By: Guest contributor gloria Pugh of Amwat moving
For more moving tips and tricks, check out Gloria's blog here.
Moving is a stressful experience even under the best of circumstances, as it can be both emotionally and physically draining. Luckily, there are a few ways to reduce the amount of emotional, mental, and physical stress related to moving that might help make the process a little easier.
When possible, move before or after the peak moving season to reduce costs and scams.
Peak moving season in the United States usually occurs during the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Due to this increase in demand, summer rates for moving services are typically much higher in comparison to off-season rates, so if it is at all possible you should try to plan to move before or after this time frame.
Along with the summertime increase in consumer demand for moving services, as well as the increase in rates, there is also an increase in criminal activity as is related to moving. In particular, there are a surprising amount of people who claim to be associated with a reputable moving company but are not, and end up scamming you in the worst ways. You can avoid becoming a victim of moving fraud by ensuring the moving company you use is legitimate and reputable.
What you should be aware of when hiring moving services:
The United States Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration “FMCSA” regulates moving companies crossing state lines. Companies operating commercial vehicles that haul cargo, including moving companies, in interstate commerce must be registered with the FMCSA and must have a USDOT Number. The legal name or trade name of the business entity and USDOT Number must be prominently displayed on the driver’s side door. Moving companies operating without authority are operating illegally; checking a moving company’s operating authority is as simple as visiting this website.
Most states regulate the moving industry within the state. Whether moving locally or to another county in your state (my state is Florida, so I will use FL as an example in this article), ensure the moving company you hire is licensed with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Each of the mover's vehicles must display on the driver's side door "Fla. Mover Reg. No. ____" or "Fla. IM No. ____"; checking a moving company’s license status is as simple as visiting this website (or one like it for your particular state).
Cost of moving
Most consumers move infrequently and are therefore unaware of the cost of moving services. The cost for a long-distance move is primarily determined by the weight of the shipment (household goods) and distance with additional services (packing, storage, shuttle, etc.) adding to the cost of the move. It is therefore wise to dispose of unwanted items prior to your move in order to reduce the weight of the shipment, thereby reducing the cost. For example, donate food items and cleaning supplies to the local food bank or church as they add unnecessary weight to the shipment. You can easily purchase these items for less at their new destination in comparison to what you pay the moving company to transport long distance. Also, federal law prohibits moving companies from transporting flammable items commonly found in certain cleaning supplies, cooking oils, aerosol sprays, nail polish remover, etc., so those items are worth donating as well.
The cost for local moving services is typically based on an hourly rate plus a fuel/truck surcharge. Do not be fooled by a low hourly rate. Low hourly rates when multiplied by a slow moving process can become very expensive. Whether moving short or long distance, do not base your decision for hiring a mover exclusively on the cheapest rates as their reputability and reliability is more important.
How to choose your moving company
People use Google for just about every product and service, but if you simply Google the term “movers,” the results are overwhelming. How does one even begin to identify a reputable moving company?
First, avoid moving companies who advertise questionably low rates or promise the cheapest rates online. Executing an efficient and professional move requires many resources from manpower to reliable equipment. Operating a legitimate and reputable moving company is costly. A moving company’s revenues must cover overhead from regulatory fees, payroll, insurance, fuel, maintenance, taxes, and yes, damages to a client’s property. Taking all of these overhead expenses into consideration, you should question when you receive low moving rates, as many entities advertising on the web are actually brokers posing as legitimate moving companies, luring unsuspecting consumers with the promise of low rates. Often, these brokers take a consumer’s money, deduct their fees, and auction the move to a rogue operator who will likely take your possessions and demand more money for their return.
Communication is a wonderful tool. If you just mention to a friend or family member that you are moving, surely someone will have an experience to share and, hopefully, a referral to give. Likewise, post a request for a referral on social media and I guarantee friends will reply with suggestions stemming from their personal experience. Use the internet to your advantage: research the referrals to ensure the moving companies are brick and mortar businesses, preferably located in your immediate community or in the community you are moving to. Never hesitate to visit the moving company’s facility to ensure their authority. Reputable businesses enjoy when consumers visit their place of business.
Once you have identified several moving companies, call the moving companies. (Pay attention to their greeting. Avoid companies who answer their telephone with a phrase such as: “Moving company." Reputable businesses clearly identify their brand to consumers when answering telephone calls). While on the phone, discuss the details of your move and schedule an onsite survey of your residence. An onsite survey is a great tool for both the consumer and the moving company, as it provides an opportunity to exchange information, discuss concerns, and for the moving company to evaluate and determine the resources necessary for the move. It is the best method to estimate the cost of the move and the time it will take to execute the move.
Beware of moving companies who refuse to provide an onsite survey, specifically if it is a large/long-distance. Also be sure to obtain a written estimate from the moving company; Federal and most state laws including Florida require moving companies provide consumers with a written estimate prior to executing the moving services.
Never sign a blank contract for services. It's amazing how frequently consumers will sign blank contracts for services. Understand what you are signing, ask questions, and do not be bullied into signing documents that you do not understand.
There are three types of contracts in the moving industry: binding, not to exceed, and unbound. Unless you completely trust and know the moving company who is servicing your move, NEVER enter into an unbound contract because the sky is the limit.
Be cognizant of every interaction you have with the perspective moving company prior to retaining their services. Should the moving company not provide the attention and information you desire, move on (pun intended).
Follow these simple tips for an efficient, reliable, and professional move. And do not wait until the last minute to do so; it's best you can prepare ahead of time in case of any unforeseen setbacks.