First person: 4 steps to help you choose the right moving company

Yahoo Contributor Network

As a long-time renter, I've had an inordinate amount of experience with moving companies -- some excellent, some not. What I've learned is that it pays to exercise due diligence when choosing which movers to hire. Here are four steps that can help you choose the right moving company.

Step 1: Ask each moving company for a customized quote. The best movers I've worked with over the years have asked about my possessions and offered a custom quote based on the estimated volume. They want to know how many rooms there are in my current residence, how many pieces of heavy furniture, and how many boxes I'll have packed. They ask about stairs and elevators and driveway access.

When a moving company assigns a package price to a move, they can easily tack on extra charges later. I'd rather the company learn as much as they can up front, then come up with a price that fits this specific job. It's easier on my budget, and it shows the company cares about my satisfaction with their services.

Step 2: Do your research. Researching moving companies has become much easier in the Age of the Internet. I type the name of the company into a search engine, read the Better Business Bureau report, and check review sites for any red flags. Often the latter is the most informative, as long as I don't give too much weight to the occasional invective-filled rant.

An even better option is to obtain a reference from someone I know. I'll call as many friends, relatives, and business associates as possible in the hopes of receiving a credible referral.

Step 3: Verify license and insurance. It is extremely dangerous to hire movers who are not able to prove that they are licensed in your state and that they carry adequate insurance. I use ProtectYourMove.gov, which allows consumers to verify license numbers and locate any complaint history the moving company might have.

Step 4: Ask your final-choice companies "what if..." questions. Some say that "what if" questions just increase anxiety, but I find them useful when it comes to choosing a moving company. I want to know what will happen to my money or my belongings in certain circumstances.

For example: What if something breaks? What if the movers lose a box? What if I have to change my moving date? What if the movers are late to my house? If possible, I get the answers to these questions in writing (assuming they are not included in the contract).

Having moved nearly 20 times over the years, I now always follow these steps when hiring movers. And it makes all the difference. Working with the right moving company means less stress for me and my family and more time for getting settled in our new home.

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