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Moving Made Easy

12 Steps to Hiring a Mover

How to find a reliable mover who fits your budget (and won’t lose the truck).

By Adam Bluestein
Cardboard BoxPeter LaMastro

 

4. When an estimator comes to your home, show him everything you want to have moved―in the closets, the backyard, the basement, the attic. If on your moving day the foreman believes you have significantly more stuff than was calculated in your estimate, he can “challenge” the original estimate (before everything is on the truck, not after). He can’t force you to pay a higher amount, but he doesn’t have to move your stuff for the original amount, either. And at that point you probably don’t have a lot of other options. Also, make sure the estimator knows about any conditions at your new home that might complicate the move, such as stairs, elevators, or a significant distance from the curb to the closest door. While the estimator is at your home, get as much information as you can about the company. Make sure it will be moving you itself, not contracting the job out to another mover. Find out how long the company has been in business. (You want one that’s been around a few years at least, and ideally 10 or more.) By the time the estimator leaves, you should have collected all of the following:


  • The company’s full name and any other names under which it does business.
  • The company’s address, phone numbers, and e-mail and website addresses.
  • Names and contact information for the company’s references.
  • USDOT (U.S. Department of Transportation) and MC (motor carrier) license numbers.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation booklet called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.” Federal law requires any interstate mover to provide you with this guide, which is the official rule book of the interstate moving industry. (You can download a copy at fmcsa.dot.gov.) For in-state moves, movers are regulated by the state’s department of transportation or its public utilities or commerce commission. Some states publish their own moving-guide pamphlets.


5. Review the estimate. The estimate may be a combined document that, when signed by you and the moving-company representative, serves as your order for service and bill of lading, too. These, along with the inventory list created when your goods are loaded, are the basic documents any mover should provide you with. Make sure you see the words “written binding estimate” up top, as well as the mover’s signature with a date at the bottom. For an interstate move, the estimate should clearly describe the type and quantity of goods you’re shipping, the distance to your new home, when your things will be picked up and delivered, and any additional services (such as packing) and supplies the moving company is providing. If you want to purchase additional insurance from your mover (above the standard 60 cents a pound that the mover’s insurance covers), make sure you understand the costs and details of that coverage. For an in-state move, for which you can’t get a binding estimate, you should still get a written estimate that sets out the hourly rates and any additional costs you may incur (for supplies, tolls, driving time to and from the mover’s facilities). If you’re not sure about anything in the estimate, call and ask. And have the company send you a revised written estimate if necessary―don’t just take someone’s word for anything.

6. As you get estimates, collect them in a brightly colored (that is, hard-to-lose) moving folder. Keep this folder open in plain sight as later estimators come in. This shows them you’re doing your homework, which encourages them to be honest and perhaps give you a more competitive quote.

 
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