(8 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Moving Company)
When it comes to hiring a moving company, you want to make sure that you are not only getting a good price but also hiring a reputable and credible moving company that can get you from point A to point B with as little hassle as possible. Taking the time to ask questions and hire the right moving company for your needs will go a long way to ensure that your valuables are kept safe, you receive amazing customer service, and that you’re fully covered should any accidents happen (and they do sometimes happen). Plus, with a rise in moving scams and theft, asking questions like these beforehand could help you dodge any con artists posing as a moving company.
Below are 8 questions you should ask to help you find the right moving company:
How long have you been in business?
Sometimes experience doesn’t matter and a new company just getting its feet on the ground is just as good (if not better) than one that’s been hitting the pavement for over a decade. However, when you’re choosing which moving company you’d like to hire to help you move your valuable and sentimental items, it’s worth doing your research.
A moving company that has been in service for a few years will usually have a long-standing customer base and reviews available to look through, so you can gauge what their level of professionalism might be like on moving day. Will they listen to your concerns? Fulfill any special requests? Will they treat your belongings with care? When you move, you’re quite literally packing up your entire life and taking it somewhere else – you want to be sure that whatever company you hire is on the same page as you.
Also, follow up with this by asking if they are associated with any formal organization or accreditation like the CAM (Canadian Association of Movers) or the BBB (Better Business Bureau). Being part of an organization tells you that they are held to strict regulations and standards and often have to follow a specific protocol. Moving companies that have accreditation will typically be more concerned with making you a happy customer and ensuring that everything goes smoothly. Companies who operate alone might not be so worried.
Do you have your own warehouse with trucks and equipment?
Sure, maybe your friend from university has a truck and he’s willing to help you move your belongings for a small fee (he says he does it all the time for other people), but sometimes it’s better to pay a higher price for better service and security. When it comes to moving your personal belongings and sentimental items, it’s worth it to invest in a credible moving company than to try to save a few dollars by enlisting the help of someone who operates on their own as a hobby.
One of the easiest ways to figure out if the moving company you’re talking to is a legitimate business is by asking them if they have their own warehouse with their own trucks and equipment. Credible companies will have a permanent address and location where you can find their warehouse, vehicles, and other tools needed for a seamless move. If the answer is “no”, that could mean that they rent their equipment from third parties to avoid any potential liability if an accident were to happen.
It’s also quite common to see “moving companies” hire movers from Craigslist or Kijiji with little to no screening, and sometimes even minutes before the move takes place. If a company has their own trucks and equipment, it’s also likely that they have their own team as well – a team that you can trust and rely on when moving day arrives.
How do you estimate the cost of each move?
Most moving companies will do a walk-through of your home, look over your belongings and give you an estimate of how much the move will cost. They will take into account things like fuel costs, labour costs, the combined weight of items, and any additional costs like premium services or add-ons that you may also require. When you’re shopping around to find the right moving company for you, it’s important that you know what you could be paying for, so have the company break down the estimate for you and go over every cost.
Also, make sure they go over everything during the walk-through. Sometimes it can be too tempting for the person making the estimate to just have a ‘glance around’ and slap down a number, but a credible moving company will look in all the nooks and crannies and will ask you questions like: if you’re going to bring your food with you, or it eat before you go? And if you plan on having a yard sale to sell off a few things, or if you plan on taking everything with you to your new home? Plus, if a moving company is just going based off what you tell them you have, instead of them actually checking it out and making an estimate based on what they can see, it’s common to have some price discrepancies. Homeowners tend to underestimate the number of items they actually have.
It’s definitely worth it to be as thorough as possible, and having the company go over every estimated cost while explaining the reasons behind them can help you prevent any unnecessary costs later down the line – and it never hurts to get your estimate in writing. Changes may happen and estimates can sometimes be way off, but if you have a tangible guideline that you can fall back on as insurance then you can safeguard yourself against any “hidden fees” that might tack themselves to your bill later on when the invoice is due.
What kind of services do you offer? What are the prices?
Sometimes moving isn’t as simple as getting from point A to point B. Sometimes there’s a point C, a point D, and a point E – depending on how far you are going and if there might be any cross-over between leaving your old home and moving into your new one. If, for example, you need to vacate your current address before your new home is ready to go, you’ll need a place to safely move and store all your belongings.
