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Top 10 Things to Know Before Hiring a Mover

Knowledge is power and a little planning can go a long way toward making your move less stressful. Here are 10 things you should know to help set yourself up for a successful move.

  1. Many movers found advertising on the internet are either unlicensed or are brokers/middlemen. You can verify all interstate and most intrastate movers' license, and insurance by entering the company name or USDOT number here: http://www.safer.fmcsa.dot.gov/CompanySnapshot.aspx
  2. To view the number of complaints submitted to the USDOT on a particular mover, run a search here: http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/hhg/Search.asp?ads=
  3. Domestic moving can be broken into two broad categories: Local moving with hourly labor and a smaller box truck, or long distance moving requiring the driver to travel overnight on a large semi truck. Long distance service is often designated by the words "van line". Often, local movers partner with a specific van line. If they perform both without a partner, they are termed an "independent".
  4. Pricing method is affected by distance: (1.) Local movers charge by the hour; (2.) Long distance, cross-country movers charge by the pound; (3.) International movers charge by the cubic foot.
  5. The most frequent complaint made by customers is being overcharged/unexpected fees, according to a random sample of over 500 complaints.
  6. Interstate Movers are required to do an onsite inspection if they are within 50 miles of the move site (FMCSA). They must create a list of all items to be moved and assign each item an id number. You should receive a multi-page bill of lading, not a one-page “skinny contract”.
  7. If an item is damaged, movers are only liable for 60 cents per pound (about 10% of its value) on interstate moves, and usually less for intrastate. Your homeowners insurance will cover complete loss situations. But if you are concerned about items damaged in transit, you can either pay additional to have the mover be 100% liable, or you can purchase third party relocation insurance.
  8. If you file a claim with your mover for a damaged item, the mover has 120 days to compensate you.
  9. Interstate movers are entitled to collect payment at the time of delivery before unloading the truck. Non-binding, interstate moves must be released to you upon payment of 110% of your non-binding estimate, and the mover will invoice you for the rest in 30 days if you wish.
  10. Interstate movers are required to:
    • Give you a written estimate
    • Tell you if they are a broker/middleman
    • Give you a copy of the U.S. DOT publication, “Your Rights and Responsibilities when you move”.
    • Provide dispute resolution/arbitration information
    • Give you a Telephone number
    • Post their USDOT number on all advertisments. Ref: http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/hhg/Search.asp?ads=