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Household Moves

Hiring a Mover

Whether you are moving across town or across the globe, proper planning can save you time, money and stress. One of the most important plans you will have to make is for the relocation of your household goods and personal effects. Unless you are going to self haul your possessions in a rental trailer, this means hiring a moving company. The mover you select will be a key player in your relocation. The local moving agency will estimate your moving cost, perform your packing and origin services, arrange load and delivery schedules and coordinate the unpacking and destination services. If you hire a reliable mover you can expect a good move. If you do not, then be prepared for the consequences.

Many of the moving companies listed in your local phone directory are affiliates of a nation wide van line network. These agencies are usually locally owned and have contractual agreements with a nationally known carrier. They often schedule long distance moves through a nation-wide dispatch office where teams of dispatchers coordinate and schedule orders for a large fleet of moving vans. Any moving van in the dispatch system which has space available and is going to your destination may be assigned to haul your order. Long distance relocations require more lead time than local moves and a flexible delivery window is needed so planners can combine orders and maximize the use of van space.

Some local movers are independently licensed to haul shipments within the state (intra-state) or between states (inter-state) within the US. They haul shipments on their own vans and have complete control over the scheduling; however they do not have the same volume of orders as the nationwide van lines and they often must wait for sufficient tonnage to warrant a trip before they will dispatch a van. Frequently, local movers will act as independent haulers when moving locally or within the state and they act as agents of a major van line for out of state moves only. Your order for service and bill of lading will indicate the license and tariff under which your shipment is being hauled. For your own protection, you should require the mover to show you proof of insurance, workmen’s compensation coverage, and valid authority to haul from the Department of Transportation.

Be very careful in dealing with internet moving brokers who offer big discounts. A cheap move can be like a cheap tire and you may not get what you expect. Moving brokers are usually freelance agents who do not own or operate moving vans. They book orders over the internet and then search for a van operator who will agree to handle the shipment. Brokers may require a substantial (and, of course, non-refundable) deposit and they often do not guarantee their pricing or scheduling, so if they cannot find a carrier on time, the van may not be there on moving day, and if you do not have a binding contract, your bill may be higher than you expect.

At least three to four weeks in advance of your move you should get formal written proposals from two or more competing movers and then select the company with whom you feel the most comfortable. Keep in mind you will be entrusting all of your worldly possessions to a company about which you probably know very little. Price is an important factor, but it should not be the only consideration. The professionalism of the mover, his reputation and his ability to provide quality service and satisfactory scheduling are also very important. Always require your mover to put his pricing and his promises in writing. Be sure he signs it and be sure you read the fine print.

Your Rights & Responsibilities

Interstate movers are required to provide you with basic information about their tariff and regulations prior to asking you to sign their order for service. The US Dept. of Transportation’s Rights and Responsibilities booklet offers a review of the regulations governing movers and the forms and procedures which are common in the industry such as descriptive inventories, payment arrangements, bill of lading contracts, scheduling, mover liability, claims and dispute resolution.

Sus Derechos En Español – US DOT
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For local relocations or intrastate moves, this Rights and Responsibilities is the Texas DOT’s approved advisory.

Sus Derechos En Español – TX DOT

Understanding how a mover operates can prevent expense and inconvenience, so don’t discard the information before you read it. The more you know, the more likely you are to make good choices.

Helpful Resources

Download the following brochures and articles for additional information on household moves.