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14 Frequently Asked Questions About Moving

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The following moving questions and answers are adapted from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Household Goods Guide.

1. Are movers obligated to move my goods for the estimate they quote?

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Not if it’s a non-binding estimate. Make sure all estimates are in writing. The estimate must clearly state whether it is non-binding or binding. If it’s a binding agreement, they’re legally obligated to follow the estimate.

Remember, a mover is under no requirement to make an estimate to the shipper, so be sure to ask for a written estimate.

2. What do the following estimate terms mean?

Non-binding estimate: A non-binding estimate is one that can change, although these estimates should be reasonably accurate and provide you with a general idea of the moving cost. Typically, a mover will schedule an onsite visit and check out the goods for the estimate. If you add items or request additional services, the mover may void the estimate or revise it. The non-binding estimate must be in writing and state that it is non-binding.

110% rule: If the final cost exceeds the non-binding estimated amount, the mover must deliver the goods upon payment of the estimated amount plus 10% of that amount. The mover must then defer the balance due on the charges for 30 days.

Binding estimate: A binding estimate is a set price estimate. It is a legal agreement between you and the mover that the cost to move the goods will not exceed the price agreed upon. You still may add services, and the cost for those services is due at delivery. Binding agreements must be in writing.

3. What information and paperwork is the mover required to provide?

At the time of the estimate and/or prior to the execution of the order for service, the mover must supply the following:

  • A copy of its written non-binding or binding estimate
  • A copy of the U.S. Department Of Transportation (DOT) publication, “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move”
  • Neutral dispute settlement/arbitration program information
  • Contact information for the mover for inquires and complaints

When the order for service has been executed, the mover must supply a copy of the order for service after it has been signed and dated by you and the mover.

At loading time at the time of pick-up, the mover must supply a copy of the bill of lading/freight bill (and scale weight tickets when freight bill has been paid).

At unloading time at the time of delivery, the mover must supply a copy of the completed bill of lading/freight bill (and scale weight tickets when freight bill has been paid).

4. What is an order for service?

This is the document authorizing the mover to ship your goods.

It isn’t a contract. It notes the estimated charge of the move and other special services asked for (like packing and storage)—as well as pickup and delivery dates or spread dates.

5. What is a bill of lading?

The bill of lading is the contract between you and the mover. It should be given to you before the mover loads your goods.

Like any contract, it’s your responsibility to read it before you sign it. Go over any discrepancies with your mover and don’t sign the bill of lading until you’re satisfied with it.

The bill of lading is an important document, so don’t lose it. Have it available until your shipment is delivered, all charges are paid, and any claims are settled.

6. What happens if the mover does not pick-up or deliver my goods according to the dates provided?

Movers are required to meet something called “reasonable dispatch” requirements.

This means the transportation must happen—within reason—during the scheduled dates, as shown on the order of service and bill of lading.

Some things beyond a mover’s control, like weather, may be acceptable reasons for delay.

7. Will I be compensated if my shipment is not delivered as promised?

Not necessarily. You may file an inconvenience or delay claim with the mover, however. Include receipts for lodging and food expenses for all days past the last day of the pick-up and/or delivery spread dates.

However, the mover is not obligated to compensate the shipper, so court action or arbitration may be required.

If the mover refuses to pay or otherwise disallows any part of the claim, you can pursue a civil action within a two-year timeframe of the dispute.

8. What types of insurance will I be offered?

Movers generally provide three types of protection for your goods in case they are lost or damaged.

Limited liability: This is the basic coverage required by law and doesn’t cost you anything. Under limited liability, the mover is responsible for 60 cents per pound per item for an interstate move.

Added valuation: This type allows you to collect the amount based on the current replacement value of the item, minus depreciation. The amount you pay for this coverage depends on how much you declare your goods are worth.

Full value: This insurance costs the most and covers the actual cost of an item’s replacement or repair, without any deduction for depreciation. Before purchasing coverage from the moving company, check your homeowner’s insurance policy to see if it will cover your goods during a move and compare plans.

9. If there is loss or damage to my goods, how much time do I have to file a claim?

You have nine months from the date of delivery to file a claim.

10. What if I’m not satisfied with the mover’s compensation for damaged or lost goods?

You will have to seek recourse through court or arbitration. If you choose court over arbitration, the suit must be brought within two years of the dispute.

11. If I do my own packing, is the mover still responsible if something is lost or broken?

Yes. The mover usually has a tariff provision that allows it to repack boxes or cartons if they feel they have been improperly packed—or if they will cause harm to the rest of the shipment.

