While searching for a moving company, it is crucial to find a reputable and reliable group of professionals. And in that search, it is not always easy to recognize what the right choice is. Myriad business owners will make the claim of legitimacy and expertise, but how does one separate true quality from all of the fakes? Plenty of moving companies will claim to be insured, bonded, and licensed. But does this oft-repeated phrase actually mean something? We’ll delve into that right here.
What does a “licensed” moving company actually entail? When you want to find a reputable company to handle your move, you want one that has the legal right to conduct business in your local area. In other words – a moving company with the appropriate business license. With that in mind, a truly legal moving company will have a license number to display.
Take a look at the company’s business cards, trucks, advertising, and website. If there is no license number on display, that might mean the company does not actually have one. Also, if you know their license number, you can search for the company online and see if there are any outstanding complaints made by consumers against them; as you’ll see later on, this is important.
One of the most important aspects of a reputable moving business is whether it is bonded. Considering that, you should avoid any kind of moving business that operates without a moving and storage bond. Most often, this is a type of surety bond that will ensure there is no possibility of theft by the movers who will be handling your office space or home relocation.
If a moving company is bonded, that means they’ve set aside funds with a bonding company like BF Bond in case there is ever a situation where a customer makes a claim against them. This is a good way of recognizing a legitimate business, seeing as the money in question isn’t controlled by the business itself, but by an external and entirely separate bonding company.
Number of Complaints
As we can surmise from above, bonding and licensing are definitely traits you should look for in a legal and legitimate moving business. But these legalities aside, it is also important to examine the experiences other customers have had with the company’s services. Using the license number of the company, try to see if there are complaints against them at the FMCSA.
This is particularly true for interstate relocations; the FMCSA website has a search engine that leads to specific moving-related complaints. You can see the entire history of FMCSA complaints against a company – hopefully, there won’t be any.
Barring this, seeing what you can find on the Better Business Bureau website is also not a bad idea. This website contains information on both interstate and intrastate movers. And the BBB is definitely an impartial judge, as they are a non-profit entity looking to showcase trustworthy companies for all consumers to see. If the moving company you are thinking of hiring has a BBB accreditation, that is definitely a good sign.
In the process of picking a moving company you can trust, it’s not all about looking at officially filed complaints. A large majority of people won’t go to the trouble of registering their grievances officially. More often than not, they will simply leave an angry review online. With that in mind, you should search the Internet for more customer experiences. For obvious reasons, the reviews section on the company’s website isn’t a good starting place; the moving company is not likely to post any bad reviews of their work.
Instead, look at websites like Yelp or other review aggregates, that are more likely to contain legitimately written reviews and the objective truth. However, even these places may contain some paid-for positive reviews; be on the lookout for fakes when you try to recognize bonded moving companies.
Apart from the digital world of reviews, there is still something to be said for word of mouth. Feel free to ask your family, friends, and neighbors for their experiences, opinions, and recommendations.
The Moving Estimate
Before you enlist the services of a moving company, you should know that the way it performs an estimate of your household is a great indicator of their professionalism. Before providing you with a quote, every respectable moving company will make an in-person visit and inspection, or at least request a video survey.
If a company simply offers you a quote right away, through the Internet or over the phone, this is definitely a red flag for a moving scam. A bonded moving company has “skin in the game” via the funds they’ve invested in their bonding, meaning they won’t risk working purely based on your own assessment of the household goods. This is a good rule of thumb – any moving company giving you quotes without their own first-hand account is not to be trusted.
Also, once the inspection is completed – your movers should provide you with an estimate (along with potential additional charges) in writing. That leaves no room for unwelcome surprises down the line.
All of the factors we have mentioned until now are important – but they are also technicalities. When hiring a moving company, consumers should also resort to their common sense. After all, there are telltale signs that separate a legitimate, bonded moving company from a malicious or untrustworthy one. For instance, do they have their own business email address and an actual office? Do they belong to a renowned van line? Do their movers have uniforms, and do they use professional moving trucks? Does the estimate seem to be too affordable to be real? Your own gut feeling is important when you’re about to do business with someone as well.