Great moving companies are easy to find with a little research

  • Know what you want from a moving company before you sign the contract.

    Know what you want from a moving company before you sign the contract.

 
 
Posted5/8/2022 1:00 AM

For many consumers, May is the prime moving month.

It doesn't matter whether it's a short-haul local move or coast to coast, moving your personal possessions can be a nerve-wracking experience in the best of circumstances.

 

Added to that stress is the unfortunate possibility of being involved with a less than a reputable mover. Bad movers are well known to move in on your money and possessions during peak moving season.

An in-depth investigative study by Better Business Bureau found that scams are widespread in the moving industry. BBB receives an average of 13,000 complaints and negative reviews about movers each year, with many complaints describing how experiences with dishonest moving companies have turned into financial and emotional nightmares.

The good news is there are plenty of high-quality, reputable movers and checking reviews and ratings at BBB.org is a great place to start. The bad news for consumers not doing their research is they can end up in the hands of bad movers who can price gouge, tack on additional charges to the move, hold items hostage, or be outright scammers.

Top things that should turn up red flags for you include receiving a non-written or unclear estimate that could easily lead to add-on charges or little accountability if things go wrong. Be very suspicious of low estimates that might sound like a great deal but end up being far more expensive once a bad mover has your belongings in their possession. BBB receives complaints where customers say movers have doubled or even tripled the prices, and delivery dates are often weeks, if not months, later than scheduled.

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Often you might have a contract to have the mover pack your items and promise to deliver your belongings on time. Then you get a call saying your belongings are in the back of a truck behind two other people's belongings, so you can't receive your items until theirs are delivered first.

An disreputable mover might also add on additional charges based on unfounded reasons, such as giving you an estimate based on weight, but after your valuables are on their truck, they charge you extra, claiming the cubic feet have exceeded the weight estimate.

Every detail in a move should be written out in the agreement, and I urge you to get multiple estimates.

There are several other ways to protect yourself from unscrupulous movers. Before hiring a moving company, look up a mover's license number on FMCSA's website.

Double-check that the mover has an actual address and is not just a scam artist representing a reputable moving business. Be sure the mover has listed the brick-and-mortar address on its website and contact information.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Never Pay Cash because when you pay cash, there is no evidence of a transaction. If your belongings aren't moved or you don't get them back, you have no evidence of ever having paid for the service.

Check with your insurance agent to see if and how much coverage you might have in your homeowner's policy. If you need it, buy extra insurance. A reputable mover will offer additional types of insurance to ensure you have the highest protection in the event of an accident or damage. If you are a victim of a moving problem or scam, along with going BBB.org to file a complaint or report a scam on Scam Tracker, I recommend you file a report with local police and the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Doing your homework may take time on the front end, and don't select on price alone. Your personal items and peace of mind are priceless.

• Steve J. Bernas is President and CEO of the BBB of Chicago & Northern Illinois. He can be reached at sbernas@chicago.bbb.org

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