The Worst Moving Companies: Tips To Spot Bad Movers
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 brightside. 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.
Tips on finding the best movers (and avoiding scams) include:
- Doing your research and vetting the company you want to work with
- Getting a written estimate for the move
- Asking clear questions and getting clear answers
- Working with a company that is registered and insured
- Choosing a company that is accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and has limited negative reviews
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.
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
Also keep an eye out for misspelled words, awkwardly worded reviews (as if someone actually wrote them during their move), and confusing industry jargon.
10. They claim their employees are “certified”
Many moving companies claim that their employees are certified professionals with industry training, but in some cases, that’s not true.
Some quality-conscious movers do offer training programs for packers, movers, sales representatives and office staff. But in many instances, these programs are provided in-house and with no oversight.
11. They don’t give straight answers to reasonable questions
Professional moving companies with good moving services and honest brokers have a vested interest in answering questions and helping their customers understand the ins and outs of the business.
If a company you’re considering gives wishy-washy or vague answers, or avoids answering your questions altogether, scratch them off your list! You want to work with companies who are clear, direct, and helpful.
If your gut says something is off, you’re probably right. Not answering your questions, having a bad website, and extremely low quotes are all red flags.
12. Something just seems “off”
Trust your instincts and go with your gut. Sometimes it’s hard to put a finger on exactly what doesn’t seem right about a moving company. In instances like this, remember that there’s no shortage of professional moving companies out there. Listen to your intuition when it’s telling you something doesn’t feel right.
If they don’t answer the phone politely (or at all), or if your contact is giving you the hard sell right out of the gate, then consider walking away and finding a better fit.
13. They talk too much and don’t listen enough
Though it’s a salesperson’s responsibility to detail their company’s features and benefits, you should be wary of estimators and office staff telling you how great they are, and not spending enough time asking about what’s important to you and what your needs are.
If you’re having trouble getting a word in edgewise, consider moving on to other companies more interested in listening to you. Some of the worst moving companies are the ones with the worst people skills.
14. They have untidy facilities and a lack of branding
If possible, make an incognito drive by a moving company’s office and warehouse. You don’t even need to go inside. Just take a look at their facility, moving trucks, storage facilities, packing materials, and workers.
A good company with professional local movers will be able to present uniformed workers, their company name with clear branding, identifiable markers on their moving trucks and equipment.
15. They only give phone estimates
Some companies have started offering “virtual” estimates, but truth be told, it’s harder for an estimator to get an accurate idea of the scope of your move or how much it’ll cost without coming to your home.
If a mover refuses to provide this service, it’s a red flag that they’re more interested in your money than providing a good move.
16. They require a big deposit
Most reputable moving companies don’t require upfront deposits.Sometimes they do to protect themselves from last-minute cancellations and lost revenue. However, deposits shouldn’t be more than a small percentage of the total move cost.
If your mover requires a big up-front deposit, move on to greener pastures.
17. They brush over insurance
Moving insurance or valuation is one of the most critical aspects of a good move.
Your representative should thoroughly discuss what options are available, how much each option costs, and what it’ll mean if you experience damage or loss of your possessions.
If a mover spends just a few minutes explaining coverage, avoids the topic altogether, or says there’s no need to worry because they never break anything, then run for the hills. Some of the worst moving companies won’t clearly go over insurance or valuation with you.
18. The estimator cancels or reschedules your appointment
Having your in-home moving estimate rescheduled isn’t the end of the world.
However if it’s done in an unprofessional manner (like a no-show) or it happens repeatedly, it may be an indication that you’re not high on the company’s priority list. Professional movers honor their word and make you a priority.
19. They say one of their “partners” may handle your move
This bait-and-switch often happens with online brokers who don’t actually have any trucks. The sad part is that by the time a different truck shows up on moving day, it’s usually too late to do anything about it before moving your things to your new home.
To nip this in the bud, and avoid trouble on your move date, make it a point to ask if the truck and crew assigned to your move will be from the company with which you’re speaking. You want to work with a full-service moving company that offers a good moving experience from start to finish, whether you’re moving neighborhoods in New York, or moving from Kansas to California, or the U.S. to France (in which case, learn about the best international moving companies).
Insider’s Tip: Working with multiple loosely affiliated entities is a recipe for getting the runaround when it’s time to pay the bill and file claims. The worst moving companies known for moving scams are known for doing this – relying on “partners” to handle things.
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