When you’re trying to find the right moving company for the job, try asking them if they offer any additional services and if they offer any bundle deals or packages when you request more than one service. Additional services can be things such as storing items for you, shuttling items to and from storage, packing and unpacking items, as well as even disassembling and reassembling furniture.
Ask your moving companies if they offer any additional services like the ones listed above, and if so, what do they cost? Sometimes it can be worth the extra cost to have one company take care of everything instead of having to outsource additional services like storage, for example, from a third-party company. If you can keep it all within the same umbrella, it will be less of a headache in the long-run and then, if anything does happen (like damage or theft), you know who to talk to about insurance and compensation.
Do you offer any transit protection plans? What are your insurance policies like?
When trying to find the right moving company for you, keep in mind that credible moving companies will often offer protection plans for any accidental damages or loss due to inside or outside theft. Accidents happen all the time and it pays to be prepared. If you’re hoping to find the right moving company for you, you should find out what kind of protection plans your moving company offers and how much it costs.
Moving companies can’t legally sell insurance, though, and so they typically acquire them through third-party insurers – rest assure, none of that cost goes into lining their own pockets. Moving companies are, however, required to make you aware of moving insurance and the options available to you – some might even suggest that if you can get moving insurance cheaper through your own insurance provider, that you should do so because it pays to have your personal items protected. Most credible moving companies will highly suggest you opt for insurance – you never know what could happen, and it will usually save you money, in the long run, to think ahead and put up the money for full coverage upfront.
For example, if a move is already costing you $5000, an extra $600 or so for full coverage is a reasonable fee when you consider that opting out of insurance means that any damages that occur are under your responsibility. Legally speaking, when you opt-out of insurance and damages happen, moving companies will follow federal guidelines which suggest that they pay only $0.60 per pound per item, which means that chances are high that you wouldn’t get anywhere close to the full value back for your personal belongings. Plus, you might also have to pay a deductible should you decide to claim it, and as a result of that, you can count on your insurance premium going up. In the end, it’s likely that if damage does occur (and it so easily could), you’ll end up paying much more than the original fee.
What do I do if something is damaged or goes missing during the move?
A great follow-up question to the one just before would be to ask what you should do if an item becomes damaged or goes missing during the move. The moving company should be able to walk you through the process, step-by-step on how to go about getting compensated for your personal belongings.
If you choose to get insurance, the moving company will explain how to file a claim and what to expect given the amount of coverage you choose and what the fine print says. If you opt-out of insurance or choose to go with your own, ask the moving company what they would be responsible for (or not responsible for) should any damages occur.
Knowing this information up front will make it less of a hassle, in the end, should you need to file a claim or complaint. Plus, you save yourself the added stress and panic of not knowing what to do if a situation should arise. Talking it out with your moving company ahead of time will help keep you calm, level-headed, and prepared.
How do you pack fragile items?
If you’ve ever received a package in the mail where the insides were shattered or dented, you understand that not everyone has the same definition of “fragile”.
In order to ensure the safety of your more breakable or easily damaged items, ask the moving company to show you how they pack and prepare fragile items. Have them show you any materials they use (bubble wrap, packing peanuts, etc.) and how they typically place these items into boxes. If there is anything you disagree with (or know that may not work for a particular item), make it known ahead of time and work out a different plan with your movers to ensure everything stays safe. There may be a few variables out of your control, but ultimately if you’re shopping for the right moving company for you, you’ll want to feel confident that they will respect your wishes and your belongings to the best of their abilities.
When can I expect my belongings to arrive?
Long-distance moves will take longer than local moves, but it’s always best to ask for an ETA so that you know when you can expect your items to arrive. Most moving companies will give you an estimated date with a 24-hour window, but you can also discuss with your movers the possibility of delivering on a specific date or time that is beneficial for you. Keep in mind that delays can happen (bad traffic, vehicle repairs, employee illness, etc.) and things might show up late. Ask your moving company if they can send you updates and notifications on your items so that you can track their progress. Remember to be patient and know that if you’ve done your homework, and the company you choose is a respectable, credible company, that you are most likely in good hands.
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