Are you planning to move sometime soon? The process of searching and vetting moving companies can take time and add to an already hectic schedule; which is why it’s a good idea to start early. Here are the most important things to consider when selecting a moving company:
Get a decent quote
An estimator will come to your house to examine everything you want moved and you have to show him everything in the closet, basement, attic, and backyard. Bear in mind if on the moving day the foreman believes that you have more stuff than was initially calculated on the estimate, he can “challenge” that first estimate before you load the luggage onto the truck.
When the company rep comes over to your house to examine your stuff, gather as much information as you can about their company. Make sure they are handling the job themselves and not contracting out- also find out how long they’ve been in business, and settle for the more experienced mover.
Before the estimator leaves, have the following information handy:
• Company’s full name and any other names under which it conducts business.
• Address, phone numbers, email, and website.
• Other contact information for company references.
• Department of Transportation and motor carrier license numbers- if available
• A booklet by the DoT called “Your Rights When You Move”. It is the official rulebook of interstate moving.
Reviewing the estimate
The final estimate may come in the form of a combined document which, if signed by you and the company rep, serves as an official order for the service and bill of lading as well. These, along with an inventory list created when the goods are loaded onto the truck, serve as the most important documents during the transaction. Just make sure you see something along the lines of “written binding estimate” printed at the top of the document, and the mover’s signature and date at the bottom.
As the estimates come in, collect them in a moving folder and keep it in plain sight- it’s okay if the estimator knows you’re doing your homework; it might encourage him to give you a more competitive quote. When you’re done collecting all the bids, start comparing the bids and stay away from companies that offer a much lower quote. If some of the quotes sound reasonable, you can call the respective companies for additional information and perhaps even negotiate a better deal- don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Verify the paperwork
As strange as it might sound, there are movers who solicit business without proper authority to do so, and organizations such as the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) can be contacted for verification. Just enter the company name, MC number, or U.S. DoT number and hit “search”; a page will appear with the company’s information.
When you close in on one or two moving companies, it is important that you look for these:
• Company name, address, and contact information. Are they the same ones the company rep gave you?
• Check if the “Out of Service” field at the top left says “No”.
• There are fields labeled “Drivers” and “Power Units”, and they tell you how many drivers and trucks the company has. A company that boasts 100 moves in a month but only has two trucks and three drivers should be avoided.
• Scroll down the page to make sure all relevant fields are checked, and at the bottom of the page, click on FMCSA Licensing & Insurance” to review the company’s insurance details. Moving companies require both property damage and bodily-injury coverage with a $750,000 minimum coverage on BIPD.
If unsure about specific information on licensing and insurance, you may call the FMCSA directly at 202-366-9805 and 202-385-2423 respectively.