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10 Signs Of A Really Bad Mover

in Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson 1 Comment

If you’ve ever watched Dateline or read a forum on the moving industry, you learn that there are a lot of bad movers out there. As a consumer, obviously, that’s bad news, but it does give good movers a real opportunity to set themselves from the pack. How does one go about figuring out which one is a bad mover?

Today, we’ll talk about the bad. If you open your eyes, there are plenty of red flags that movers will wave in your face. Unfortunately, most people don’t know what to look for. Here are 10 signs that you should run, run far, from a mover:

10. Their truck is a junker – Sure, there are honest ‘man with a van’ types, but as a general rule, a company that can’t even take good care of its trucks is probably not going to take care of your belongings.

9. Their movers don’t wear uniforms – A uniform, or even just a uniform t-shirt, is inexpensive for a moving company to purchase. People demand uniforms, and they should. For movers, their t-shirt is their company ID. Not only that, uniformity in clothing often indicates a more professional and uniform way of doing business.

8. They refuse to give you a “binding” or “not to exceed” quote – We hear every day, “they put it in writing.” Writing means nothing. Only a binding or not to exceed estimate hold any legal water, and that’s only if every piece of furniture and every bit of packing is inventoried. That means that someone needs to see your place, even if it’s a virtual tour and don’t leave a square inch out. Trust me, you will be charged more if you leave things out. If a mover refuses to do that, though, they are going to scam you.

7. They charge for tape – One of the biggest ripoffs is one of the least significant sounding: tape. Movers use a lot of tape. They tape boxes and even if you do all of your own packing, they use a lot of tape to wrap your furniture in blankets. Rolls of tape can cost $10.00 and up and you have no control over how much a mover uses.

6. They promise you something too good to be true – No mover can move you from California to Florida in two days. It can’t be done. If a mover makes this promise, they are lying.

5. Their price is much lower than others – The moving industry is like every other industry; you get what you pay for. Picking the lowest priced mover will give you either the worst mover or a lying mover. Both are bad choices. The profit margin on moving is very low. There shouldn’t be more than about a 10 percent discrepancy between movers, unless there is a very good explanation, like that there will happen to be a truck in Florida that will be coming back to California and will be empty otherwise. Then, you might get a good deal.

4. They specifically badmouth their competition – There a difference between educating a customer on how to choose a mover and the things to look out for than specifically badmouthing one company. A moving company shouldn’t say anything more than “check their reviews,” or something along those lines. Badmouthing is bad form and it indicates an aggressive mover, which is something you don’t want.

3. Your sales person doesn’t give you his or her cell phone number – If you allow someone to visit your home, the least they can do is give you their phone number. Planning a move is not a 9-5 job. Your move sales person should be available for you, in case of questions.

2. The sales person doesn’t listen – Bad moving companies tend to treat all moves as the same. They aren’t. Your move is unique and a good company will find out your individual needs.

1. They’ve been in business less than two years – Many bad movers come to this country, get a moving license and then lose it a year or so later because of violations. Sure, there are some great startup moving companies and if you do your homework, you can get a great move, but as a general rule, not passing a test of time is a warning sign.

Featured image via Flickr.

What Is A Moving Broker And Should You Use One?

in Moving Costs by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

In 1980, the moving industry was deregulated. Before that, there were a handful of household names that dominated the moving industry. After deregulation, consumers had a lot more choices, but they also faced a lot of fly-by-night companies with no federal oversight.

Soon after deregulation came another specialty – moving brokers. While, in theory, moving brokers can be a way to separate the wheat from the chaff  – the good guys from the scammers, the reality is that many, if not most brokers have made it more difficult for customers to find good moving companies.

If you go online and fill out a form that offers three moving quotes, you are contacting a broker. They might tell you that they have pre-screened each moving company that they work with, and they might have, but the amount of screening can vary tremendously. Some might check for valid licensing. Very few go beyond that.

Most brokers work with hundreds of smaller moving companies across the country. They collect customer “leads” and distribute them to around three or so of their customers. The moving companies pay them for this service. You will then be contacted from the three moving companies and there is where you’ll be able to differentiate between good brokers and bad.

With a good broker, you’ll always know the names of the moving companies they are sending you. Even if you are moving out of state, your mover should be local and you should ask them if they are performing the move. Many times, a broker will send you a local mover to do an estimate, but send you an out of state company to perform the move.

