are lost or damaged. Valuation is similar to insurance, but it’s tariff-based coverage regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. There are different levels of liability, and all interstate moving companies are legally required to provide consumers with two options: released value protection and full valuation.
  • Released Value Protection
Released value protection is the minimum amount movers are allowed to provide to consumers. Released value is calculated at .60 cents reimbursement per pound, which doesn’t add up to a lot of coverage. For example, if you have electronics that get damaged, and they weigh 5 pounds, you’d receive 3 dollars (.60 cents x 5 pounds) in reimbursement. Some moving companies will provide a quote based upon this level of liability without explaining to consumers what kind of protection they are being offered. Some movers even wait until moving day to disclose the details. (This is one way rogue movers attempt to scam people.)
  • Full Valuation
Full valuation means that if any of your belongings are lost, damaged, or destroyed, the moving company will repair, replace, or pay current market value for those items. Full valuation is technically the default option, the one movers are supposed to provide unless someone specifically wants released value protection. There are a few exemptions from the full valuation. High-value items may need to be declared separately (see below). Some moving companies include a deductible as part of their full valuation protection while others do not. There are also restrictions on valuation if the customer packs the items themselves. Valuation of High-cost Items For valuables such as jewelry, fine art, or electronics, you may opt for additional protection. You’ll see this price reflected as a separate line item. Alternatively, you can ask your homeowner’s insurance carrier if your items are protected under your plan. When booking your move, be sure to ask your movers what type of valuation they are offering. If you want full valuation protection, ask outright if that is what’s provided in the quote. If anything is damaged or lost, you have the right to file a claim within nine months of the delivery date. Be sure the moving company doesn’t ask you to sign off on any form waiving this right on delivery day. Moving can be stressful. Do your homework to find a reputable company that will make your life easier during the process.
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