Moving is very stressful and can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed. The best way to avoid those feelings? Do your research and find a trustworthy moving company. Better Business Bureau® of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) offers helpful tips on how to do this and thereby avoid common moving pitfalls.
May is National Moving Month, which marks the busiest time of year for Americans on the move. According to the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), more than 35 million Americans pack up and move each year. While there are many reputable companies in the moving industry, people need to be wary of the handful of unlicensed or dishonest operators that seek to take advantage of trusting consumers. Nationally, BBB received more than 9,000 complaints against movers in 2017. Complaints included allegations of damaged or missing items, charges over originally quoted estimates, late deliveries, and even goods being “held hostage” for additional – previously undisclosed – payments.
“Though most moving companies operate ethically and do right by their customers, we do hear real horror stories from time to time,” said Susan Adams Loyd, President and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota.
Here are some tips to help ensure that your move is as stress-free as possible:
Plan ahead. A great first step is a garage sale or simply downsizing, getting rid of any items you don’t need or intend to keep. Document any donations of clothing or household goods for tax purposes.
Research and verify the company. Research companies by accessing BBB Business Profiles and customer reviews for free at bbb.org. Make sure that the company provides a physical address and contact information. While state regulations vary, all interstate movers must be licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which assigns a unique motor carrier number that can be verified at protectyourmove.gov.
Get at least three written, in-home estimates. Quotes given online and over the phone are unreliable by nature. If a mover insists on giving you a final estimate without an in-home visit, find another mover. Also, remember that the lowest estimate can sometimes be an unrealistic number thrown out to get your business – and could cost you more money in the end.
Know your rights. Research your rights with either the FMCSA for interstate moves or with the appropriate state agency for in-state moves. Interstate movers must give you two booklets detailing your rights. Be sure to enlist the help of BBB or local law enforcement agencies if any moving company holds or threatens to hold your belongings hostage.
Follow safe moving practices. Research how to correctly pack fragile belongings such as large mirrors, glassware or electronics to avoid damaged possessions. Warn the moving company about any obstacles in the moving process, such as flights of stairs or narrow hallways.
Consider purchasing full value protection. This coverage may cost you more money upfront, but purchasing full or replacement value insurance from your mover means any lost or damaged articles will be repaired or replaced, or a cash settlement will be made to repair the item or replace it at its current market value.
The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at bbb.org or 651-699-1111, Toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.