How to Choose a Moving Company

WOM Moving employees unloading packaged belongings

Moving house is an exciting new chapter but it can also be a stressful and overwhelming experience too between packing your belongings and coordinating schedules.

However, if there’s one decision that can make or break your moving experience, it’s choosing a moving company to help with the process.

Professional movers can streamline the process, take the heavy burden of transporting your entire life to a new location off your shoulders, and make sure your belongings arrive safely and on time.

If you want to know how to choose the best moving company for your needs, you’ve come to the right place, as this guide will equip you with everything you need to keep in mind before picking the perfect moving partner!

Reviews & Ratings

When you start your research to find a reliable moving company, reputation should be high on your priority list.

Reviews can reveal a lot about a mover’s reliability, professionalism, how the company handles belongings, and how it treats customers.

However, you should know where to search, as some reviews might be fake or biased, either overly positive by the company itself or unfairly negative by disgruntled customers.

Weeding out fake reviews can be a challenge, especially for large companies with a lot of reviews. However, the variety of sources will help you get a more accurate representation of the company’s performance.

You should consider websites like TrustPilot, Yelp, Google, Better Business Bureau, and Consumer Affairs while doing your research.

Referrals

No matter how helpful online reviews can be, word of mouth will always offer the most reliable advice while picking a service, especially from your family and friends.

They are likely to recommend a company that gave them a subpar experience. Additionally, they’ll give you a firsthand account of the mover’s quality of service, especially a local one that may not have plenty of reviews online.

Consider asking a friend or family member who used a service for a move of a similar nature, depending on the distance and size/amount of the items moved.

You should also be specific with your questions, and ask about aspects like carefulness, efficiency, communication, and how they handled unexpected issues.

Insurance

Accidents happen, even with highly experienced and reputable movers. Insurance guarantees you’re financially reimbursed if your items are lost or damaged during the move.

Luckily, most states require a certain level of liability insurance for moving companies to operate. For instance, in Texas, all moving companies need to have a free minimum liability protection plan.

That being said, you don’t have to stick to the bare minimum. Look for companies that offer more comprehensive coverage, especially full-value protection.

Accreditation & Licensing 

Always make sure the mover you’re dealing with is licensed and insured for the type of move you’re doing, whether it’s local or interstate. 

Luckily, you can easily find this information by checking the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) website to verify a mover’s USDOT number using the search tool provided.

Ideally, a reliable moving company will display its USDOT number along with its contact information on its website. 

Steer clear of companies that don’t publicly disclose their USDOT number or refuse to provide it when you contact customer support.

Besides the USDOT, you can also look for additional licensing and accreditation, such as the commercial license, Motor Carrier number, DMV registration, and American Moving and Storage Association.

Payments

Cost is a huge factor to consider when choosing a moving company. How a company handles payments can also reveal a lot.

You should always obtain a written quote outlining the total cost, including labor, truck rental, materials, and any potential additional charges.

As for payment methods, a reliable company will typically accept a wide range of payments, whether by cash, checks, or credit cards. Ideally, paying with credit cards can help you in the case of disputes, but you should fully rely on it.

Deposits

Deposits have become a standard part of the moving process, as they display commitment on your end and cover some initial expenses on the mover’s end.

That being said, it’s crucial to understand how much a mover can request and what the terms are for getting your money back.

Deposits typically range from a flat rate to a small percentage of the total estimated cost, usually around 10% to 20%. 

Be cautious if a company asks you for a deposit larger than 25% upfront, especially without a signed contract, as it’s usually a sign of a scam.

It’s also important that the deposit amount is clearly outlined in the moving agreement. This should also include the due date, refund policy, and under what circumstances the deposit might be withheld.

Estimates

Getting accurate estimates from mover companies is crucial for making an informed decision, especially if you’re setting a strict budget for your move.

Like payment methods, a good estimate should be quite detailed and transparent, outlining all the anticipated costs involved in your move. It should also indicate whether you’re charged a flat or hourly rate.

As a general rule, you should get at least three in-home estimates from different movers. This will give you a good sense of average pricing and allow you to compare services.

