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What you need to know before hiring a mover

Tuesday - 5/21/2013, 4:47am  ET

moving truck (AP)
Make sure the number of boxes that go on the moving truck are the number that arrive at the new destination. (AP)

WASHINGTON - Moving season is coming up. But before hiring a mover, beware. Whether the move is across town or across the country, a few things are important to check before signing a contract with a moving company.

Tina Holt, a supervisor with Virginia's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, says people planning to move should first get three estimates for the job and then check the mover's license.

"One thing that they can do through DMV or with our office is to see if there have been any complaints against the mover," says Holt.

For an interstate move, check the American Moving and Storage Association website to make sure the company is properly licensed for such a trip.

The charges for movers vary depending on the destination, how much needs moved and how many people it takes to do the job. But it should all be written down.

Not only should the contract include the price, says Holt, but also the number of boxes, types of items packed, the address from which someone is moving and address to which the items will be moved and insurance coverage.

When the truck is unpacked, boxes should be counted to make sure nothing was lost or stolen. Legitimate companies shouldn't object to any of this.

Here is a list of things that the Virginia Department Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services office says people should know when hiring a mover:

  • Ask for three written estimates to compare prices and services. Confirm with the movers whether the estimates are binding or non-binding.

  • Moves of 30 miles or less within Virginia may be charged by the hour taking into consideration the number of movers and/or the size of the vehicle needed.

  • For moves more than 30 miles within Virginia, the estimate and bill of lading should provide a line item list of charges.

  • Upon the issuance of any written estimate for a move more than 30 miles within Virginia, the mover should provide a booklet published by the VMWA entitled, "Making a Better Move in Virginia."

  • Before signing a contract, make sure to read it fully and understand all of the terms and conditions.

  • Ask whether a company representative will conduct a visual or in-home survey that will list the items to be moved. This is important since shipment charges will be based mainly on quantities of weight and cartons packed and unpacked plus other associated services.

  • Ask the mover about insurance valuation options to cover personal belongings.

  • Find out in advance the company's policies for the deposit and types of acceptable payment.

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