- Choosing a Reliable Moving Company You Can Trust Isn't Always Easy
- How We Decided On The Best Moving Companies
- Ideally, Company Websites Had To Answer Basic Questions
- A Bearable, If Not Pleasant, Quote Procedure
- Visible Claims Departments, Or At Least Existing Claims Handlers
- Let's Voyeur On The 500 People Surveyed On Their Recent Move
- And The Contenders for the Top Moving Companies Are...
- The Old Standbys
- Other Maybe Considerable Moving Companies
- You Should Know This: Quotes & Estimates
- The Meat and Potatoes of Moving
- Take Action
- American Moving Trends
- Top States People Moved to in 2015
- Top States People Left in 2015
- Invest in the Right Company For You and Your Needs
1. Choosing a Reliable Moving Company You Can Trust Isn't Always EasyRelocating your worldly goods is not to be taken lightly, and there are just so many available options. So what we did was review a survey conducted on 500 people and the associated telephonic quotes from 20 moving companies, to ascertain whether it’s best to get a buddy to move you or fork out for full-service professional relocation. Of course, no-one promised you a rose garden, the best one can shoot for is reputable moving companies affording a pleasant quote experience.
If you look at it logically, the average Joe Soap might move house less than a dozen times in a lifetime, whereas professional movers do it day in and day out, almost every day. So a comparison between your bowling buddy packing you up, for a couple of beers and a burger, and the international van line relocating you is quite unfair.
It’s no mean feat to organize moving your entire worldly possessions, and possibly auto-transporting your family car, however people trained to do so with all the best resources have a great advantage, you’ll agree. These resources include less obvious imperatives such as appropriate insurance, licenses, and accreditations to safeguard the customer should the untoward occur, like Great Aunt Milly’s ancestral crystal heirloom plummeting from a great height. The top achievers in the survey, Atlas and Bekins service the entire U.S, cut to the chase with pricing and services, and follow through with a no-fuss claims procedure.
2. How We Decided On The Best Moving CompaniesHaving started with 82 Contenders in the Moving companies who claim to move-anyone-anywhere category, we whittled this down to the best two. This is how we did it:
Although local movers are invaluable in their communities, being that they know the lay of the land and everyone living on it, we focused on hard-core national movers. The reason for this is that we’re interested in ascertaining the best in the market for ‘moving anyone anywhere’, therefore highlighting ‘Movers Not Shakers’ operating throughout Small-Town, the USA wouldn’t help ‘Prospective-Migrant’ from another state.
Of the available options who seemed to meet the criteria to ‘move anyone anywhere’, it was soon discovered that, while many companies could indeed move to anywhere, they were limited in the ‘from anywhere’ part. So they were not considered. Furthermore, only legally compliant contenders were eligible, backed by valid Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) licenses. Risking your possessions to an unlicensed mover may result in lost or damaged goods and your household being held ransom for payment exceeding their estimate.
3. Ideally, Company Websites Had To Answer Basic Questions
Laying out their services concisely online saves you the time and hassle of laboring through a phone call with a moving company who turns out not to provide what you’re looking for (storage, full service, etc.). The best sites have a helpful FAQ’s section and a concise list of the services or resources they provide. A live chat help or full day customer service feature isn’t a deal-breaker, but it certainly is noteworthy.
- Eliminated: 16 Contenders
4. A Bearable, If Not Pleasant, Quote Procedure
This is by no means fun, but you really need to eliminate companies who are not worthy of moving you. Get a minimum of three free, written estimates from the market at the get-go. Disregard quotes far above or below the average price.
There are a few ways to acquire quotes: A company representative conducts a home visit; You provide a video which they use to quote with; on-line questionnaires.
In the quest to reveal the top moving companies, the contenders were tested on their estimate process. It was found that the average phone quote was done-and-dusted in 10 minutes, but it is important to note how easy or difficult it was to get to speak to a human, and once shared, how helpful the human proved. Some calls were never answered, some failed to respond to voicemails and others required the traversing of time-consuming phone trees.
While it can be warming to deal with a company representative who seems knowledgeable, willing and professional, beware of the pushy sales staff. Moving company scams are real, and you should never be pushed into paying a deposit during your quest for written estimates. By entering into such an agreement you may well face a stand-off with the scam movers holding a truck-load of your possessions ransom for extra money. A pushy salesperson who insists on money-up-front relegates their company to non-Contender status.
- Eliminated: 7 Contenders
5. Visible Claims Departments, Or At Least Existing Claims Handlers
This is tricky to test when you haven’t actually had goods transported, and so none could get damaged or lost. What was required therefore was to ascertain the availability and usability of the company’s claims department? Most people have a disinterest in the mechanics of ensuring goods in transit, they simply want to get paid out if their possessions fail to reach the new home in the same condition in which they left the old one. The first step to getting reimbursement is filing the claim, and contenders without a clear-cut claims lodging process were sent packing.
