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Avoid moving schemes | Eyewitness Wants to Know

Packed and ready to relocate? Not so fast. Vet your movers so they don't take off with your stuff.

SAN ANTONIO — Plenty of planning, packing and preparation goes into a move. It's one of life’s most stressful events. Plus, it can be easy for movers to take advantage when they have all your stuff. Trusting your items with strangers makes it easy to be schemed.

“It’s a super competitive industry. We see a lot of competition, sometimes deep discounts, sometimes better rates, but, again, cheaper isn’t always better,” said Jason Meza, the regional director for the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Protect your wallet and your stuff. Make sure movers have a local address.

“You do want to find people in house or in this city,” Meza said. “That way you can at least visit them with a physical address.”

Then, check ratings. The BBB is a good place to start.

“If they don’t have a presence with us, be leery right off the bat because we don’t know who they are, if they’re even operating or if they have a license,” said Meza.

Online marketplaces like Hire A Helper also offer customer reviews to help you avoid schemes.
“They’re rated on quality, price, whatever type of factor you’re looking for, so you know that it’s a reputable company that’s got thousands and thousands of reviews,” said Matt McCollum, the director of business development for Hire A Helper.

A few tips to sniff out a scheme: Do not pay a large deposit to hold a move date.

“Beware of movers who want that money up front,” Meza said.

Always pay with a credit card. Then, complete the contract before you sign it.

“There are a lot of contracts that are left partially signed with a lot of blanks. You do want to have a full contract start to finish with no blanks where things can be put in between,” said Meza. “That contract must be read from start to finish on what the movers are going to be entrusted with or not. Then those contracts have to be filled out. We see a lot of complaints with partial contracts.”

“You want to make sure you see in writing what the price is,” McCollum said.

Understand how the mover’s insurance works if an item is damaged.

“Any reputable company is going to have insurance to cover your goods. There’s different types of insurance,” McCollum said. “You really want to look into that. The standard valuation is 60 cents per pound per item. So, think about that. If you’ve got a 20-pound TV, 60 cents per pound, that’s not going to cover much of anything.”

Purchase what is called “additional valuation” to cover the full cost of replacing the items. Plus, do not stand for your items being held hostage for a higher price. Call the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for help.

Read the BBB's study on Moving Scams

Moving can be expensive. Here are two tips to save money with a move:

  1.  Delay your move until fall or winter, if you can. You’ll pay less for movers in the off season. If you move in the summer, book as far in advance as you can.
  2. Get packing materials for free. Contact local stores for boxes they are trashing.

Here are few packing tips from Hire A Helper to make your move easier:

  1. Keep TVs upright.
  2. Movers often will not move small plants.  Put them in a box in your car instead.
  3. Wrap knives in hand towels. Label the box so you do not accidently cut yourself when unpacking them.
  4. Make a box of essential items that you will need on the first day. Include spare car keys, toilet paper and a change of clothes.
  5. Keep small valuable with you and move them in your car.
  6. Put your luggage on the truck last so it is one of the first items off the truck.

Bellhop offer these suggestions to make your move easier:

  1. Pack heavy items in smaller boxes. They will be easier to carry.
  2. Take a photo of your entertainment center BEFORE you unplug everything and pack it up. You might think you will remember how everything connects, but save yourself the headache and snap some photos of the back of your consoles with everything intact.
  3. Label all your boxes. Try to pack room by room and label your boxes clearly.
  4. Be flexible. Movers tend to book up quickly on weekends. Try to move on a weekday, if you can.