When you’re in the process of hiring professional movers, whether it be cross-country or a simple relocation down the street, there are several moving company red flags to be aware of before making your selection. While most moving companies are honest brokers capable of offering quality service at a fair price, there are more dubious ones as well.
Moving is a stressful, costly endeavor, and these rogue moving companies like to take advantage of the situation by making false promises and delivering substandard service—if they even complete the job at all! Fortunately, moving company scams can be easy to spot if you know what to look for and what questions to ask moving companies beforehand.
With that in mind, here are the nine biggest red flag warning signs to be aware of when hiring professional movers:
9 Warning Signs and Questions to Ask Moving Companies to Avoid a Scam
1. Is there an online presence or physical address?
When thinking of questions to ask moving companies, start with their physical and online presence. Any moving company that claims to be quality and professional will have an extensive online presence, with a clear and comprehensive profile allowing you to learn more about the company. Legit moving companies will also have a physical address where their trucks, supplies, and storage space can be verified.
2. Are they properly licensed?
Depending on the type of move that you’re preparing for, a professional moving company will need to be licensed to handle it legally. If you’re moving across state lines, for example, the company has to be licensed with the United States Department of Transportation–ask for the company’s U.S. DOT number so that you can look them up in the FMCSA system. If the move is local, on the other hand, make sure they are properly licensed by the state you’re in.
3. Are there bad online reviews or BBB complaints?
Before hiring any moving company, you’ll want to do an online audit of the company with review sites such as Angie’s List and Yelp, as well as any official complaints registered with the Better Business Bureau. The occasional bad review is to be expected of any company, but it’s a red flag if there are persistent complaints and an overall bad rating.
4. Can they provide references?
If a supposedly professional moving company can’t provide references that illustrate excellent service, it’s a surefire warning sign that they’re either not a legitimate company. Otherwise, they’re really bad at the customer service aspect of the business. Either way, best to avoid.
5. Do they charge by cubic feet and not poundage?
One moving company scam includes charging by the cubic foot, not the items’ weight. When companies charge by cubic foot, the total price depends on how well they pack the moving container, and until they pack it, they don’t know the cost. Worse, they are incentivized to load your belongings inefficiently, allowing them to charge more.
6. Is the offer “too good to be true?”
If the quote you receive from a moving company is significantly less than other quotes, appearing “too good to be true,”—it probably is. It’s not cheap to move valuable items safely and securely, and any initial offer that comes in way low is likely to result in headaches and additional costs down the road.
7. Do they have insurance and cargo protection policies?
Any quality professional movers will have insurance to protect themselves from potential lawsuits and to cover the expense in case of damaged goods. A moving company without substantial insurance and cargo protection policies is likely to be unable to compensate for any damage or loss involving your belongings, leaving you stuck with covering the additional expense.
8. Is a large deposit or up-front payment required?
Legitimate moving companies will often request a small deposit up-front, with the rest to be paid after the job is complete. But if the company you’re considering is looking to be paid in full at the start of the job, or if the deposit seems excessively large, it’s a moving company red flag warning you that there’s something not on the up-and-up.
9. Do they provide you with a bill of lading?
If you’re wondering: how do I know if a moving company is legit? There’s no surer sign than if the company fails to give you a bill of lading, which is the official contract between you and the mover. All professional moving companies are required by law to give a customer a bill of lading before a shipment can be made. If the company you’re considering handing over your belongings to doesn’t provide one, don’t hesitate to take your business elsewhere.
If you’re ready to make a move and are looking for a reputable company with years of experience, Bennett Movers would love to help! Contact their office to enquire about their different moving services.