Case in point was PODS. PODS and U-Pack are companies who passed the website test but failed on the accessible claims department test. It’s all very well having a storage unit delivered to your door and then onward to your new door, but without a means to claim, what happens when mayhem strikes between the two doors?
- Eliminated: 7 Contenders
6. Let’s Voyeur On The 500 People Surveyed On Their Recent Move
This is how it was done:
We asked - Who did you hire? and How would you rate your experience?
They responded using the classic 1–5 scale (1 = terrible, 5 = excellent)
The results were not unanimous or similar. Respondents’ scores on the same question ranged from very low to very high and everything in between, averaging most companies out at a rating of 3. No matter the planning and research behind it, hiring a mover may simply be a roll-of-the-dice on who is going to land up on your threshold on moving day.
Amongst the remaining contenders, Wheaton and Arpin were clear losers in this rating, with most of the respondents citing their moves as a negative experience:
7. And the Contenders for the Top Moving Companies are:
Let’s just skip the fuss and go right ahead with the winners:
- Atlas Van Lines is tops for no-fuss scheduling and the only claims service offering “delay” claims. The findings revealed Atlas Van Lines as Best Overall, with happier clients than the other contenders. Findings proved them to provide friendly service and exhibit flexibility with scheduling.
Getting the Quote:
This proved a welcoming experience, traversing from phone tree to human, ready to schedule our in-home estimate, in a mere minute-and-a-half. As front-line, our human was pleasingly reassuring when we raised the horrors experienced by home-movers we know. She offered us their first availability in three days, with a flexible time schedule spanning all day from morning to early evening.
Their claims process affords you separate forms and procedures for lost/damaged items or delayed items.
Atlas has a user-friendly website, without the bling. All you need, from quotes to claim forms, can be found here. They are the only company to insure you if your shipment arrives late, which helped them earn 69% surveyed customers with a positive experience.
- Bekins Moving and Storage, for their high profile and reputable status, earned a well-deserved Runner-up position. They have a proven track record of customer satisfaction.
Getting the Quote:
Bekins were more transactional and less friendly than Atlas, but they were efficient and fast. Our in-home estimate was booked within 8 minutes, having covered all the basic questions needed regarding our relocation. Our attempts at an on-line quote proved Bekins response to be slower than Atlas. 62 percent of past clientele surveyed came up happy, having had a positive experience, with half of them awarding 5 stars.
9. The Old Standbys
- United Van Lines were ranked average in customer service.
Getting the Quote:
United Van Lines and Mayflower have been moving people for around 90 years, making them two of the US’s oldest movers. They are competitors, owned by the same parent company, UniGroup, and share a common process. Our phone operator was cheery in a non-committal kind of way and kept us on the line for 7 and a half minutes, of which a minute and a half was spent waiting to be connected.
- Mayflower was on a par with their stable-mate, United Van Lines.
Getting the Quote:
Refer to our review of United, same minute and a half on hold before Joanie clicked on the line, who was all procedural with the questions and without any banter. This had our in-home estimate booked and us off the line in under five minutes.
United and Mayflower achieved a smack-in-the-middle between terrible and excellent from 29 percent of past customers surveyed.
10. Other Maybe Considerable Moving Companies
- Wheaton Van lines failed to answer our call.
Who knows whether they could have given our winners a run for their money? You have to be in it to win it, though, and if we can’t access you, you can’t move us.
Wheaton’s website was thorough and reassuring, with FAQ’s, all-encompassing resources, how-to suggestions including video-packing demos and a blog guiding you to pack like a pro. Of course, they’re a moving company, so they suggest to pack like a pro, you should just hire the pro.
Their online response was fast, affording an immediate confirmation response to our request. We had their estimate in our e-mail inbox within 24 hours.
59 percent of our survey respondents cited a negative experience, which seems to fall more in line with our phone-in experience than our website one.
- Arpin Van Lines yielded the Least Satisfied Customers
With a majority (35% of respondents) awarding a 1-star rating of “Terrible”, 43 percent surveyed had a neutral or positive experience. MyMovingReview.com shows similarly bad ratings.
Getting the Quote:
Our online request for an estimate was never answered, but our phone call was pleasant. The phone was immediately answered, whereupon Arpin’s representative bantered a while before assessing our moving needs. Our estimate was duly scheduled for six days anon, with flexible times and dates offered.
We had a good time, but the people have spoken, and with such low marks, we’re moving on.
- Stevens Worldwide Van Lines barely survived being whittled out but is worth calling if you don’t come right with our top picks.
