How to Choose a Moving Company and Avoid Scammers

Posted How-to / July 10, 2022
Madison Rogers

Born and raised in Houston Madison is a content writer who loves traveling. She has lived in different states and is always eager to share her knowledge with others.

Nothing is more important than knowing how to choose a moving company when relocating abroad. An overwhelming number of complaints about relocation companies are reported to the Better Business Bureau every year. In 2021 alone, a total of 7,000 relocation scams were reported. That is why we want to share with you our advice on how to find a good moving company. Follow our tips and avoid costly mistakes.

So, how should you choose a relocation company? First, research the Internet and read all customer testimonials and comments. You can then proceed to contact companies you are interested in and request free estimates. Next, compare the estimates you received. If you are still not sure if your decision is right, get referrals from friends and family members. Choose a background-checked mover that seems most suitable for your requirements.

Begin Your Search as Early as Possible

One thing is for sure – you can’t find trustworthy movers overnight. It takes time, patience, and thorough research to finally pick a mover that is experienced and reliable. Even though the process is time-consuming and exhausting, you don’t want to put any of your belongings in rogue movers’ hands. That is why this relocation tip is considered to be the first step toward finding the perfect firm to hire.

You will require approximately eight to six weeks to prepare for moving overseas. During that time, you have to pack up your entire household, gather documents needed to travel abroad, and cancel all of the services in your name. All of this will take a lot of effort as well as time. Therefore, it’s best to start researching companies as soon as you start preparing so you don’t find yourself scrambling at the last minute.

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First Visit Websites of Moving Companies You Want to Hire

The first thing anyone does when looking for a relocation firm is research online. It might be an ideal way to pick the right one, but when faced with numerous companies all at once, it might be difficult to make the best decision.

So, we recommend that you create a systematic method so as to easily compare and contrast all the firms that will appear on Google. Visit all of the websites and read everything about the firms before considering any. A useful relocation hack would be to create a spreadsheet where you can note what each mover offers, what their reviews are like, and whether you noticed some red flags.

How Should You Read the Reviews of the Companies You Want to Hire?

When reading the relocation company’s website, search for customer reviews and testimonials. It is vital to find honest and good reviews. Customer testimonials that are very brief or that just underline the positive sides or negative sides of relocating abroad with the firm may be fabricated and fake.

Therefore, don’t trust just the testimonials you find on the company’s website. After checking the website, broaden your search. You can also research the web with the company’s name and the terms “reviews” or “complaints.” In this way, you will get more honest and unbiased reviews. A trustworthy review can be found on sites such as Yelp and Better Business Bureau.

Read More on What Type Of Services the Moving Company Provides

You might be preparing to work in Europe as an American or simply prefer living overseas. Whatever your reasons to move are, you have to find reputable movers. When reading a company’s website, find all about relocation services they provide. They should be able to offer both international moving by air as well as international moving by sea so you can make your selection based on your preferences.

A reliable firm would also make sure that the customers can choose between partial and full packing services. When you pay for full packing services, you will be guaranteed that your household will be packed from start to finish by the relocation crew.

If you own a vehicle that needs to be shipped overseas, search for those firms that clearly state that they can also provide you with overseas vehicle shipping service. Only when you get all of the information about the firm’s service can you continue to look more closely at whether the mover is reliable and worth your investment.

Tell Your Friends About the Move And Ask For Referrals

You can broaden your search quickly by asking your family members, coworkers, and friends to recommend you a reputable firm. Tell them about the move and get them to help you figure out how to find a moving company. They might have a positive or negative experience with a particular firm, so you know who to contact and who to avoid. Asking neighbors and colleagues that have recently moved might also help you pick a well-respected firm. In case some of your friends work in real estate, they might be able to give you a good referral.

Check if the Mover Is Licensed and Insured Before Hiring Anyone

All the companies that are licensed and insured have a US DOT number issued by the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. You can also verify the firm’s license by visiting their website and typing in the company’s name.

With the US DOT number, you can file a complaint if you have some issues with the mover. When researching the FMCSA website, you can get additional information about the firm, such as an address, phone number, what kind of cargo it’s authorized to carry, the number of trucks and trailers they have, and its safety ratings.

What Can You Look Up With a US DOT Number?

Once you receive a US DOT number, it would be beneficial to research the following information:

  • The company’s MC/MX/FF numbers and State Carrier ID number,
  • The type of operations the firm is authorized to carry out (it should be ”broker/carrier”),
  • The firm’s operating status (lookup – approved for a property, HHG),
  • The legal name of the firm, mailing address, physical location,
  • The mover’s range of operation – interstate, international, or intrastate,
  • What type of cargo the firm can transport – you should be searching for an X for “Household Goods,”
  • For Out of Service Date, search for it to be stated as ”None”.

