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How to hire a mover

Things to consider when looking

By ANDREEA CIULAC Chicago Tribune Published: May 19, 2017 4:00 AM

Hiring a moving company can literally take a load off your shoulders and ease the stress of changing homes. But choosing which team to entrust your prized possessions to is not an easy call.

We turned to experts for tips on what to consider when browsing options.

Jeff Walker, president at MovingScam.com, a website where consumers can get information about rogue moving companies, said it's essential that you scroll past the first page of Google's search results.

"People are treating a move like you're shopping for an appliance," Walker said. "The problem is that many fraudulent movers have manipulated the system to come up at the top of those search results, oftentimes paying to be there."

Once a company has caught your eye, scan for a physical address plus proof of license and insurance. If any of those are missing?

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They're probably trying to pull a fast one on you, said Michael Keaton, senior director of communications for the American Moving & Storage Association, the national trade association for the professional moving industry.

There are a couple of ways to check a company's reliability.

AMSA's website, Moving.org, has a list of trustworthy companies it has done extensive background checks on. Licensed companies are also indexed on the U.S. Department of Transportation website, www.fmcsa.dot.gov. For an out-of-state move, the federal government's ProtectYourMove.gov is your best bet.

Never go for the cheapest option.

Lower rates might translate to skimpy employee training, warned Lindsay Dow of Two Men and a Truck. Although some companies may be cheaper than others, they may not train their team members well, raising the risk of damage, Dow said.

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Many companies lure customers in with low prices only to turn on them once their goods are loaded on the truck, Walker added.

Get quotes from at least three movers, and avoid any that are too high or too low compared with the others, Keaton said.

If possible, time your move for midmonth or midweek, when rates are typically lower, Keaton added.

With an out-of-state move, decluttering is the easiest way to save money. The costs are largely driven by distance and weight, so the less you have to move, the cheaper it is, said Keaton.

Most companies give a free estimate over the phone or by looking at videos and photos of what the client is moving.

But the experts advise you to request an in-home estimate, which is far more accurate. The last thing you want is to receive an estimate that you think is a great price, only for it to be more expensive in the end, Dow said.

For those who prefer more of a hands-on approach to moving, there are two self-explanatory options: you load, we drive; and you pack, we drive. If you're going with the first one, Walker warned, be prepared to do some heavy lifting.


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