The world is full of wonderful people to meet, services to try, and places to go. Unfortunately, it’s also got its fair share of wheelers and dealers, shady schemes, and unscrupulous scammers. The damage “questionable” elements can do varies in degree and depth, and when it comes to moving—to entrusting all your worldly goods and assets to a company to get you from here to there—it’s just too big a task to take too big a risk. The risk in this industry? It’s called “rogue movers” … and you want to avoid them at all costs.
The Dangers of Rogue Movers
Here’s just a sampling of what can happen to trusting and unsuspecting consumers who hire a professional moving company that isn’t really a professional moving company:
- Serious overpayment, with estimates that don’t match final invoices
- Severe delivery delays
- Having your possessions held hostage until you pay up extra
- Receiving damaged goods, if you ever even receive your goods back at all
- Not being able to get ahold of anyone once things start heading south
How to Spot Rogue Movers
Being conned by a fraudulent outfit is bad news. But the good news is, warning signs are there—if you know what to look for:
- Unprofessional dealings. When you call the company for info, do you get the sense they’re not on the up-and-up by the way they talk to you, the things they ask (or don’t ask), a lack of official paperwork and materials to email for your review, unclear answers to your questions? If you’re treated brusquely, rudely, or unprofessionally in any way, move on.
- No online presence or home base. These days, a website is certainly expected, if not actually mandatory, to do business as a legitimate, accountable, and transparent customer-facing company. If you can’t find much of an online presence for the company you’re considering, it’s highly likely they’re not a real presence at all. Similarly, if you cannot easily locate the address of the business, or they won’t provide you with an address when asked, odds are they aren’t real movers. Real companies have real contact information that makes them readily available to their consumer base.
- Sketchy payment policies. Do they accept only cash payments, or are they asking for cash up front? Do they neglect to give you their estimate in writing or to show you their contract during negotiations? When going over charges, do some of them make no sense to you? If so, you’re probably dealing with a rogue element from which you should immediately steer clear.
- Unrealistic promises. When a quote sounds too good to be true, it usually is. When truck space needed and delivery times are given without the company even knowing the details of your move, then just getting your money—not reliably and expertly moving you—is the real motive. Professional movers have professional standards and procedures. Stay away from declarations that just don’t ring true.
- Fuzzy branding. Is this a clearly identified entity that conducts business efficiently and effectively? Employees wearing company shirts or uniforms, business cards to hand out and logo-branded swag to leave behind, professionally printed paperwork bearing the company info? If not, your antenna should be up. If the workers are unkempt, if the equipment and materials are in disrepair, and—especially—if the trucks are unmarked or are rentals from U-Haul or Penske or some such, you should seriously doubt entrusting these people with your lifetime possessions.
Avoiding Rogue Movers
Okay, so now you’re clear on the warning signs and the dangers. What can you do to avoid it all in the first place?
- Do your homework. When you’re spending this much money on a service, it’s worth spending some time online to check consumer protection agencies and research the company under consideration at such sites as Moving Scam, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA), and Moving Authority.
- Read online reviews. Information is plentiful and easily accessible today. Check Facebook pages, Yelp, BBB, Angie’s List … Confirm business listings on reputable websites, like that of the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA).
- Verify credentials. No state license? Then don’t give them license to scam you. No S. Department of Transportation (DOT) number? Then don’t sign on the dotted line.
- Get a free in-home estimate. In fact, get three. Legit moving companies provide accurate quotes by actually visiting your site and inventorying your goods in person. In turn, you get to physically meet a company representative, compare the behaviors and standards of each, and be supplied with sufficient informative material to make an informed decision. It should cost you nothing to shop around for the best deal and quality of service.
- Don’t settle for less than open communication. A reliable company picks up their phone, promptly answers written correspondence, makes and adheres to appointments, and is happy to explain their policies and procedures to you so that you both know what to expect on each end. In our opinion, open communication is, hands down, the most important aspect of choosing a mover.
- Beware the cheapest quote. You want a good deal, sure, but if a company’s quote comes in as low as half the others, that’s a warning sign that you’ll likely not be getting the high-quality service of the others.
- Do not pay your total up front. Asking for a deposit is one thing—just like you, companies have a right to secure your slot on their schedule and confirm your good faith. But if an outfit already has all or the bulk of your full payment without fulfilling their service contract, there’s no incentive to finish the job properly; more than that, it’s a sign that your money is all they’re interested in getting their hands on.
- Read and understand the contract fully before you commit. Afterwards, it’s often too late to do anything to counter sinister motives and dishonest dealings.
At BB&D, we know that a proper business is clean, licensed, and has nothing to hide. Talk to your movers. Learn about their business and look to their reviews. Your movers should work to earn your trust so you feel comfortable allowing them to handle your valuables. If anything gives you pause, go with your gut.
Call BB&D Moving Services today for trustworthy, expert-level service you can believe in and count on:
301-573-5447 (MD) | 571-375-2826 (VA) | 786-390-4040 (FL) | bbdmoving.com/