Sadly, we, at Mayflower, see many people get swindled by rogue movers who take customers’ money and run. These scams do exist and there are lots of easy red flags to spot in order to avoid having your money, time and security stolen.
There are so many movers out there. How do I know who to trust?
There are literally millions of household moves every year. With that being said, there are also thousands of moving companies. There are expensive ones, cheap ones, large ones and small ones. Some have been around for decades and some are just starting out. Some are trustworthy and some turn out to be scammers. Trying to hire the right mover for you can be much easier said than done.
Here, at Mayflower, we want to make sure that you not only find a professional and efficient interstate moving company, but also one that you can trust. Your move should be as stress-free as possible and that starts with finding the best moving company for you.
1. Talk to Friends
A good interstate moving company is going to have happy customers eager to share an opinion. So before you hire movers, make sure to look to social media, review sites or ask friends if they’ve had positive experiences with any movers. If your friends and family don’t have any recommendations, check out this list of movers from the Moving & Storage Conference of the American Trucking Associations.
2. Find a Trusted Advisor
Talk to local real estate agents or home improvement contractors who work with movers every day. They can likely offer a professional’s perspective.
3. Check Business Credentials
Once you’ve made a list of prospective movers, contact each company and request their full legal name and “doing business as” (DBA) names, the number of years they’ve been in business and their DOT and MC license numbers. With credentials in hand, you can reference the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to see if a mover is federally licensed for interstate moving. You should also be able to find them on the Better Business Bureau.
4. Do Not Obtain a Moving Quote Without a Visual Survey
Reputable interstate moving companies will comply with federal regulation requiring a visual survey of your belongings. A representative will require that you show the belongings that you need to have moved in order to provide you with a moving quote. Be sure to schedule surveys with at least two movers so you have confidence in the price estimates you receive.
Beware of estimates given over the phone or internet without a visual survey. The way you describe your belongings and the way a moving company views them could differ, leading to changes in pricing. A visual survey can clarify these points and help to ensure your moving quote meets your needs from the beginning.
During your visual survey, take time to show the representative every item you wish to have moved. It’s easy to overlook items in the basement, attic or in storage. The mover should be asking you thoughtful questions so he or she can price the job accurately and adequately prepare for the move. You should feel free to ask any questions to assure your confidence in the company.
5. Be Familiar With Different Types of Estimates
A non-binding estimate – The estimate is the mover’s reasonably accurate guess of the moving charges. Your final moving charges will be based upon the mover’s published tariff charges for the actual weight of your shipment and the actual services provided. Except for charges for additional services you request or that are required due to certain circumstances of your delivery location, the mover can’t require payment before delivery of more than 10% above the original estimate. Any overages or refunds due must be paid 30 days after final delivery.
A binding estimate – A guaranteed price for all services described on your estimate. If you request extra services after the mover commences loading your shipment, like unpacking for example, or additional services are required due to certain circumstances of your delivery location, the mover can require you pay charges for those services, plus the full amount of your estimate before delivery. If there are any other charges due, you’ll need to pay those extra expenses 30 days after final delivery.
6. Inquire About “Valuation” Options
The valuation option you choose determines the mover’s maximum liability for loss or damage caused by moving personnel. 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.
7. Make Sure You Understand Valuation Protection
All interstate moving companies are liable for all goods they transport. There are no exceptions and or loop holes with this requirement. The dollar amounts for that liability is known as “valuation.” There are, however, different levels of mover liability and it’s important for you to know the differences.
Full (Replacement) Value Protection
This is the default option and is the most comprehensive of the two. Every initial estimate provided by a mover must include this option. Whenever one of your items is lost, damaged or destroyed while in the custody of your mover, the mover is liable to you for up to the replacement value of the item. There is a charge for this option and most movers’ tariffs allow them to decide how to settle your claim; usually by either:
- Repairing the item to its original state themselves or pay you for the cost of repairs; or
- Replacing the item themselves or pay you the replacement value.
It’s important to note that under this option, movers are permitted to limit the maximum dollar amount of their liability to an amount you declare as the value of your entire shipment. Though, it can’t be less than $6,000 or $6.00 times the weight of your shipment, whichever is greater. Another way movers’ liability is limited is for loss or damage occuring to extremely valuable items, unless you specifically listed them on a “High Value Inventory” document. An item is considered extremely valuable if it costs more than $100 per pound (ex: fine china, jewelry, artwork, furs, antiques, etc.). If you have any questions in regard to this Full Value Protection option, don’t hesitate to consult your mover. It’s your responsibility to understand your valuation options and make the appropriate declarations.
Alternative Level of Liability
This no-cost option is less comprehensive. Under this plan, the mover assumes liability for only 60 cents per pound for each individual item. This means that if loss or damage occurs, even to so-called high value items, the claim is settled by the weight of the item multiplied by 60 cents.
Example: If a 100 pound antique dresser valued at $5,000 was lost or damaged, the moving company would be liable for no more than $60. (100 pounds x $0.60 = $60)
You can see that this option is very limited when it comes to reimbursement for your possessions. It is, however, completely free of cost. In order to qualify for this option, you must receive a second estimate from your moving company that indicates a reduction in the price of your move based on the lower valuation option and you also waive your right to receive the Full Value Protection option, which requires a signature in a specific place on your mover’s bill of lading.