The mover is also liable for any loss or damage caused during transit unless the sole cause for the loss or damage was due to any of these common law defenses:

  • An act of nature
  • An act of—or omission by—the shipper
  • An act of public enemy
  • An act of public authority
  • Inherent vice

Improper packing falls under an act or omission. Since the sole cause for the damage must be the act of the shipper, any contributory damage by the mover would void the common law defense—and the mover would be responsible.

In other words, pack carefully.

12. What should I know about the pick-up and delivery dates?

Make sure the mover gives you a specific date or spread of dates on your order for service and bill of lading. Do not allow the information regarding these dates or spread dates to remain blank. This may delay your shipment.

Make sure your order for service dates are transferred to your bill of lading unless you have made arrangements for another date or spread of days.

At pick-up: Be sure to receive a bill of landing (not just the inventory sheet) showing the name of the mover responsible for transporting your goods, along with the mover’s address, telephone number and “MC” number.

At delivery: You are responsible for accepting delivery of your goods from the first date to the last date of the delivery spread dates. Don’t depend on dates given to you by the driver. Refer to your order for service or bill of lading.

13. What should I know about the pick-up of my furniture?

Be present until your furniture is loaded.

Look at the mover’s description of your furniture on the inventory and ensure the mover denotes items that are chipped, marred, dented, scratched, etc.

Make certain the items’ conditions are listed on both the driver’s copy and your copy of the inventory sheet—but more importantly on the driver’s copy.

Make certain all goods to be moved are listed on the inventory sheet.

14. What should I know about the delivery of my goods?

It isn’t unusual for the driver to ask for, or expect payment of, transportation charges before the truck is unloaded—or before the van doors are opened. If a shipment is delivered on more than one truck, the mover can choose whether to collect charges for each portion of the shipment as delivered—or all at once.

At pickup, it is the driver’s responsibility to list the condition of your shipment on the inventory sheet. This is the time to agree or disagree with the mover’s description of the condition of your items.

At delivery, it is your responsibility to list the condition of your shipment. If there are items missing or damaged, make an indication on the driver’s copy and your copy of the inventory sheet. Put an “X” on the boxes (at pickup) that contain breakables so that at destination you can note the condition of the boxes.

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10 Awesome Packing Tips for Moving

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1. Gather all your packing items together like tape, markers, and boxes ahead of time. Even if you have some boxes it’s best to wait until you have all the boxes you need so you

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2. Get more boxes than you think you need, in fact get twice as much as you think you need! People usually underestimate how many boxes you need and it’s always better to have more than less and have to find more in the middle of your packing.

3. Gather all your items that you can add to boxes or use as packing material and put them together. Items like sheets, blankets, towels, and newspaper you can use as packing materials for fragile items or to fill up a box that is almost full.

4. Boxes should be completely filled or they may get crushed or dented during the move. Use your materials you gathered.

5. Cover your mattresses with two fitted bed sheets on each side of the mattress so you don’t end up sleeping on a dirty mattress or purchase mattress bags.

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6. Pack an overnight bag for everyone in your family with all your essentials like you are going on a vacation. Even if you are moving close, this will always come in handy and make your life easier. You don’t want to get stuck searching through boxes for your toothbrush or unloading to find your pj’s at the end of a move.

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7. Put heavy items in small box or if you can put them in bags or luggage to make it easier to haul.

8. Label your boxes with brightly colored duct tape and organize them for each room. Also, put the color on the door of the bedroom at the new house to help people find where to put all the boxes.

9. Have Donation and Garbage Boxes: While packing it’s great to have a couple boxes for items to donate or throw away. Then at the end of your move donate all your stuff to your favorite charity. Lots of locations have services that pick it up from your house.

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10. Pack the rooms you use the least first, like the guest bedroom and storage closet.

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What Items Not to Pack When Moving:

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Items not to pack

Before your things are packed and loaded, please take some time to look over the items that we cannot put on a truck or in a container. Hazardous and perishable materials are not allowed. And, although they are allowable, we recommend that you keep sentimental or personally important items with you.

