Business Columns & Blogs

Know your mover and know your rights

Action Line columnist Blair Looney of the Better Business Bureau gives advice about finding a reliable mover.
Action Line columnist Blair Looney of the Better Business Bureau gives advice about finding a reliable mover. Detroit Free Press file illustration

A reader: I’m moving. Not very far. I’ve purchased my first home and am moving across town. I’ve decided that I’m going to hire a professional moving company to do the work for me. My biggest concern is making sure I hire someone I can trust. Can you offer any advice on how to go about hiring a good mover?

Action Line: Congratulations on your new home purchase! You are correct that you need to make sure the one you hire is trustworthy and reputable. Before you move is the best time to find out what to watch out for.

BBB recommends that you:

▪ Ask around. Get at least three written in-home estimates. No legitimate mover will give you a firm price online or over the phone. Remember that the lowest estimate may be an unrealistic lowball offer that can cost you in the end.

▪ Know your rights. Movers must give written estimates. If your mover provides you (or someone representing you) with any partially complete document for your signature, make sure the document contains all relevant shipping information, except the actual shipment weight and any other information necessary to determine the final charges for all services performed. Learn more about your rights at or from your state attorney general’s office.

▪ Make sure the mover has insurance. The insurance should cover your goods while in transit. Be sure you understand what the insurance covers, and whether items will be repaired, replaced or if you will be offered a cash settlement that you can use to repair or replace the item on your own. Standard insurance usually covers the weight of the item damaged at only about 60 cents per pound. (If your 100-pound sofa is torn in transit, the mover with standard insurance will be required to pay only $60 for the damage.) You may want to consider getting full value protection (insurance), which may add to the cost upfront but could save you headaches after the move.

▪ Check the mover’s complaint history. Always check out the business at first. BBB Business Reviews include complaint history, customer reviews and more.

Be wary if the mover:

▪ Does not make an on-site inspection of your household goods.

▪ Demands cash or a large deposit before the move.

▪ Has a website that has no address and no information about a mover’s registration or insurance.

▪ Claims all items are covered by their insurance.

▪ Answers their calls with a generic “movers” or “moving company” rather than a business name.

▪ Has locations that are in poor condition or do not exist.

▪ Arrives in a rental truck rather than a business-owned or marked fleet truck.

If you would like more information on moving-industry regulations, or want to file a formal complaint, you can contact the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, You can also file a complaint at

Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or