Moving is stressful. And when you're busy finding a new place to live, selling your current home, and then packing up your entire life, selecting the crew who will move your stuff is likely last on your to-do list. That's ironic, because you'll be entrusting them with all your life's possessions.
Even if you manage to hook up with The Most Amazing Moving Company Ever, we can't promise bad stuff won't happen. But you can prevent some unnecessary duress if you have the right team in place. The process starts by schooling yourself in what not to do.
Here are five of the top mistakes people make when hiring a mover…
1. Waiting too long
So you’ve wait until the weekend before your move to make those calls to moving companies. Well, if you procrastinated in your search, you won't leave any time to do adequate research and get estimates. That means you might not get the best rate (spoiler: Moving's expensive!) and worse - you could get scammed.
Plus, delaying selecting a mover can reduce your options - and unfortunately, unlicensed and unethical operators rely on this aspect of human nature to take advantage of consumers.
Take the time to get three in-home written estimates and, time permitting, visit the moving company in advance of making your final decision.
2. Being a total cheapskate
No, you don't want to pay more than you have to for a move. But beware of being too budget-conscious.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is going with the cheapest estimate. The cheapest bid typically means that the company uses casual, inexperienced laborers who don't care a whole lot about your belongings.
Conversely, higher-end estimates almost always assure trained, professional, and experienced crews who will show up, smiles on their faces, and move your stuff safely and efficiently.
In other words: If there is a hiccup, they will figure it out. They're not leaving your stuff on the front lawn.
Disreputable movers often lure customers with lowball prices and then hit them with unreasonable charges or, in extreme cases, even hold their belongings for ransom. This actually happened to an educated member of the Shannon McCarthy Team after being displaced by a widespread natural disaster. There weren’t many choices due to so many displacements, but this member of our team did all her research. However, when the movers showed up that day, they turned out to be an outsourced crew by the original moving company she had hired.
Be diligent from the time they arrive at your door. Look for consistencies and inconsistencies, such as license numbers that should appear on the moving truck. Make sure everything that was discussed beforehand, is what is being delivered the day of your move.
3. Not asking the right questions beforehand
A professional mover will be happy to answer any questions you may have, so if they seem uncertain or won’t give you straight answers, that’s probably a mover to avoid. Ask them about the moving process so you understand what they will be doing and when they will be doing it, from start to finish.
Here are some questions we recommend asking before selecting a moving company:
• Are you licensed and insured?
• Are you a certified professional mover who meets the standards of the American Moving & Storage Association?
• Are you a member of your state’s moving association?
• What price are you willing to put in writing as a "not to exceed" threshold price?
• What are the dates you can commit to for pickup and delivery for my move?
• Can you give me some references of people you have recently moved?
• How are your crews selected?
• Have you ever done business under another name?
• What actions do you take to ensure that the people who come into my home are skilled, professional, and safe?
4. Falling for fakes
The internet is awesome. right? Whether you're looking for comprehensive info on the best mortgage rates, or you simply must know immediately the name of that song that goes; “da-da-da-da-dah-ooh-ooh-yeah”, the web is there for you.
And it's there for you to find your next mover, too. But we shouldn't have to tell you that online info can lead you astray. Double check your info by getting moving company referrals from an industry trade association or use a site that verifies and vets moving companies.
Sure, there are sites like Yelp you can rely on, but don’t do yourself a favor thinking that if you use a pay-for site like Angie’s List that the search results are any more credible. Our aforementioned team member, that’s where she found her mover. And when she contacted Angie’s List to make them aware of what happened, she was told that their listings are paid listings and they do not vet the businesses on their site. That is disturbing given what Angie’s List and other site’s like these imply in their ads.
Another word of caution: Beware of blindly trusting that the company you're hiring is who it says it is… another scheme; some disreputable movers try to lure customers in by using names that are similar to reputable companies. Check the reputable company's website to make sure the local agent is affiliated with the brand name it is claiming.
In addition, disreputable movers are often changing their name to escape consumer groups and bad reviews. Be cognizant of where your Mover is located on Google Maps and if there was ever another moving company located at that address, consider it a red flag. Sometimes you’ll find, as our team member did, there’s not even an office located at that address.
According to the American Moving & Storage Association, the lack of a physical, local address is a telltale sign of a fake mover. Here are other red flags:
• No federal motor carrier number, which shows the mover is registered with the federal government for a state-to-state move
• Movers who refuses to visit your home to provide a written estimate for an interstate move… Responsible moving companies will provide in-home estimates and explain why the pricing is the way it is
• Movers who seem uncertain or unresponsive, especially when asked about their claims process if something gets damaged or lost
Another of the many reasons you always want to use a Real Estate Agent when buying or selling your home is for their network of trusted professionals. People they have years of experience working with. In general, you cannot go wrong if you ask your Agent for a Moving Company referral.
RELATED: Why You Should Never Buy or Sell Without A Real Estate Agent
5. Agreeing to pay a deposit or pay in cash
If you're moving across town, this one's a huge red flag.
Typically, you should not be required to pay a deposit to have your items moved, most companies request payment at the time of delivery.
If you're moving out of state, your moving company could request a deposit. But make sure it's reasonable.
A reasonable down payment should be in the hundreds of dollars toward your state-to-state move, rarely exceeding 20%.
Similarly, avoid movers that demand cash instead of allowing payment by credit card.
We hope you don’t, but do you have moving horror stories to share? What tips would you add to our list? Sound off in Comments or on the Shannon McCarthy Team Facebook Page. You can also visit our Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram feeds. And don’t forget to sign up for our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.