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What to Avoid When Choosing Movers

Updated: Jan 19

Not all Movers deliver the same service --- or the same transparency. Here is what to avoid when choosing your moving company, and some ways to spot trouble.

Lack of Concern for Damage:

Many companies will offer 60 cents per pound to protect your valuables. This is the lowest valuation that a moving company MUST provide by law.

This 60 cents per pound does not take into account high-value, low-weight items properly (such as a computer). Similarly, it does account for the real value of moving parties' dressers, cabinets, etc.

Damaged Dresser, with a chipped corner.

Many Moving Companies use this 60 cents per pound valuation on items --- and they have come to accept that damage is a common part of moving.

Damage does not need to be common-place when discipline and proper practice are instilled within a cultured company. Attempt to find a company that is willing to offer something more --- the company you move with should be confident to put in writing that they will guarantee a respectable level of full-value protection (the value an item holds on the market, or can be proven to have --- or the cost of repairs for a damaged item to restore its original condition).

A professional moving company should not cause damage often, and therefore should have no qualms offering a reasonable package at normal price to protect a customer's belongings.

We, for example, offer up to $5,000 in Full-Value Protection at normal price (for damage that we caused negligently).

Non-Guaranteed Pricing:

The movers you choose should be able to guarantee a certain price, or certain price-range --- for a given set of items and conditions agreed to --- in writing. Clients should never have to worry that a move will exceed the maximum price.

Your moving company should spell out all possible factors that can change the price of a move; that way expectations are clear. Additionally, a professional moving company should document the details of a move next to the estimate they send; that way the information provided by the client cannot be argued. The conditions of the move should be made clear, and therefore any change in price is not subject to a gray area.

Foremost, it should be clear what is being agreed to, and for what price (or price range).

Conditions to be listed next to an estimate (for example):

  1. Inventory --- Every item moving should be listed on the "inventory list". This is usually the most important documentation to check for. It is important that your moving company makes a thorough list, and is detailed when creating this (it is also important for the client to be detailed and thorough when providing information on what is being moved). Items moving should be disclosed in type and quantity - as both descriptors can change the time it takes to complete the move. If a moving company does not list every item moving in the agreement made (or if the client does not provide every item), the moving company may charge more due to improper disclosure. Any professional company should stress for a complete inventory list - to promote transparency and prevent surprises.

  2. Address or approximate Origin and Destination Locations --- The number of stops, and the locations of the stops should be clearly listed in the estimate. A moving company's travel charge (if applicable) to the client should not be left to chance; it should be well-defined. Make sure that your movers define your starting and ending locations.

  3. "Obstacles" --- A transparent moving company should request knowledge of the presence of any stairs, elevators, or long-walks. These paths can require extra time to travel, and will more than likely increase the charge for your move (due to increased labor time). It should be clearly stated in your estimate that stairs, a long-walk or an elevator are present, when applicable. Otherwise, a moving company could argue that those 'obstacles' were not disclosed properly, and the company could be entitled to raise their charge.

  4. Date --- A company should be willing to mark a definite service date and time (or time-range). It can make for a stressful situation, if a moving company does not show up for a time-lined move. Perhaps seek a moving company that is willing to offer Guaranteed service (aka, service that must be performed --- or else the company should incur monetary penalty).

An example email that shows Origin and Destination Locations that are recorded for documentation.

Lack of Accountability ---

Many moving companies lack the ethics to be in business properly. Learn how to spot unethical or untrustworthy movers below.

How to Spot Trouble:

Brokers ---

Find out if you are acquiring services from the source, or from a moving 'broker.' Many moving brokers do not carry liability for the moves they provide. For this reason, many brokers do not mind providing cheap services to make a large, safe profit.

It is likely worth avoiding brokers, and only dealing with moving companies directly (you can recycle your inventory list to get multiple quotes on your own efficiently). It is likely that buying from the source will create better pricing, and a better idea of the quality to be expected.

When booking directly with your mover --- make sure to ask if they use employees, or subcontractors. If the answer is subcontractors, or if the answer is both, it is important to get an understanding of how the moving company is affiliated with their subcontractors, and how much control they have over the quality of service provided.

Reviews ---

Reviews can be a critical tool to determine a company's manner of doing business. When checking reviews, it is important to note what platform you are reading reviews from.


Examples of Reliable Moving Review Platforms: Google, Facebook, HireAHelper.

Examples of Questionable Moving Review Platforms: Bing, Thumbtack, Angie, The Company's Website, Chamber of Commerce, and especially websites who's only purpose is to review companies (usually paid to do so).


When checking movers' reviews, it is useful to travel to a company's lowest reviews first. Google, for example, will provide 'lowest' reviews as a criteria option. Looking at a company's lowest reviews can provide insight into what to watch for, when using them.

Many companies provide review links, when they provide good service. For this reason, sometimes it is not enough to say that a company only has a small percentage of bad reviews. Many times, that is due to the company providing review links when good service was performed, but avoiding sending them when the opposite occurs. This makes it easier to leave a good review than a bad review for their customers.

Of course, not all reviews are real --- whether they are pleasant or derogatory. For this reason, the paragraph below can help you decide how to use reviews, with your best interpretation.

A good way to evaluate how consistently or how comfortable a company is in performing bad service (or if they try to maintain great service) is by evaluating how the company responds to negative reviews. Does the company view what happened from a neutral perspective? Does the company appear realistic in their description of events? If a company seems to be avoiding accountability when some accountability is due, it is a good indication that the company has performed unprofessional service in the past, and has looked the other way. Avoiding accountability is a sign that the company is comfortable in providing bad service, and that there is nothing to stop them from treating the next customer the same way. A company owning up to their end of an issue, and showing how they compensated for the inconvenience can show the opposite --- every case is different (e.g.: did the company make the right conciliation?).

As for positive reviews, does the company reply assuming that the client was lucky to have the company perform? For example: "Thank you for using our great service!"


Does the company reply assuming that they were lucky to have the client? For example, something as simple as: "Thank you for having us Michelle! It was nice working with you."

One response shows that the company feels comfortable in the service they are performing; whereas the second response shows that the company is most likely continually working to earn their reputation. Companies are only as good as how they perform for you today!

Get Your Guarantees in Writing! ---

Get anything that is important to you spelled out in writing! Phone conversations or in-person conversations are not enough! Price and damage coverage are both topics that should be spelled out and agreed to in writing.

Give yourself comfort by using a company that can be traced to a fixed address (licensed is a plus), and by getting their offer in writing. If they don't treat you right, then evidence can be provided in court. No busy company wants to fight a losing battle in court! Reputable or not.

For moving advice email --- whether we are in business or not. We can go over what to avoid or pursue for your given interest and move.

Thank you!

- Sean

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