Moving Compan

6 Big Mistakes When Choosing a Mover

Choosing a mover is no easy task. You may assume that if the price is right and they’re available on the day you need them, then that’s good enough. Not so. You should be doing some good research before selecting a moving company that you can trust. From settling on over-the-phone estimates to going with an unlicensed and uninsured mover, there are many big mistakes that people make throughout the process.

Don’t be one of them! Here are the most common mistakes people make when choosing a mover.

1.     Getting Over-the-Phone Quotes

No one can give you an accurate estimate just from a five-minute chat on the phone. An in-person estimate is necessary for the most precise quote possible. That’s because your movers should be taking measurements, assessing how many large and cumbersome items you have, checking out the stairwell and hallway situation, and more.

If they can’t see things with their own eyes, it’s impossible to give you anything other than a ball park figure. But how can you budget with a ball park figure? This leaves the door open for surprise fees and inflated costs later. You need precision. Always insist on an in-person moving estimate.

This is also a good time to hand them a detailed inventory list of all your belongings so they can better plan.

2.     Failing to Obtain Several Estimates

Many people end up going with the first moving company they call, either because they’re in a rush, they assume all moving companies charge the same rates, or they can’t be bothered with the research phase. This is a big mistake. They only way you can get a good sense of a fair price is to call a few different moving companies and get a few different quotes. Now you have something to compare each to.

You’ll likely find that they are all very different in terms of services they offer and prices they charge. Make an educated decision on overall reputation, licensing, services, and price, but don’t always go with the lowball offer. That could be a big red flag, something that could come back to haunt you later. Stick with a middle of the road estimate and you should be fine.

Speaking of lowball offers, anyone that offers a dramatically lower rate could be scamming you. Anyone that gives you a price that’s 25 to 40 percent below other movers is not reputable. They may stick you with hidden fees later, hit you with extra charges, or hold your stuff hostage. That low price sounds good now, but you will regret it later.

3.     Failing to Ask About Base Charges

In the same vein, some moving companies may offer cheap rates, but later on they will charge lots of money for “extra charges,” the most common of which is packing materials. They will tell you that everything has to be protected with shrink wrap or blankets, or that all boxes have to be properly packed and secure. They may be right, but if you haven’t done this, they will offer to do it for you and then charge you hundreds for it later.

Ask what the base charges are and what all the extra charges incurred may be. Only sign off on extra charges ahead of time, in writing. Find out how the company bills for travel time. Is there a “long-carry” charge or a fuel surcharge? Don’t take their word for it. Always ask to see a written estimate that you can read at your leisure. Don’t sign anything till you have taken the time to do this.

4.     Hiring an Unlicensed and Uninsured Moving Company

You may have a friend of a friend that’s a mover and who says he’ll get you a great deal. Or maybe that lowball offer from your research is looking pretty darn good right now because you’re on a tight budget. But that could all be chalked up to the fact that the companies are not licensed or insured. This is another red flag.

Check on licensing at the FMCSA website before you commit to any mover. You don’t want to be stuck holding the bag if something goes wrong during your move or someone is hurt on your property. And when it comes to insurance, it’s a good idea to get additional insurance on your belongings over and above the standard amount most moving companies offer.

5.     Failing to Get a Binding Estimate

Most moving companies are happy to give out free quotes. But if you decide to hire them, you will want to see a more binding estimate that holds more water. Letting someone begin your move without having you sign a written contract is bad news. This binding estimate should spell out every service you have agreed to, along with timeline and price.

You also want it spelled out how and when they want their money. Some want a small deposit up front, with the balance paid at the end. Some don’t need an upfront payment and instead ask for everything when the move is done. Whatever the case, be leery about any company that asks for all cash up front. In fact, run the other way.

6.     Failing to Disclose Information

You may have a pool table that you need moved and assume your movers will be able to handle that when they arrive. Or maybe your apartment is on the third floor of a walk-up with no elevator, and you assume the movers will have no problem trekking up and down the stairs with your heavy items. Maybe your home is located at a dead end of a very narrow street and you assume they can fit their truck in and out no problem. To all of these scenarios: don’t assume anything. In fact, if you pull a fast one on your movers, they may refuse to move the item in question, or reschedule to be able to accommodate tight spaces with different trucks or come back with the appropriate equipment. At the very least, they will end up charging you extra for the hassle.

Always let the movers know beforehand of anything that could deter them from doing their jobs in an efficient manner.

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