10 Questions to Ask Long-Distance Movers (2023 Guide)
Hiring long-distance movers can be stressful, but arming yourself with the right questions can make all the difference. In this article, we’ll explore 10 essential questions to ask long-distance movers to ensure your move is as easy and efficient as possible.
Questions To Ask Before Hiring Movers
Before you commit to hiring a moving company, you should ask detailed questions about its credentials, pricing, insurance, claims process, and services. Its answers will help you avoid potential scams and identify the best choice for your move. Here are the most important things to ask:
1. Are you licensed through the FMCSA?
Interstate moving companies must register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and obtain a U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) number. A reputable moving company will answer this question affirmatively and be able to provide its USDOT number, which you can use to look the company up on the FMCSA’s SAFER database.
If a company claims it does not need a license for your particular move or gives a number that does not match FMCSA records, it may be operating illegally.
2. How do you calculate pricing?
Understanding a company’s pricing structure allows you to budget effectively and avoid surprise fees. Reputable movers will provide a clear and detailed breakdown of how they calculated your estimate, plus any extra fees that may apply to your move. Pricing should be transparent and based on concrete factors such as mileage, cubic feet, or total weight.
If a company provides vague pricing information, refuses to give you a written estimate, or insists on a large up-front deposit, be wary. These answers could foreshadow hidden fees or a potential scam.
3. Can you provide binding estimates?
Offering a binding estimate indicates that a company is confident in its quote and will not charge you more than the specified amount. This type of moving quote typically requires an in-home consultation or a detailed inventory, but it provides more certainty than a ballpark estimate.
You don’t have to avoid every professional moving company that does not offer binding estimates if you have flexibility in your budget. However, if there are other red flags present, you may fall prey to a last-minute price increase or a bait-and-switch scam.
4. Will there be any additional fees?
Even the best moving companies will charge additional fees for packing supplies, crating and packing services, specialty items, heavy items, unpacking, and other services. Many companies will also charge fees for long carry distances, staircases, and other logistical challenges. What separates a reputable company from an untrustworthy one is the transparency of these additional charges. Ask the company for a list of fees, including its cancellation policy and the price of extra moving services, and compare it to your moving estimate.
If a company dismisses the question or provides a vague response, that’s a red flag. Moving is expensive, and you want to work with a company that is up-front about its fees.
5. Can you offer any discounts?
Many professional movers, including both full-service moving companies and moving truck rental companies, offer discounted rates for military personnel, senior citizens, or off-peak moving periods. They might even offer discounts for booking well in advance of your moving date or booking online. Make sure your moving contract reflects any discounts you receive.
Responses that appear too good to be true, such as an unusually steep discount, may indicate that a company plans to charge hidden fees or simply take your deposit and disappear.
6. What contents coverage options do you offer?
If your long-distance move crosses state lines, the movers will be engaged in interstate commerce—which means the company must offer liability coverage. Released-value protection is included at no cost to you, while full-value protection will cost extra. The limits and cost of full-value protection will vary by company. Some providers also offer third-party moving insurance policy options.
The biggest red flags here would be an interstate mover not offering any coverage or charging extra for basic protection. Compare what the company offers to federal requirements.
7. How do you handle loss or damage claims?
An easy-to-navigate claims process is especially important for cross-country moves, where the risk of damage or loss is greater. Moving companies should be able to provide detailed instructions for filing a claim and an overview of how the process works, including filing deadlines. Many companies, such as North American Van Lines and Allied Van Lines, even allow you to file a claim online.
A confusing claims process or evasive answers may indicate a lack of accountability or an unwillingness to address issues.
8. Can you offer shipment tracking?
Although local moving companies typically do not need a tracking system, many interstate movers allow you to track your shipment online. Access to real-time information provides peace of mind. Ideally, moving companies should confirm that they will provide a tracking number and an online portal where you can monitor the progress of your shipment.
Not all companies offer online tracking. However, this feature is common enough that you can pass on companies that do not provide this level of reassurance.
9. Do you guarantee delivery dates?
Having a guaranteed delivery date will help you plan and is especially important if you are moving on a deadline. Many moving companies will provide a two-week delivery window, depending on the specifics of your move. Some do offer guaranteed delivery dates, though you may need to pay extra for that luxury.
Not guaranteeing a specific date is not necessarily a red flag. However, refusing to provide an estimated delivery window or promising an unrealistic delivery date could indicate a problem.
10. Will you disassemble and reassemble furniture?
Asking about furniture disassembly and reassembly will help you determine how much assistance the company will offer on moving day so that you can plan accordingly. Many companies will include these services in your quote. However, some may charge extra for assembly.
If a moving company does not offer this service at all, they may not have the expertise to pack, load, and transport your furniture safely. You should also be wary if a company offers to disassemble your furniture but will not commit to reassembling it in your new home.
Hiring a moving company should make your life easier, not harder. With that in mind, it’s important to request quotes from multiple providers and compare their offerings. Asking the right questions about each company’s credentials, pricing, and policies will help you choose the best team for your move.
FAQ About Long Distance Movers
What should you not take on a long-distance move?
Items you should not take on a long-distance move include:
- Hazardous materials
- Live plants
- Oversized furniture
- Perishable food
- Restricted or illegal items
- Unwanted items
How much should you save for a long-distance move?
A long-distance move can cost $4,000–$10,000, assuming you hire full-service movers. The exact cost depends on the specifics of your move. Renting a moving truck, shipping container, or freight trailer for your move can be less expensive, ranging from $700–$5,000.
How much should you tip movers?
You should tip movers $5 per hour per mover, including the driver. However, you can tip more or less to reflect your satisfaction—or lack thereof—with the service provided.
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