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Published: Thursday, April 17, 2014, 1:00 a.m.

Get lowdown on movers before signing contract

If there’s a move in your future, here are suggestions offered by highly rated movers and satisfied customers:
Plan ahead. Start at least six weeks beforehand.
Choose services. Moving services range from you-rent trucks to “managed moves” in which experts handle every detail, including setting up the new household.
In between, you can get help for just the heavy lifting, or hybrid options in which you pack possessions into pods or cubes that a company transports to your new home.
If possessions cross state lines at any point, that’s considered an interstate move subject to federal regulation.
Costs are typically calculated using a combination of weight and distance. Long distance in-state moves are often assessed the same way.
Local moves are usually assessed by hour and per worker. Regulations for local movers and what constitutes a “local” move vary widely by state.
Costs reflect the type of move and service level. A you-rent truck might cost $20 to $40 a day with an additional charge of about 80 cents a mile.
Expect to pay at least $1,000 for a full-service move across town. Long-distance moves can cost a dozen times as much.
Cut costs by avoiding the busy summer months and know scam warning signs:
Won’t provide an on-site estimate.
Answer calls with a generic greeting, such as “movers” or “moving company.”
Don’t have a local address, information about registration or insurance.
Charge differently than the norm.
Demand cash or a large deposit before the move.
Use a generic or rented truck.
Demand extra money after loading.
Do your homework. If you’re planning an out-of-state move, visit protectyourmove.gov, which lists licensed movers.
Read company reviews on a trusted consumer site, check for proper licensing and ask about the crew’s experience level.
Know if the estimate is binding or if it could change. A binding estimate can’t be changed, even if the actual cost exceeds the estimate.
Get a written copy of the estimate. Ask if it includes charges for fuel, moving equipment and trips to and from the house.
Be clear about coverage. The federal government requires that moving companies offer two levels of basic liability: Full value and released value. These are not insurance.
Full value protection costs extra and means the mover is responsible for the entire value of shipped items. The released value option adds no cost, but reduces what the mover pays in case of breakage.
Some companies will offer insurance policies that require upfront coverage payment and a deductible.
Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie’s List, a resource for consumers.
© 2014, www.angieslist.com/
Story tags » Home Improvement

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