There are good moving companies and bad moving companies. Some are legitimate, others are not. The following are tips and suggestions to help understand how to reduce your moving expense and recognize unlicensed, uninsured movers.
It’s not written to sound warm and fuzzy. It’s written to help you make one of the most important decisions of your life.
If you choose to compromise accountability and quality service by hiring an unlicensed, uninsured mover (aka “Gypsy Mover) to cut corners, so to speak, disregard the following. They make up their own rules on the fly.
How can you verify your mover’s legitimacy, license and insurance status?
Some “professional” movers say they’re licensed and insured, but are they really?
1.)Contact the North Carolina Utilities Commission
2.)Contact the Secretary of State’s office
3.)Contact the Department of Transportation
4.)Contact the Federal Motor Carrier’s Safety Association
NOTE: Insurers are very specific about what kind of cargo their policies cover, especially when it comes to household goods—they won’t allow carriers to mix household goods with general cargo insurance, it’s one or the other, there’s nothing in-between. Insurance covering the truck and cargo insurance covering household goods are separate policies. Bottom line: If they’re not licensed, it’s extremely unlikely they’re insured to carry household goods across public streets and highways.
How to recognize a “Gypsy Mover”:
1.)While more often than not their rates appear “cheaper,” they’re not, it’s all profit, because Workman’s Comp, General Liability, Cargo Insurance—they don’t carry any insurance policies to protect your household goods, your home, nothing.
2.)They distribute business cards printed at Staples. They advertise on open forums, like Craigslist.com and Emove.com.
3.)They arrive in pick-up trucks, open-top trailers, used rental vans, landscaping vehicles, not Company-owned moving vans.
4.)The trucks lack DOT-required markings on the cab.
5.)They might provide an EIN#, if anything, not a North Carolina Utilities Commission License # (which is always a four digit number).
6.)They provide phone numbers, maybe a website, never a business address.
7.)Documentation? Nothing they provide will protect you in court. Maybe a receipt from Staples, but certainly not a Bill of Lading with the Company name, address, phone number, NCUC License numbers and signatures--all of which are required by law to protect you.
8.)If they accept checks, it’s to be written out to a person, not a company.
9.)They advertise on Craigslist.com and Emove.com (legitimate, licensed and insured moving companies seldom if ever want to be associated with the likes of Emove.com).
10.) Their license plates say “Weighted,” not “For Hire.” Huge difference in terms of insurance policies the DOT and DMV requires on that vehicle.
11.) Sometimes they’ll deliver your valuables. Sometimes.
When Is a NCUC License # Not Required?
1.)On-site labor-only services
2.)Loading and unloading trucks (but not driving them)
A four-digit NCUC License is required whenever your household goods shall be transported by the company across public streets and highways.
The NCUC monitors insurance policies required of the moving company to protect you, the Shipper, and sets forth rules and regulations that licensed moving companies are required to follow via the Maximum Rate Tariff Guide—which is also available to you. No license, no insurance—that’s a guarantee.
Now that you’ve done your homework and determined why it’s important to work with a legitimate moving company that’s licensed and insured, let’s cover the basics:
In-home Consultations are FREE—that’s the law. They’re also a great way to gather information and moving tips.
If possible schedule all of your In-Home Consultations close to if not on the same day. First off, all of your questions and concerns are fresh in your mind. You might even come up with some new questions. Secondly, all the moving representatives are looking at the same scenario. Receive a quote one day, pack, and your quote from the next moving company will likely look much more appealing.
NOTE: If a mover attempts to justify why a Free In-Home Consultation isn’t necessary, hang up and call a moving company that asks when and where.
Deposits are NOT required.
NON-BINDING ESTIMATES Vs. QUOTES:
1.)Non-binding Estimates: They’re just that: Estimates. And far too often they’re wildly optimistic so as to appear “cheaper,” especially when provided Over the Phone (OTP) or Over the Internet (OTI).
When you’re discussing a local move Over the Phone (OTP) or Over the Internet (OTI), a Non-binding Estimate is all you’ll ever receive.
All that’s quoted is the hourly rate based on the applicable number of personnel and moving trucks involved. It’s wise to ask what size truck shall be used on your move. Undersized trucks can mean big trouble on moving day (stacking high and tight, which increases the likelihood of damage, not to mention the additional time required, whereas an oversized truck significantly reduces those possibilities).
The 110% Rule—which we’ll revisit in a moment—only protects you if you require moving companies to dispatch representatives to your home five days or more prior to your move date.
The hourly rate for a given number of movers and trucks is all that’s quoted in a Non-binding Estimate OTP or OTI. Additional charges above and beyond the hourly rate for Heavy/bulk articles, additional stops, and additional services can—and, more often than not—shall apply (Copies of the Maximum Rate Tariff Guide are available through the NCUC).
