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Educational Consumer Tips


Author: Better Business Bureau

If your plans this year include a major move, the BBB recommends that you do some advance legwork to save yourself frustration and possibly money.
Before choosing a moving company, consumers should check with the VA Division of Motor Vehicles at 804-367-0268 or 804-367-6504 to determine if the moving company has obtained the proper licenses, certificates and insurance to make the move.

If you’re moving out-of-state, make sure the mover you select has been assigned a USDOT number, is registered with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to engage in interstate transportation of household goods, and has the proper level of insurance.  You can determine if a mover is registered with FMCSA by accessing or by calling FMCSA at 202-366-9805 for licensing and 202-385-2423 for insurance. Keep in mind that an inventory is required for all interstate moves.

Start planning your move at least six to eight weeks before your targeted moving date.

Ask friends or neighbors to recommend companies they have been happy with for past moves and check out the companies' record with the BBB.

Contact each company to ask about its charges and the types of services it offers, and compare movers to determine which one best suits your needs and budget.

Companies will offer estimates to help you approximate moving expenses. Such estimates can be binding (the mover guarantees the price prior to the move) or non-binding (the mover estimates the price and provides final charges after the shipment is weighed.)

To assist movers in calculating the cost of your move, show them every item to be moved, including the contents of your attic, basement and garage.

Ask the mover to explain the estimate in detail, and reach a clear understanding about the amount of packing and other services you'll require. Also, be sure you receive a copy of the estimate.

Since the inventory record is one of your most important shipping documents, make sure all copies are legible, and that all items are numbered, listed and described correctly. The inventory record is the receipt showing each item you shipped and its condition. Be sure you receive a written copy of the inventory after your household goods are loaded, and that you agree with its description of your household goods condition.

To save on packing charges you may want to pack part of your belongings yourself. But keep in mind that movers will not accept liability for breakage to "owner-packed" items, or they may require that the driver inspect the cartons.

Be sure to ask your moving company about its policy and ask for advice on packing materials and procedures.

Know your rights. Enlist the help of the BBB or local law enforcement if the moving company fails to live up to its promises or threatens to hold your belongings hostage. The FMCSA requires interstate movers to offer arbitration to help settle disputed claims.