Great moving companies are easy to find with a little research

For many consumers, May is the first moving month.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a short-distance local move or coast-to-coast, moving your personal belongings can be a nerve-wracking experience at the best of times.

Added to this stress is the unfortunate possibility of being involved with a less than reputable mover. Bad movers are notorious for moving in with your money and belongings during peak moving season.

An in-depth investigation by the Better Business Bureau revealed that scams are rampant 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 that there are plenty of high-quality, reputable movers out there, and checking reviews and ratings on BBB.org is a great place to start. The bad news for consumers who don’t do their research is that they can end up in the hands of bad movers who can inflate prices, add extra costs to the move, take items hostage, or be outright scammers.

The main things that should alert you include receiving an unwritten or unclear estimate which could easily lead to additional charges or little liability if things go wrong. Beware of low estimates which may seem like a lot but end up being much more expensive once a bad mover has your belongings. BBB receives complaints where customers say movers have doubled or even tripled prices, and delivery dates are often weeks or even months later than expected.


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

Often, you might have a contract for the mover to pack your items and promise to deliver your goods on time. Then you get a call that your stuff is in the back of a truck behind two other people’s stuff, so you can’t get your items until theirs is delivered first.

A disreputable mover may also add extra charges based on unsubstantiated reasons, like giving you an estimate based on weight, but once your valuables are on their truck, they charge you extra, claiming that the feet cubes exceeded the weight estimate.

Every detail of a move should be written into the agreement, and I urge you to get several 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 the FMCSA website.

Check that the mover has a real address and is not just a scammer representing a reputable moving company. Make sure the mover has listed the physical address on their website and contact details.

Never pay in cash because when you pay in cash there is no proof of a transaction. If your belongings are not moved or you do not collect them, you have no proof that you ever paid for the service.

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

Doing your homework can be time consuming initially and don’t just pick the price. Your personal items and your peace of mind are priceless.

• Steve J. Bernas is President and CEO of BBB Chicago and Northern Illinois. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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