How Should I Go About Choosing A Professional Mover?

How should I go about choosing a professional mover? Asking friends and relatives for advice on professional moving companies is a good place to start when looking for a mover. Begin your search for a mover...

Begin your search for a mover by asking your friends, relatives, and business associates about movers they have used and liked. Chances are their recommendations are listed in the Yellow Pages under "Movers." But -- just because a mover has a large ad doesn't necessarily mean the company is reputable. Major van lines also have Web sites through which you can find the names of local representatives (called "agents"). Once you've compiled a list of potential movers, check with the Better Business Bureau or other consumer organizations in your local area.

Compare prices by obtaining at least two on-site estimates, which movers should provide free of charge. Unless you are moving just a few boxes, insist that a moving representative prepare an estimate at your residence after seeing exactly what is to be moved and determining what services you require. Don't rely on a quote provided sight-unseen over the phone (or over the Internet). You are generally charged for the actual weight of your shipment and the actual services provided, and you are better off meeting face-to-face with the mover's representative to ensure that you both understand what is involved. During the on-site estimate, be sure to show the representative everything that is to be moved. Don't forget about the items in the basement or the major piece of furniture which you have sent away for repairs. Don't be afraid to ask questions. The salesperson should also ask you questions...about your new home, about the timing of your move, etc.

Inquire about "valuation" options. Valuation provides protection from loss or damage to your possessions. The valuation option you choose determines the basis upon which any claim will be adjusted and the maximum liability of mover. 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. Valuation is not insurance; it is simply a tariff-based level of motor carrier liability. Your mover should be able to provide you with written information outlining the various levels of valuation and the cost to you. Charges depend on the level of coverage you choose. The most basic level of valuation may prove inadequate, especially if you have a number of "high-value" items.

If you obtain multiple quotes and one is substantially lower than the rest, be careful. Quoted prices that are dramatically lower than the rest of the competition are probably too good to be true. "Low ball" price quotes could result in significantly lower-quality service. And one weight quote totally out of line with the others could indicate a flawed estimate.

There are plenty of quality "name" van lines to choose from. If you have never heard of a particular mover and if you have no references from friends or business associates, be very careful; don't be swayed by a super-low price from an "unknown" firm. Remember -- you're entrusting your mover with most of your personal possessions.

It is important to try to make arrangements for your move well in advance -- at least four to six weeks before the moving date. If at all possible, try not to move when everyone else wants to move. Throughout the year, the end of the month is a busy time for movers, because of the expiration of leases and preferred closing dates. The summer months are what movers call the "peak season" -- from May to mid-September, when children are out of school. Schedule summertime moves as far in advance as possible...and again, try to stay away from month-end moving dates.

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