Moving is an onerous task at the best of times and when a move goes wrong, it brings incredible and certainly unneeded stress to a person already saddled with the anxieties of buying or selling a home. This is why packing and moving should be planned well in advance and managed with a maximum of care.
Choice of a mover is one of the most important actions to be taken by a family buying or selling a home. A good moving company will do its best to reduce, if not eliminate, most of the strains inevitable in this business. An incompetent, careless or even a crooked mover will make the homeowner wish he or she had stayed put and can cost a family huge amounts of money and time.
There are good movers. Some of them are the smaller, local moving companies with a few trucks, steady and competent employees and reputations they want to protect and grow. Most, however, are the large, national or inter-city moving companies with fleets of large and smaller trucks, professional employees, training programs, customer service staff, adequate insurance and all the rest of the equipment and services needed in the trade. A large company may cost more but is less likely to turn your bookcases into firewood or tell you they are unable to store your goods or deliver at the time you specified.
The best way to select a moving company is by checking an online directory or telephone books and advertisements for area movers. Select ones that offer the services you need such as help in packing, boxes and other containers designed for your furniture, good insurance coverage, prompt service and so on. Interview representatives of at least three of these companies in person, with attention to their personal appearance, promises and services offered. If a rep looks disheveled and dirty, it’s likely your furniture will look the same when it is delivered. If promises and services offered are described casually, without detail or detailed in a written contract, find another candidate. If one quote seems a lot lower than the others, beware. And check with others who have used their services.
There’s nothing like hearing about the experience of ones who have gone before you.
There are bad people in the moving business. One classic con sees the mover charge you extra in mid-job for loading furniture like mirrors or artwork or other things that carry, according to the crook, a surcharge. Crooked movers refuse to unload until you pay a great deal extra to ransom your belongings. There have been cases of incompetent movers keeping furniture for months in slapdash manner, refusing to deliver it or unable to find the belongings in their confused storage systems. By the time any of this furniture gets delivered, much of it is ruined by careless handling.
A competent, honest mover is often a member of an association. A check with the association or state licensing statistics or the Better Business Bureau helps in selecting a good mover but your own caution is best. You might also run a credit check on the mover before entrusting your goods to someone who has gone bankrupt seven times and changed the company name a multitude of times over the past couple of years.
A professional moving company will first assess the goods to be moved. An expert will estimate its weight – usually within the nearest hundred pounds or so – and give you a price based on the weight, the distance between pickup and drop off, storage charges if necessary and special treatment for some things like pianos (although this could involve a specialist piano mover.) Get three quotes and compare weight estimates. This quote must be included in the final contract. You may pay some of the moving cost in advance but never pay the whole amount in advance. If you do, you have no leverage if things go awry.
Good movers will offer a range of containers including boxes or other packing to accommodate mirrors, artwork, beds and other objects. They will offer bubble wrap or other materials to protect your furniture. And they will offer packing – people who come in and wrap or place your stuff in containers. Packers often are incredibly fast and good at their jobs and can save a householder a lot of work at a reasonable cost. They may also ensure goods are unlikely to be damaged and insurance may pay faster and more if damaged goods were professionally packed.
As goods are packed or before, make a master list of each item, no matter how insignificant, and keep this list handy to consult when unloading takes place. Thefts do occur even in the best-run companies and items can be innocently lost during storage or shipment. Photograph valuable items.
The contract must include the time for pickup and for deliver. If storage is required, the contract should note if any storage time is provided free. For instance, overnight storage may be free of charge if the transport trailer is not unloaded during this brief wait. Storage is usually charged by the month and a good mover will provide safe storage in secure warehouses with your goods kept in a separate container protected from vermin, the weather, and from being mixed with other household’s goods.
Do not wait if anything is wrong. Call the company’s service representative at the first sign your delivery may be late or anything is damaged. Do not pay the final amount on your bill until all your belongings are in your new home and you have ticked off everything on your master list.
Inspect each piece of furniture for damage as soon as it is unwrapped and, if possible, while the crew is still working. Use your photos to check for new damage to valuable pieces. If you discover damage, it must be reported immediately to the crew chief and/or the company service representative so the insurance process can be started. Often, the moving company will have a piece repaired rather than replaced or paid for in cash. This reduces the mover’s insurance premium and can be a good solution for the homeowner as well.
Local movers can be just as professional as the big companies and they should be considered for smaller moves or when belongings are not especially valuable. Specialty movers can be used for moves of artwork, pianos and other high value items. Large movers usually are best for inter-city or big volume moves. No mover is so good that they do not need close supervision by the householder.
Finally, some moving crew members openly solicit tips during the move. Tipping is a personal decision and certainly not all that common for moves. There is an implication in such a demand that you won’t get top – or perhaps any – service unless you pay a tip during or after the move. Report this kind of behavior to the company ASAP with the firm declaration that you won’t be pressured into paying extra for a job that should be done right in the first place.