Moving is one of the most stressful tasks a person will ever undertake. Better Business Bureau (BBB) can reduce hassles by helping consumers find trusted movers and by providing tips to reduce the chance of errors or scams.
In 2020, consumers nationwide searched bbb.org for moving and storage companies more than 2 million times last year and made about 8,000 complaints to BBB. BBB Scam Tracker received 230 reports last year of moving scams, the subject of an in-depth investigative study published by BBB last year.
Common complaints included damaged or missing items, bills that were higher than estimates, late deliveries and in some cases, goods held hostage for additional payments.
A Florissant, Missouri, woman told BBB in September 2020 that a local moving company had damaged much of her furniture during a recent move, using insufficient padding in their truck. She said the owner initially offered to repair the damage, but then stopped responding to calls. The company has not responded to her complaint.
Finding a trustworthy mover is the first step toward a stress-free move. We encourage consumers to check movers out with BBB, and read and understand contracts with the moving company. Then there should be few, if any, surprises.
BBB Business Profiles are available at bbb.org for more than 20,000 companies that provide moving or related services. These profiles list any customer complaints registered against the companies and how they were resolved, as well as contact information and a rating from A+ to F.
An interstate household mover should be licensed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (protectyourmove.gov). Movers who operate within a single state are regulated by that state’s government. In Missouri, check with the Missouri Department of Transportation. In Illinois, check with the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Red flags when hiring movers include:
- Movers who don’t make an on-site inspection of your household goods and give an estimate -- especially a very low one -- over the phone or by email.
- Movers who demand cash or a large deposit before the move.
- Movers who don’t provide you with a copy of “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move,” a booklet that movers are required to supply to customers planning interstate moves.
- Company websites that have no address and no information about a mover’s registration or insurance.
- Movers who claim all items are covered by their insurance.
- Telephone calls answered with a generic “movers” or “moving company” rather than a company name.
- Offices or warehouses that are in poor condition or don’t exist.
- On moving day, a rental truck arrives rather than a company-owned or marked fleet truck.
Tips for hiring a mover:
- Get at least three written in-home estimates. Be skeptical of estimates received online or over the phone. Remember that the lowest estimate may be an unrealistic low-ball offer that can cost you in the end.
- Know your rights. Learn more at protectyourmove.gov or from your state attorney general’s office.
Make sure the mover has insurance. The insurance should cover your goods while in transit. However, you may want to consider getting full value protection (insurance), which may add to the cost up front but could save you headaches after the move. Be sure you understand what the insurance covers, whether items will be repaired or replaced, or if you will be offered a cash settlement that you can use to repair or replace the item on your own.