shutterstock_401691505Hiring a moving company isn’t as simple as it seems. There are some unscrupulous moving men out there. Some will break your valuables. Others will tack on extra fees after agreeing to an initial quote. Follow the tips outlined below and you’ll greatly reduce the odds of a stressful and costly move.

Vet Potential Movers

Find out how long each prospective moving company has been in business. Do some digging to determine if they are licensed and insured. Check out online reviews to learn more about customer experiences. If you find out that a moving company lacks a US DOT number, they do not have the proper license and are not worthy of your business. If a mover lacks insurance, move on to the next candidate. Also, be sure to find out if your items are covered by your renters insurance/homeowners insurance policy. If such coverage does not exist, it might be prudent to secure supplemental moving insurance.

Ask What the Rates Include

If a moving company floats out an incredibly low rate, don’t automatically assume that this figure represents your final bill. Find out if fuel charges are a part of the rate. Ask if the rate applies to all days of the week and seasons of the year.

It Might be Possible to Obtain a Lower Rate Based on Delivery Window or Consolidation

Some moving companies are willing to charge extraordinarily low fees if you agree to have your belongings moved with those of other wayward individuals. Shipping these items together saves the moving company plenty of money and they just might pass some of those savings on to you. Furthermore, if you deem it acceptable to have your items delivered in a certain window of time rather than a specific date, you might be eligible for another discount.

Consider Packing Your Items

In general, those who pack their belongings tend to pay less for their move. Leaving the packing work to the movers usually results in a higher price as they’ll have to provide boxes, tape and other packing materials. There is also a certain peace of mind obtained by packing your own items. You’ll know which boxes contain specific items and you can pack them in your own nuanced manner. However, it is worth noting that some movers write clauses into their contracts that absolve them from liability in the event that items packed by customers are damaged. The onus is on you to pack your valuables in a secure manner that can withstand bumps in the road and possible rough handling by time-strapped moving men who are unaware of each box’s contents.

Do not Sign a Blank Contract

Some opportunistic movers will take advantage of young people and other easy targets by presenting a blank contract for signature. Never sign such a document. Make sure that each detail is written out and clearly defined along with a specific price. All “extra fees” should be listed in this contract, including the pick-up and delivery dates.