A moving consultant, right, discusses an upcoming move with a customer.
Even in the best circumstances, moving can be among the most stressful events in anyone’s life.
Better Business Bureau can help consumers reduce stress by helping them find trusted movers and by providing tips to reduce the chance of errors or foreseeable problems.
BBBs nationwide fielded more than 1.7 million requests for BBB Business Reviews from consumers looking for movers last year; more than 9,300 complaints about American movers were registered with BBB. St. Louis BBB received more than 22,105 inquiries about movers in Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois and took more than 200 complaints from consumers.
Common complaints included damaged or missing items, bills that were higher than estimates, late deliveries and in some cases, goods being held hostage for additional payments.
“Moving can be difficult even in the best of times,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB president and CEO. “But if you check movers out with BBB, contact their references and understand your contract with the moving company, there should be few, if any, surprises.”
BBB’s website has BBB Business Reviews on more than 17,000 companies that provide moving or related services. The reviews list any customer complaints registered against the companies and how they were resolved, as well as helpful information, such as the mover’s website and contact information.
An interstate household mover should be licensed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (www.protectyourmove.gov). Movers who operate within a single state are regulated by that state’s government. In Missouri, check with the Transportation Department. In Illinois, complaints can be filed with the attorney general’s office.
Some “red flags” to watch for when hiring movers include:
- Movers who don’t make an on-site inspection of your household goods and give an estimate over the phone or by email. Such estimates often sound — and are — too good to be true.
- Movers who demand cash or a large deposit before the move.
- Movers who don’t provide you with a copy of “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move,” a booklet that movers are required to supply to customers planning interstate moves.
- Company websites that have no address and no information about a mover’s registration or insurance.
- Movers who claim all items are covered by their insurance.
- Telephone calls answered with a generic “movers” or “moving company” rather than a company name.
- Offices or warehouses that are in poor condition or don’t exist.
- On moving day, a rental truck arrives rather than a company-owned or marked fleet truck.
BBB offers consumers the following tips on hiring a mover:
- Get at least three written in-home estimates. No legitimate mover will give you a firm price online or over the phone. Remember that the lowest estimate may be an unrealistic low-ball offer that can cost you in the end.
- Know your rights. Learn about your rights at www.protectyourmove.gov or from your state attorney general’s office.
- Make sure the mover has insurance. The insurance should cover your goods while in transit. However, you may want to consider getting full value protection (insurance), which may add to the cost upfront but could save you headaches after the move. Be sure you understand what the insurance covers, whether items will be repaired, replaced or if you will be offered a cash settlement that you can use to repair or replace the item on your own.
- Check the mover’s complaint history. BBB Business Reviews include a company’s complaint history with BBB. Find them at www.bbb.org or by calling (314) 645-3300.
Before you do business with a charity or company, check its BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org or by calling (314) 645-3300.