You can't be too careful before hiring a mover. Some precautions beforehand can save a lot of headaches later.
Don't use Internet databases to find moving companies! The people who operate the databases act on commission and have their own best interests in mind. They also can't be held responsible if the companies they endorse are crooked.
If your estimator gives you a written, "binding" price quote, make sure the quote is binding! Be sure your mover won't tack on "incidental" prices for "additional services" once the move's been done. Get it in writing that they won't.
Never work with a mover who contacts you first. Do your own research, then contact a mover whose business practices you trust.
Look into "You Pack, We Haul"-style movers. There have been far less complaints filed against them.
When dealing with movers in Florida or New York, be especially careful - - there have been a tremendous amount of complaints filed against movers in these areas.
Get the mover to come to your house. Ask them to furnish references. Read every word of your quote -- if you don't like the way it sounds, don't sign it! Call another mover. Remember, when hiring a mover, you're the boss -- not them.
Make sure your mover complies with "ICC" regulations. Some movers work with "AMSA" regulations, making it easier for them to slip in extra charges. Don't let them! Get their promise to use "ICC" regulations in writing!
Ask your mover's formula for computing price based upon the weight of your items. Compare formulas from different moving companies. Get the formula in writing. Be sure, on your final bill, the formula they tell you is the formula they use.
Make sure your initial deposit is credited to your bill. Insist on it.
Many movers offer a "full value protection" or "full replacement value." This will hold the mover responsible for damaged goods or lost goods, and depreciation of the lost or damaged items is not a factor in determining replacement value. If you have any articles that are of extraordinary value (any item whose value exceeds $100 per pound) make sure the care of this item is listed specifically on your receipt - - otherwise, the driver can exempt himself from replacement fees.
Get movers to put the time of day they will pick up and deliver your goods in your contract. Know the reasonable amount of time it will take to load your goods into their truck so they don't take advantage and charge extra fees.
Keep a record of every contact you make with movers. It's better to be safe than sorry. If you'd like to be extra cautious, video-tape them as they load items into their truck.
If the mover fails to pick up and deliver your shipment on the dates entered on the bill and you have expenses you otherwise wouldn't have had, you may be able to recover those expenses from the mover. This is an inconvenience or "delay" claim. Should a mover refuse to honor such a claim and you continue to believe that you are entitled to be paid damages, you can sue the mover.
If your items are damaged at the end of the move, make a record of it on the inventory form. Call the damage to the attention of the driver and request that a record of the damage be made on the driver's copy of the inventory.
After the complete shipment is unloaded, the driver will request that you sign the driver's copy of the inventory to show you received the items listed. Do not sign until you have assured yourself that it is accurate and that proper notations have been entered regarding any missing or damaged items.
At the end of your move, the mover will ask you to sign an Addendum. Unless you are fully satisfied with the moving process, DON'T SIGN THE ADDENDUM! If you sign the addendum but later choose to take a crooked moving company to court, it will weight heavily against you.
Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, www.movingadvocateteam.com