Hiring a broker doesn’t eliminate the burden of doing your homework. You want to thoroughly research each and every moving company. Far too often, fly-by-night companies get all their business through brokers. Brokers are typically not responsible for anything that happens during or after the move. Check the mover’s licensing yourself. Check their reputation on Yelp and check with the Better Business Bureau. Ask each mover if they will be handling or at least taking responsibility for the move and get that in a written contract. Many legitimate movers subcontract some services, but they always take full responsibility. Here are more tips on choosing a mover.

In general, going through a moving broker is a risky approach. Most do not provide onsite estimates. Most give just general information to each moving company and the companies bid based on very limited data. For example, they might only know that you have two bedrooms and two baths, but they don’t know that you have stairs leading to your home or that you have a lot of belongings.

A binding or guaranteed price is very rare through a broker and even if they do provide it, there are so many caveats that it will almost always be broken. The ONLY way to get a truly guaranteed price with a mover is to have the mover do a complete, onsite inventory.

In the end, a moving broker might seem like a convenient way to choose a mover, but it really doesn’t save you any work. It’s just as easy to log on to Yelp.com and pick highly rated movers and do your homework from there.

 

 

How to Handle a Bad Move

in Uncategorized by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Everyone has heard about them. Hopefully, not everyone has experienced one, but the reality is – bad moves happen. They happen so often that there are even websites solely dedicated to the concept. Sadly, they also come with their own set of dissatisfied customers.

The truth about the moving industry is that it is largely unregulated. The few regulations that do exist are old – very old. For example, in many states, unless you buy additional coverage, the dollar value assigned to your possessions is by weight – and it’s very low. It’s typically anywhere from $.30 to $.60 per pound per article. In other words, if a light-weight, high-tech TV is broken, it’s actually worth less money than the big 90s behemoth TV that you haven’t gotten around to disposing of. The best way to handle a bad move is to avoid it altogether, but even the best moving companies screw up on occasion. The true test of the quality of a moving company is what happens when the screw up is brought to their attention. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to help bring the situation to a satisfactory resolution.

1. Make sure your move is insured – The truth about the moving industry is that it is largely unregulated. The few regulations that do exist are old – very old. For example, in most states, unless you buy additional coverage, the dollar value assigned to your possessions is by weight – and it’s very low. It’s typically anywhere from $.30 to $.60 per pound per article. In other words, your high-tech, super light-weight LED TV is actually worth less money than the big 90s behemoth TV that you haven’t gotten around to disposing of. Even then, a 100 pound TV would only be worth $60.00 – maximum.

Talk to your mover and your home owner’s insurance company about options.

2. Take pictures and catalog your expensive items along with any damages – If there are scratches on your furniture, take those pictures too. A moving company is far more likely to take you seriously if they know you’re not trying to screw them by blaming them for old damages.

3. Stay calm – Under the best of circumstances, moving is very stressful. Add to that the horror stories many have heard (nightmare moves make much better dinner party conversations than good ones), it’s easy to see why a moving customer would get upset at the first sign of trouble.

The reality is, if you’ve done your homework, you probably have not chosen one of the nightmarish moving companies. You have probably chosen a company that is in it for the long-haul (no pun intended), not the quick buck. It is in their best interest to make you happy and they know it. If you contact them threatening to sue right off the bat, they might see you as a hopeless cause. However, if you call them asking for a resolution, they will most likely accommodate.

4. Know what you want and don’t be greedy – It’s not at all unreasonable for you to ask for damages to be fixes, monetary losses to be covered and maybe a bit extra. It probably is unreasonable for you to ask for a free move on top of all that. Keep in mind, that most movers don’t have to even cover your monetary losses, but many will out of good will.

5. Complain – Some customers see dealing with the moving company as hopeless. It’s not unusual for a company to see a negative Yelp review as the first sign a customer was dissatisfied. Of course, the first course of resolution should always be to contact the company, but when you have done that and no resolution has been found, there are channels.

Warning other Yelp or Angie’s List users is certainly one way to make your bad experience known, but neither of those sites have any authority. If you believe laws have been broken, you should contact your state Public Utilities Commission (California) or Department of Transportation. If you moved out of state, you can file a complaint with the feds.

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