11. You Should Know This: Quotes & Estimates
In-person quotes are best, preferable to email and telephonic estimates which may hide surprises. Having a representative walk through your home ensures an accurate and exact estimate, which should be followed up with a contract stating a price. The FMCSA requires that all interstate moving companies conduct an in-person visit to homes within 50 miles of their location unless the customer waives this in writing.
Basic estimates need to know: how far you’re going and how much your stuff weighs? Having an agent assess this in person makes for a precise evaluation of your possessions, without the risk of inadvertently omitting items from the inventory. There’s also a big difference in the evaluation of a Target bedstead compared to a solid brass antique bed.
An in-person evaluation will ascertain exactly which of their resources you will need, from full-service packing and unpacking to safely shipping your
Quotes are not all created equal, and preliminary estimates are merely rough guides and are not binding. A ballpark quote is what you get when you’re still determining what needs moving and you hop online or call to get an idea – it’s really a guesstimate since your actual cost is related to weight and company tariffs. It remains safe to assume that your final bill will be higher than your estimate, and remember to get written confirmation of tariffs up front.
Movers are obligated to honor a binding estimate, and you are not required to pay for their mistake if they underestimated the weight of your load. However, if you have additional items to those included in your estimate, you will be liable to pay extra for them. So anything that didn’t sell on your auction is not the mover’s problem.
Should the company have overestimated the weight, their company policy will dictate whether you pay the agreed-upon amount or whether it is reduced accordingly. They will provide you with a written outline of their policies.
Any claim lodged will have a settlement period before you are paid out.
You should be around while the Movers note the condition of your possessions during the drawing up of the inventory. Make sure you agree with their findings. When they deliver your possessions, the inventory will be checked for damage incurred in transit. You are expected to lodge a claim timeously if required. Although you might have up to nine months to do so, the sooner you submit a claim the better. Claims can be filed online or telephonically, depending on the company’s claims department and process. A claims adjuster will usually inspect the damaged property within a week of the claim being lodged. The claim will then be processed before a settlement is made.
12. The Meat and Potatoes of Moving
Moving remains a bother despite having the best moving company. The upside is that friendly and efficient service across all lines - online, telephonic and personal – will take the edge off. A mover with a reputable track record will up the chances of you being moved without being scarred.
13. Take Action
Time and Research are your friends in planning a Move. By pre-determining any loopholes and potential pitfalls, you’ll avoid landing in them. Entangled in a moving company scam is not where you want to end up, so a good move should present with less than ten complaints when you research, and these should all be resolved.
Don’t procrastinate, you should have estimated at least five weeks before you want to move, to ensure you find the best fit, date-wise, and service wise.
Once you’ve chosen a mover, make sure your contract (Bill of Lading) details all aspects of your move – estimates, resources, and services – before signing. All charges involved in your relocation must be itemized down to whether or not bubble wrap is included.
Regardless of ensuring that everything chargeable appears on your Bill of Lading, be equipped to pay up 110% on delivery. It is entirely feasible and possible that you overlooked something, which then hiked up the fee, and most movers will expect 10% of any extra’s plus the original estimate upon delivery. The remaining amount due will be payable within 30 days.
14. American Moving Trends
Americans are always on the move in all different aspects of their lives. This relates to our jobs, our personal lives and with where we live. On average, some predict that most Americans will have had 12-15 jobs within their lifetime. They find this especially true with younger generations. That number correlates with statistics that the average American moves 12 times during their lifetime. Which, when compared to other countries, is very high. We are in a constant state of pursuing something different. Whether it be our careers or our own personal dreams that consistently landing us in different parts of the city or country.
Moving season is almost here, which is made up of the months May-August which is when most people are making their moves. Warmer weather makes some roads more accessible during those months. For families with kids, this offers up the summer holiday as a perfect time to pack up and head out.
Generally, the trends from last years moving season are a good rule of thumb to predict what will also be the moving trends for 2016. Moving trends generally stay constant over the course of a few years.
Below is a list of the top states that Americans are moving both in and out of.
15. Top States People Moved to in 2015
16. Top States People Left in 2015
17. Invest in the Right Company For You and Your Needs
Many families or individuals have reasons for moving but overall it is important if you are moving from state to state to find the best. You want the ideal candidates for the jobs at hand. Generally, it can be hard to find trustworthy and reliable movers interstate. You want to invest in best of moving companies state to state. Larger cities have so many choices it can be hard to filter the good from the bad. However, while in more remote areas it can be difficult to get coverage where you currently live.
Using a specialized search engine tools will be the best bet for anyone that is looking to or at least thinking about moving to find exactly what they are looking for. Moving from state to state is no easy task! Moving Authority has now expanded to cover all 50 states! (Yes that now includes Alaska and Hawaii) A state-by-state moving tool is the easiest way to get you on your way. Happy Moving!