Hiring a moving company can be complicated, and even an honest mover can disappoint you unless you know your rights. And those can vary depending on whether you’re moving between states or within one. Here’s how to protect yourself:
Get recommendations. Try not to rely on newspaper, phone-book, or online ads for the names of movers. Instead, get recommendations from friends, family, or reliable real estate agents. Plan to obtain estimates from at least three companies.
Avoid movers that can’t provide an address or licensing information. Ask whether they have marked trucks, and use a mover that does. Never hire a company that relies solely on a phone or online estimate, or one that requires a large deposit.
Verify licensing. In August, New Jersey officials announced a sting operation that resulted in fines against 25 unlicensed moving companies with listings on Craigslist, Angie’s List, and other websites. Several movers had outstanding warrants; two were wanted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Interstate movers are licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which offers information on how to screen them at www.protectyourmove.gov. The site also has a list of state regulators who oversee in-state movers.
Check for complaints. The federal website and some state sites list complaints against movers. Also check the Better Business Bureau, and search with the company’s name to find reviews and complaints on online forums and complaint websites.
Know your rights. The federal government and some states require movers to provide booklets explaining your rights. Although “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” doesn’t apply to in-state movers, this brochure is a must-read for all. Also check the consumer information on the American Moving & Storage Association’s website.