Each year, thousands upon thousands of people pack up and move within and outside Houston. To ensure these moves go smoothly, many hire professional moving companies. (Want to see how much your move may cost? Get a quote now!) Nonetheless, scam artists lurk in the moving company industry, so clients must be wary. Here are some tips for choosing the best moving company in Houston for your move.
1. Follow up on online estimates
We work with dozens of Houston movers who are happy to offer online estimates. Remember that reputable companies like the ones we can connect you with will always follow up on these online estimates either in person or via telephone. So your prospective movers can give you an accurate estimate, get an idea of which items you plan to take and which you intend to sell or give away. Finally, make sure you understand the price each company offers you.
2. Don’t pay in advance
While companies may request a deposit, no reputable moving company in Houston will insist on cash payments or an advance payment in full. If you pay in advance and the company turns out to be a scam, it may be a while until you see your possessions again. When you do pay, be sure to use a credit card, and be wary of companies that demand cash only.
3. Avoid companies that use multiple names
Some unsavory moving companies operate under different names to avoid assessment by federal institutions. Make sure your prospective moving company has an address in Houston, and seek out information about their licensing and insurance. Search online to make sure they don’t operate under additional names, and check their reviews to see if there are any serious complaints against them.
4. Get recommendations and references
Recommendations from trustworthy sources are always best, so if any of your family or friends in Houston have recently moved, ask them for recommendations. Otherwise, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides a list of reliable moving companies from across the country, including in Houston. You can also ask the moving company you’re considering for references. When they provide previous customers, call them and ask the direct questions you need answered.
5. Make sure your movers pack carefully
You can cut costs by just packing yourself, but in this case, you’re generally responsible for any damage to the contents. If you’d rather spare yourself the labor, movers will happily pack, but you can still potentially save some money on boxes and packing materials. Before asking a moving company to pack for you, investigate their experience and inquire about how they will pack any special items, such as antiques.
6. Know what extra fees you may have to pay
The cost of your move will vary based on your belongings and the distance of the move, among other factors. If your moving company has to deal with elevators or staircases or if the movers will have to carry your belongings over an unexpectedly long distance, you’ll probably have to pay more. If your street is too narrow for the moving van, you may face another additional cost. Prior to the move, ask your company about any extra charges.
7. Get everything in writing
Read the contract carefully before signing and make sure all your belongings are listed on the inventory form, since you can’t file a claim for an item that’s not listed. Make sure the contract contains all relevant information, including the moving company’s estimate, any extra fees, and the dates for pick-up and delivery to your new Houston home.
8. Understand the kind of estimate you’re getting
Moving companies in Houston offer three different types of estimates.
A binding estimate guarantees a price for the move and the associated services you’ve discussed, so even if your shipment weighs more or less than the assessment, you still pay the estimated price.
A non-binding estimate is meant only as a guideline, so you may pay more or less depending on the exact weight, but according to federal regulations, moving companies cannot charge you more than 110% of the non-binding estimated price.
A binding not to exceed estimate is the maximum price you’ll have to pay, even if the weight of the shipment is higher, but if the weight is lower, you may be able to pay less.
9. File claims for any damages
Under federal law, Houston moving companies offer nine months to report any problems and file insurance claims, but it’s best to quickly check all the boxes directly upon arrival to assess for damage. If you find any problems, jot them down on the mover’s copy of the bill prior to signing. Moving companies then have a limited time in which to acknowledge your claim and respond to it, so be sure your movers follow up.
10. Be aware of your level of protection
All moving companies in Houston and across the United States have to have insurance of some sort, but there are two different types, so make sure you’re getting the protection you want for your goods before entrusting them to a moving company. The FMCSA offers a great explanation of valuation and insurance, but below is a summary:
Under full-value protection, the moving company is liable for replacing or repairing any damaged items under coverage for their full value.
Under the alternative level of liability, the moving company is liable only for 60 cents per pound per item. Since this plan doesn’t offer much protection, be sure you’re comfortable with it if you choose to go this route.
There’s a lot more involved in choosing a moving company in Houston than you may have originally thought, and it can be hard to choose the right plan for you and your budget. If you follow the tips outlined here carefully, you should be able to find a moving company that’s right for you and enjoy a smooth move into your new home in Houston.
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