For the most part, professional movers for long-distance projects represent the industry. But there is no denying that there are rogue companies out there to rip customers off.
Although they are more of the exception rather than the rule, it is imperative to exercise due diligence to avoid falling victim to any of their scams. For starters, here are practical tips for protecting yourself from an unscrupulous mover:
1. Refuse Over-the-phone Estimates
A mover that likes to phone in an estimate is not to be trusted. First of all, no company can provide a reliable estimate without seeing all of the items that need to be hauled to begin with.
A reputable mover can provide you a quote over the phone to give you an idea of how you much you need to pay but will ultimately visit your house to come up with a better estimate. There is something sketchy about a moving company that insists on skipping on-site inspection and wants to rely solely on the costs of past projects.
Any honest mover agrees that the final bill is based on the total weight of the load and the services given. An interstate moving company has a published tariff, which spells out its services, rates, and other charges.
2. Estimate the Estimator
If a mover does send an “estimator” to your house, make sure that this professional does a thorough job evaluating your situation. The quick assessment might only be as good as an over-the-phone interview.
You are responsible for providing as much information as possible to your moving company’s representative, but the other party has to ask the right questions to determine the kinds of service you need.
3. Don’t Put Money Down
No self-respecting mover will ask for a down payment or any earnest money proving that you are a serious customer.
You might receive two types of contracts: binding and non-binding estimates. The former guarantees that you can’t be forced to pay more than the original quote. In case you need additional services, you and your mover can agree to create a non-binding estimate to cover the expenses of your requests.
Under a non-binding estimate, a mover can’t charge you over 110% of your original estimate. But you should still pay what you owe at the time of delivery to gain possession of your valuables.
4. Ask for Verifiable Credentials
A legitimate mover should have a real address, a business license, and insurance. Request details about these things, and verify them to determine whether your prospective moving company is telling the truth or taking you for a ride.
5. Signing a Blank Contract
Do not sign on the dotted line until are you sure that the document contains accurate information. The contract should eliminate or at least reduce uncertainty. Make sure that it explicitly says all of the fees that you need to pay along with your pickup and delivery dates. Otherwise, do not put your signature anywhere on the document.
Choose a reliable mover accomplishes half of the job. Take your time, and do your research to know a moving company well before hiring one.