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Are Moving Brokers Always Crooks? How Do You Find A Good One?

in Preparing for a move by Ninja Movers 1 Comment

You might have heard a lot about moving brokers, and most were probably cautionary tales. Moving brokers, or companies who coordinate moves through a network of several movers, have long had a reputation, often deserved, of being the industry’s biggest crooks. That’s only a little fair.

Sites like generally advise consumers to run from brokers like they have ebola. They aren’t usually wrong. That being said, moving with a broker is not always the worst idea.

First, let me clear one thing up, moving brokers are not generally licensed movers, but the law abiding ones do register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Laws are getting more strict around brokers, but you still want to protect yourself as you would when dealing with the mover themselves.

Think of a moving broker as being like any of the travel sites on the internet. Movers will often notify a broker if there is empty space on a truck going across country. For that reason, a broker can sometimes find you a good deal and they can save you a lot of legwork.

First, check out a broker on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration‘s website. Look for a company that has been in business for at least three years and is in good standing.

Next, insist that the broker come visit your home and give you a binding estimate. That means that the people who actually perform your move cannot change the price, as long as you do everything you said, such as pack. You will be charged for any extra work. Make sure the estimate you do receive includes absolutely everything, so you aren’t hit with surprises.

Believe it or not, your gut can be pretty reliable. If you feel like the person you are speaking to isn’t reliable or honest or they simply aren’t listening, move on. There are plenty of other moving companies and moving brokers.

Are There Different Types Of Moving Companies?

in Preparing for a move by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

VOLVO_TRUCK_AUG_31_2007_WASHINGTON_BLVD_LOS_ANGELES_IMAGE_PATRICE_RAUNET_HOLLYWOODAs you drive through town or down the freeway, moving trucks are everywhere. Some have big corporate logos, like Allied Van Lines or United Van Lines. Some look almost generic and many have logos you might never have seen. Other than the logos, though, the trucks look very similar, right?

The business side of the moving business is a bit more complex than most people think, although the final product can be amazingly similar. In all good moves, a crew of movers shows up within their designated window. They wrap, pack and move your goods. The company might store your goods before delivering. At the end, no matter what the corporate structure, your move will cost within 10-20 percent of what any other reputable company would charge. So, does it matter to you what kind of mover you choose?

The answer is a not-so-straightforward yes and no. Let’s break it down over the three basic types of movers you might encounter when you’re looking for a bid.

1. Van Lines – Van lines are the big guys. They have names like North American Van Lines and Bekins and Mayflower. While they might not have household names, their logos and their trucks are like a comfortable piece of Americana. You see them on road trips. You see them throughout town and you probably give them little thought, but subconsciously, their names are seared into your brain.

But like all businesses, the bigger name doesn’t always mean better or more reliable. Van lines are franchises. Each company has local agents, or companies, who do the bidding and often do the labor involved. The van line itself only comes into the picture when the shipment is being transported across country. If you are moving locally, the van line has nothing to do with your move whatsoever. You are dealing with a local and often small moving company. Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but it simply means that as with all movers, you should do your homework and don’t let a name sell you. Ask for the agent name. Verify their reputation on Yelp and with the Better Business Bureau. Confirm their licensing.

2. Local movers – “Local mover” is somewhat of a misnomer because most local moving companies perform interstate moves as well as local (more on that in a bit). A local mover is one that unlike a major van line, doesn’t have a network of trucks and agencies throughout the country. They are independent. They often (like with Ninja Movers) are owned by people who are involved with the moves and know the customers.

Some local movers have trucks and drivers that run interstate moves and some subcontract out to an independent driver. Either way, the local mover is the one who’s responsible for your move.

3. Brokers – Brokers are a bit of a grey area because brokers don’t perform moves. They set people up with interstate movers. Often, the movers are unscreened by the broker and typically, you have no control over who the actual mover will be. Most of the horror stories you hear about moving companies involve brokers because they tend to promise things that the mover can’t or won’t deliver.

Be very careful when working with a broker. Do your homework. Make sure they are licensed at A broker may not be able to tell you exactly who is moving you, but they should be able to provide you with a list of everyone they work with. Ask for that list and check out each mover. Make sure that someone takes an actual inventory, otherwise all bets are out the window when it comes to the initial quote vs. the actual price paid.

What Is A Moving Broker And Should You Use One?

in Moving Costs by Ninja Movers 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 and pick highly rated movers and do your homework from there.



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