Which One do I Choose?
The best way to decide is to understand your needs and budget. If your budget is tight, you might want to go with the free Alternative Level of Liability – but that could be risky if your homeowner’s insurance policy won’t cover losses during moving or if you can’t afford to replace items on your own. Before choosing that option, you should also think about whether or not you’d be satisfied with your mover when they only offer to pay you a fraction of the value of your items. For these reasons, most experts recommend selecting, when possible, the mover’s full value protection option, particularly for households that have a large quantity of items valued over $1,000. No matter which option you choose, hopefully you choose a trustworthy mover who handles your items with the patience and care they deserve. Although, you should plan ahead for the chance that won’t always be the case.
At the end of the day, it’s entirely your choice. We simply want to make sure you’re aware of what’s available to you so that you can make an educated decision that’s right for you.
8. Don’t Fall Victim to Scams
Did you know that approximately 3,000 American households are affected by fraud in the interstate moving market every year?
One of most heinous schemes occurs when criminals posing as legitimate movers offer low initial estimates, then hold a victim’s possessions hostage until they receive additional payments. We want to make sure you don’t fall victim to this or other moving scams by looking for the following red flags:
The Mover Does Not Have a Physical Address
Check moving companies’ websites and dust off your phone book to check there as well to ensure they have a physical address in your area. Having a residential address, no address, or just listing a P.O. Box could indicate the business is not legitimate.
The Mover Doesn’t Offer a Thorough Visual Walk Through
As we mentioned above, be wary of companies that ask for a simple description of your items over the phone without requesting a walk-through. Without a thorough walk-through, they won’t truly know the value of your items if they don’t see them for themselves, which may result in extra fees.
The Mover Charges Unexpected Extra Fees
Speaking of extra fees… there shouldn’t be any that you’re unaware of. Trustworthy moving companies will make sure you know exactly what expenses to expect. This is another reason why the walkthrough is important. If you’re moving out of an apartment with a narrow staircase or elevator, your moving agent should let you know ahead of time if they will be charging extra fees for those conditions.
The Mover Switches Their Business Name Often
Oftentimes, fraudulent companies don’t want to be listed under the Better Business Bureau and avoid a it by constantly changing their name. Although, this doesn’t mean that all companies with name changes are fraudulent. The best way to check a company’s credentials is to see if they have a website, physical address, proper licensing and answers the phone with the company’s full name when you call.
The Mover Offers a Verbal or Blank Contract
This is a huge red flag. The contract is one of the most important parts of signing on with a moving company. This is where they’ll list the inventory of your belongings, all price points and extra fees, special terms or conditions, and your pick-up and delivery dates. You must have all of this information in writing, or else they won’t be legally held to their word which is a recipe for disaster.
What to Do When a Moving Scam Occurs
Unfortunately, some will still fall victim to interstate moving scams this year. Fortunately, there are tips and resources available through the MoveResuce website. MoveRescue was the first-industry endorsed program to serve as a central source for interstate moving consumers who need moving education or anti-fraud information.
9. Make Sure You Understand All of the Services the Mover Offers
Different moving companies either offer or can arrange for you different types of services, like packing, storage, cleaning, debris pick-up, auto transport, technology installation and more. To ensure that the mover that you hire meets both your specific needs and budget, make sure that you have a good understanding of what they can do for you and at what cost.
10. Add Mayflower to Your Consideration Set
We aren’t going to directly tell you which moving company to choose. We understand that everyone wants to scope out their options and find the company that is most trustworthy with the best rate. We hope that our guide will help you along that process.
However, we’d be lying if we said that we didn’t want you to consider Mayflower. We value our customers more than anything and would love to help you with your move. Here’s a bit more about us…
The History of Mayflower (No, Not The Boat)
Conrad M. Gentry and Don F. Kenworthy founded Mayflower Transit Co. in Indianapolis, Ind., in 1927. It was designed to be an alternative to railroads for customers who were interested in moving their belongings across the country on the expanding network of paved roads.
After more than two decades serving American families, Mayflower expanded its services to include company employee interstate relocations as well as interstate moving trade show displays and exhibits.
With an agency network of more than 271 locations, Mayflower joined UniGroup, Inc. in 1995 becoming part of the nation’s largest interstate moving and storage services provider. Mayflower Transit is able to offer a full spectrum of services.
The company continues to proudly carry the tradition of quality service started by Mr. Gentry and Mr. Kenworthy more than 90 years ago.
11. Understand the Vast Network That Mayflower Has
Here at Mayflower, we have an ever expanding team of professional agents who represent Mayflower for interstate moving services and that are ready to help you with any and all moving inquiries you may have. These agents are also quality local movers in their own right who can help you with your local moving needs. We’re dedicated to making sure that your move is as easy and stress-free as possible. To get in contact with a Mayflower agent today, simply call 610-746-5151
12. Look Into Other Resources