o Before you even talk with a mover, decide what household goods will be shipped and what will be sold or given away. You certainly don't want to pay to move items you no longer need!

o Consider whether you want to do the packing, or whether you'd prefer the mover to handle that for you.

o Ask your friends and family for references. Request estimates from more than one company so you can comparison shop. Get involved in the estimating process and try to meet with the relocation consultant to survey your home and prepare a written estimate. Be sure to ask each prospective mover how long the estimate is valid and determine whether the estimate is binding or non-binding. Never accept an estimate over the phone and do not consider using a company that offers you this service.

o Inform the mover of any issues on either end of the move so that your estimate will be more accurate. Make the mover aware of any challenges, such as parking, road access, street accessibility, delivery time restrictions or if there are any stairs or elevators involved. All of this issue can increase the cost of your move. Try to reserve a parking space for the moving van if your new home is on a congested street. If the moving crew has to carry your load more than 75 feet from the moving van to your door you may be charged for excessive distance.

o Some issues to consider include neighborhoods that prohibit trucks over a certain weight. The driver will be required to offload your possessions into a smaller vehicle, and that will cost more. Advise the relocation consultant if you anticipate this situation. As well, advise the consultant if you are moving to a high-rise building where an elevator reservation is required. This can cause logistical problems if the mover does not know about this in advance, and additional charges will likely apply.

o Contact the Better Business Bureau to inquire about the company's complaint record and, importantly how or whether these complaints were resolved.

o Check for the mover's Department of Transportation (DOT) license number. All movers are required to be licensed, although interstate movers are required to meet two additional criteria;

  1. Publish their tariffs or price list and make it available to anybody who requests a copy.
    2. Participate in a dispute settlement program and offer neutral arbitration in the event a dispute arises. A dispute may arise in the event loss or damage happens to a shipment while in the hands of the mover.

o Ask all movers for references.

o Be very clear about the coverage available for loss or damage to your shipment. All licensed movers must provide liability for the value of goods they transport. There are different levels of liability, and you need to understand the amount of protection provided and what additional charges may apply. Please see our section on moving insurance to understand the different options.

o Ask the mover questions so there are no surprises on moving day:

  1. Will there be extra charges if the movers have to go up an extra flight of stairs even if I did not know about it when booking? (Many times you may not have enough information at the time of the estimate to be completely accurate.)
  2. What is the estimated delivery time and will the driver notify me?
  3. If I do the packing myself, what types of packing materials are acceptable?
  4. What form of payment is expected? Cash, credit card, personal or certified check?
  5. When is full payment due?
  6. Will the movers disassemble everything that needs to be taken apart, and will they reassemble all items at the destination?
  7. Following the initial weigh-in, will there be an additional weigh-in to determine actual cost?
  8. If I have purchased liability insurance and need to make a claim, what is the procedure?