This is the time of year many consumers choose a moving company, unfortunately it's nearly as easy to find a bad company as a good one. Bottom line: Don't trust just anybody or your valuables could end being held hostage.
May is National Moving Month, which means you'll be competing against a lot of neighbors to find the right moving company. Annually, more than 37 million Americans move to a different home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And each year the Better Business Bureau and the American Moving & Storage Association receive serious complaints from consumers who fall victim to dishonest or unlicensed moving companies.
The BBB and AMSA recommend following these rules to protect yourself and your belongings:
Research the company thoroughly. While state regulations vary, all interstate movers must, at minimum, be licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and are assigned a motor carrier number you can verify at www.protectyourmove.gov. Also check the company's rating with your BBB; BBB maintains more than 17,000 reliability reports on movers across North America. Having at least a satisfactory BBB rating is one of seven screenings that AMSA relies on when authorizing its interstate mover members to display the ProMover logo, the sign of a quality, professional mover which has pledged to abide by the organization's Code of Ethics.
Get at Least Three In-Home Estimates. No legitimate mover will offer to give you a firm estimate on-line or over the phone. Also keep in mind that the lowest estimate can sometimes be an unrealistic low-ball offer which can cost you more in the end.
Know Your Rights. Research your rights as a consumer with both the state you currently reside in and where you are moving to. Also enlist the help of BBB or local law enforcement if the moving company fails to live up to its promises or decides to hold your belongings hostage.
More tips and information on how to choose a mover and plan your move are available at AMSA's consumer Web site, www.moving.org; and the U.S. Department of Transportation's site, www.protectyourmove.gov. To research a mover or find your nearest Better Business Bureau, visit www.bbb.org.