You’ve bought or sold your house and now you’re wondering if you should hire a professional moving company and how to find a good one. This article explains exactly how to go about it.
I’m sure you remember the glory days in college when you could ask a friend to help you move on a Saturday afternoon—and all you had to pay him was a case of beer and some pizza. Well we’re older now, and we all have many responsibilities to take care of so those kinds of moving days are over.
Now when it comes to moving we have hundreds of things to organize, lots of people to talk to and coordinate with, and of course we have to carefully pack and move all our valuable things to our new house. This all adds to the stress of moving, but is there a way to reduce the stress?
Yes. Hire a moving company, and while we’re researching a good one, we need to make sure to ask the right questions. By asking the right questions we can ensure our valuables will be properly taken care of and we are legally protected.
Why You Should Hire Professional Movers
As we get older, trying to find someone with a truck and a strong back who will lift your fridge and sofa gets a little more daunting. Depending on how busy you are, it may be time to consider hiring a professional moving company. Here’s why:
- Saves you a lot of time
- Ensures your property is moved on schedule
- You don’t have to move large items
- Your items are insured for damage
- Professional movers pack and unpack certain items
- Furniture is disassembled and reassembled
- The make moving exponentially easier
There are many more reasons to hire professional movers that we’ll explain in this article but the most important reason is that they substantially reduce the stress involved in moving which can go a long way during what some feel is an incredibly arduous process.
Now that you’ve decided to hire professional movers, continue reading to discover the right questions to ask before you hire them. These questions will ensure the movers you choose are qualified to do the work and have strong customer service.
Asking Your Moving Company the Right Questions
Making sure you find a reputable moving company to handle all your possessions is so important. Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, the company you choose will make all the difference. We’ve heard so many stories of people believing they were covered for damages or problems that arose during their move, only to find out later it wasn’t so.
Here’s our list of top questions to ask your moving company to ensure you’re getting the best service possible.
1. Ask for referrals from past clients
Don’t necessarily make your decision solely off of the reviews you see on Google. Ask your moving company for recent customers’ contact info or written referrals. A reputable moving company should have no problem providing you with some real-life clients that are willing to give them praises. You could also ask friends and family for their recommendations. Word-of-mouth advertising is a great way to narrow down your choices.
Try to determine if they’ve ever over-promised and under-delivered, or if they were as responsible and careful as they’ve advertised.
Some good questions you could ask past clients might be:
- Were they on time and efficient?
- Did anything get damaged by them during your move? If so, how was it handled?
- Were they tidy, professional and courteous?
- Do they specialize in moving any particular items? (eg. pianos, etc.)
2. How is the cost to move determined and do you provide an in-home estimate?
Moving companies generally do provide quotes for their services in one of 3 ways: over the phone, online or in person.
When they quote you over the phone or online, they’re relying on you to give them an accurate representation of how much stuff you have to move. If you under-estimate your belongings, you may be subject to extra charges later on when they actually see how many possessions you have. If you over-estimate how much will need to be moved, you may end up overpaying for their services.
Your best bet is to ask for an in-home estimate. If you do they will send a representative to your home to look around and give an accurate assessment of how much needs to fit on the truck. They will also determine any potential issues for the movers, like low-hanging branches, narrow stairways and doors, or anything that needs to be prepared for them before moving day.
Most moving companies will provide a price based on the estimated weight of your possessions and the distance of the move. This estimate should be in writing (verbal contracts are a big no-no) as well as all the details of your move including:
- The name and address of the moving company
- The date of the move
- The pick-up address and delivery address
- How many movers will be provided
- The start time and estimated time of completion
- They payment methods accepted
- A schedule of deposit payments if any
3. What kind of insurance do you carry and how are my belongings covered if they’re damaged?
Moving companies should definitely carry liability insurance, so be sure to ask for that. And as the customer, you should also inquire about something called “Released Value Protection”. This relates to the unfortunate event that something happens to your belongings during your move and how much will the moving company replace it. This particular information should be clearly outlined in your contract.
According to the Canadian Association of Movers:
- Under Released Valuation means the mover’s liability is limited to $0.60 per pound ($1.32 per kg) per article for household goods under provincial conditions of carriage regulations. This would mean that a table weighing 100 lb. that is being shipped and was damaged beyond repair would result in a cash settlement of $60 (100 lb. x $0.60 per lb.) even if the actual replacement cost of the table were $1,000.
