While the estimator is at your home, get all the details you can about the company. Make sure it will not be contracting the job out to another mover. Ask how long the company has been in business. Also ask for:
- The company's full name and other names under which it does business.
- The company's address, phone numbers, email and website addresses.
- Names and contact information for at least three local references.
- U.S. Department of Transportation and Motor Carrier license numbers.
- The booklet "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move." Federal law requires interstate movers to provide this booklet to customers. For in-state moves, movers are regulated by the state's department of transportation or its public utilities or commerce commission; some states publish their own guides.
Compare estimates, dig deeper
When you've gathered your estimates, compare them. Beware of extremely low bids; examine high bids to see where extra costs are coming from. Next, take the information you've collected and do more research:
- Are the companies incorporated in your state?
- Check with the secretary of state's office to confirm how long the companies have been in business.
- Do the companies have the licenses and insurances required to move you legally? Search for the companies' motor carrier license information on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Safer System website.
Watch for red flags
Movers are almost always paid upon delivery. Reputable movers will not demand cash or a large deposit; if you pay up front, you have no control over when - or if - you'll see your belongings again.
Also be aware that some companies get around the Better Business Bureau and other scam busters by constantly doing business under new names. Be sure the company has a local address and answers the phone with its full business name - not just "movers" or something equally generic.
The importance of hiring a reliable, capable mover cannot be overstated. If you have questions, ask for clarification. Best case, you'll end up with several competitive bids from reputable companies - then you may be able to negotiate to get an even better rate.