The Risk of Hiring Cheap Moving Companies

Cheap moving companies are a dime a dozen.The internet is crawling with them, and so are the Yellow Pages in nearly every city and town across the country.
These days many families’ budgets are stretched to the breaking point, and though most would rather stay in their current homes, for others moving is unavoidable.It’s well established that moving can be stressful, chaotic, and expensive.But ironically, it’s often the quest to save a few bucks that results in the worst moving nightmares.Most parents wouldn’t do an internet search for ‘cheapest pediatricians’ but ‘cheapest moving companies’ is typed into search engines by budget-conscious consumers hundreds of times every day.

There are definitely lots of reputable, interstate moving companies out there too.

Many are family-owned businesses that consistently provide their customers with moving quotes and high-quality service.

That being said, there are bad players as well.

Let’s take a look at why choosing a mover based solely on price is a really bad idea.

Bait and Switch (Lowball Estimates)

WYSIWYG stands for what-you-see-is-what-you-get.

It’s a catchy acronym, but one not typically associated with nefarious movers.

That’s because many less than reputable moving companies generate significant portions of their revenue from pulling the old bait and switch.

Some have it down to an exact science—and it’s surprisingly simple.

All it takes is luring an uninformed consumer in with a ridiculously low moving quote.

Then when their items are safely loaded onto the company’s moving truck, the price is artificially inflated.

Lowball estimates often lead to horrible situations in which movers hold customers’ items hostage until they give into their exorbitant demands.

And sometimes the final cost is thousands of dollars more than what was estimated.

Though it’s an illegal practice, it’s surprisingly common, and enforcement is lax to say the least.

Getting multiple moving estimates is one of the best ways to eliminate bad actors.

Better yet, partner with movers we’ve vetted and worked with in the past.

Fly-by-Night Online Brokers

Except when referring to nocturnal birds like owls, the term fly-by-night has a negative connotation.

Though the internet can be an invaluable resource, it’s also the perfect medium for fly-by-night brokers masquerading as movers to ply their dishonest trade.

Remember, that unlike traditional long-distance moving companies, brokers don’t have trucks, drivers, packers, and warehouses.

In fact, many only list post office boxes on their websites.

After all, if an unhappy customer doesn’t have their actual address they can’t show up unannounced and cause problems.

Many online brokerage companies are little more than a few guys in a tiny office.

They act as intermediaries between customers and moving companies, and they often pass themselves off as real movers.


Though most are reputable brokers, many are just in it for a quick buck, which they get by taking a ‘cut’ of every move they book.

Once they’ve secured a new customer, they shop their move around to real moving companies, many of which have less than stellar reputations.

Again, working with brokers can be a great choice, but finding one you can trust is a must.

If you haven’t done so already, now would be a great time to read up on how to avoid moving scams.

The Dreaded Last-Minute Cancellation

If meager resources make hiring the cheapest moving company your only option, you may want to look into alternate arrangements in case you’re the victim of a last-minute cancellation.

They’re especially common occurrences for those who hire movers that haven’t been properly vetted.

Last-minute cancellations can happen whether you’re using a mover or a broker, but they’re more prevalent with the latter.

Due to the nature of their business, online brokers have little control over the moving service providers they use.

Since many brokers shop their customers’ moves around to numerous moving companies looking for the absolute cheapest price, those companies are much more likely to jump ship if a better paying load comes along—even if it means leaving one of their ‘customers’ high and dry on moving day.

By using established and reliable professional moving companies, you’ll significantly lessen the likelihood of a gut-wrenching last-minute cancellation.

Unrealistic Delivery Promises

Giving unreasonable delivery schedules is another way shiftless companies dupe prospective customers.

Your items will only ever be loaded and delivered on the same day in local moving.

If you’re moving cross country at the end of June and have a relatively small shipment, you could be looking at weeks before delivery.

Due to FMCSA regulations, commercial drivers (like moving company van operators) must adhere to strict limits that dictate how much they can work and drive on a given day.

If you’re leaving dreary New York for your new house in Phoenix, the distance is about 2,400 miles.

That’s at least a 4-day drive, maybe more.

And before your driver hits the road, he’ll need to fill his truck with other loads.

That could easily be another 4 or 5 days down the tubes.

He’ll need to make other deliveries along the way too, and…

OK, you get the idea.

Remember the old adage about things that seem too good to be true.

That’s right, they usually are.

If the delivery window quoted for your long-distance move seems unrealistic, it probably is.

Moving Alternatives

If you absolutely need lower prices than a reputable professional mover, consider a DIY move.

The choice you go with will depend on your moving needs.

The cheapest way will be a truck rental with a company like U-Haul.

The other option is a moving pod like U-Pack. In this case, companies pick-up your items and you just have to worry about the packing and unpacking. This is also a good option if you need storage services as the moving container doubles as a storage unit.

Family members help not cutting it and need to avoid heavy lifting? You can hire moving labor.

Although dealing with heavy items and the entirety of the moving process doesn’t sound like fun, you’ll have a better experience than hiring movers that boast affordability but provide a headache and worse.

Also, check out our guide on the best cheap moving companies here!

Work with Companies you can Trust

Each year the moving industry racks-up more complaints than nearly any other industry.

Relocating is fraught with pitfalls that can blindside even the savviest consumers, but bad experiences aren’t foregone conclusions.

Bar none, dealing with trustworthy movers that have been independently vetted is the best way to set yourself up for success.

Luckily, much of the work has been done for you.

Over the years moveBuddha has helped thousands of families relocate, and the vast majority were thrilled with their moving experience.

By leveraging our industry know-how and carefully cultivated relationships, you may just walk away from your upcoming move with a big smile too.

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