Who Will You Trust To Drive Off With Everything You Own?Nov 1, 2001 (Updated Mar 23, 2005) Write an essay on this topic.
The Bottom Line Research, get a quote in writing, and understand your rights and risks in this highly unregulated business
Congratulations on your move! Moves are very stressful and expensive. I am writing this because I have moved more time in the last few years than most people have in a lifetime. The moving industry is a very unregulated and many scams and rip-off prevail. I have to say letting some stranger drive off with everything you own is a pretty nauseating thought and very risky if you don't know your rights and responsibilities.
Why You May Consider a Mover
Although movers are more expensive than do-it-yourself moves in town, they are actually very comparable in price when moving out of state. Here are some very good reasons to consider a moving company:
- You are moving far away
- Company is paying the tab
- You don't feel like doing it yourself
- You can't risk getting hurt by carrying heavy items
- Weather conditions
- You have heavy items like a piano
- You have valuable items like antique furniture
- You have bulky items
Picking The Company
Consider choosing a moving company as carefully as you would any major purchase. You will be handing over ALL of your belongings and memories that can not be replaced. Your best resources will be word of mouth, the yellow pages, and internet websites. I've included some website links at the bottom to save you a little time.
How Much Is This Going To Cost?
The trusted companies send an estimator to your home to estimate how much your items weigh. Some offer quick on-line calculators to give you a ballpark (but will still need to be documented by the company). I will say that if they don't want to come to your house to do an estimate then you probably shouldn't use the company. The amount you will pay will be determined by the following include:
- Total Weight
- Bulky/Awkward items
- Heavy Items
- Stairs and/or elevators
- Certain times of the year especially holidays
- Requiring a certain pick-up/delivery date.
Doing your Homework
The first place to start is the Better Business Bureau: ( http://search.bbb.org/national/search.html ) Weed them out before you put any effort into finding out what the companies offer. I have personally researched many moving companies and you would be shocked and scared to find out how many moving companies have MAJOR complaints out the wazoo. Check the address you are using and also the address of their corporate headquarters. Also verify that they are licensed and bonded with the Department of Transportation. Ask people you know who they recommend. Find out how long they have been in business.
Write down a list of questions that you want to ask every company and start calling. Write down what they say so you can compare them later. Make sure you're not falling for the name scam. Some companies choose names very similar to reputable companies but are indeed scam artists.
Find out what the company specializes in. Not all companies will be able to meet your needs.
Some companies are limited to travel area:
- Local moves 100 miles or less
- Moves within the state only
There are different types of services:
- Customer packs everything and Movers carry it out
- Customer packs up everything and Customer moves it into the Mover's truck
- Mover packs up the Customer items and Mover moves it into the Mover's truck
Your price will be different for corporate and personal moves. If you are paying for the move yourself tell them so they can give you a cheaper rate. Ask for any discounts or specials they may be running (sometimes they have some). Line up at least 3 companies to come to your house for a quote (free). Save your favorite company for last because they will usually price-match or match weight. Leave the previous estimator's paperwork where they will see it. When they ask you about it ask them why their service is better. Estimators expect you to check out other services. You will also have a chance to negotiate when they call to see what you have decided.
You MUST MUST MUST have a written quote from the moving company. By law, they can not charge you more than 10% over what they have quoted in writing. If they will not give you a written quote, then it is only because they fully intend to rip you off. Documentation is the only thing you have to protect yourself in the court of law.
If you've interviewed 6 companies and 5 of them are around $1500 and 1 of them is $800 then you can almost guarantee that the $800 guy will scam you.
If it's not in writing, than it has not been agreed upon. Do Not ASSUME anything! Get everything in writing: Quote of weight, condition of items, pick-up date, delivery date. Ask about and have them document any additional charges that may occur such as gas, fuel surcharges, lay-over fees, anything to do with weighing of the truck, customs, tariffs, and many more convenience fees.
Read and understand the Bill Of Landing before you sign it. Make sure that it matches your quote.
Get a NOT TO EXCEED price documented on the quote. This will save you a lot of pain, suffering, and money. This means, if they company quotes you at $1000 -- and the weight is $2000 then you will still only have to pay $1000. If they weight is lower, and the price would only be $800 then you will only pay $800. This is the most important statement you could possibly have on the contract.
Moving Your Automobile
It isn't cheap to move a vehicle. If you can't drive the vehicle yourself, try a company that specializes in just moving vehicles because they are usually cheaper. If a moving company does it, they will drive your vehicle up into their truck. It's in the ballpark of $1000.
