Choosing a Moving Company? Let the Buyer Beware.

Choosing a Moving Company? Let the Buyer Beware.There are plenty of decisions still to be made after closing on your new home, and none may be more consequential than selecting the moving company that will transport all your worldly possessions across town or across the country.

To be sure, most movers are reputable businesses, but scam operators will always follow a money trail, so make your plans with eyes wide open.

Did you know, for example, that verbal estimates or estimates given over the Internet are illegal and may not be enforceable? Or that moving companies in California must provide a ‘Not to Exceed’ price for all household moves? Here’s another fact: A moving company may provide you with a written estimate only after they conduct a visual inspection of the items you need moved.

These and other rules of the road come from the California Public Utilities Commission, which licenses moving companies that operate in the state. Before you do anything else, check out the CPUC’s web portal to consumer information on moving companies: “Tips for Hiring a Moving Company.”

The CPUC requires that all movers in California provide customers with a written brochure explaining your rights — including the limits of their rights. Here is an online copy, courtesy of the California Moving & Storage Association: “Important Information for Persons Moving Household Goods (within California).” The CMSA’s website offers a useful document on selecting a mover. The organization has also compiled this list of tips for consumers.

Also, be sure to read the smart, cautionary advice from the Better Business Bureau on moving scams, which can entail anything from collecting deposits and never showing up to massive price hikes to goods being held hostage. (By the way, the BBB also has an excellent guide to avoid shady operators of all stripes: “10 Steps to Avoid Scams.”) If you are moving out of state, the U.S. Department of Transportation offers a “Ready to Move” brochure and checklist.

Lastly, don’t forget the latin phrase caveat emptor — let the buyer beware! With just a little but of planning, you can ensure a safe and successful move for you and your possessions.

(Photo: iStock/Aneese)

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