Imagine that you hire a moving company and they cross you right over without as much as a blink.
Imagine this situation: you have decided to move house. You have chosen and secured your new home, packed up all of your boxes, and then scoured the internet and the local ads for an affordable mover. You sign a contract, fund a deposit, cough up the required cash on actual moving day, be friendly with the workers, and then your property ends up stuck in a moldy old storage unit not three blocks away.
What would be worse: having to pay even more to get your “abducted” belongings back, or never even finding out what happened?
Sadly, though, these kinds of scenarios are a fairly common occurrence, in Texas as much as anywhere else. Katherine Hutt, a spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau, says that scammers typically lure people in with low prices and then “hold property hostage” to extort more money, or request large deposits and never show up. Check out this article by U.S. News about common types of moving scams.
To help you avoid this fate, we came up with a list of ways to stick to the “good guys”.
Take appropriate steps to find a local mover.
Obviously, if you are moving into Austin from somewhere else, or just relocating within city boundaries, a moving company that is based in Austin itself, or in its immediate surrounding area, is the logical way to go.
You can try to find one in several different ways. You can ask people you trust for recommendations, or flip through a Yellow Pages type of printed resource, or simply skip it all and look online. For the latter, your best bet are regional keywords. Limit your search to Austin specifically by browsing for “moving companies in Austin Texas” or allow for some leeway by phrasing your inquiry along the lines of “packing and moving services around Austin TX”.
For more information on how to use regional keywords, visit this link: http://www.602cs.com/take-advantage-regional-keywords/
One major benefit of signing up with a company that is based in your local area is that it will spare you from dealing with black hat fake movers who, as a rule, exist and operate solely on the internet. If at all possible, visit the company’s office, meet the employees, and get a look at their equipment too.
Read all the reviews and do not disregard complaints.
Any remotely serious company nowadays that cares about its customers, know that online reviews on rating platforms and social networks are the backbone of marketing. They will try everything under the sun to avoid bad press, and often try to convince their clients to publicly post positive feedback and good experience stories. These are becoming even more important than branding.
For example, a company called Apple Moving might sound silly to you, or it might make you think about New York rather than Austin. However, if their customers are happy with them and they let the world know about it, having a somewhat unusual name becomes entirely irrelevant in the long run.
Therefore, whatever a mover might look like to you, take the time to read through people’s impressions. Find out if they have a report with the Better Business Bureau and what letter grade they were assigned by it. See if there were any government actions against them in the past and take the time to learn how they resolve their issues.
Run the company through review sites like Yelp, Pissed Consumer, and others of that type, and always remember Glassdoor – that platform will provide you with their employees’ impressions as well. You can even go all out and review a company’s history with the Department of Transportation. Also take some time and verify their credentials. This information will typically be available on the company web page, or via an email request. A legitimate business will have no objections to being transparent about their qualifications and achievements when communicating with potential new customers.
Get estimates from several people.
Never, ever, become fixated on one moving company that a friend recommended to you, or that you have seen has a glowing review online. There is always someone better somewhere, and remember that old proverb – “Measure twice before you cut.”
The generally accepted rule of thumb is to get a minimum of three quotes from mutually independent companies, and absolutely always to get them in writing. You should also make sure they are in-home estimates.
In other words, a company that gives you a quote online or over the phone without ever coming to examine your current home situation is most likely a scam.
Avoid those who request a large deposit.
In the world of packing and moving, the standard amount that companies request as a deposit payment is approximately 20 percent of what they estimated the moving will cost, at the maximum. Anything more than that, and you have got a red flag on your radar.
In fact, many companies do not request a deposit at all, and will only invoice their payment after all of your items have been delivered to your new home. Even so, asking for some advance funds is perfectly fine and a common practice, as long as you are careful to keep it within borders of common sense.
If a mover is holding back your property in an attempt to milk more money out of you, immediately alert the relevant authorities, such as the police, the Better Business Bureau, the American Moving & Storage Association, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
In order to keep yourself safe and ensure the law will be on your side, lay your deposit or any other payment, no matter the amount, on a credit card you specified for that purpose. That way, if there is any shady business, you can contest the charge and have documented data to back it up.