Non-Binding Estimates aren’t entirely bad, either. They have their time and place. They provide you almost total flexibility. They’re good when you’re not certain whether or not you’ll require additional stops, when you need to add articles and services to the shipment, etc. However, please remember that moving companies can, by law, and at their discretion, require payment prior to relinquishing possession of your property.
If you want to learn more about the rules and regulations moving companies follow, please contact the North Carolina Utilities Commission and request a copy of the Maximum Rate Tariff Guide re your NC intrastate relocation.
2.)Binding-and Guaranteed Quotes: They’re more restrictive than a Non-binding Estimates, but you’re receiving a guarantee that the service you require won’t cost more, but it won’t cost less, either. The moving company will move the articles and perform the services noted on the Estimate Sheet. Nothing more.
3.)Guaranteed Not-To-Exceed: If you’re moving locally—directly from one location to the next, with no additional stops in-between—the Guaranteed Not-to-Exceed Quote is the way to go (in my humble opinion). It will typically appear more expensive than a Non-binding Estimate, but remember: The Company is accepting responsibility for the possibility of bad weather, bad traffic, etc, whereas a Non-binding Estimate leaves responsibility for those possibilities with you.
Like the Binding-and-Guaranteed Quote, they’re more restrictive than a Non-binding Estimate, but they’re good for two reasons:
A.)You’re move won’t cost more (unless you add articles and/or services).
B.)But it can cost less—much less—if you’re willing to participate.
The 110% Rule
This rule was designed to protect consumers from predatory sales practices. However, bear in mind that it protects you only when you require companies to dispatch representatives to your home five days or more prior to your move date.
Basically speaking, it’s designed to minimize if not eliminate “low-balling” Non-Binding Estimates. Provided that you inform the representative precisely what’s expected of the Company during your Free in-home consultation, they detail it in writing on the Estimate, and you do not deviate from the agreed-upon plan by adding stops, services, articles, etc, on the day of your move, the moving company cannot refuse to relinquish possession of your property after you’ve paid 110% of the Non-Binding Estimate.
You have an additional thirty days to pay the balance before the company takes further action to collect—and moving companies know that, if you feel like you were deceived, you probably won’t pay the balance and they’ll write it off as a loss.
QUALITY OF SERVICE:
Lake Norman Moving Services, LLC, does NOT strive to provide the cheapest service in the Charlotte-market. We strive to provide the best.
To minimize if not eliminate damage claims we hire only the most experienced moving veterans and pay them a respectable living wage. Those who have hired movers in the past realize why this is the most important factor to consider when choosing a moving company.
Whether you’re moving local or long distance, we shall take every possible precaution to prevent damage to your possessions and home.
Prior to removing articles from your home, we shall:
1.)Utilize door-jam protection, banister protection and rug-runners.
2.)Stretch-wrap standard mattresses for cleanliness
3.)Pad and stretch-wrap all furniture rather than cutting corners (merely draping pads over select furniture in the truck is asking for trouble).
4.)Leather furniture shall be padded first and then stretch-wrapped so that it can “breath.”
5.)Fabric furniture, such as sofas and chairs, shall be stretch-wrapped
6.)Appliances shall be padded while aboard the truck
7.)Furniture shall be strapped while aboard the truck to prevent damage caused by load-shift while in transit.
8.)Each dining room chair shall be padded individually
9.)To minimize load and off-load time and help ensure safety, each of our trucks is equipped with two Magliner hand-trucks with non-collapsible wheels for efficient collection and re-distribution of boxes, mattress dollies and heavy duty-lift straps. There’s nothing more expensive and dangerous than ill-equipped movers.
While all this prep-work sounds time consuming and expensive, bear in mind that repairing and replacing your furniture is even more expensive. Also, it doesn’t take long. Two seasoned professionals can prep a three-bedroom home in about an hour and a half, not much longer than that.
GREAT WAYS TO REDUCE TIME AND EXPENSE(<35 miles):
When you’re moving locally, charges shall be based on time, primarily, not weight.
Moving services are one thing, packing services are quite another.
Since time is money, the idea is to minimize time—and the most cost-affective way to do that can be summarized in one word: Consolidate!
A.) Consolidate small articles into like-sized, sealed and labeled boxes and totes.
C.)Consolidate those boxes close to where the truck will be parked (like the garage).
D.)Consolidate your belongings BEFORE your movers arrive!
E.)Consolidate garden tools in the garage into a wardrobe box.
F.)Remove articles from attics, crawl spaces, outdoor storage sheds.
G.)Consider having the movers deliver boxes and totes to your new garage. This way they’re coming off the truck, straight into the garage, and your new home won’t be inundated with boxes until you unpack.