Luckily, most reliable moving companies will offer a free estimate to help you understand what it’s going to cost you to get the job done without unexpected charges.

Additional Features to Consider

In addition to the primary features to look for while choosing a moving company, there are also some additional services that some companies offer. These services include:

  • Packing and unpacking
  • Assembly and Disassembly
  • Storage of items, which is highly reliable if there’s a gap period until your new place is ready
  • Online Tracking, which helps you keep up with the current location of the trucks

Red Flags to Look out for

Now that you have a better understanding of the essential aspects to consider when choosing a moving company, here are some critical warning signs to keep in mind while picking the ideal one for your needs.

Lowballing Estimates

In the world of moving companies, the operating costs of a standard service are usually pretty similar. In other words, if the offer is too good to be true, it’s likely for a good reason.

For instance, if a company offers a suspiciously cheap rate without even seeing your belongings, it’s probably bait-and-switch advertising, and you’ll be bombarded with hidden fees when the time comes.

Even worse, the company may lower its price only to stay ahead of the competition. In that case, it’s probably severely cutting corners, which puts your belongings in danger of damage or going missing.

Using Rental Trucks

One of the major red flags to always watch out for is truck ownership. A reputable movers company will typically have its own trucks. 

A company that uses rental trucks suggests the company lacks the resources to invest in proper long-term establishment, which is a warning sign of a scam.

Using rental trucks may allow the moving company to get around proper registration with authorities, so it’ll become incredibly difficult to find out the company’s licensing details if things go south.

Excessive Promises

As previously established, you should never be swayed by exaggerated advertising that aims to win you over with promises they may never be able to meet.

A company promising a flawlessly smooth, super cheap, lightning-fast move likely isn’t being upfront about potential challenges or costs. 

Instead, a reliable company will acknowledge the hurdles of moving and offer realistic insurance to cover them.

Suspicious Deposits

While it’s fine for companies to ask for an upfront deposit, there are various aspects to establish the legitimacy of this deposit. For instance, the deposit is typically a percentage of the total value, so it shouldn’t be too large.

The deposit should also be in writing and have clear terms for refunding within a certain window. It’s usually not a good sign when a moving company demands non-refundable and cash-only deposits.

Difficult Online Research

A brand-new company simply might not have a well-established online presence yet. However, new establishments will strive to get themselves out there, so it might still be easy to find them online.

On the other hand, if a moving company has a history of bad service, it might try to hide its online presence or make it difficult to find.

An example of an unreliable company might have minimal information on its website or a company that changes its name or contact information repeatedly.

Vague Agreements

It goes without saying that a moving company that refuses to sign a contract is a major red flag. However, even scamming companies are now aware that no contract is a dealbreaker, so they try to weasel out of their responsibilities through vague agreements.

Ideally, the contract must outline all the essential details about the moving process, including exact fees, liability limits, and included services.

Make sure that the wording of the contract also provides a clear description of what is described as a damaged item and how you’re reimbursed for it, according to insurance details.

Unprofessionalism on Review Websites

Moving companies are built on customer service and reliability, and since many review websites allow the service owner to respond to reviews, you can learn a lot about a service by checking how they react to previous customers, especially ones that leave negative reviews.

A moving company that responds aggressively, resorts to personal attacks, or reveals private information about the move while replying to negative reviews is usually a sign that they don’t really care about or respect their customers.

FAQs

How far in advance should I book my movers?

This depends on the nature of the items you’re moving and the distance traveled. However, a general recommendation would be around two months before moving.

This should give you ample time to prepare your items, research moving companies, and avoid last-minute booking, which usually comes at a much higher fee.

Should I tip the movers?

Although tipping movers is not mandatory, it’s considered a common courtesy and a token of appreciation for the movers, as their work is physically demanding. Some movers also rely heavily on tips to make a decent living.

Most people would consider a flat hourly rate, but you can also tip the movers a percentage of the total moving value.

Finding the Best Movers in Austin

A reliable moving company will make the whole process smoother while offering proper insurance and transparency during the agreement period.Word of Mouth Moving offers a wide range of moving services in Austin and nearby areas. If you’re interested in finding out more or getting a free estimate for your move, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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