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BBB: The better business of planning a move

Allowing someone you don’t know to drive away with your belongings is among the many stressful aspects of a long-distance move. The stress can be compounded by fraudulent movers who charge significantly more than the amount quoted, have unreasonably long delivery windows, hold items hostage for additional undisclosed fees, and deliver damaged goods.

The number of complaints submitted to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) nearly doubled from 2020 to 2021, increasing from 4,340 to 8,295. BBB receives an average of 13,000 complaints and negative reviews related to movers each year, with many complaints describing how experiences with dishonest moving companies have turned into financial and emotional nightmares.

Since most people only hire professional movers a few times in their lives, they are often unsure of what to look for in a reputable company. Better Business Bureau compiled the most crucial tips for consumers prepping for a move.

It’s all in the estimate

The estimate is the most important aspect that will determine how the rest of the move will go. An initial low-ball quote significantly jumps as the company claims – often based on improper calculations – a client has more belongings than originally estimated. Illegitimate movers often use this excuse as leverage to hike up the price and hold items hostage until the consumer pays the full amount.

It is crucial to ask for estimates in-person for accuracy, and from at least three companies. It’ll help determine whether there’s a consistent average or whether a company is quoting a lower price to lure consumers in. Ask for all the specifics in writing to understand how the company generated the estimate or for reference in the future.

Movers are required by law to deliver your goods for no more than 10% above the price of a non¬binding estimate. This is known as the 110 percent rule enacted by the FMCSA in 2003.

Verify registration and licensing

In our latest moving report, BBB found that many companies falsely claim to be properly licensed. Consumers are urged to ask for license numbers and verify them, especially when working with a broker. Complaint trends revealed moving brokers don’t always disclose what company (or companies) they’ve booked, leaving consumers stuck with unlicensed, subpar moving operators.

When booking a moving company directly, verify registration and licensing at the federal and state level. Interstate movers must be registered with the FMCSA and licensed by the Department of Transportation. Every state varies as far as licensing requirements so check with the local Attorney General’s office and regulatory agencies.

When working with a broker, they must be registered with the FMCSA, disclose their status as a broker (along with their motor carrier number) in their advertisements, and provide a list of the licensed movers they work with. Visit FMCSA’s website for a full list of moving broker requirements.

After confirming whether the license number is legitimate, dig deeper and look for potential complaints on FMCSA’s website and

Understand insurance and liability coverage

The last thing anyone wants is to have no recourse in the event of lost or damaged belongings. Interstate movers are required to offer two specific coverage options: Released Value Protection and Full Value Protection.

Released Value Protection is the basic option at no additional cost, but it only covers items at $0.60 cents per pound. Whereas the Full Value Protection covers the full replacement cost of lost or damaged goods. Additionally, consumers have the option to purchase third-party insurance policies, which some moving companies will offer to obtain on their behalf.

For more consumer tips, visit


Roseann Freitas, marketplace manager Hawai‘i, Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific, 900 Fort Street Mall, Ste. 1310, Honolulu, HI 96813 260-0643, Start With Trust.
Source: The Garden Island

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