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Spotting a bad moving company

Moving can be an expensive and traumatic experience at the best of times, and the very last thing you need to be worrying about is ending up as the victim of a disreputable moving company.  Thousands of complaints are received by the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) and the Better Business Bureau about moving companies every single year, with the great majority alleging that their property has been lost or damaged during the move.  Other complaints include companies not turning up on time, overcharging, and in some cases alleged stealing and keeping people’s possessions from them until they pay more money than was originally agreed.  Before you entrust your valuable possessions to strangers and spend hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars, there are a few tips that can help you to avoid scams and have a successful and positive relocation experience.

One of the most important tips is to screen all prospective moving companies.  Any companies that promise to be able to move your items interstate have to be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.  The search facility on the organization’s web site can be used to look for complaints, company contact information and safety information by the state where the moving company is primarily located or even just by the name of the firm.

Moving companies that do not cross state lines are not subject to federal regulations but are subject to individual state laws.  For these companies you should go to the FMCSA site and use the state/local resources tab to access links to the regulatory resources of each state.  You should also make certain that the moving company that you are planning to use has at minimum been rated as satisfactory by AMSA and the BBB.  You should always make sure that you get estimates in writing; no reputable moving company is going to give a firm quote on the internet or over the phone, and certainly not without seeing your home and all the goods that need to be moved.  You should always insist that a moving company does an inspection of your home and contents, and get detailed written estimates from a minimum of three moving firms to get a sense of the real market rates.

It is vital for professional movers to be aware of exactly how many items you have; whether they are valuable, difficult to move or particularly heavy; whether they will have to negotiate stairs; and various other details that will have an impact on their costs.  In the event that one estimate is significantly less than others, it is wise to be extremely cautious.  Unscrupulous companies commonly use this as a ruse to get you bound to their service, only to hit you with hidden fees later on and force you to pay these fees by refusing to unload your goods until they have your money.

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