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How To Choose A Mover – Part Two

in Uncategorized by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment
Image from Wikipedia

Image from Wikipedia

Once you’ve chosen the three companies to give you estimates, schedule times for them to come to your home. The estimate process should always be free. The estimator should take a thorough inventory. He or she may take measurements. They should also ask you about anything you might have had trouble moving into your home. You’ll also be asked questions about your new home, but it’s understandable if you have not yet chosen that home. If you haven’t, the estimator should ask you to call once you have to new home in case there is anything that needs to be known.

If you are moving locally, you should always either be charged by the hour or you should be charged a flat rate based on a specific inventory and specific moving conditions (like stairs and distance from the house to the truck.) Movers will also charge you for moving supplies like boxes and tape. They should never charge you for blankets unless your blanketed furniture is moving into storage.

If you are moving across country, most reputable movers will charge you by weight. Some movers will charge you by volume. Since the truck will be weighed at a federally regulated scale, weight can be verified, whereas volume cannot. With most moves, you should also have an option of a flat price or a “not to exceed” estimate, which will mean that your price will only go down, not up.

After you receive the three estimates, pay careful attention to details such as pick-up and delivery windows. You might find that one company might save you a few hundred bucks, but are those savings really worth it if you end up having to stay in a hotel for an extended length of time because you have no furniture? Look and see how much packing the mover is including. If they are packing everything, make sure that all three estimates include similar amounts of packing.

If they included no packing whatsoever, on the presumption that you will be packing everything, you might see packing charges racking up even on top of a flat moving price. Most movers know that there are certain things that are almost never packed by the customer. Those items include things like mattresses, pictures on the walls and large electronics. All movers should ask you if you plan on packing those. If the mover doesn’t address these items and doesn’t include them in the estimate, it’s a red flag. Unless you have every single item packed, except for furniture, the mover will charge you on moving day. If it was already part of the estimate, great! If not, you’ll see the cost rise and there will be little you can do about it. Technically, the mover is performing services not in the original contract. That being said, there are plenty of times where honest movers arrive at people’s homes to find that a lot of packing still has to be done. They will also charge you for that.

Often, the difference between a good move and a bad moves comes down to planning. Clearly, there are things over which no one has control, like the weather, but there are many things that you can control. Make sure that both you and the mover understand exactly what is involved in the move. Don’t try to make the move seem smaller or less complicated than it is. Guaranteed prices only apply when the inventory list is thorough and when the circumstances – such as packing, distance to the truck, stairs and whether a semi-truck can access – are specifically spelled out. Make sure that you explore their Yelp and Angie’s List reviews. Ask for more references, and ask very specific questions of that reference. Does the estimator listen to and answer your questions? Is he or she available when you call?

Remember that even with the best of movers, not all moves will be perfect. The true test of a mover is how they handle claims. Any reputable mover would much rather they be given the opportunity to rectify things than leave you with a bad taste in your mouth.

How To Choose A Mover – Part One

in Uncategorized by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Image from SF Gate

Image from SF Gate

If you mention you are moving to a group of friends, you’ll probably hear a variety of stories – mostly bad. Of course, people tend to tell their bad stories before the good (a.k.a. non-eventful) ones, but despite that little quirk of human nature, moving nightmares could probably fill a library. A little preparation and knowledge is all you really need to ensure that while your friends are regaling you with their own tales of moves-gone-wrong, you can comfortably sit back, knowing that you really had a pretty good, albeit boring, experience.

It’s suggested that you get three estimates for your move but it’s likely that once you request moving estimates online rather than through an individual company, you’ll be barraged with enthusiastic movers. Personally, I would recommend doing a little homework and targeting three companies specifically rather than plugging information into a ‘lead source’ that broadcasts your information to random movers. So how do you find a good mover?

When you ask your friends about positive moving experiences, you might be surprised at how many will raise their hands to suggest a mover. That’s a good start, but you’ll want to investigate a little deeper. Try Yelp.com or AngiesList.com for more referrals or to research a reputation a little deeper.

Remember that different movers have different specialties. If you are moving across the country, you might be drawn to one of what are called, ‘major van lines.’ Major van lines are the big guys and their names have been around for decades. Despite the fact that you see a lot of trucks with their names doing local moves, the van lines themselves only do interstate moves. I’ll get to more on that in a bit. The advantages to major van lines is that they tend to be fairly well-organized and they are usually on the up and up. The disadvantages are that because they only do interstate moves, they often give you big windows of timing on both pick-up and delivery and they often charge large fees for any sort of storage or for a specific pick-up date. If you have any issues after your move, you might find you have to jump through some red tape.

You might see some companies who include “van lines” in their name but they are not considered one of the major van lines. Some of them might operate similarly to the major van lines, but some of them might not. If you are looking for a major van line, see how long a company has been in business. You can find this information through the Department of Transportation – ask for the van line’s DOT number or MC number (as opposed to the local agent’s DOT or MC number). If it’s less than 30 years, it is not a major van line. I’m not saying they are a bad company, but they are misleading you if they claim to be one of the majors.

If you decide to investigate some of the smaller names, you might find a lot of advantages, such as flexibility and the fact that you’ll probably be able to reach the same person on the phone throughout the moving process. Personally, I think the best moving experiences happen because of the personal connections you establish when you go with a smaller company.

If you are moving locally, all companies are small guys to one extent or another. As I mentioned, the major van lines only do interstate moves, so even if a truck has their name on it, if you are moving locally (and sometimes if you are moving to the next state over) you are being moved by their local affiliate (or agent). For local moves, the van line and agent have no connection other than the fact that if the agent racks up too many complaints, the van line might drop the affiliation. If you are moving across country, it will probably be the local agent who will be giving you your moving estimate, so it’s always a good idea to check out their reputation in both cases.
Watch for part two next week!

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