1. Get three written in-home estimates. Be wary of phone or internet estimates. Show the mover everything that will be moved, including items in attics, basements, garages, storage areas, sheds, etc. Be sure to point out any items that are especially important to you or are of high value so your sales consultant can note them for special treatment.
2. Obtain and read the three “pre-move” required documents from your carrier. These documents include the Your Rights and Responsibilities and Ready to Move? brochures, and information on the arbitration program that the mover participates in. These documents are all required by federal law for every interstate shipment and the mover must provide them when he gives you a written estimate.
3. Avoid large down payments. Be wary of carriers seeking large down payments to hold dates or to reserve service and never sign any blank forms.
4. Ask questions. If you do not understand something, ask. The moving business is complex and has its own language. If you aren’t satisfied with the answers to your questions or if the carrier hesitates when you ask for clarification, talk to another carrier.
5. Plan an Off-Peak Season Move (when possible). June to September is the high season. If you can avoid moving during those months, you will likely receive better service. If you must move during the high season, move mid-month, mid-week, and avoid the end of the month. If you have the flexibility, ask the mover if there would be any savings by moving on a different day of the week.
6. Be Reachable by Phone. Make sure the mover has your cell phone number and is able to reach you by phone during your move. This can save time and storage costs if the driver is ready to deliver and you are ready to receive your shipment. Be sure to have the driver's full name, id and truck number to allow for fast and easy communication.
7. Take Valuables with You. Valuables, such as cash, coins, jewelry, photographs, rare collectibles and important papers should be taken with you, or sent ahead using a traceable service, such as FedEx and United Parcel Service.
8. Segregate Personal Travel Items. The items traveling with you, such as clothes and papers, should be put in one place or in the vehicle you are taking with you. Avoid having those items loaded on the truck and having to find them later.
9. Try to Relax. No matter how prepared you are things occasionally go wrong. Moving is one of the most stressful times in your life. Take a deep breath, be patient, and get a good night’s sleep before moving day.
10. Use an AMSA ProMover. If you’re moving between states (or within California), make sure your mover is a member of the American Moving & Storage Association. Visit AMSA’s consumer website: www.moving.org and also visit the Department of Transportation’s web site: www.protectyourmove.gov.