Consider a family’s move from Washington, D.C., to Texas. There’s a pick-up window of 9PM to midnight, followed by a stopover at a holding center in New York before everything’s reloaded onto a truck for Texas. Not an easy or straightforward endeavor.
This is a scenario requiring detailed logistical planning and an abundance of caution to ensure your belongings get from point A to point B without damage.
There’s no reason to leave a situation like this one to chance. Knowing the right questions to ask when hiring movers can lead you to the best ones for the job.Where do I begin?
A good place to start is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Here you’ll find moving assistance, hints for identifying suspect movers and general responses to common moving concerns. If your stuff is already in storage, don’t be surprised if you start receiving solicitations from moving companies. Though you should do your own research, many of these solicitations include coupons worth considering.
Is your move interstate?
If the move is between different states, then it’s likely an interstate move governed by the FMCSA. When an interstate mover registers with the FMCSA you have access to their safety rating and insurance requirements. To see if a specific mover is registered, begin at the Household Goods Program, where you can search by company or by state. With some extra investigating, you can find phone numbers for your state and other information.
Should I tip the crew?
Can you give me the basics?
The basics are general questions any mover should be able to answer easily. The ability to answer these questions is one indication that the moving company is reliable.
• Do they have references? References nowadays aren’t limited to someone you call on the phone. Search online, discarding glowing and glowering reviews, and come up with an average feeling of what people are saying. Referrals are even better.
• Do they recommend doing an in-home estimate, why or why not? In-home estimates are a good way to assess your move, especially in a larger home.
• Is there a ceiling that the move can cost above the in-home estimate? Don’t forget, the key word in an in-home estimate is “estimate.” It’s just a guess as to how much things might cost. It’s important to know if the movers institute a maximum so there’s a limit to costs or hours spent.
• Does the company contract out their moving services? If there is an outside contract, it shouldn’t be an automatic deal-breaker. Rather, you’re better informed about your moving day and less likely to be surprised. It’s a good idea to ask the contracting party some of these questions, too.
• Does the move include any transfers to other trucks? Again, not a deal-breaker, but the more times your things are moved, the more opportunities there are for your items to get lost or damaged. It’s important to know how the mover catalogs your belongings to avoid loss.
• What happens if your belongings are lost or damaged? The FMCSA has a portal to address disputes and complaints. But hopefully you’re able to resolve any dispute with your mover without involving a third party. Knowing their policies beforehand can help you down the line.
• Do they calculate cost by weight? It’s impossible to know how much your belongings weigh. Weighing your belongings provides an objective measure as to costs.
• Do they charge extra for blankets or shrink wrap? Blankets and shrink wrap should be provided at no extra cost. It's in the moving company's best interest to take every precaution to protect your valuables.
• Do they move in the rain or snow? Will they contact you with plenty of lead time if the elements are bad enough to delay or cancel the move? If the weather prevents a move, you should ask about their rescheduling policy and make sure there are no extra fees for something out of your control. Most reputable moving companies will do everything within their power to make sure you are safely moved on the day you require.
Do I need extra insurance?
Can you imagine having to replace all your stuff at once? It’s definitely not the type of shopping spree you’re after. Be cautious, and contact your insurance agent to confirm what kind of protection you have. Generally, if you have a homeowners or renters insurance policy, your belongings are protected. Still, it’s always a good idea to move your most cherished possessions yourself.
You may or may not be comfortable asking this question, especially if there's a chance that the company's phone representative is helping with the move. However, it never hurts to ask if the crew will be expecting a tip. Just as in any other service-based situation, tipping is optional. If you feel that the moving crew has done a good job and deserves a tip, Moving.com suggests tipping $10 to $20 per mover.
Moving isn’t fun, but when you’re comfortable with the crew transporting your most prized possessions, your move can be less stressful and a bit more pleasant. Getting answers to these question from potential movers should help you worry less and breathe easier.
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