All interstate and some intrastate moving companies display a motor carrier number. You can verify a company’s compliance, accident history, inspection passing record, truck-ownership, and insurance by entering the company name or number here: http://www.safer.fmcsa.dot.gov/CompanySnapshot.aspx
Many moving companies first found on the internet do not own moving trucks and only act as a broker/middleman. On 11/29/2010 a law was passed requiring brokers to tell customers they are not a moving company. You can verify truck-owning status by viewing the number of “power units” owned by the company in the FMCSA link above.
The most common complaint in the moving industry is being overcharged, or receiving hidden fees (affecting about 15% of moves). Protect yourself by clarifying on the contract that there are no other charges such as: fuel surcharges, trip charges, TV handling fees, tape and packing fees, etc. Also clarify that hourly rates on local, intrastate moves start when the movers arrive, that break time is subtracted, and that rates are not rounded up to the nearest hour or half hour. Consider requesting a “binding estimate”.
Because the FMCSA requires all interstate and some intrastate movers to do an onsite inspection if they are within 50 miles of the move site and create a list of all items to be moved and assign each item an id number. Movers that do not perform a thorough on-site quote are a red flag. You should receive a multi-page bill of lading, not a one-page “skinny contract”.
The FMCSA requires that interstate moves must be priced solely by weight (unless the mover provides a binding estimate) to help customers avoid having to pay unforeseen charges.
Most good movers will compensate you for a damaged item even though they are only liable for 60 cents per bound (about 10% of its value). If promises to cover damage are made to win your business, write that in on the contract. (see What’s up with Insurance?”)
It is standard proceedure to pay your mover at the time of delivery before unloading the truck. Making payment by credit card is helpful because it enables you to the option to dispute charges in the event of a wrongful act. Be wary that some movers falsely claim to accept credit cards, and then demanded cash before unloading.
After non-binding, interstate moves are weighed and delivered, you are entitled to the release of your goods upon payment of 110% of your non-binding estimate, and the mover must invoice you for the rest in 30 days if you wish.
Movers are required to:
Give you a written estimate
Tell you if they are a broker/middleman
Give you a copy of the U.S. DOT publication, “Your Rights and Responsibilities when you move”.
Provide dispute resolution/arbitration information