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Primer: Hiring Cross-Country Movers

No one likes moving. In fact, moving may be one of those activities — like, say, vomiting — that is truly universally reviled. Particularly stomach-churning are cross-country moves. After all, who hasn't heard (or lived) the horror stories about moving companies losing or damaging goods, delaying customers' deliveries for weeks, and massively exceeding their estimates?

But moving doesn't have to be awful. A bit of due diligence early on can ensure you don't get duped by the moving company. For a list of pointers on hiring the right cross-country movers,

  • First and foremost, make sure the moving company you hire is a member of the American Moving and Storage Association.
  • Next, get a written estimate, preferably in-home rather than over the phone or Internet.
  • Consider at least three estimates. Whichever estimate seems really high or really low should be tossed out immediately. Of the two closer estimates, choose the mover you feel most comfortable with.
  • Read and get copies of the three pre-move documents that moving companies are required to share with customers: Your Rights and Responsibilities, Ready to Move, and info on the arbitration program your mover participates in.
  • If possible, get a binding or "not-to-exceed" estimate. Moving companies love to give estimates, because the final price you pay may vary based on the weight of your items and how long the trip takes. With a binding estimate, the moving company cannot charge more than the pre-set amount. (In theory, a non-binding estimate means you might pay less than the quoted price, but really, the chances of this happening or slim.)
  • If your estimate is non-binding, understand that the moving company can only collect 10 percent more than the price it originally quoted. If your movers try to charge more than that, you're being duped.
  • Finally, as a just-in-case, be sure to buy full-replacement-value insurance on your items.

Got any other tips for a cross-country move? Share them below.


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