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Ask Angie’s List: How much does it cost to hire movers?

  • Asking the right questions before hiring a mover can prevent potential disaster. Eldon Lindsay—TNS



Angie’s List
Thursday, August 24, 2017

Before hiring movers, industry experts recommend you know what documents you’ll need, how you’ll be charged and what your rights are. When speaking with potential moving companies, do the following:

Request a U.S. Department of Transportation registration number and/or motor carrier number. Twenty-eight states require movers to complete both state and DOT registration. You can search a federally registered mover’s complaint history at protectyourmove.gov.

Obtain a copy of the tariff. It lists items for which you could be charged, such as a “stair” fee, packing tape and a “long carry” fee.

Determine length of time in business. Seek out companies with established reputations.

Ask for information on the moving crew’s status. Are they employed by the company, temporary hires or casual laborers? Do they perform background checks?

Request a copy of the mover’s bill of lading, liability insurance and valuation coverage policy. All movers must assume liability for the value of the goods they transport. “Released value” is a no-cost option that provides minimal protection, requiring movers to cover any damages at 60 cents per pound, per article. “Full value” is the most comprehensive option, but cost varies.

Get a timetable. It should include packing and arrival date.

Determine whether the company performs the move or works as a household goods broker. A broker can’t represent himself as a mover, doesn’t own trucks and generally has no authority to provide an estimate on behalf of a specific mover.

The costs

A binding estimate is a written agreement made in advance with your mover that describes all services. It guarantees the cost of the move based on the quantities and services included. A nonbinding estimate is what the mover believes the cost will be based upon the estimated weight and additional services. The final charges are based on the actual numbers and provisions. Some movers offer a “guaranteed-not-to-exceed” estimate, which allows the consumer to pay the binding estimate or the actual cost, whichever is lower.

According to the American Moving & Storage Association, movers bill you based on the weight of your shipment, the distance that you move and other services you require. They say the average cost of an interstate move is about $5,630, based on an average weight of 7,400 pounds and distance of 1,220 miles. The average intrastate move was $1,170, based on the same weight and a crew of four. Prices fluctuated depending on where you lived.

INTRASTATE VS. INTERSTATE

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration oversees interstate movers and legally requires them to obtain licensing by FMCSA and display their U.S. DOT number in any advertising; provide arbitration if consumer complaints can’t be resolved amicably; give homeowners a copy of Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move brochure; allow homeowners to review their tariff — a list of rates and charges — for a particular shipment; and furnish an accurate summary of their complaint handling procedures, including a phone number.

FMCSA has no authority to resolve complaints against an interstate mover, but the federal agency may investigate a specific mover if it receives multiple documented complaints. The investigation may result in the mover’s license revocation and/or fines.

The American Moving & Storage Association recommends consumers check with their state’s moving association, public utility agencies such as a state’s department of transportation or commerce, Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau before hiring. AMSA sponsors a third-party dispute settlement program for its 3,200 moving company members. For a list of state moving associations and state-by-state regulations, visit moving.org.

Staci Giordullo is a reporter for Angie’s List, a provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.