- Released Valuation limits your claim to a maximum amount which is based on the total weight of your shipment (including the weight of cartons). For example in the unlikely event of a total loss, let’s say by fire, your maximum protection would be $0.60 per pound multiplied by the weight of your entire shipment. If your shipment weighed 5,000 lbs., the maximum settlement would be $3,000 (5,000 lbs. x $0.60 per lb. = $3,000).
- Replacement Value Protection means that if a damaged item cannot be repaired to its original condition, it will be replaced at today’s market value. It is limited only by the amount of valuation you select, so it is important that you establish a realistic replacement value of all of your possessions. Your moving company can provide you with the additional cost you’ll have to pay for Replacement Value Protection – RVP.
If you choose not to purchase RVP for your move, the default is usually Released Valuation (see above). Make sure to read your contract and make sure you are covered adequately. Nothing is more frustrating than realizing your furniture has been damaged and you’ll only get back a fraction of its value.
Pro tip! Make an informed choice and triple-check that everything is clearly outlined in your contract.
4. What other services do you provide?
This is a good question. Reputable moving companies will offer a variety of convenient services you may not have been aware of. Some of these extra services are called accessorial charges that you may actually enjoy the convenience of. Some of these extra moving services include:
- Packing and unpacking services
- Custom crating
- Temporary storage abilities
- Furniture disassembly and assembly
- Vehicle, piano and hot-tub shipping
- Appliance disconnection and reconnection
- After-move cleaning services
Ask your potential movers about any special services they have to offer. Sometimes spending a little more money is worth making the movea little less stressful.
5. Are there any additional fees and when when are they applied?
No one wants to be charged unexpected or extra fees after they’ve signed a contract. When it comes to moving services, find out up-front if there are any situations when there may be additional fees added to your contract. Believe it or not, some less-credible moving companies will actually nickel-and-dime you on some unexpected things. Find out the following:
- Is there an extra charge for moving up and down stairs? What about if it’s more than 2 storeys? (e.g.. an attic or 3rd storey)
- Are there extra charges for large or overweight items?
- Do they charge more on wet or rainy days? (they may need to put down tarps or additional precautions to avoid slipping)
- Is there a fee for “long carries” if they’re unable to park the truck close enough to your home?
- Are there fees for apartment building moving and using the service elevator?
Every moving company’s fee structure will be different, so ask for a clear written explanation of any hidden fees that may arise.
6. Are there any items you prefer not to move and do you bring all necessary equipment to move a variety of items?
This probably seems like an obvious question to ask, but do the movers provide all the necessary equipment needed? Do they provide furniture sliders, straps, thick moving blankets, dollies and packing supplies which are all necessary to protect your belongings from damage? Special pulleys or hoists might be required to move large items onto a truck too, so be sure to inquire what they use.
Some moving companies may not want to be responsible for certain items too, so if you have anything of particular value that you may be worried about, it’s good to double check that they’re up for the task and willing to accommodate you. Common items that movers don’t like to touch are:
- fragile family heirlooms
- pictures and photo albums
- flat screen televisions
- fine art
- other valuables
They may just not want to risk the liability and ask you to pack and move those type of things yourself. Likewise, they also may be hesitant of moving hazardous or flammable items such as:
- lawn mowers
- barbecues with propane tanks
- snow blowers
- any other gas-powered items
- chemicals (pool chemicals, lawn fertilizers, pesticides etc.)
Get it in writing
It goes without saying, that for much of the answers you get to your questions, it would be much better if you can get these answers in writing. By doing so, you’ll feel more comfortable with the movers that you hire.
Make sure you and your household items are properly covered
Making sure you and your household belongings are properly covered and taken care of is paramount to hiring a moving company. If something feels off, don’t ignore your instincts just to save a buck. After everything you discover from researching reputable moving companies, you need to feel comfortable and be able to trust everything you own in the hands of the company you hire.
Being in this business for decades, we highly recommend booking your movers about 2-3 months before your move, especially if you’re moving during a busy time of year (like spring and summer). Plus you’ll want to be able to secure your date too!
Once your movers are selected, read our Moving Day Checklist so you can make sure everything is properly organized and accounted for.