Movers: The Shadiest Of Businesses
Sometimes, you absolutely know when you’re about to get ripped off. Other times, you go in with good feelings and leave doubly scorned. I guess the saying is true — some days you’re the dog, some days you’re the hydrant. In the case of hiring a mover, the price of investing in an option that seems too good to be true can literally be your livelihood at stake. It’s a business I hadn’t put much thought into before searching for someone to move my modest 1 bedroom apartment across the US, but after feeling the effects of the outcome, I wish I had done much more research. I’ve hired movers before for short distances and had amazing results. When you are able to directly engage with the company who will personally be invested in your move, finding a quality company locally isn’t terrible. Blind off the positive outcome of my prior experience, I thought to myself fuck it I’ll hire a mover, there’s no way something would go wrong. Especially not a moving company that came recommended by a friend…there’s just no way.
Like many people who have to move cross country, I crowdsourced moving company options. Obviously, a cross-country move comes with its own inherent issues and methods. I heard so many positive accounts of companies used by my other friends. “The came in, packed everything up and delivered it, reassembled quickly and it was awesome!” I’ve heard that fucking story (and now highly envy it) a million times at this point. My experience with moving from LA to NJ was much more subpar (albeit mildly entertaining at this point) and although I consider myself a savvy businesswoman, highlighted just how much the fine print and strategy matters. You never know, until it happens to you.
Instead of taking you through the lies, deception and overall fuckery that has been my experience, I’d rather give some tips for carefully selecting your moving experience. Bombs away!
Consider throwing out a lot
The first moving “company” that I discussed my initial rate to quoted me a rate based off of weight. (Stay tuned for my reasoning on quoting “company”) Unfortunately, by the time the actual movers came, packed up everything into the truck and handed me over paperwork so they could leave, I came to find out they actually measured the payment by cubic feet. This meant an up-charge of 600 dollars from my initial quote. I picked this “mover” based off the initial quote given and here I was with my hands tied, no alternative because I had to be out of my apartment the next day and every possession in my apartment was already in their truck wrapped and tidied away. You’re basically bent over and you have to take it. I had been packing, painting and cleaning for days straight and didn’t have it in me to escalate the situation so my hand was forced to agree and pay. (Not without calling the initial “mover” to bitch them out, but we’ll get to that…)
Now, if you have an apartment or home full of valuable antiques and items you cannot part with, you’re fucked. If you’re like me and have a mix of valuable and 100–200 dollar pieces from IKEA, consider getting rid of anything that isn’t worth the cost to move it. It’s much easier to buy the same item at your destination. Between the price of boxes, packing and moving it — it’s just not worth it for those items in the end.
Ask upfront if they are the company doing the job or if they’re hiring a subcontractor (or 2)
Cannot stress enough how critical this question is. The “mover” I initially spoke to turned out to be a company that was actually brokering these jobs. Basically, they subcontracted my move to a partner company that was regionally close to me. Not once was that disclosed in our initial conversation because as I came to find out, this is a common practice. Of course, it isn’t in the interest of the broker to disclose this info because that takes out their role as the middle man and basically nixes their check. It wasn’t until my stuff was being picked up that I realized what exactly was going on. Yes, it’s in the fine print that the company is allowed to subcontract the job out but as a normal consumer, I expected this information to be immediately verbally disclosed. FML.
It’s important to know upfront who will be executing the move and it’s your right as a consumer to ask those questions upfront. With that information, you can make a founded decision through research on what the best company is. What I came to find is both companies had clauses DEEP in the fine print that basically brand them immune from anything that could go wrong on both sides. Possibly the shadiest contract I’ve ever seen (with the exception of the “Acts Of God” which let’s be real…is hella ambiguous and rare). It’s your right to take the time to read through the contract and my advice would be to ask for it upfront with ample time to review. Also, if possible, do not leave a small window for pickup because that will corner you into that option. It’s hard to find a company that will pickup on a whim to move cross country.
Trust & use Yelp as a guide
Sometimes I feel as if Yelp is a valley of dipshits. Other times, it’s a gold mine. If there are multiple negative posts on a biz, there’s always some shred of truth within the negative comments. No one bitches lightly about a mover. If you see comments reflecting epic, poor experiences, chances are this is a pretty close version of the truth. No one actively wants to bitch about not getting their shit for over a month or receiving damaged packages, or even the treatment they received from a biz they paid to move their stuff.
I’ve used other movers in the past who have been absolutely delightful and helpful. Had I used Yelp at the time I might have commented positively but also I was so satisfied I felt no need to. In my current experience, I put up 2 reviews of both the broker and moving company. Dissatisfaction resonates and is the only way for other consumers to know your truth. As I began reading through the Yelp reviews of the moving company (which I had no hand in picking) I knew my situation would end up this way because it literally happened to 10 other people before. That negative Yelp review is real to a company an affects future biz, gotta hit them where it hurts.
No Cash At The Payout
Unfortunately, I had zero say in this but after speaking to other people who had also been duped, it seems like cash at the payout is overall shady. Basically the broker gets a portion upfront, this money allows them to book the actual moving company, then the moving company splits the payments between the pickup and COD upon delivery.
For a number of reasons, this is shady. With a credit card you can stop payment or dispute when delivery times keep moving. With cash, you can only see your goods unloaded from the truck once you pay the balance upfront. It’s actually absurd. You basically pay a company money to transport your goods and hold them hostage. It may not be possible with all companies but try to avoid it where you can and make sure to ask how they payments are split up to avoid drama in the end.
Do not make your choice solely based off a verbal quote
I cannot stress how important this is. The quote will 100% change, trust that. There is no way to account for the exact boxes you will need unless you are already packed up when you call the company. Additionally, each company as I mentioned before has different metrics for how they charge so if you get subcontracted the initial quote may be completely null and void on their system. Take other factors like how quickly you need the shipment, reputation, etc before you decide to go with one.
If you get fucked, the BBB is your friend
I’ve never put a claim in with the BBB in my life. This was the first time I was compelled to go through the process because I was so strongly offended by the horrible service and volleying I’d received. I filed 2 claims, one against the broker which finally garnered some attention and proposal for compensation and another which is still in limbo with the shitty moving service. What I learned is that the claim goes direct to the biz and they have 30 days to respond. A reputable biz that wants to stay in biz with no strikes, will at least respond and try to rectify. A biz that gives absolutely no shits about customer service, prob will not. I learned that the only regulating agency is the DOT and have an old rule of delivery within 21 biz days from the proposed delivery date. If a company surpasses this deadline, you get the move for free. Rest assured some companies will wait until the absolute last minute to make this requisite.
I’ve never filed a BBB report and in the end it helped me strong-arm $150 back from the first company. If you’ve done all you can, it’s worth filing a claim.
Not everyone experiences this type of horror, but I’d rather not see someone else go through this annoyance. Make founded decisions, shop around, ask logistical questions and try your best to not leave short time windows that back you into a corner. After all a move is a time for regeneration, start on the right foot!