Choosing a Moving Company

People have many reasons to hire a professional moving company. Often times, they require a mover to quickly relocate with their employment and more often than not, they do not check around and do their homework in choosing a mover. The thought is the employer is paying for the move so it does not matter who actually does the move.

Whether you pay for your own move or your employer is covering the cost, remember that you have a vested interest in the move – these are your cherished possessions and belongings.

In choosing a professional mover, the following should be reviewed:
  1. always get three written quotes

  2. be careful of quotes that charge a per hour rate only

  3. the most expensive is not always the best

  4. when comparing the quotes make sure you are comparing apples to apples

  5. what insurance is covered

  6. who pays for damages and what is included

  7. what is going to happen with your belongings at the other end

  8. do you need more than one service – packing up here, hauling, and unpacking there

  9. do you need storage at the other end

  10. what are the storage facilities like

  11. is it a long haul or short – mileage discounts

  12. what should you take with you instead of packing – items that cannot stay long in storage

  13. what is the allowable over-charge amount.

Get More Than One Quote
You should always obtain more than one quote – preferably three quotes and always in writing. The moving company should send a representative to your home to assess the length of time involved and the number and type of boxes required. The quote typically includes:
  • the time involved
  • the number of rooms
  • the supplies required – wardrobes for hanging clothes, specialty mirror cartons , china boxes for the good kitchen items and knick knacks, tissue or wrapping paper for filling
  • the mileage
  • whether you require packing and unpacking
  • whether you require storage at the other end of the journey

Compare Apples to Apples
Make sure that when you compare the quotes you are comparing “apples to apples”. If the quote does not include the number of hours and supplies required and only presents a per hour rate, then you really have no clue what your actual costs will be.

Make sure the quote includes specifics. Also, be sure the quote includes a clause which lists their liability in terms of over-charging. It is customary that a final invoice cannot exceed an estimate by ten percent BUT it is extremely important for you to check the regulations in your state or province, otherwise your final invoice may not be what was expected.

If you are trying to decide to do some of the work yourself to save some money, when you compare the quotes, take this into consideration. Hopefully your quote will be broken down enough for you to make a comparison.

What Insurance Covers
The fine print and details on a moving quote should be specific. What is the total allowable amount to claim for damage? What damage can be claimed? Many people are under the incorrect assumption that anything that gets broken or damaged is replaced once the item leaves their home. This is not the case.

If you choose to pack your own items and have the moving company pick them up and deliver them, then usually you are not entitled to any breakage within those packed cartons.

On the other hand, if the mover is packing everything, you are covered by insurance but there still may be some restrictions on the allowable claim. The people actually packing the items will inspect them and mark the items or boxes as to the extent of current damage. For example, if your night side table is scratched, they will mark it with a coded sticker and you will not be able to claim that as damage when it arrives. Always check before signing the documents when they finish packing to ensure you agree with the items already marked. It is easier to ask questions now rather than later.

If your items are going into storage at the other end while you wait for your home, then discuss the time limit with the mover. If you are required to report a claim within “x” amount of time, but your items are going to be in storage and you will not be able to inspect them, then you need to work that out with the mover up front. Usually the items will need to stay in the moving company’s approved location to be eligible for damage claims.

What Services Do You Require
Do you want the mover do to everything from packing to hauling to storage to unpacking or do you only require parts of the process? It happens that homes are not ready and the mover will keep your possessions in storage for you at the destination end. If this is the case and the trip is a long haul across country, the mover may prefer to ship your items in a large shipping container. If this is the case, you would not be able to retrieve any of your items until the day you arrange for delivery or unpacking. So plan in advance and know up front exactly what you require.

Storage While Awaiting Delivery
Should you require storage while waiting for your home, ask questions about the storage facility. Will your belongings be packed in a warehouse box by box or will they be packed into a container solely for your purpose?

If they are placed in a shipping container, is the holding area secure and safe from theft?

If the boxes are being left in a warehouse, is the warehouse dry and free from water? Does the warehouse have ample security? How quickly will you be able to retrieve or belongings when you are ready for them to be delivered.

What Should You Take Yourself
It is important to remember that although the shipment may be insured, there are items in your possession that are priceless. Things do get lost, stolen and damaged in any move. If you have family photos that you cherish, maybe you should transport them yourself. In addition, it would not be prudent for instance to send all your jewelry along in the shipping truck or container. Family heirlooms may be difficult to replace. Your items may be loaded with other people’s items and they may get mixed up.

If your belongings need to stay in storage, make sure you have sufficient clothing to get you through until your able to accept delivery of your shipment.

What to Expect Using a Moving Company
Usually many people are involved with the process of moving your possessions.

The first person you usually see is the representative who comes to your home to assess the move. This person is usually a sales type person and basically wants to earn your business.

Once you decide upon a date, a team of packers will arrive to methodically pack everything. They are usually well experienced and move rather quickly and systematically to group items into their respective cartons. The cartons come in different sizes and shapes. There are deep boxes with one bar at the top called wardrobes for hanging your clothes. There are deep, tall boxes called china barrels for packing your crystal, glassware, ornaments and knick knacks. There are specialty mirror cartons which are tall and flat to pack mirrors and wall pictures and hangings. Sometimes two boxes are packed together for larger or longer mirrors and pictures. Then there are normal square boxes for everything else.

The packing team will mark all the boxes with the room names and closet names so that when the boxes arrive at the destination, they can easily be placed in their proper room or area.

The packers should discuss any current damage with you and let you know what they are flagging as damaged.

The last thing they usually do before allowing the next team to load the truck is mark each individual item with a number. Anything that is a stand-alone piece will have a number. They will then write the total number of pieces on your documents and it will be up to you to count and make sure everything has arrived at the other end.

At a pre-arranged time, the truck with the loading and hauling team will arrive. This team will carry everything out of the house and load it on the truck. They may or may not be the team driving the truck to the final destination. If the move is a long haul trip across the country, there may be other drivers involved or if a shipping container is being used, it may even go by train or boat.

If you have arranged for temporary storage with the moving company, the container will sit in holding compound until the pre-arranged date. Then the cartons will be loaded on a truck and delivered to your home. You will check all the items to make sure all pieces have arrived and make sure it is in fact your load.

Once delivered, since the items are all marked, everything goes back in its place. If the movers took the bed apart to ship it, they must put it back together. Everything should be set up in the new location as it was found in the old location. All heavy furniture should be re-assembled. Since everything is labeled and marked, it should return to its rightful spot. For example a bookshelf with books and ornaments will be returned in the same way as the old location.

Lastly, you will make any claims if required.

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