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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hiring a Moving Company? Avoid costly mistakes

By Informopolis

Each year, the FMCSA (Federal Mover Carrier Safety Administration) investigates moving companies for a wide range of safety and ethics violations. In 2008, they fined over 300 moving companies. Predatory business practices and safety violations were the most common reasons for these fines. In many cases, operators of moving companies sacrifice ethics for dollars, and in the worst cases, they sacrifice the safety of their customers and workers. So how do you find a good moving company? The good news is that you can take steps to weed out the bad ones and find ethical movers.

First, check the Better Business Bureau. You will want to see if there is a pattern of complaints against a prospective moving company. BBB reports often provide details of bait and switch tactics or careless operators who cause damage to personal property on a far too frequent basis. Some complaints have even alleged theft and sexual harassment. Another resource is a new web site called www.movingscam.com is dedicated to exposing unethical moving services.

The Department of Transportation reports that there are specific signs that your moving operator may be less that ethical:

1. The mover doesn't offer or agree to an inspection of your household goods prior to giving an estimate. These estimates are often too good to be true and are designed to bait unwitting movers. 2. The moving company demands cash or a large deposit before the move. 3. The mover doesn't provide you with a copy of Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move, a booklet movers are required by Federal regulations to supply to their customers. 4. The mover claims all goods are covered by their insurance. 5. The company's website has no information about licensing or insurance.

Advance planning can be critical in avoiding movers with predatory business practices. Stanislov Kukoba, operator of Los Angeles Professional Movers says, "Some moving companies take advantage of last minute movers - most legitimate companies are booked well in advance so the unethical movers jack up the price." Mr. Kukoba recommends booking a moving company 2 months in advance - particularly in the busy summer months.

At Los Angeles Professional Movers, they recommend booking at least six weeks in advance, which means you should start researching your moving company at least 7 weeks prior to your planned move date. Another advantage to booking early is that you can often negotiate the cost of the move and other details, as well as make special requests from your selected moving company.

Experts recommend avoiding a move during the summer months. Often movers, moving vans, and moving trucks are in very short supply during the busy season and predatory business practices are at their peak. Most violations reported by the FMCSA were higher proportionately last summer than at other times during the year. It also helps to avoid weekends - this will often lower the cost of the move because of decreased demand.

Most moving companies charge additional fees for special requests sometimes not totally disclosed, so be sure to be thorough when they arrive at your home to provide a quote. Ask about extra costs, insurance policies, license numbers, and mileage that may or not be included in the move.

All in all, the most important thing to remember is not move without a plan. Sometimes a move is decided on impulse. When it comes to hiring a moving company, impulsiveness can be expensive.

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