Also, You Need to do a Background Check with Better Business Bureau

If you want to know what is the most reputable moving company, you need to also check with the Better Business Bureau. You can research online for free and find any company’s track record.  Not only are all the complaints and grievances filed against it available online, but also how the firm decided to resolve all of them.

Movers that are BBB accredited and that have a good rating are worth hiring. If it is not listed with the Better Business Bureau, you shouldn’t consider it.

Contact at Least Three Movers and Get Free Estimates

You will be relocating across the world, and you will want all of your relocation essentials properly packed and transported. For this reason, it is important to know how to select a moving company. When you complete your online search for the best one, it’s time to get in touch with the firms you are interested in.

We recommend that you stick with the rule of threes. This means that instead of contacting just one firm, you reach out to at least three different businesses and request a written in-home estimate. Make sure that the estimates are based on the list of transported items, not cubic feet.

Then, the crew will come to your home and review all of the belongings you plan on transporting and provide you with a written quote that will allow you to later compare with estimates from other firms.

Prepare Questions For the Movers

When you receive a quote from the firm, it would be ideal to ask important questions before signing any contracts. If you are relocating for the first time, it will be difficult to spot any irregularities or issues with how the firm conducts business. That is why we will share with you some of the most important questions you should ask the customer care representatives and, in that way, avoid relocation mistakes.

How will my belongings be shipped?

When relocating abroad, you must have a clear idea of how the firm will organize the move and what size of shipping containers they use. With long-distance moves, the firm only uses a truck to transport everything across the border, but shipping overseas is more complex. Usually, it will be necessary for the truck to transport the cargo to the port and from there to a ship. The method of transportation will affect the cost of the move as well as the speed.

What packing supplies do you use?

Your household goods will be transported a long way. The longer they are in transit, the higher the risk of damage. Therefore, it is best to get more information about how the crew will box up your furniture, fragile items, and valuables and what packing materials they will use.

Do you offer storage services?

In case you want to keep some of your items in your home country while you move to another one to first find a job and accommodation, ask about the company’s storage services. A reliable firm will provide you with a storage unit that is constantly monitored, so your goods will be protected at all times.

Will I be charged any hidden fees?

If you want to know what to look for when using a moving company – the answer is surprise costs, especially if you are relocating on a low budget. Some firms may increase costs on relocation day by using hidden fees. These surprise costs can be misrepresented or undisclosed before they appear on your bill. Request from the agents to list all of the costs you can expect. If you are still unsure, check customer comments again and read if there are any hidden expenses.

Are there any items that can't be shipped overseas?

Before writing your moving abroad checklist, you will want to know exactly what can be packed in your cardboard boxes. Make sure to get information about items movers won’t move. These are usually hazardous and flammable products. Still, getting accurate information will enable you to know what to keep when relocating and what can be left behind.

Avoid Basing Your Decision on the Least Expensive Estimate – This Can Cost You More Than You Think

Many customers make the mistake of choosing the lowest offer they received. The least expensive estimate is a cause for concern. It might lead you to get hidden fees on the final bill or lose your belongings to a rogue firm. Therefore before making a final decision, don’t just consider the quotes you get.

At this stage of the decision-making process, use your spreadsheet with information about all the firms you contacted. Compare everything that is included in the service, testimonials you found online, your experience with customer care representatives, and the information you found on the BBB and FMCSA websites. Choose the firm you are most confident in and that you had the best rapport with so as to avoid relocation stress.

How Can You Spot a Scammer?

Learning what to consider when choosing movers is extremely important since you don’t want to fall prey to relocation scams and have all of your items stolen. Trusting anyone with a truck can get you into trouble. So, the best way you can spot a scammer is to pay attention to the tell-tale phone tricks. If you have trouble getting hold of the firm or get transferred to an answering machine, you might be dealing with an unreliable firm.

If they refuse to provide you with an in-home estimate and offer only to provide you with a quote over the phone or online, it would be best to walk away. They might not be qualified for the job, or they just want to give you a price that will most likely get you to pick them. Of course, it’s always the lowest offer possible.

Look out for firms that demand large deposits or cash long before the relocation. Reputable firms usually request that you pay after the job has been completed. Also, if they don’t give you the booklet with “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move,” opt for not hiring them.

If you are wondering – how do I choose a moving company, watch this video so as not to fall for scammer’s tricks.

Knowing How to Choose a Moving Company Is the First Step to Properly Relocating Overseas

Many people ask themselves – how do I hire a moving company, but they don’t realize that the key to a successful move is thorough research. It takes time to read all about each firm you are interested in, but it will pay off in the end. One thing is for sure; it will take you more time to catch scammers who stole your belongings than to research a firm before hiring them. Therefore use our tips, get referrals, ask important questions and request in-home estimates. This is the only way to move efficiently and safely. Good luck.

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