| How to Choose a Professional Mover
Has a moving company ever asked you for a cash deposit before
your move? Was the company’s Web site missing a local address or
licensing information? According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Administration (FMCSA), you could have been a target of a growing
problem – “rogue movers” – who can turn the stressful event of
moving into a complete disaster.
Unfortunately, many moving scams have been tied to the
increased usage of the Internet by consumers planning a move.
More and more consumers are going online to find a moving
company and basing their choices primarily on cost with little
regard to a company’s record or reputation. As a result, an
ever-growing number of people are being scammed by unscrupulous
“rogue movers,” who aren’t licensed or insured movers; some are
even “companies” without real operations. The Internet provides
these companies with the opportunity to present themselves as
being more established than they really are.
Mayflower Transit, one of the nation’s largest and most
recognized names in moving, has compiled a list of tips to help
consumers choose a professional mover during this busy moving
season, when more than 43 million Americans will pack up and
move their belongings to a new home.
Planning ahead can help reduce the possibility of problems in
what is a very detail-driven event. By following these steps in
choosing your mover, you are more likely to have a safer, easier
and more cost-effective transition.
Where to Start
- Begin your search for a mover by asking your friends,
relatives and business associates about movers they have used
- Use the phone book or contact a real estate agent to find
at least three moving companies that have real offices (i.e.,
real addresses) in your area.
- If you are using the Yellow Pages, remember: just because a
moving company has a large ad doesn’t necessarily mean it is
- Once you’ve made a list of prospects, contact the companies
via phone to get the full company name and “doing business as”
names, the number of years in business, address and phone
numbers, Web site and e-mail addresses, references and DOT and
MC license numbers.
- Then go to
safersys.org, an FMCSA Web site, and search for the company
using the DOT and MC license numbers to see safety information,
any orders to cease operation, licensing and other information.
You can also check with the
Better Business Bureau or other consumer organizations in
your local area.
- Schedule at least two on-site estimates, which should be
provided free of charge. A reputable mover WILL NOT give you an
estimate over the phone.
- Don’t rely on a quote provided sight-unseen over the phone
or over the Internet. When moving across state lines, your
charge is based on the actual weight of your shipment and where
you are moving from and to.. You are better off meeting
face-to-face with the mover’s representative to ensure that you
both understand what is involved.
- During the on-site estimate, be sure to show the
representative everything that is to be moved. Don’t forget
about the items in the basement or the major piece of furniture
you have sent away for repairs. Don’t be afraid to ask
questions. The salesperson should also ask you questions – about
your new home, the timing of your move, etc.
- Inquire about “valuation" options. Valuation provides
protection from loss or damage to your possessions. The
valuation option you choose determines the basis upon which any
claim will be adjusted and the maximum liability of the mover.
The liability of a mover for loss or damage is based upon the
mover’s tariffs, as well as federal laws and regulations, and
has certain limitations and exclusions. Valuation is not
insurance; it is simply a tariff-based level of motor carrier
- Be wary of quotes that are substantially lower than the
rest. “Low-ball” price quotes could result in significantly
lower-quality service, or they could be an indication of a mover
who plans to “up” the price in a moving scam. One of the many
horror stories shared by victims of moving fraud involves a
rogue mover taking household goods “hostage” and demanding large
sums of money – sometimes thousands of dollars – before
returning the possessions. (In these cases, the mover often
gives the customer a low bid, then ups the price once the goods
are on the truck.)
Go With a Name You Know
There are plenty of quality “name” van lines to choose from. If
you have never heard of a particular mover and you have no
references from friends or business associates, be very careful!
Don’t be swayed by a super-low price from an unknown firm;
remember, you’re entrusting your mover with almost all of your
Choosing From Among Similar Estimates
- References are important. If a mover wasn’t recommended by
someone you know, ask for the names and phone numbers of
satisfied customers. Then call them!
- Consider the attentiveness of the salesperson. Do you have
confidence that he or she will be there to help you through
planning, packing and loading?
- Take a drive past the mover’s office or warehouse. Does it
reflect the level of quality and professionalism you expect in a
- Movers are required by law to provide you with a copy of the
brochure, “Your Rights and Responsibilities.” In this brochure,
the “110% Rule” is explained. The rule states that under a
non-bonding estimate, the mover cannot require you to pay more
than the amount of the original estimate, plus 10 percent, at
the time of delivery. You are obligated to pay any remaining
charges over the 110 percent amount, within 30 days.
Timing is Important
Make arrangements for your move well in advance – at least four
to six weeks before the moving date. If at all possible, try not
to move when everyone else wants to move. Throughout the year,
the end of the month is a busy time for movers, because of the
expiration of leases and preferred closing dates. The summer
months – May to mid-September, when children are out of school –
are “peak season” for movers. Schedule summertime moves as far
in advance as possible...and again, try to stay away from
month-end moving dates.
If You Fall Victim
Unfortunately, some consumers will still fall victim to rogue
movers this year. Fortunately, there is a service called
MoveRescue available to help. Those who feel they may have been
scammed should contact
MoveRescue at 800-832-1773. Consumers who call this number
will talk to a representative who will assess the situation and
direct the caller through the appropriate next steps.
MoveRescue, which is supported by a network of legal firms
throughout the United States, and sponsored by leading van
lines, serves as a central source for consumers who need legal
assistance or anti-fraud information. In some cases, MoveRescue
even offers “Shipment Rescue” for goods being held by rogue
Back to Top