The success of your move will depend greatly on YOUR packing. Poor packing will result in a lot of damage. This is where you will not want to cut corners because many movers do not reimburse for items inside of boxes since they had no control in packing them. Buy sturdy boxes (can be purchased from U-haul, storage facilities, stackable Tupperware containers). Mark the boxes clearly so the movers will know what room to drop them in when you get to your destination.
Consider this: If the movers find that they have misplaced/lost 3 of your boxes, how will you know what you lost or how much you should be compensated? We numbered all of our boxes and had a spreadsheet in the computer of basically what was in each of the boxes. In the event we needed something back out of the boxes we knew exactly where it was. This method also intimidated the movers (I know because he said so).
Most movers require EVERYTHING be packed including hanging pictures and bulky items. If it is not considered "furniture" it will need to be packed.
Your boxes will most likely be stacked 3 boxes high. Pack your breakables so they will not get broken when the box is thrown, dropped, or when 100 pounds is stacked on top of it.
"FRAGILE" markers and stickers. Yea, whatever. If it's fragile, you better take it yourself or pack it good. They just want to get the job done and don't read the boxes. It's not their stuff so they don't care about it as much as you do.
I have found it best not to put all of your eggs into one basket. I put the fragiles in the centers of many boxes so if one box gets lost or destroyed I'll still have something left.
Insurance for Your Belongings
The first place to start is by calling your insurance company. My items were insured once they were placed in the storage facility, but not while on the company's moving truck (because it was out of our control).
The Moving Company will offer you high-priced "coverage" so you can be assured that they will do what you are already paying them to do and reimburse you for their negligence. Of course if you don't give them extra money then you have to pay for their negligence yourself. This is not insurance, it's coverage.....which in the court of law they don't have to follow any laws about reimbursements.
Read the insured coverage section VERY carefully and decide for yourself what you need. If you feel that you can not trust the movers at all with your items then you have chosen the wrong company.
It costs more for the mover's to move your items into a storage facility. I don't know why, they just toss it in but it's going to cost at least $100 more. Ask your estimator what size storage facility they recommend just to double check that you have chosen the correct size.
When choosing a storage facility ask them specifically if a semi can pull up in front of the area you are renting. It will cost you a lot more if the mover can not park the truck next to where it will be unloaded. You may have trouble finding a storage facility that can offer that.
You better come with money because you will not see your stuff until they see the money. Most companies ONLY accept money orders. Most companies collect at delivery and will require full payment.
Give your movers some options to get in touch with you. Don't depend on a cell phone (experience speaking). Give the movers the number to the hotel you are staying, relatives, etc. If they can't get a hold of you, you can't get your stuff. If you miss your moving time you will have to pay for the re-delivery.
Mark the boxes off of your own list while they are unloading to make sure that they have unloaded all of your items. Watch them closely, they're not as professional as you may think.
Plants, Pets, and Kids
Determine how you will move your plants and pets. You may need to find a new home for them depending on your moving situation.
You will need to take your kids...the mover won't take them at any price I'm sure :) Moves are stressful for kids too! Most of them don't know what to expect and only can see the worse (loosing their friends, going to a different school, so forth). It may help to let them see their new town on the internet. Show them links to their school, neighborhood, and attractions. Let them pack their own room or help you pack something. Give them a chance to make a decision on something.....perhaps where to eat supper the night before the move and if you're afraid they're going to say McDonalds let them choose from 3 places you are interested in. They also have books and coloring books to explain moves. Our kids got to pick out a special item each time we went shopping to add to their trip bucket. It gave them something to look forward to.
You're on your own there. Wouldn't wanna be ya! :)
Tax Write Offs!
Did you know you can deduct your move?! Woohoo!
If your company is paying for the move make sure that they pay for it directly and not just adding it to your base pay otherwise you will be paying income taxes on the $3000 or so dollars.
Even if you are moving by yourself you can deduct the moving company, packing supplies, mileage, hotel stay, storage facility, more! I dare not go into detail because I'm not a tax accountant but you can get all the information by visiting the IRS Website and searching for Publication 521 titled Moving Expenses. You will be using tax form 3903. I would suggest you write down everything you plan on deducting in detail at the end of your move because you may forget all of the details by tax time.
* Monster Move - a division of monster.com job board. http://www.monstermoving.com/Moving_and_Planning/
* Get A Mover - Where companies compete for your business
* Better Business Bureau (BBB) - To find out if the company has consumer complaints or is backed by the BBB.
* Consumer Affairs - an article you may want to read about regulation http://www.consumeraffairs.com/movers/consumers_hostage.htm
* Yellow Pages - Phone book in case your phone book is already packed.
* IRS - Get compensated for your move.
Atlas Van Lines
2 Men and a Truck
U-haul Storage and truck
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