Educational Consumer Tips

Moving tips - General

Author: Better Business Bureau

Even in the best circumstances, moving can be an extremely stressful event. The Better Business Bureau serving Metro Washington DC and Eastern PA is helping consumers reduce stress by providing tips to choose a trustworthy moving business. The BBB receives hundreds of complaints from consumers against moving companies. Common complaints included damaged or missing items, bills that were higher than estimated, late deliveries and in some cases, goods being held hostage for additional payments.

While movers who operate within a single state are regulated by that state’s government, an interstate household mover should be licensed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (

Red flags to watch for when hiring movers:

Movers who do not make an on-site inspection of your household goods but rather give an estimate over the phone or by email. Such estimates often sound — and are — too good to be true.
Movers who demand cash or a large deposit before the move.
Movers who do not provide you with a copy of “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move,” a booklet that movers are required to supply to customers planning interstate moves.
Business websites that have no address and no information about a mover’s registration or insurance.
Movers who claim all items are covered by their insurance.
Telephone calls answered with a generic “movers” or “moving company” rather than a business name.
Offices or warehouses that are in poor condition or do not exist.
On moving day, a rental truck arrives rather than a business-owned or marked fleet truck.

The BBB offers consumers the following tips on hiring a mover:

Ask around. Get at least three written in-home estimates. No legitimate mover will give you a firm price online or over the phone. Remember that the lowest estimate may be an unrealistic low-ball offer that can cost you in the end.
Know your rights. Movers must give written estimates. If your mover provides you (or someone representing you) with any partially complete document for your signature, make sure that the document contains all relevant shipping information, except the actual shipment weight and any other information necessary to determine the final charges for all services performed. Learn more about your rights at or from your state attorney general’s office.
Make sure the mover has insurance. The insurance should cover your goods while in transit. Be sure you understand what the insurance covers, whether items will be repaired, replaced, or if you will be offered a cash settlement that you can use to repair or replace the item on your own.  Standard insurance usually only covers for the weight of the item damaged at about $.60 per pound.  (If your 100 lb. sofa is torn in transit, the mover with standard insurance will only be required to pay $60.00 for the damages.)  However, you may want to consider getting full value protection (insurance), which may add to the cost upfront but could save you headaches after the move.
Check the mover’s complaint history. Always check out the business at first. BBB Business Reviews include complaint history, Customer Reviews, and more information about the business.