Why should people avoid cheap Houston movers?
The typical residential move costs around $3,000, according to the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), and if a mover quotes you much less than that, that could be a troubling sign. Hiring cheap Houston movers comes with several risks, so separating the cheap movers from the professionals is important. Here’s why you should be cautious with cheap movers:
No insurance or license
Both of these are essential for ensuring you are protected during your move. If the cheap mover you hire isn’t insured or licensed, you may be responsible for any accidents that occur on your property.
Unlicensed movers are operating outside the scope of federal and state regulatory agencies. That means if your cheap movers damage or steal your belongings, there may be no one to help resolve the problem.
No training or resources
Cheap movers can’t afford a full-time, professionally trained staff, and they may not have the equipment they need to move certain items. It will take those movers longer to get the job done, and they are more likely to cause damage during the process.
Cheap Houston movers may invest minimally in their customer service, so communication may be difficult or infrequent. That can result in unnecessary stress on moving day.
There are several good reasons to avoid cheap Houston movers.
Why should homeowners consider a local Houston moving professional first?
The AMSA recommends people stick with a local moving company, even when moving to another state or country. In Houston, there are several professional moving services that can move their clients to any part of the world, so what you’re looking for may be just down the road.
Why is it a good idea to stay local? Local professional movers attract new clients from their area, and if that mover has a poor reputation, it will be extremely difficult to earn additional customers. A local professional has a strong incentive to make your moving experience as stress-free, transparent and efficient as possible. If they don’t, poor word of mouth and online reviews will have potential clients looking elsewhere.
If you find a cheap mover online, verify that they operate locally in your area. Many cheap movers do not have a physical office and may use a false address instead. That’s why AMSA also recommends making a trip to any movers you are considering. In addition to verifying the company’s physical presence, it will give you an idea of the company’s professionalism and resources.
What are some signs that you’re working with a cheap Houston mover instead of a professional?
Cheap Houston movers may present themselves as moving professionals, but there are several signs that they don’t have the experience or reputation of one. Those signs include:
No branded trucks or uniforms
This is a major indication, because almost all moving professionals will brand their materials where possible. Professional moving services have every reason to do so, as it enhances their reputation. Cheap Houston movers, though, may use rental trucks to execute moves and probably won’t invest in proper uniforms.
Can’t provide additional moving services
Cheap Houston movers may have a truck to carry your things, but they probably won’t help with packing or unpacking. They probably won’t be able to handle fragile items, either, like artwork, a piano or a pool table.
No transparent fee schedule
A professional moving service will happily provide a clear breakdown of all expected fees before you’re committed to the move. They should be able to provide this in paper form and give you time to look everything over. If they can’t do this, they may be charging you arbitrarily.
No in-person estimates
Most cheap Houston movers are only willing to provide estimates over the phone or through e-mail. It is highly recommended, though, that you avoid movers that won’t provide an in-person estimate.
Why should you avoid getting an estimate online or over the phone?
A reputable moving professional may provide a rough estimate over the phone or online, but they won’t formalize a moving contract with anyone before they see the property in person. If a cheap mover refuses to do this, that’s a sign that you should look elsewhere. Why are in-person estimates so important?
It’s the only way to deliver an accurate estimate
Even if a moving professional has decades of experience, they have no idea what furniture is in your rooms, how the house is laid out, how much space is outside for the moving truck and whether there’s anything fragile to consider. All of these considerations will affect the estimate, and they can’t be accounted for until the moving professional visits the home. If a cheap mover gives you an estimate over the phone or through e-mail, they are making a guess.
It’s an opportunity to build a line of communication
It’s a significant financial commitment hiring a professional moving company, and you’ll want to know who you’re working with before hiring them. A good time for this is during the in-person estimate. During the estimate, the moving company’s representative can answer important questions, resolve any concerns and outline the process, so the client and company are on the same page from the start.
It’s also a good time to look over any paperwork
Before entering into any moving contract, there will be plenty of paperwork to review and sign. This includes a bill of lading, which has the moving professional’s address, the client’s address, details on what is being moved and how much weight is loaded on the truck. This, along with the company’s fee schedule, should be checked carefully to ensure the terms are identical to what you’ve agreed to during the conversation.
Who can help homeowners find a reputable professional moving company?
There are a few moving associations and regulatory agencies that can help consumers research a moving professional. Here are three of the most important:
The American Moving and Storage Association
AMSA is the primary moving industry organization in the U.S. and maintains a list of reputable moving professionals. Known as their ProMovers list, it contains hundreds of vetted and verified moving professionals. The ProMovers list is a good place to start when looking for a moving company, and AMSA also provides mediation should a client file a complaint against one of their member companies.
The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA)
The FMCSA is under the Department of Transportation (DoT), and responsible for regulating motor carriers, including residential movers, at the federal level. The Department of Transportation is responsible for licensing movers, so every reputable moving company should have a DoT number. The FMCSA also has an online database that consumers can use to research licensed moving companies. All you need is the moving professional’s DoT license number, and the database will provide information on the company, including its insurance, the number of trucks it owns, when the company was founded and whether it is in good standing with the DoT.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB)
The BBB provides oversight in many industries, including the moving industry. The BBB takes and records any complaints against a residential mover, and also tracks whether these complaints have been resolved. If a moving service has many complaints lodged against it, and these complaints haven’t been addressed, that’s a bad sign for the cheap mover in question.
These agencies, along with online customer reviews and a little research, can help consumers separate cheap Houston movers from the professionals. If you’re looking for a low stress, cost efficient moving experience, avoid cheap movers and stick to local, experienced professionals.