May is National Moving Month, when the busiest moving season of year begins.
Each year the Better Business Bureau receives thousands of complaints against moving companies. Those complaints include large price hikes to both binding and nonbinding estimates, late deliveries, damaged or missing items, and refusal to deliver goods unless additional payments were made.
The BBB and the American Moving & Storage Association offer the following tips for finding trustworthy movers:
• Research moving companies at www.bbb.org or by calling (509) 455-4200. You can check an interstate mover’s motor carrier number, issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, at www.protectyourmove.gov.
• If you are moving within Washington state, check permitted moving companies at www.utc.wa.gov/consumers/ movers/.
• Know your rights when dealing with movers. When researching movers with FMCSA or a state agency, research what documentation and other information movers are required to provide. When a moving company fails to follow regulations, you should question its trustworthiness.
• Get at least three estimates and make sure each company sends an in-home estimator. Try to deal directly with the moving company, instead of a broker, to avoid confusion about costs and terms.
• Consider the differences between binding and nonbinding estimates. Nonbinding estimates are not contractual, and the estimate is a “best guess.” The final cost is usually based on company tariffs, regulated by state and federal agencies. A binding estimate is a contract and the price is firm. Usually, binding estimates will be higher than nonbinding. Costs for services not listed in the contract are additional, so it is a good idea to be thorough.
Know your loss and damage options. Basic value protection is often included with any move and is calculated at a per-pound rate for each item.
In Washington state, the per-pound rate is 60 cents, so a broken vase weighing 2 pounds would get a $1.20 reimbursement. Other coverage types include replacement cost coverage with a deductible and without a deductible, which has a maximum liability up to the declared value.
For more tips you can trust, visit the BBB Consumer News and Opinion Blog at www.bbb.org/blog/.
By Erin T. Dodge, BBB editor