How to Choose A Moving Company
When you’re in this business long enough, you learn that there’s no end to the horror stories people can share about bad experiences, not only with a Chicago moving company, but across the country.
Take Michael. A few weeks ago he told us about his experience attempting to move his boat from Florida to Chicago. He didn’t have a vehicle that could pull his boat, so he bought a trailer and found a “company” to tow the boat for him for $1,200.
Well, a week after moving to Chicago his boat was nowhere to be found, and Michael’s calls were going unanswered. A week later the number was disconnected. Mike’s boat was still in a slip in Florida, but his trailer was gone—along with his $1,200.
Michael should have known better, but he’s not alone. More than 8,400 complaints about moving companies were filed with the Better Business Bureau in 2010, many of them about “bandit moving companies” like Michael used.
Here are some tips to avoid falling into the same trap.
(To listen to another expert, listen to this interview featuring Patricia McLaughlin, director of the Illinois Movers and Warehouse Association, on tips for choosing a mover from WCCI Quad Cities radio.)
3 Tips on How to Choose A Chicago Moving Company
1. Check Their History
Yes, that means checking with the Illinois Commerce Commission and the Better Business Bureau for complaints, but there’s a more basic reason to do this.
Many scam moving companies will change their name frequently to get a fresh start and appear as though they have an unblemished record. This is how they get around the tarnish of bad Yelp! reviews or official complaints.
So, if you’re considering hiring a Chicago moving company, find out how long you can trace their history. If they only go back a year or two (or less!), then you have to be particularly curious. They’re likely to be up to something, and if they aren’t, you’ll want to know you can trust a young company anyway, so do your background research.
2. Visit the Moving Company
If you can, it’s a good idea to visit the location of your moving company in person to verify that they have their own equipment and offices. Many fly-by-night companies will use a broker to set up the move and rental vans to move your stuff. That’s not a sign of reliability.
If you can’t visit them in person, you’re not out of luck. At least take a crack at searching their location with Google StreetView. Odds are pretty good you’ll be able to verify a brick-and-mortar location for most companies this way.
3. Get 3 Onsite Written Estimates
Why go through the trouble of an in-person estimate? Well, a reputable moving company isn’t going to give you an estimate over the phone or online, so this is an easy way to weed out a shady operator.
You’ll also eliminate sticker shock later on if the mover can see exactly what you’re asking of them and can give a more complete and accurate estimate.
There are a lot of other things you can check for too, such as whether they’ve earned the ProMover certification, if they’re a member of leading industry associations like the American Moving and Storage Association, and whether they answer the phone with their company name.
But these three tips will weed out the obvious, and drastically reduce your chances of getting left high and dry like our friend Michael.
Please let us know if you have other great tips for choosing a moving company in the comments below.
Written by Lynn Bernard. Find Lynn on Google+.