How to Avoid Bait & Switch Moving Scams

If you’re going to move, you might consider hiring a mover. If all goes as planned a moving company will make relocating to a new city efficient, economical, and easy.

However, for this to happen, you have to steer clear of scam artists. Here are some steps you can take that should prove to be helpful.

Ask a Real Estate Agent for Advice

Experienced real estate agents are very familiar with various issues affecting the housing industry, and they are an extremely reliable source for referrals when you are getting ready to move. Keep a list of real estate agents you’re familiar with, and ask them for advice on hiring movers. A few minutes can help you avoid a lot of hassle.

Thoroughly Research Moving Companies

Take some time to investigate the movers in your area. Contact the Better Business Bureau to determine if complaints have been filed against those companies, and find out if there are reputable web sites that deal with the problem of moving scams.

After you get a feel for the local moving companies in your area, you’ll want to dig a little deeper. Make sure the moving company you work with is responsible, and take some time to decide if you feel comfortable working with them.

If you’ve never hired movers before, here are some ways to make sure the company you’re working with is conducting business according to best practices and industry standards:

  • Ensure the mover will have a representative visit your home to study the logistics and inventory what articles will be moved. This person should spend at least 20 minutes with you to answer your questions and provide packing tips.
  • Make sure the estimated weight load seems accurate. A dishonest mover will tell you that a 9,000-pound load is just 6,000 pounds in order to give you a low bid, and their descriptions are rarely true nor thorough. This can result in a real mess if any of your belongings are lost or damaged in the move.
  • Get a minimum of three estimates. If one of them is considerably lower than the others, this could be a sign that a scam is being set up.
  • Ask about insurance options. If you a majority of your belongings are fragile or expensive, you may want to talk to your moving company about insurance. Find out what options they offer, and as always, do your research.

Carefully Comb Through Every Contract

If you can, opt for a contract that is all-inclusive. Note that a valid contract will include every detail, and there should be no “driver’s fee” or other hidden charges. You will be dealing with a certain amount of paperwork, but it is there to provide the information you need and for your protection. Here’s what to look for in a moving contract:

  • Look for hidden fees. Some movers expect a large gratuity in addition to the bill, and they also fail to mention it in the contract.
  • Watch out for companies that only accept cash. In addition, if the company only accepts cash payments, you will have no record of the transaction.
  • Find out how the company processes claims as a safety precaution before signing a contract. A reliable moving company will have policies that enable customers to be compensated for their losses, if any occur.
  • Never Pay Whole Invoice Upfront. Some companies require a substantial down payment or deposit, which should be refundable, but a reputable company will never expect you to pay the total bill upfront.

Use Your Best Judgement

Always use your best judgement. If something seems out of place, or the moving company strikes you as sketchy, keep looking for the right movers. Also, while it’s impolite to judge a book by its cover, the condition of the moving van is a sign of the way in which your belongings will be treated. If a moving company doesn’t care about their own equipment, why would they care about your stuff? Finally, if the mover you hire comes with a rental truck on moving day, cancel your agreement immediately and ask for your deposit to be returned. That is the sure sign of a scam, or at the least, highly inexperienced movers.

Peter Wendt wasn’t born in Texas, but he moved here as soon as he could. After bouncing between Austin and Dallas, he has plenty of experience with local moving companies. If you’re planning a move anytime soon, he highly recommends Unicorn Moving and Storage in Austin, TX.

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