The most important step in planning your next move is to get a survey done at your home to determine the size of your shipment in both volume and weight.
Some companies will provide an over the phone estimate - which is alright initially; however, once you book a move, it is a good idea to get the in-house survey done, if possible.
Typical trends indicate that customers usually underestimate how much they have in their home. An in-person survey can help determine the size of your shipment and identify key factors that will impact the cost of your move.
Make sure at the time of the survey to provide as much information as possible.
Reputable moving companies do NOT require a deposit to reserve a moving date, nor do they collect a portion of the charges on moving day.
Be wary of Estimates that include Administrative or Document Fees. They'll often require these to be paid up front. That's a red flag, and an indicator of bad things to come.
Domestic or Interstate moves are almost always rated as COD shipments. Payment is either remitted to the driver in the form of a Cashiers Check or Certified Money Order made out to the company you signed with - or an online payment option via credit card directly through the company's website.
Be sure to notify your bank prior to making an online payment, as the large amount may flag fraud at your institution and delay your delivery.
Any company licensed to haul household goods across State lines must be registered with the Department of Transportation and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
A permanent record of all complaints filed against that company will be listed on their website at www.protectyourmove.gov
A lot of scammer companies change their names multiple times once their reputation has been tarnished by bad business practices.
Make sure that when you are choosing a moving company that they are licensed and bonded and have been in business for number of years under the same name by verifying they are listed on the FMCSA's website above.
Determine what kind of services the moving company is offering you in their Estimate/Order for Service.
Do they charge extra for stairs, long carries, pad wrapping furniture or disassembly/reassembly?
Is packing included?
Are they providing you with a detailed list of all your belongings to be included in the move?
This information is often times not stated clearly and the customer expects full service when only getting the bare minimum.
The industry standard calculation is 7 pounds per cubic foot, and is incorporated into the software used to determine your shipments weight through an in-home survey.
Be wary of companies that use an undetermined 'cubic foot' rating on your Estimate. Shipments of household goods that are hauled Interstate are charged by weight rather than volume - unless you are using an LTL carrier (such as Saia or Roadway), in which they go by the size/volume of the pallet or crate.
Be careful of "additive cost of $10.00 a cubic foot" which can escalate charges quickly. The general rule of thumb is that the more you ship, the cheaper it is per pound.
There are two things to consider when it comes to protecting your belongings from damages with an Interstate relocation -
Full Valuation Protection and Basic Liability.
Basic Liability is often disclosed at $0.60/pound per article. This means that if an item that weighs 110 pounds is damaged during the move, you're entitled to a maximum compensation of $66.00 - regardless of its value.
Full Valuation Policies offer coverage for furniture, appliances, and items packed by the mover (not packed by the customer), and will provide repair or replacement of damaged items at current retail pricing.
Never ever sign a blank contract. Your rate confirmation should reflect the quote you received earlier. It should also take into consideration of your survey results and of course, your budget.
We can not stress how important this is.
Go online and search for details on every company your are considering. Verify their licenses, permits, addresses, reviews, emails, and complaint history!
Ask the company you choose for references. Also ask your friends and family for recommendations of companies they have used in the past who had excellent customer service.
Article: Consumers Held Hostage By Movers
The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's website gives lots of information for protecting yourself against scam movers.
If you think you have been scammed or had your furniture taken hostage by a rogue mover, please visit this website!
If you're moving internationally the Federal Maritime Commission's website can help guide you in the right direction to help you not get scammed.
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