H.)If you’re moving locally, it’s wise to empty your drawers, especially if you know your furniture is heavy to begin with (or its designed to break, like particle board).
I.)Disassemble desks, beds, remove mirrors from dressers (including the “legs”).
J.)Remove Glass shelving from the China Hutch
K.)Disconnect your washing machine and dryer.
L.)Remove legs from tables
M.)Lamps, pictures, glass and “delicates” require additional handling time, as do chairs and children’s toys (they’re difficult to pack in the truck). If you’re ambitious, consider renting a small box-van from Penske and going after these “one-man” articles first. Leave the heavy “two man” articles for your movers.
N.)Too many people—friends and family who want help—in a home tend to crowd one another and can cause frustrating and expensive delays.
O.)Small children and pets? Let’s go visit Grandma and Grandpa!
P.)Remove the propane tank from your grill.
Q.)Disassemble ALL baby cribs (they almost never fit through a 30” door).
R.)At your Point of Destination, stay close to the front door to keep an eye on what’s coming off the truck and directing your movers as they enter your home. Moving the same article multiple times causes delays, and can result in additional charges.
S.)If you transport one-man articles to your new home to reduce time and expense, great, but please place them out of the way—closets, kitchens, bathrooms, garages, etc—and retrieve them after your movers are gone.
NOTE: Movers should never be responsible for cash, guns, jewelry or important documents! Lock such articles in the trunk of your car until your movers depart.
LONG DISTANCE SERVICE (>35 miles):
There’s a saying in the moving industry: “The greater the rate, the lower the rate,” which isn’t lip service, it’s the law, provided you’re not moving across a state line!
Just remember: Legitimate moving companies ESTIMATE weight, QUOTE rate!
When you have a moving company representative visit your home for your Free In-Home Consultation, request the Company’s DOT number. It’s one way to avoid Brokers. Brokers promise what they can’t even deliver—some don’t even own moving trucks. Brokers turn around and sell your job to the highest bidder.
No matter how good their software, everyone’s estimating weight! Nobody will know how much your valuables weigh—or how much your final charges shall amount to—until the truck is weighed empty, loaded, and reweighed again after it’s loaded.
It’s wise to have several representatives from moving companies you’re familiar with visit your home (United, Atlas, North American, and/or, my personal favorite, Graebel) to estimate your shipment’s weight.
Again, the estimated weight is good to know, but ultimately it’s the RATE that matters, unless the moving company is charging by the cubic space used in the moving truck, which will vary depending on the quality of day-labor that specific van line opts to hire. Bottom line: Require copies of the weigh tickets! By law you’re entitled to see them!
If three moving companies estimate the weight of your shipment to be, 9,500 lbs, it’s not a bad idea to request your rate quote to be based on 10,000, in which case three things happen:
1.)If every moving company is quoting you on the same weight, you’re comparing apples to apples.
2.)Quotes based on a weight above the estimated weight allow for adding articles and margin of error.
3.)You’re far less likely to receive an unpleasant surprise after the truck is loaded, reweighed, and final charges are assessed.
4.)The moving company may reduce its transport rate.
5.)If you’re moving at a reduced transport rate and decide at the last minute to add articles—and therefore weight—the additional charge for the added weight will increase, but at the reduced rate.
NEVER move across a state line on a Non-binding Estimate! Always, always insist on a Guaranteed Not-to-Exceed Rate Quote. This way, if they provide you a “quote” based on, say, 5,000 lbs, the rate won’t skyrocket after they realize: “Whoops, we underestimated, the actual weight or your shipment is 9,000 lbs,” in which case the additional 4,000 lbs wasn’t included in your rate quote.
With a Guaranteed Not-to-Exceed Rate quote, you can add whatever you like to the shipment—which might decrease the rate, if you add enough—but the rate will never exceed the quoted rate at which your shipment is moving.
Expedited Service, Exclusive Use of the Truck Vs. Van Lines:
Comparing Van Line Rates to Expedited Rates is much like comparing apples to oranges. Van lines load during a given window period, and they deliver within a window period, based on their convenience, not necessarily yours. Typically they also contract day-laborers to load and offload your possessions.
Smaller moving companies often offer Expedited service, Exclusive Use of the Truck, which means:
1.) Guaranteed load and delivery dates
2.) No load-mixing or delays
3.) The same movers who load the truck usually unload the truck (negotiable)
While it’s far more timely and convenient for the shipper, it’s often more expensive, too, largely because the fuel expense and labor is divided by one.
WE APPRECIATE YOUR FEEDBACK!
In the interest of improving our quality of service, your feedback is greatly appreciated. Please do not hesitate to contact the office before, during or after your move with questions and concerns.
Even if we’re not the company you choose to hire, we’ll do everything possible, including, but not limited to, suggesting alternative companies known for quality service.