At first glance, hiring a professional NJ mover might seem easy. After all, there are dozens of companies to choose from that all tout affordable prices and good service. However, not everything you read on the internet is true. There are plenty of scam/unsavory moving companies who are more than happy to separate you from as much of your money as possible.
To reduce your chances of getting scammed, it’s important to plan and gather information before you hire your mover. If you want to make sure you’re hiring only the best NJ movers, then follow the steps below to avoid potential disaster.
Understand Your Needs
Before you even look into NJ movers, you first need to decide what kind of move you will do. Your options will depend on how much stuff you have to move, the distance you’re traveling, and your budget. If you are short on time and you have a flexible budget, a full service move might be a great option. The movers will help you pack, disassemble, and reassemble your furniture and, of course, load and unload your belongings.
Of course, a full service move is the most expensive option. These can cost upwards of $4,000 for a studio or one-bedroom with the price going up the more you have. You can also pack everything yourself and just hire movers to load and unload your boxes and furniture. Not only will this save you a lot of money, it also gives you the best of both worlds as you get to organize your boxes exactly how you like without dealing with the physical strains moving puts on your body.
For those on a very tight budget and/or don’t have a lot to move, the cheapest option is to hire a moving truck, which can cost as little as $150! You have more flexibility as you don’t have to stick to the mover’s timeline. However, this also puts the most responsibility on your shoulders. If you end up damaging your belongings or the building you’re moving into, you are responsible for the cost of repair.
Research and Shop Around
Now that you’ve figured out your needs and your budget, it’s time to shop around for local movers near you. A quick search should turn up plenty of options, but only note the companies that have good customer reviews, offer the services you need, and work in your area.
Once you’ve made your list, do a quick background check by looking them up on the Better Business Bureau or entering in their company name or USDOT number into the US Department of Transportation website. While you might not be able to read reviews, you can find pertinent information such as number of crashes, what type of cargo they are legally allowed to carry, if they are authorized to move specific items (movers should at least be authorized for household goods or HHG), and more. If the movers don’t have their numbers on their site, you can try searching by name. If they don’t pop up, you should probably cross the company off your list as all movers are required to register with the US Department of Transportation. Many states, including New Jersey, require movers to also register with the state they operate out of. If they’re not listed, it’s a good sign they are not a legitimate company.
Finally, look up customer reviews on Yelp and Google Reviews. Read both positive and negative reviews to get the most accurate picture. Some red flags to look out for include:
- A lot of damage complaints
- Consistent last-minute changes
- Unexpected delays
- Companies holding belongings hostage for money
While there will always be a handful of bad reviews, if you notice a trend of negative reviews you should cross them off your list. In general, a company with mostly positive reviews should be fine. Still, if you do see a review that says the company held their belongings hostage, you should reach out to the reviewer to ask further questions. This is a huge red flag and is not something you want to deal with. So ask the appropriate questions and find out the full story as best you can.
Of course, online reviews aren’t a replacement for word-of-mouth recommendations from people you know. Ask friends, family, co-workers what moving companies they recommend and which ones to avoid. Nothing beats personal experience!
Reach Out to a Few Select Movers
Once you’ve done your research and whittled down your list of movers, it’s time to contact them via email or telephone. Provide them with the essential information for your move and don’t forget to ask questions! There are a few fundamental questions you should ask moving companies before you book them:
- How long has your company been in business?
- Are you licensed and can you provide your license information?
- What kind of insurance or ‘valuation’ do you offer to protect my goods?
- Do you have the appropriate moving equipment for my job?
- Do you require a deposit?
- What is your cancellation/rescheduling policy?
- How do you prevent damage to my belongings?
- What happens if my items go missing or get broken?
- How do you handle disputes and claims?
- Can you provide a certificate of insurance?
A trustworthy moving company will be able to answer these questions with no hesitation. Make sure to pay attention and write down the answers to these questions. Also, pay attention to how they answer you. A polite and professional attitude is what you’re looking for. If they try to avoid the questions or, worse, get angry and start yelling, cross them off your list.
Even if the first movers seem perfect, go ahead and talk with the others on your list. You want to have as many good options as possible so you can compare and contrast their services and prices.
Get an Estimate
Keep in mind that in order to get the most accurate quote/estimate you need to provide as much information as possible to the movers. In the past, movers would do a home visit to see everything you needed to move as well as potential obstacles/issues they would need to deal with. With COVID-19 most movers are doing this all via a virtual walkthrough so make sure you show them everything! That includes mentioning whether you live in a walk-up or elevator building and if your old and/or new building will require a certificate of insurance. You should also ask if you will need to reserve parking spots or elevators on moving day as you don’t want to be charged extra because the movers couldn’t find a parking spot.
Once you have gotten the full estimate, read it over and make sure you understand everything. If there’s something in the estimate that you don’t understand, call the company and have them clarify why you are being charged a fee. After that, compare all of the estimates and your overall impressions of each moving company. Yes, it might be tempting to go with the lowest offer, but many scam movers lowball the estimate, so don’t go for the cheapest option, especially if you notice a lot of red flags!
Choose Your Movers
The best NJ movers for you should be obvious by the time you have reached this final step. All you have to do now is call them up, confirm the details, and sign the moving contract. The company should provide you with a Bill of Lading and an inventory list for your belongings – both of which are basic moving-related documents. Make sure to keep this with you during the entire move so that you can cross-reference everything once you’re in your new place.
On moving day, make sure you’re prepared and that you have packed and disassembled everything (if you’re not doing a full-service move). Stay focused and provide clear directions for getting to your new home and where to place the boxes and furniture in your new home. If the movers are late or something seems off, call the company immediately. You should also check the condition of your belongings on arrival and inform the movies if you notice any problems.
Finding the right movers for the job isn’t a difficult task, but it can be time-consuming. You should start looking for movers in NJ at least a month before your expected move date so you have enough time to do your research. Provided you didn’t skip any of the steps, you should have a stress-free moving experience. Also, don’t forget to leave a positive review on a third-party review site so other people who are moving can find a trustworthy moving company.
The movers asked for a deposit. Is this a red flag?
Not necessarily. Many moving companies will ask for a small deposit once you’ve agreed to the estimate and their terms. This can range from $50-$100. If a company asks for 50% or more for the deposit, that is definitely a red flag!
Can I negotiate moving costs?
Yes and no. If you have multiple offers on the table, you can leverage this to potentially get the movers you prefer to beat or match their competitors’ prices. You can also ask if they have monthly deals or, if you’re a veteran or active military employee, if they offer a military discount.
Will my final bill be higher if I had more items I needed to move than in the initial walkthrough?
It depends. If you are making a local NJ move, most movers will charge a flat hourly rate so one or two extra boxes won’t affect the final bill. Of course, if you have 20+ extra boxes and furniture, you can expect to get charged more as this will take more time to move. For long-distance moves, many movers charge by weight or cubic feet so in that case a couple extra boxes will change the final bill.