You’ve heard the news and consumer reports on rogue movers. Illegitimate or deceitful operators target consumers moving within Washington as well as moves to other states.
You can easily avoid the problem movers and make sure you have a quality move by following these 5 tips.
1. SELECT AN ASSET-BASED MOVING COMPANY
This one tip will help you avoid the source of many of the worst moving experiences that consumers report. The problem is, with the internet, anyone can create a website and appear to be a legitimate moving company or van line. Unfortunately, these operations don’t have the resources or accountability needed to service a move. They can disappear as quickly as they appear, leaving consumers without a way to resolve issues or even make contact again.
Here is an example of what you can avoid. I got a call from a friend of a friend asking for advice after it was too late. He lived in California, got a new job in Washington, and booked his move with a company he found online. He chose it because it had the words “van line” in the name, assuming it must be a large operation. Two months later his furniture was still in Colorado waiting for a truck to take it to Washington (not sure why it went to Colorado). He called them repeatedly but couldn’t get the delivery scheduled. He thought I could help him track down more information about the company. Unfortunately, I could only find the website — nothing more.
You need an asset-based mover to make sure your move happens as promised. What is an asset-based mover? It is a moving company with their own trucks, warehouse, employees, and licensing. Does the moving company you are evaluating have a local warehouse –or just an office, website , or phone number? A simple test is, “Have I seen their building and their trucks on the freeway or around town?”
2. SELECT A LOCAL MOVING COMPANY AFFILIATED WITH A NATION-WIDE VAN LINE
A van line guards their brand and national reputation by monitoring their local representatives (agents). A van line requires their local agents to meet standards of training, insurance, financing, maintenance, and performance. The requirements are more stringent than the state’s requirements. For example, our van line requires background checks and drug testing for every one of our employees.
Although a van line is not directly involved in a local move, it has an enormous influence on the quality of the local operation.
The other half of this tip is to choose a van line that has a local presence. For example, Atlas Van Lines has several agencies in the Puget Sound area, but none in some areas of Wyoming.
3. SELECT A COMPANY YOU KNOW
Moving companies and van lines have built their reputations and expertise over several generations. A simple test is “Have I heard of them?” If you haven’t heard of them before, ask people you know. Many consumers have first-hand experience with van lines from their experience with military and corporate relocations. And they know local companies from their own, friends, business, or family experience.
4. CHECK PAST PERFORMANCE
You can determine how a moving company treats the public and resolves issues by checking their record with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Call or check the website to see a company’s performance. You will notice some differences. For example, there are some moving companies with no unresolved complaints over a period of several years, and others with multiple and frequent unresolved complaints. BBB search by company.
5. SELECT A LICENSED MOVING COMPANY
If you are moving within Washington State (Local Move or Intrastate Move)
Any business moving household goods for the public is required to have a valid permit from the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission (“WUTC” or “UTC”). It is more than a formality—licensing requires a moving company to know and follow state moving regulations. To check a mover’s license, see the WUTC website list of permitted carriers.
If you are moving from or into Washington State (Interstate Move), interstate moving operations will have two essential designations
1. DOT or USDOT NUMBER: This is the identifying number for registered interstate transportation companies. You should see it on a moving company’s ads, trucks, and website. Use the US Department of Transportation website to search by company name or DOT number.
2. ProMover logo with MC number: Moving companies qualify for the ProMover certification through the American Moving and Storage Association. It verifies that a moving company operates according to the standards for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Surface Transportation Board (STB). You can see a list of companies with ProMover certification at the American Moving & Storage Association ProMover finder.
Article by Don Warner
I love to plan and coordinate moving, especially for critical or complex moves. My clients are busy organized people who want their moves to go smoothly. Let’s talk about your moving plans.