Moving Step 2 ... Be Cautious
Don't be scammed
Just like yellow pages advertising, when a mover or a broker has a web site, it doesn’t mean that the mover or broker is licensed or insured; it only means that they had enough money to pay for the site. So don’t believe everything that you read on a mover or broker website! (Just because it's on the internet does NOT make it true!)
Some websites will display the logo of IMAWA or BBB or the American Moving and Storage Association and other associations, even though they are not members of those organizations – so check first with the organization. All moving associations and the BBB are eager to help you verify whether the membership is legitimate.
It is against the law to broker household goods moves within the state of Illinois and many other states. Your best and safest option is to choose a mover in your hometown. Buy local!
Most brokers (especially those that operate on the Internet) do not own trucks or warehouses like traditional movers. Instead, they operate by collecting a deposit or a fee from you and then arrange for your move to be handled by one of their affiliated (often unlicensed or disreputable) "movers." The deposit or fee they collect may be based on their guess of how much you are going to move based on a survey that you provide.
Interstate brokers are required by federal law to tell you which specific licensed mover will be handling your move, so take the time to check out the complaint history and licensing of that mover! In all cases, if the mover won’t come to your home to survey your furnishings before preparing your estimate, be prepared for an unpleasant surprise when the estimate turns out to be much lower than the actual charges. Usually you will not have the same consumer protection when you use a broker as with a traditional moving company. And after the broker collects its deposit or fee, you may find it difficult to get them interested in helping you in the event of a claim or dispute with the mover that they have arranged for you.
When you fill out one of those forms on the internet to get a moving quote, it typically goes to a broker or a lead generating company, and your information could be sold to a large number of "movers" (legitimate or not) that you don't know anything about. Be prepared to be inundated with calls from these unknown "movers!"
When the referral company recommends movers, it's critical for you to check to make sure that the movers are licensed, that they have zero or very few complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the appropriate regulatory agency (state or federal, depending on where you're moving), and that they are members of a recognized moving association, such as IMAWA or the American Moving and Storage Association or another state moving association.
Iggy’s Tip: Many people use the Better Business Bureau to check complaints. BBB ranks companies with a letter grade. Don't stop there, however; be sure to note the actual number of complaints logged against each company. It's the number of complaints you want to see! Don't be fooled by those companies that proclaim it's ok to have a large number of complaints because they do a large number of moves. There are far more movers who do a large number of moves and do NOT have a large number of complaints. Take the time to do your research and find the good movers!
Get more than one estimate and watch out for low-ball movers! Make sure the estimate includes the cost for everything -- including all materials like tape and furniture pads! If a mover you are considering tells you that they can move you for an unrealistically low price be careful. It could mean they will suddenly remember some extra charges once your shipment has been loaded on the truck, the doors have been padlocked and they are ready to drive off into the sunset with all of your worldly possessions.
Your mover must provide a free written estimate in advance of the move. If a mover you are considering refuses to provide you with an in-home estimate and tells you he can provide an accurate estimate over the phone without ever seeing your home and your furniture, you may want to choose another mover unless your mover provides you with very good reasons that you are comfortable with for basing your estimate on other than a physical survey. Unless your move is very small (like maybe a one-room apartment), you will get a much more accurate estimate if they come to your home and meet with you and discuss the details. Sure, everyone is busy and scheduling an in-person visit might be inconvenient for you; but this is important! The best, most accurate estimates are done in-person!
On moves between states, if your mover is located within 50 miles of your residence federal law requires that you must execute a written waiver if you decline the physical survey of your goods. If your move is a large one (multi-bedroom house, for example), find someone close to where you live and get an in-person estimate. Why invite unhappy surprises?
Why Choose an IMAWA Member For Your Move?
- All our association members are required, as a condition of membership, to provide the Association with annual proof of workers' compensation coverage. While it is a law for employers to carry this insurance for the protection of their workers, not everyone complies. Our mover members do! If you're considering a mover who is not an IMAWA member, you can require your mover to provide a legitimate certificate of workers' compensation insurance to you.
- Our bylaws require IMAWA members to attend a "Compliance 101" class to make sure they are familiar with the rules and regulations that govern household goods moving, motor carrier safety, driver qualifications, etc. Movers who are not members of IMAWA may not have this knowledge.
- All Association members are required to post their Illinois Commerce Commission license number in their website before they will be linked to our site. All legitimate movers are licensed, and both state and federal law require movers to show their license numbers in all advertising (including internet websites).
- All our members are routinely screened for their complaint history and compliance with regulatory requirements.
- Our members have pledged to abide by our Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.
You are well advised to check up on the license and complaint history of any mover you are considering to move your personal possessions; and we encourage you to check up on our members, too. Your best bet for reliable information is to contact the regulatory agency in your state or the state movers' association. (Visit our "Resources" page for links.) Don't rely only on the advertisement copy or a referral from someone who may be getting a commission from the "mover" for referrals. Would you believe some bandits actually "fake" license numbers or expertise just to appear legitimate?!
Be wary of commercial internet sites that refer movers ... Most of these sites do not check the credentials or licensing of movers they list, which doesn't protect you at all. Many of these sites charge fees to the movers (whether legitimate movers or bad guys) for their referrals. Just because you find it on the internet doesn't make it a good referral.
- Check current credentials, no matter who refers the mover to you!! You want to be sure the mover's license and insurance are up to date.
- Contact your state regulatory agency for complaints that may have been filed. Don't rely only on the Better Business Bureau. Check every resource possible.
Iggy’s Tip: Check for any previous complaints about any mover you are considering using. Good sources are Illinois Commerce Commission (for movers within Illinois) and the federal Protect Your Move (for interstate movers).