Avoid Mover Scams

Moving is stressful enough without the added worry that your movers will wreck your stuff or, worse, try to put one over on you. We talked with industry veteran Jack Doody - former co-owner of Blue Chip Moving & Storage - who revealed mover red flags and answered common moving questions. Need to store some things? We have answers to your storage questions too.

Q: Do some moving companies secretly pump up your bill?
A: Yes. A disreputable mover will give you a lowball estimate. Come the move, he'll walk around your house and say, "Oh, some of these things need to be packed." Then he'll charge you an exorbitant amount to do it. Or he might say, "Gee, we're going to have to take that bed apart." And then he'll tack on another ridiculous charge.

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Q: What would be one of the worst decisions I could make?
A: Your greatest nightmare is getting hooked up with an unlicensed mover. He not only lacks liability insurance, but also workers' comp. If one of these fellows trips and falls down your steps with a heavy piece, get out your checkbook, my friend.

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Q: What should you do if it seems your movers are wasting time, and you're paying by the hour?
A: Many people have an unrealistic expectation of the time it takes. People have complained that they paid for three movers, but they only see two guys moving stuff. Where's the third? He's on the back of the truck wrapping and packing. No crew wants to dog the job. They want to get home, sit down, and have a beer.

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Q: What do you say if you don't like the way the movers are handling your beloved things?
A: Be direct. Say, "Hey, you're making me nervous." If they're throwing stuff around or seem to be careless, you stop the job. Alert your estimator that you don't know what's going on, but he's going to have a claim for damages if things don't improve. He'll get a supervisor out there, pronto. No reputable mover wants a problem.

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Q: Do movers have secret ways of "punishing" clients who rub them the wrong way?

A: You bet. If they really feel they've been abused and disrespected, they'll want to get away from the bad client and get the job done as quickly as possible. They'll wind up putting a lot more boxes in the garage than there need to be and quietly mumble, "Let them lug 'em in the house themselves." As an added tweak, they'll flip the boxes so you can't read the labels to see what's in them or where they go.

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Q: How can I help make your job easier on the day of the move?
A: When the crew gets there in the morning, tell them right off that you're going to buy them lunch. Sometimes guys on the crew don't have the money or the time. This small gesture can lift the whole spirit of the move. Also, be ready when the movers get there. Be fully packed. Then, please stay out of the way.

More mover questions? Get your answers!

Do you have a mover horror story? Or tips for a moving success story?

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.