Planning a Move? The BBB Suggests These Tips to Help Protect Yourself

July 15, 2014

Summer is the busiest time of the year for people moving and relocating. This also means that there are less reputable moving companies that spring up, and moving scams that occur. Whether you’re moving for a new job, you just got married, you’re going to college, or you just purchased a new home, finding a reputable mover is the key to having a great moving experience.

In 2013, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) received more than 1.7 million moving-related inquiries from American consumers looking for movers, and also received more than 9,300 complaints against movers in the U.S. Issues included damaged or missing items, big price increases over originally-quoted estimates, late deliveries, and goods being held “hostage” for additional, often disputed, payments.

Moving can be stressful enough, even when you hire a great moving company. Packing up your belongings, your family, and potentially changing jobs or school systems can all increase stress levels. The BBB has some tips to help select a reputable moving company, and make the process as smooth as possible.

  • Get recommendations from friends.
  • Make sure that your mover is willing to give you the rights and responsibilities disclosures that they’re legally required to give you. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that anyone moving to a new state be given the “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” booklet. Many states have their own version of this for in-state moves.
  • Check that the mover has insurance and is licensed by the proper authority. In Massachusets, movers are licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (MDPU).
  • Make sure that the estimates you receive are based on an actual inspection of the amount of household goods that you’ll be moving. Remember, movers must also file their rates with the MDPU, and may not charge more or less than the rates on file.
  • Compare apples to apples! Make sure that your estimates include pricing for the same services - packing, storage, any extras, etc.
  • All movers are required by law to prepare a bill of lading (this is your contract) for your move. You must receive a copy of this before the movers load your furniture.
  • The bill of lading should include the movers' name, address, license number, and telephone number where you can reach them. It should also indicate an address and telephone number, where the mover can reach you with information on your shipment. The bill of lading should also include the loading and delivery dates, storage instructions (if any) and the declared or value of your shipment.
  • Confirm all aspects of your move 48 hours in advance of when the movers are scheduled to show up.

Make sure you get everything in writing. Get estimates from at least 3 moving companies that include:

  • All costs associated with the move.
  • Schedule of when the movers will arrive, and when they will deliver the contents of your home.
  • Insurance policies - most movers base insurance on weight vs. replacement cost. If you have any items of higher value – heirlooms/antiques, expensive paintings or furniture, electronic goods, etc., extra insurance may be desired.

Remember to look for red flags such as the mover not being willing to come and properly estimate the job in person, or give you written estimates. Also, be aware that if the cost is too low, there’s a good chance that the moving company is new, or may add other fees to drive up the final price. Remember, movers are required by law to deliver your goods for no more than ten percent above the price of a non-binding estimate.

Help ensure that your move is as smooth as possible. Double check the mover’s licensing, and make sure you select a BBB accredited mover by checking them out on for free BBB Business Reviews on more than 17,000 companies that provide moving-related services, or for interstate moves, turn to to find an AMSA-certified ProMover.