How to choose a good moving company – Spot the Clues!

30 May 2013 by

Moving season is officially open. The busy time for movers is from Memorial Day till Labor Day. Summer is the peak season in the moving industry. So here are some tips on how to find a reputable moving company to experience a smooth move.

Operating Authority

Consumers should always look for licensed movers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the Agency that licenses and regulates interstate movers. Ocean transportation intermediaries are regulated by the Federal Maritime Commission. Both Agencies provide a database with licensed carriers on their websites. For local (intrastate) moves, consumers should turn to the local authority. Usually it is the Public Utilities Commission or the State Department of Transportation. Consumers should confirm with the regulatory agency that mover is licensed. Those agencies are constantly trying to raise the safety bar in the moving industry and put rogue movers out of business. That is the first check you should make in order to avoid moving scams.


Consumers should look up movers’ credentials and check whether companies are affiliated with recognized associations such as the American Moving and Storage Association or the International Association of Movers. Those associations have a strict code of ethics and research would-be members for license and complaints history.

Online reputation

Another must in the selection process is checking BBB rating and online reviews. A company that abides law doesn’t necessarily mean that it provides excellent service and is loyal to its customers. Digging into reviews’ websites can give a further idea of the company’s ethic. Moreover, reputable and professional moving companies will provide you with testimonials of previous customers.

Hints when choosing movers

  1. Moving company doesn’t have a physical address and when you call it, phone is answered with a generic “Movers” – probably a scam mover.
  2. Avoid brokers. Moving brokers won’t take any responsibility in case of omissions or negligence caused by the actual mover. Brokers arrange transportation, but do not execute it. Brokers will arrange a real moving company (one that has trucks) to do your job, but you will find out who the actual mover will be no sooner than the moving day.
  3. Company rejects to provide an estimate after a physical survey is made. Estimates over phone or e-mail cannot be as accurate as on-site estimates (especially for big moves). The FMCSA obliges interstate movers to provide an estimate after a physical survey of consumers’ household goods when the consumers are moving from a location within 50 miles from the mover’s place of business.
  4. Mind that the moving industry is a competitive business; be suspicious to a significantly lower estimate.
  5. If the mover asks for an outrageously high deposit in advance, cancel it (before it’s too late). Movers may charge you a reasonable booking fee, especially during peak season. Asking you to pay thousands of dollars before the move has even started should be an alert.
  6. A reputable moving company should inform you about charges it employs for accessorial services or impracticable operations – packing, storage, hoisting, shuttle, long carry, stairs, expedited service, fuel surcharge etc. in advance. Rejection to provide a tariff upon request should be a red flag. Also if the mover considers using a subcontractor, company should inform you before the moving day.
  7. Another red flag that should alert consumers is the lack of neutral arbitration program. Movers are obliged to provide their customers arbitration plan by law. Arbitration can be a beneficial solution to resolve a dispute with your mover. If the claim is for $10 000 or less, movers must agree to arbitration and arbitrator’s decision is binding for both parties.
  8. Interstate movers are required by Federal regulations to supply their customers with the “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” booklet. Your mover should provide you that booklet or a link to it so you understand your responsibility and moreover movers’ liability limitations.
  9. Proper moving paperwork. Movers are obliged to issue an estimate (binding or non-binding), an order of service, inventory and a bill of lading. Read your bill of lading and understand clauses limiting mover’s liability.

Moving can be less stressful if you find professional movers as they have the experience to handle any moving related task timely and efficiently. From disassembling your furniture at your current place, through packing and safeguarding its move, to the arranging your furniture and appliances at the new location – pros can handle it all.

SSF Team

SSF Team

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1 Comment

  • Great Blog!!
    We are a reputable moving company and appreciate that you have posted information we have been trying to educate people about all along.
    We come across many clients that have had bad experiences with fly by night movers because they didn’t do their homework or chose the moving company that provided them with the cheapest estimate.
    Just want to say Thanks again for trying to educate people about how to choose a moving company!!
    Thank you for posting

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