Hazardous Items

  • Aerosol cans
  • Ammonia
  • Ammunition
  • Car batteries
  • Charcoal/lighter fluid
  • Charged scuba tanks
  • Chemistry sets
  • Cleaning solvents
  • Darkroom chemicals
  • Fertilizer
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Fireworks
  • Flares
  • Fuels/Oils
  • Household batteries
  • Kerosene
  • Liquid bleach
  • Loaded guns
  • Matches
  • Mineral spirits
  • Nail polish/nail polish remover
  • Paint thinners
  • Paints/varnishes
  • Pesticides
  • Poisons
  • Pool chemicals
  • Propane tanks
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Solvents
  • Sterno fuel
  • Weed killer
Perishables

  • Food without adequate preservation
  • Frozen food
  • Open or half-used foods
  • Plants
  • Produce
  • Refrigerated foods
**If you are moving less than 150 miles and your items will be delivered within 24 hours of pickup, agents may agree to transport perishables that are properly packed and require no servicing in transit.
NOTE: You should empty your refrigerators and freezers and keep appliance doors open for at least 24 hours in advance of loading. This will allow appliances to dry out and prevent the growth of mold.
 Personal importance/sentimental valueAlthough the following items are allowable, we recommend that you keep these important items with you.

  • Address books
  • Airline tickets
  • Car titles
  • Cash
  • Cell phones
  • Checkbooks
  • Computer data files/backups
  • Family photographs/photo albums
  • Financial documents (stocks, bonds, CDs, IRAs, deeds, tax records)
  • Home videos

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  • Insurance policies
  • Jewelry and furs
  • Keys (car, furniture, new home)
  • Laptop computers
  • Medical/dental records
  • New home documents
  • Prescription medicine
  • Professional files/research projects
  • School records

Hire a Professional Mover: Why or Why Not?

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Why Hire a Professional Mover?

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There are many reasons why to consider hiring a professional mover to help you with your move.

     1.  Peace of Mind:

You – Moving is stressful; it is the 3rd most stressful situation in life following death and divorce.  Planning a move is many times overwhelming and tiring. You have to pack, minimize belongings, find friends and family to help, find a truck, load all your furniture and boxes to fit in a truck, drive truck to new location, unload, and unpack.

Professional – Hiring a professional takes a lot of the stress and hard work out of the equation.  You can have professional movers give you an estimate to have them load and deliver your stuff or you can go with full service movers, which will pack all your belongings nicely, unload, unpack, and even set up furniture.  It may be a little more costly but will save you time and energy. Having professional movers gives you a reliable option that will keep your belongings safe and protected to give you a piece of mind.

      2.  Time:

You – The average person is not used to lifting and maneuvering a fridge or washer throughout a house or benching a couch.  You will probably need to get your closest friends and family to help you move, hopefully they are willing to give up their weekend.   With all different types of people trying to manage the move there will be some compromising on how to get it done.

Professional –

Professional movers are trained professionals and are typically strong men that are used to lifting and moving heavy furniture and boxes.  They also usually have a system to get it done quickly and efficiently.  This will save you a lot of time from getting distracted and trying to figure a way to fit everything in a truck. While the professional mover is driving your stuff to your new location safely, you can be on a plane or drive and relax without having the worry of driving and maneuvering a large truck.

     3.  Breakage:

You – If you or your friend or family member drops a flat screen TV or prized possession, you will be responsible for the damage and always secretly think about that one time your friend or family member broke one of your prized possessions.

Professional – The most important part of a move is how all your stuff is loaded into boxes and placed into the truck safely.  Movers are trained on loading everything efficiently and effectively to ensure that everything fits and is kept safe.  Plus, many moving companies offer insurance for special items and reassurance that everything will arrive in one piece.

If anything does happen and it is the movers’ fault they will be responsible for damages and keeping you happy.

     4.  Equipment –

You – Most likely you aren’t used to hauling a huge truck around with tons of your possessions. You may also jump in the drivers spot being in charge of all your belongings without any experience in driving a large truck and this could result in damages in your belongings or accidents.  You may choose a truck that is too small to fit your belongings and realize it half way through loading it or get stuck with a truck that is too large and end up with extra space.

Professional – Movers come with all the equipment needed for an easy move like ropes, belts, and boxes.  We are trained professionals and can navigate the streets and heavy load with ease.

     5.  Recovery time

You – May have to spend several days recovering from the move with all your sore muscles and joints from lifting heavy furniture and boxes. You may need some time to recuperate and soak sore muscles. It could be days until you feel well enough to unpack, organize, and even feel up to meet the new neighbors.

Professional – Hiring a professional means you have more time to get used to your new house and even happy to meet the new neighbors.  Some full service movers give you the option to have someone to unpack your things as well, which will save you even more time and effort.

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