Whether you are moving across the country or just a few miles, relocation can become a very costly venture. If you just put a down payment on a new home, you're now left with limited finances. You will be tempted to cut corners wherever you can, but there are a few things to consider when being frugal in hiring a professional moving company. The cheapest movers may not be the best movers.
While you certainly want to hire a company that gives you a great price, hiring movers that quote you a drastically low amount can be a huge mistake. You should never hire a mover based on price alone. The following guide explains why hiring the cheapest moving company to handle your move is not always the best idea.
1. They use a bait-and-switch estimate
If a mover quotes you a price that is too good to be true, it probably is. Many unreliable moving companies will give the customer a very low verbal estimate then hike up the price exorbitantly when the move is complete. These movers rarely supply the customer with a written estimate, so you will have no evidence to fight back.
Although not all written estimates are binding contracts, even non-binding estimates cannot be raised more than ten percent. If you receive a quote from a moving company that is much lower than quotes you received from other companies, you are probably being scammed.
Moving companies get more money out of you by not including hidden fees in their estimate. Be very upfront with your moving company before the move to clarify the fees they will impose. Nothing is worse than paying a significant amount of money more than the verbal estimate due to "bulky item" or "stair carry" fees.
2. The movers are unregistered and operating illegally
The FMCSA, or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, requires all long distance moving companies to register for a US Department of Transportation number. This allows the government to identify and monitor a carrier. It also gives them a way to enforce safety regulations by subjecting the company to inspections and audits. Hiring a very low-priced moving company may mean they are not registered, because licensing comes at a cost.
While any carrier operating interstate moves is required to have a licensed DOT number, the requirements for intrastate vary. Most states do require a moving company to have an in-state moving license. Do your research on the licensing regulations for moving companies in your state and verify that the company you hire is qualified before enlisting their services.
3. The moving company will hold your goods for ransom
A common scam pulled by rogue movers is using the bait-and-switch estimate tactic THEN holding your goods for ransom when you refuse to pay.
Hiring an unregistered or unlicensed mover will make you vulnerable to trickery or illegal operations because the movers' conduct cannot be monitored by the government. Before you hire an extremely cheap moving company, do thorough research on their licensing and read reviews from real customers.
4. The moving company plans to steal your belongings
Failing to hire a reputable moving company could also result in stolen goods. The unusually low price offered for their services could be a way to ensure their hire before they steal your most prized possessions. This may be even more likely to occur if your belongings are being put into storage first. Because you won't be unpacking right away, the movers may assume you won't notice anything missing until it's too late.
Though there is no way to know for sure if movers will steal your belongings, researching the company, asking for references and checking for complaints on the Better Business Bureau website can help to put your mind at ease.
5. Their moving crew is neither trained nor experienced
If a company is extraordinarily cheap, it may be because they hire inexperienced laborers that have not been properly trained. Your movers should be professional, qualified and more than capable of using the proper procedures to pack and transport your possessions. You are entrusting the movers with your whole life, so you want to know that they will conduct your move with the utmost care, caution and skill.
Ask your movers about their procedures and the steps they take to protect your home and your goods. You should also ask for real references that you can call and speak with.
Do your homework and ask the movers these questions:
Researching a company's background will greatly reduce your chance of being fooled by a rogue mover and their enticingly cheap quotes. Of course, low prices do not automatically mean a moving company is unqualified, unethical, dishonest or unskilled. However, unusually low estimates are often a red flag for poor service or scams. Further investigation is required to verify that you are hiring affordable, yet quality movers.
To be sure that you are hiring a reputable moving company, there are several pertinent questions to ask.
- How long have you been in business? Rogue movers or movers with poor practices are unlikely to be in business for long. If the company has only been in business a few years, you should conduct further research on the company's credentials and reputation.
- Can you provide me with references from satisfied customers? If a moving company has an excellent reputation, they will be more than happy to provide references to prove it.
- Is your company licensed for both interstate and intrastate transport? Find out the licensing requirements in your state and inquire if the company meets them.
- Do you have a US DOT number? Find out the company's US DOT number and verify it with the FMSCA on their website.
- What types of estimates do you provide? Rogue movers will often provide only verbal estimates. Make sure the company provides you with a written estimate, be it binding or non-binding.
- What do you consider special services and how much do they cost? Be well-informed of the company's policies and fees for extra services. A common scam conducted by movers is providing a very low estimate and tacking on numerous extra fees for special services.
- Are your workers covered by liability insurance or workers compensation? If the company's workers are not covered, you could be held liable for any injury occurring on your property.
- What is the liability coverage for my goods? Ask the company what standard coverage is provided for your goods, the cost for additional insurance and the coverage it offers.
- If something is lost or damaged, what is the procedure for filing a claim? In case something becomes damaged during the move, you will want to know in advance how the company will handle it. Ask the movers about the steps you take to file a claim should anything happen to your goods.