Summer is the peak season for moving and it’s also when the Better Business Bureau (BBB) braces for the most complaints.  The most common disputes that the BBB see are over contract issues

The biggest mistake consumers make is not planning ahead or taking the time to check out movers.

Moving day is stressful enough without having your stuff arrive broken or with a surprise bill. To avoid it, you’ll want to vet potential moving companies. It only takes a little extra time, and can save a bunch of hassle.

1. Get Referrals

Searching the Internet or browsing a phone book for moving companies can be daunting. Start by asking friends, family members and coworkers if they can recommend a moving company. If you’re working with a real estate agent, ask the agent for a referral.

2. Follow the Rule of Threes

Don’t settle for the first estimate you receive. Instead, when choosing a company, get two or three estimates in writing.  You should also make sure the mover comes to your house–don’t make arrangements over the phone.

“That written estimate is essential in moves because it will clearly outline what the expectations are for you and the mover, what exactly they are required to be moving and also what the expectations are once you arrive at your new place,”

3. Watch Out for Red Flags

Keep an eye out for red flags during the estimate. For example, most reputable moving companies won’t ask for a cash deposit before you move. If the mover seems hungry to get the money upfront, it might not be a legit business. Also, during the estimate, note how professional or unprofessional the movers seem. If they show up late, seem unsure of their abilities, or can’t answer your questions, look for another company. And be wary of any movers who show up in a rented moving van. It’s important to ask if the mover will be using their own trucks and workers. Some companies will sub-contract their work to another company and may not be aware of details negotiated with the original company. A professional company will own its own equipment.

4. Make Sure the Mover Is Licensed and Insured 

Not only is it important for you to understand what your household insurance will and won’t cover, but what your mover’s insurance will and won’t cover.  Also inquire about replacement value protection, which means “…the moving company agrees to be legally liable up to an amount that represents your estimate of the value of your property being moved.” This will avoid you being left with a surprise expense.

5. Check With the Better Business Bureau

Research the moving company’s track record with the BBB, which you can do free online. Stick with moving companies that are BBB accredited or at least have a good rating. If the moving company isn’t listed with the BBB, consider looking for one that is.

6. Verify the Address

Ask for a business card or pull up the mover’s website and then look up the listed address online or through the phonebook. Make sure the moving company’s address is listed and registered under the company names. Be wary of any address listed under a residential name

7. File complaint or get accreditation: 

If you do run into trouble with your mover, file a complaint with BBB.  Not only can BBB help facilitate a resolution, but your complaint could also help future consumers looking for a mover. You can also contact the Canadian Association of Movers for assistance.

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