ApplesandOrangesGiven the complete lack of standardization with regard to quotes, terminology, etc., the consumer is left with few resources to help them evaluate and choose a moving company.  This is why we believe it is essential for you to understand how to evaluate the range of very different quotes you will receive for the same basic services.

We want you to understand how to compare apples to apples, rather than apples to oranges, to ensure you and your property are protected and given the full range of services you expect.  The following article will help you understand how to compare moving companies and ensure you’re getting the most for your money..


The Scenario

You need to move your home, apartment or office and you’ve collected quotes for moving services from three different moving companies.

After hours on the phone, and perhaps a walk-thru or two, you have quotes to review and compare.  Unfortunately, there is no standardization of terminology or of rates; none of them look the same and you’re at a loss as to how compare costs for services.  Frustrated, confused and running out of time, you may just blindly select what appears to be the least expensive bid.

You’ve done what you feel is the right thing, selecting the moving company who submitted the least expensive quote to handle your move.  What’s the difference?  They’re just packing up your stuff and moving it, and sometimes unpacking it.  Simple, right? Wrong.

The Facts

The moving industry in the United States was deregulated with the Household Goods Transportation Act of 1980[i]. This act allowed movers to issue binding or fixed estimates for the first time. Doing so opened the door to hundreds of new moving companies to enter the industry, leading to an increase in competition.  Soon, movers were no longer competing on services, but on price.

As competition drives prices lower and decreases already slim profit margins, “rogue” movers have been emerging, often hijacking personal property as part of a new scam in which the company provides an estimate, loads the goods, then states a much higher price to deliver the goods, effectively holding the goods as lien.  Other common scams include;

  • Quoting low hourly rates and not informing consumer of hidden fees such as travel fees, fuel surcharges, special handling fees etc.
  • Giving low quotes, overbooking their schedules, then choosing the most profitable, not showing up for those they under-quoted.
  •  Collecting prepaid fees, then not showing up to do the move.
  • Telling consumers they have full coverage insurance, when they do not actually have insurance.

In Texas, the Department of Motor Vehicles enforces consumer protection regulations related to the shipment of goods.  ABC Longhorn Moving is a licensed member of the Department of Motor Vehicles, and has been in good standing, earning an A+ rating, with the Austin Better Business Bureau since 1989.

Evaluation Guide

Given the complete lack of standardization with regard to quotes, terminology, etc., the consumer is left with few resources to help them evaluate and choose a moving company.  This why we believe it is essential for you to understand how to evaluate the range of very different quotes you will receive for the same basic services.  We want you to understand how to compare apples to apples, rather than apples to oranges, to ensure you and your property are protected and given the full range of services you expect.  Following is a top-level guide to deciphering terminology you will see, as well as what you don’t see in a quote.  Please review and use this guide to understand your ABC Longhorn Moving quote, as well as to compare it to other competitive quotes.

How to Evaluate a Residential Moving Quote

To begin with, be sure the moving company has reviewed all aspects of your move, whether with a walk-through or on the phone, to ensure the quote is accurate. Items to look for:

  • The moving company should ask for the conditions of your move, e.g. flights of stairs, elevators, if the truck can park within 100 feet at both the origin and destination, zip codes at origin and destination, etc.  Conditions of the move drive the price!   When you are buying service, you are buying time and experience.
  • If given an hourly quote, get a cap on the job- not to exceed X hours.
  • The quote should include your name, the mover’s name, the origin and destination points and the amount of the mover’s limitation of liability for loss or damage to your property.  By law, the quote must have the moving company’s active certificate # issued by DMV.
  • Attached with the quote, should be a brochure entitled “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move in Texas”.  This brochure is published by DMV, and their regulations require that consumers be given the brochure at the time of the quote.
  • If price is given by item being moved rather than by hour, review the inventory listed on the quote, and check that all items that you want moved are listed.
  • Often compared quotes to not contain identical lists of items (apples to oranges!)
  • Ensure the quote includes disassembly and reassembly of appropriate items, such as beds, headboards, footboards, mirrors off of dressers etc.
  • Contact one or more references and the local Better Business Bureau to ensure the company’s reputation is solid.

Warning signs should go up if the following things are missing:

  • DMV certificate #, if not there this may mean they are not registered with DMV and are not complying with the regulations.
  • A written quote (not just oral
  • The DMV brochure entitled “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move in Texas”
  • The company’s standing with the Better Business Bureau
  • Reference list

How to Evaluate a Commercial Moving Quote

  •  Make sure the moving company has the certificate of insurance required to do moving within your building.  Most residential movers do not carry this type of insurance.
  • Make sure the moving company is an approved vendor with your property management company.
  • Does the quote include boxes, crates, labels & a labeling system as well as pre-coordination before the move?
  • If price is given by item being moved rather than by hour, review the inventory listed on the quote, and check that all items that you want moved are listed.
  • Often compared quotes to not contain identical lists of items (apples to oranges!)
  • If given an hourly quote, get a cap on the job- not to exceed X hours. Ensure the quote includes disassembly and reassembly of appropriate items, such as desks, bookcases, displays, etc.
  • Contact one or more references and the local Better Business Bureau to ensure the company’s reputation is solid.

Warning signs should go up if the following things are missing:

  • A written quote (not just oral)
  • Sample certificate of insurance
  • The company’s standing with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Reference list

The Bottom Line

The true bottom line is not, in fact, the total cost of the moving services quotes you’ve received. The few minutes you spend evaluating competing quotes – and comparing apples to apples -will certainly pay off, ensuring that you receive all the services you require and that you are not in danger of being cheated.  Moving your home, apartment or office should be as painless as possible!

 


[i] Jimmy Carter. “Jimmy Carter: Household Goolds Transportation Act of 1980 Statement on Signing S. 1798 Into Law.”. US Santa Barbara University of California.