May 6th began our observation of National Moving Month in Austin. At the kickoff event, the Better Business Bureau teamed up with local movers and the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles to provide Austinites with important information about consumer safety during our busiest moving season.

Among the topics covered by speakers and professional movers were tips for hiring a reliable moving company and ways to recognize and avoid being scammed by movers using questionable tactics.

We hope you were able to attend this valuable (and fun) gathering — but just in case you missed it, here’s an overview of some important pointers to keep in mind when you’re planning a move.

Know the signs of potential trouble

There’s a big difference between a professional moving company and a moving broker. A professional mover will give you an in-person, on-site estimate of your moving costs — and the same company that provides the estimate will complete your move. A broker, on the other hand, will claim to represent one or more moving companies, and you won’t know who will be moving your possessions until the actual moving day.

Be sure to find out whether or not the person you’re working with represents an actual moving company. If they promise to find you the “best deal” among many movers, consider it a warning sign. Additionally, many brokers will ask you to pay an upfront fee before your move takes place — another red flag, and something you should absolutely refuse to do.

Recognize a scam when you see one

Dealing with a broker opens the door to a number of possible scams. The most common one begins with an estimate given over the telephone. A broker may ask you to walk through your home and describe the items you need moved. Quite frankly, there’s no reason for asking a customer to complete their own estimate — at least, no honest reason.

What generally happens in these cases is that the move ends up costing far more than the estimate that was given over the telephone; and the blame is put on you, the consumer, for incorrectly or incompletely listing your possessions. Even worse, dishonest movers have been known to hold entire households hostage until a substantial additional payment has been made.

Even a mover who promises a “guaranteed estimate” is worth a closer look. A guarantee from a ripoff artist is sure to be worthless. These guarantees are generally based on incomplete inventories of your possessions, so be absolutely sure any inventory your mover makes is accurate and complete.

How to avoid being taken for a ride

It’s simple, really. To make your move efficient and trouble-free, make sure you’re doing business with an honest, reputable company. Get recommendations from people you trust. Check online for customer complaints associated with company names. Consult review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List for genuine customer reviews.

Above all, find a mover you can trust to treat you with care and respect. With that in mind, we hope to be part of your move this summer!

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