The Worst Moving Companies: Tips To Spot Bad Movers

Here’s the bottom line: To avoid falling victim to scammer moving companies, look for red flags such as suspiciously low estimates, over-the-top reviews, unverifiable credentials, and evasive responses to questions.

Always conduct thorough research, verify their DOT and MC numbers, and check their history with the Better Business Bureau. Ensure the company has a physical address, provides written estimates, and does not frequently change names. Trust your instincts and prioritize companies that are transparent, professional, and well-reviewed by genuine customers.

Have you had a terrible moving experience only to later find out that the company you hired is notorious for bad practices? You’re not alone. Finding a reputable moving company with verified customer reviews is a difficult task, even for the most savvy movers.

However, there’s a bright side. Many of the worst moving companies have lots in common, and once you know what to look for, their scams, misinformation, and lies will bounce off you like water off a duck’s back.

Let’s take a look at some characteristics many lackluster movers share.

19 ways to spot the worst moving companies

1. Their name is similar to a well-known national van line

Even if you’ve never moved, you’ve probably heard of United Van Lines, Atlas Van Lines, and Allied Van Lines. These large, national movers have hundreds of agents in cities and towns all over the country, and boast thousands of trucks on the nation’s highways on any given day.

That said, many companies have chosen to add a word or two to capitalize on their name recognition. This is often a red flag that they may be one of the worst moving companies with less than stellar reputations.

For instance, United Nation Van Lines isn’t the same as United Van Lines.

And A+ Atlas Van Lines isn’t the same as plain old Atlas Van Lines.

Research thoroughly before hiring a moving company; we want you to have the best interstate movers on the market.

2. They’re based in Florida

Here at moveBuddha, we refuse to engage in geographic discrimination. However, the proof is in the pudding: There have been countless news stories about people getting scammed by moving companies based in Florida.

Exercise extra-caution if you’re working with a moving company headquartered in Florida. No doubt, there are countless reputable, professional, legitimate moving companies located in Florida. Just be sure to do your research to make sure you’re working with a great moving company, no matter where they are based.

3. They have over-the-top reviews

There is so much that can go wrong on a move, and much of that is out of the hands of movers — even reputable ones.

This means, even the best moving companies get negative reviews. Some of the worst moving companies may have false reviews. So, when vetting potential movers during your pre-move screening process, be wary of those with reviews that are a bit too “glowing.”

Did you know?

Many websites that claim to rank movers unbiasedly are little more than pay-to-play platforms where movers with lousy customer service reputations can post phony reviews. It happens on reputable sites, too. Always exercise caution before booking your moving company, so you don’t end up with one of the worst moving companies.

Use social media and websites that offer real-life reviews — like our Better Moves project, where people share their first-hand moving experiences — to get real insight into how movers operate.

4. Their DOT and MC numbers don’t check out

All moving companies that perform interstate moves are required to have a DOT number.

When screening movers, always ask for their DOT number. Once you have it, you can enter it into the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) SAFER System website, after which you’ll have access to tons of information, including:

  • Their address
  • Number of power units (trucks)
  • Whether they’re authorized to move household goods
  • Whether they’re a mover or moving brokers
  • Their accident record
  • Whether they’ve been placed “Out of Service”
  • If their insurance is up to date

If any of their information doesn’t align with what they told you, then you’d be wise to cross them off your list and move on.

5. They overstate how long they’ve been in business

One way many fly-by-night movers and moving brokers bolster their less-than-stellar reputation is by padding the number of years they’ve been in business.

Determining when a company was founded is worth the extra legwork. It’s an effective way to see that what they’re claiming matches the reality of the situation.

Look up the company with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to check on their history and their rating.

6. They change their name frequently

For some scammy movers, avoiding bad reviews and angry customers is as easy as changing their name. Some of the worst moving companies are some of the most savvy, too.

If during the vetting process you determine that a mover has operated under five names in the last seven years, it’s likely a clear indication that they’re not people you should hire.

7. Their address doesn’t exist

Reputable moving companies don’t need to hide their address – period.

Moving companies and moving brokers should clearly list their address on their website and other important move-related documents.

If you only find a post office box or suite number as opposed to a street address, it may be another sign that they’d rather you didn’t swing by, or that they’re not customer-focused. Some of the worst moving companies are also the most evasive and inaccessible.

8. Their estimate is way lower than everyone else’s

You know the old adage: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

The “lowball” estimate is the oldest trick in the book when it comes to luring in unsuspecting customers. Of course, with these types of movers the actual cost will be much higher – sometimes two or three times higher!

According to the Department of Transportation, a binding estimate is the written agreement you make in advance with your mover, which holds each of you to the pre-agreed-upon chargers. It guarantees the total cost of the move, and will not change.

It’s always better to go with a higher estimate from a reputable mover than a lower one from a company that’s out to scam you. You can use our moving cost calculator to help you determine an accurate estimate for your move.

9. Their website isn’t professional (or they don’t have one)

Most reputable businesses can offer their customers a webpage where they can learn all about the company. When it comes to websites, many of the worst moving companies and moving brokers rely on things like:

  • Patriotic references like eagles, American flags, or both
  • Smiling families
  • Gushing reviews
  • Making claims of being the “world’s best” or having “global coverage” when they only have one location
  • Misspelled words and awkwardly worded reviews

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