Advice on how to save money when hiring a moving company

It’s not always easy shopping around for the best prices, but that extra effort can pay off when hiring a moving company, according to a locally based consumer’s group.

“For the exact same work, for the exact same move, some companies charge twice as much as others,” said Kevin Brasler, executive editor at Checkbook.

Brasler said estimates for a recent move that included packing ranged from less than $4,000 to more than $8,000 for the same work.

He recommends having multiple companies come to your house to examine what’s needed and to give written estimates with a cap set not to exceed a certain amount.

Also, make sure you’re dealing with a local company. Brasler warns that middleman broker companies, typically found online, often falsely advertise themselves as local movers with local crews.

“But, a lot of times they’re not too picky about who actually does the work, and they’re collecting their fee up front. They’re getting payment in advance, and so you really have very little recourse if something goes wrong,” Brasler said. “Make sure you’re dealing with a real, local moving company.”

To save money on your move, Checkbook advises asking the mover how you can cut costs, whether they’ll charge less if you carry boxes or items to their truck on the curb or box items first yourself.

“If the mover does all the packing that usually doubles your costs,” Brasler said. He said that you should find out whether items you pack are covered by the company’s insurance if something gets broken, as well.

Other tips from Checkbook:

  • Make sure the company prepares an inventory of your belongings.
  • Be present and pay attention when your items are loaded and unloaded.
  • Examine everything carefully as they’re unloaded to look for damage.
  • Don’t sign anything without first noting whether something has been damaged.

Washington Consumers’ Checkbook is providing WTOP readers ratings on 37 area moving companies for a limited time.

Consumers’ Checkbook/Center for the Study of Services is an independent nonprofit consumer organization founded in 1974. It has for more than 40 years been an innovator in providing information to help consumers make smarter choices.

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