10 Major Blunders When Picking a Mover

You're spending a lot of money and time on your moving services, but one bad mistake when picking movers can mess up the entire thing. Here's a list of the most common errors -- and how to avoid them.

1. Getting quotes over the phone. You just can't get a completely reliable quote from moving companies over the phone if someone doesn't see the stuff to be moved.

Ask for and insist on an in-home estimate. Maybe if you have a smaller move, you can handle it over the phone, but an in-home visit will erase any doubt or trepidation from your mind.

2. Not getting estimates from several movers. The only way to have an accurate sense of what's "fair" is to get several moving quotes from moving companies. This will help you know what's a going rate for your move and pick your movers.

3. Choosing a mover that comes in very low. The No. 1 way to get scammed is to accept a quote that's MUCH lower than the other moving companies'. How do you think that mover can work so cheaply?

Here's how it goes: You get the low estimate now, and all of a sudden extra charges start piling up until you're paying as much as or more than you would have with other movers. Worse yet, a rogue mover might keep your goods hostage until he gets his money.

4. Not knowing moving's busy season. Movers, particularly the good ones, get very busy in the summer. So the more you plan, the greater the chance you'll be able to find a quality mover. The best deals for moving are likely to be found during the colder months, and during the middle weeks of the month -- folks with leases tend to move then. And if your moving day is in the summer, be sure to line up a moving company far in advance.

5. Cheap moving boxes. Most people like to find used boxes for their move. It might save you some cash for packing, but if those moving boxes rip apart during the move you'll have a mess and you'll have your items damaged. Invest in good, solid packing supplies.

6. Forgoing a binding estimate. Never let someone start your move without a written contract that details the services you will get and how much you will pay. If you do not feel comfortable with the moving estimate or the contract, find another mover.

7. Failing to disclose everything. Anything that makes it harder to move you -- stairs, a narrow street -- will cost you more. And if the movers don't find out about it until the day of the move, you will be charged more. Tell them upfront so you can get an accurate estimate.

8. Thinking it's better to move yourself. You might think you're saving money, but you will take more time and possibly suffer damages instead of using a professional moving company. Unless your move is small or you have lots of friends who owe you favors, check out a mover, if nothing else than to get a point of comparison before checking out truck rentals.

9. Lacking a budget. If moving from a large house or moving a long distance, you will likely spend thousands of dollars on your move. Understand how these costs fit into your overall budget, which will include travel to your new home, auto transport, temporary living expenses, insurance, etc.

10. No moving insurance. Your moving company must cover some of risk, which is called valuation. But you should still check out other moving insurance options in case you have damage.