Making My Decision Easier

Olympia187To be clear, every moving company is going to be able to show you some positive reviews and, likewise, every moving company is going to have some negative reviews floating around in cyberspace.  This is simply a function of being in a dynamic service industry where it is impossible to satisfy all of the people all of the time.

Here are some tips and resources that might help to clear the fog and narrow down the list of potential service providers for your upcoming move.

REALTOR: If you are using a realtor, ask who they recommend and why.

REFERRAL: Talk to your neighbors and see if they have any suggestions and/or a experience hiring movers that they would be willing to share with you.

BUSINESS LONGEVITY: While longevity does not necessarily directly equate to service excellence, a lengthy track-record is indicative of stability.

FMCSA: Go to and search for the companies that you are considering doing business with (given that moving companies often have similar names, it is preferable to search by the unique DOT or MC number instead of by name).  This search will tell you whether there have been any significant service gaps or violations, and whether the carrier’s credentials, licenses, and insurances are up to date.

WEBSITE: A company’s website is, in part, an advertisement, but it is also where they choose to tell you who they are and what their values are.  Take the time to read through the competing sites and make sure that their message resonates with you.

MOVINGSCAM.COM: Started as a platform to report on negative moving experiences, this site has morphed into a business that accepts advertising dollars.  Having said this, it still has some value.  While one negative review is not necessarily indicative of a company’s overall performance, a pattern of misleading or questionable behaviors is certainly a warning sign.

BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU: While there is no hard and fast rule as to what represents an acceptable performance score, I would suggest that it is not worth hiring movers with a company that maintains anything below a B+ rating.

SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES: There are countless review sites including Google, Angie’s List, Consumer Checkbook, Yelp etc.  It is worth reading through these sites to get a flavor for the reputation of the companies with whom you are considering networking.  At the risk of the obvious, I would also tell you that “you can’t trust everything you read on the internet.”  Some sites allow reviews that were obviously produced by the companies themselves, while there are also negative review submitted by and against competing carriers.

GO VISIT THE MOVER: Show up unannounced and take a quick tour of the facility.  What is the condition of the warehouse, trucks, equipment?  Is the staff in uniform?  Is there someone onsite that can answer questions about your relocation?  This is truly the best way to avoid unwanted surprises on moving day.

Warning Signs of Bad Movers

A good move hinges upon communication, preparation, planning and teamwork.  However, it bad movingcan be difficult to sort through the available information, in order to identify these qualities in the companies that are competing for your business.

Following are some tips for separating the best from the rest.

  1. Did the sales representative arrive on time for your in-home appointment, or were you getting excuses right off the bat?
  2. Did the sales representative dress in a respectful manner indicative of the fact that he/she was being invited into your personal domain?  In case there was any doubt, a tank-top does not qualify as respectful.
  3. Were all of your questions answered to your satisfaction?  By the end of the appointment, do you feel that you understood the process?
  4. Once the appointment is finished (but before you commit), try calling the main number and asking for “customer service.”  This can be quite revealing in terms of the level of service you can expect going forward.
  5. Assume that there is a wide degree of variation between movers, and let the company’s representative explain to you what the salient differences are.
  6. Disregard any company that is not interested in reviewing an itemized inventory  list over the phone or in-person.  It is imperative that the moving company understand the scope of the job before accepting your business.  To send 3 movers and a truck to a client’s residence without a detailed understanding of the requirements is a recipe for failure.
  7. If at all possible, make a surprise visit to the company’s warehouse/offices.  Out of all of the suggestions listed above, this will likely be the most illuminating.  Moving is about the details and “getting it right,” and it is amazing the more people do not take the time to properly investigate who will be handling their personal possessions.  A messy warehouse, parking lot or office is a strongly negative indication of performance.  If you feel, in any way, that you are not welcome at the facility, then you should not consider using the services of that company.

How to Read an Interstate Moving Estimate

Olympia238_resizeThe moving industry has, over time, developed a vernacular that is exclusive in nature.  It takes years to become fully acquainted with the terminology and the surplus of unnecessary acronyms. 

The practical manifestation of this reality is that moving estimates can be extremely difficult to comprehend.  This is especially true on interstate shipments, where many of the movers themselves would be hard-pressed to define all of the specific line items referenced on a given quotation.

Having said this, ultimately you need to relocate your personal property from point A to point B, and therefore you should focus on the following common elements/questions in evaluating a potential service provider.

  1. Weight: How much weight is being estimated? If you are comparing quotes, ask the competing companies to provide you with a quote based upon the highest estimated weight.  If you rececive any quotations based upon cubic footage, simply eliminate those companies (while there are some subtle workarounds, it is technically illegal to provide interstate pricing based upon anything other than weight).
  2. Packing: How much packing and how many containers are included in your estimate?
  3. Services: Nobody likes surprises when it comes to moving.  What (if any) are the potential additional charges?  Make sure to ask about “shuttle charges” at the delivery residence.
  4. Estimate Type: Is this a non-binding, binding, or not-to-exceed estimate?
  5. Who is conducting the move?  Will the company that you are speaking with actually transport your shipment directly, or is the salesperson that you are working with representing a larger van line?

In the interest of helping prospects and clients to navigate the industry terminology, Olympia has included a glossary of terms on our website.

The bottom-line is that, while all interstate carriers are required to have some “legalese” in their document, if your representative is not able to fully explain the estimate, or you have concerns that the estimate is intentionally nebulous, simply cross that company off your list.

Why Do Movers Have Such a Bad Reputation?

Although you could probably write a dissertation on this topic, there are a few basic conditions that have factored into the largely negative reputation that the moving industry currently maintains.

  1. In 1980 the moving industry was deregulated and has suffered from a lack of leadership, performance standards, and self-policing ever since.  There are very few barriers to entry, and enforcement of state and federal regulations has been lax.  This has created a scenario in which the companies that are striving to deliver an exceptional service (like Olympia) are forced to compete against “rogue movers” who do not carry the requisite insurance, have no infrastructure or training protocols, and are simply trying to make as much money as possible before they are eventually shut-down by the authorities.
  2. In the 90’s, the Yellow Pages allowed business owners to delay payment on advertising.  This gave dishonest movers an opportunity to place a full-page advertisement, which they had no intention of ever paying for…but which gave the impression of legitimacy. These same companies would only accept cash, did not carry insurance, and had a lifespan of approximately 18 months.  Essentially these were criminal enterprises masquerading as moving companies.
  3. Good Movers and Bad MoversDespite the plethora of really bad movers, the industry has not been able to effectively communicate what distinguishes a good mover from a bad mover.  If prospective clients are not armed with the information that they need to make an informed decision, then cost becomes the decisive criteria by default.  This scenario creates downward pressure on pricing which, in turn, further impacts service levels.
  4. Moving is an inherently invasive process that makes people anxious.  If expectations are not properly set, or there is poor communication, this anxiety can quickly escalate into panic.  The negative reputation of the industry is, at some level, a self-fulfilling prophesy.  When a mover arrives at a client’s home, trust is not granted on the front-end, but rather must be earned.

The takeaway from the above is that, when selecting a mover, do your homework.  What company you choose to move your personal property is an important decision that should not be taken lightly.  Visit the Moving Resources page on our website to learn more information about choosing a moving company and/or preparing for your upcoming move.

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