An important step in planning a move is gathering moving quotes from at least three different moving companies and comparing prices. However, it isn’t as simple as just comparing a number. The moving industry is full of complex jargon and there is a risk involved if a customer doesn’t do the right research before making a decision. Here are several tips on how to compare moving quotes to determine which one is the right choice.
MOVING COMPANY’S REPUTATION
Some of the most effective methods to spotting a rogue moving company can be done before you even make contact. Here are a few things to look for:
- Locate the company’s website. If they don’t even have one then move on to another company.
- Look around for pictures of their trucks clearly labeled with the company logo.
- Look out for referrals to online reviews and ratings with the Better Business Bureau.
- Also look for an office address and phone number. If a company’s website doesn’t have any of these things then it’s time to move on. Rogue movers operate on a fly-by-night practice and sometimes can go so far as to put up a makeshift website, leaving out revealing details.
There are websites like citypages.com and yelp.com that have online forums with customer reviews available. These reviews are helpful, but there are rogue movers that write false reviews to better their score or even lower the score of their competitors. Here are a few points to look for:
- Overly positive reviews
- Reviews with repetitive or generic language
- Overt repetition of the company name
- Clusters of positive reviews within minutes of each other
- “Marketing talk” vs. “Happy customer talk”
Basically if the language of the reviews seems forced and the names they lead to seem false then there is a good chance the company has fabricated the reviews. There are companies that even pay for false reviews. This is a red flag that should also be avoided.
There are private and federal institutions in charge of mediating businesses that offer profiles and even rating systems of moving companies. These include the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
The FMCSA assigns interstate moving companies their own USDOT number which customers can enter at http://www.protectyourmove.gov to view a profile of the company that includes a history of accidents and inspections.
Smaller moving companies operating exclusively on an intrastate level are not required to register with the FMCSA and consequently may not have a USDOT number. However most established moving companies will have a standing with the BBB. Businesses that hold BBB ratings agree to their set of standards and code of conduct. Ratings can be found at http://www.bbb.org. These reviews, along with online reviews and the indications outlined, are all good measures for spotting a rogue moving company before you’ve even asked for moving quotes.
When you have gone through potential companies and filtered out the obvious scammers, contact at least three different moving companies to gather moving quotes. When you call for a moving quote you should have an inventory of everything you’ll want the movers to handle or a close estimation of weight as well as the distance you will be moving. These are all important factors in determining your price quote. The more information you provide to the movers beforehand, even details such as stairways and the distance from the curb to the door, the better your customer service representative can tailor your moving quotes.
Request that the moving company send out a relocation consultant to visit your property and provide a free on-site estimate. Relocation consultants are experts that can offer advise on planning your move and will be able to produce a more detailed and specific moving quotes based on your needs. If a moving company refuses to provide the service of a relocation consultant then you may want to consider looking elsewhere.
- Have all moving quotes generated based on the same weight and manpower
- Ask for information on any charges you don’t understand
- Avoid lowball quotes. If a price seems too good to be true then it probably is.
- There are standard terms in contracts that often surprise people when they run into problems. A couple examples would be what’s known as “double drive time” (a legal requirement in some states) and the standard interstate moving insurance rate ($.60 per pound). Be sure that you understand everything presented to you before you sign anything.
- There are two different basic types of moving quotes: binding and not binding. Binding quotes are a price that is agreed to by contract and non binding are estimates that can change based on changing factors of a move.
Binding quotes, especially binding not-to-exceed quotes, are helpful in that they guarantee you will not pay over a certain price even if the job potentially ends up costing more then the quote you and the movers have agreed to. However sometimes this can make movers inclined to generate a quote that is higher than necessary to ensure they walk away with money in pocket.
Inversely the advantage of non binding moving quotes is that if your job is faster or smaller than outlined in the price quote then you can potentially pay less. However if the job exceeds the means of the quote the price may increase substantially.
Getting informed to everything involved with your moving quotes is the best way to avoid getting ripped off. When there are basically any changes made to the plan after you’ve agreed to the contract then you can run the risk of having the price jacked up substantially. The more upfront information you provide to the moving companies the more accurate a quote you will receive. Doing the right research and knowing what to look for are the best ways to arm yourself against rogue moving companies and get the best quote with the right service for your move.