Chicago Relocation

Make your next move a smooth ride

May 1, 2009

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Comments from my friend and colleague Ben Ivory, Sr. VP for Graebel:




More than 40 million Americans move each year and the summer moving season is right around the corner. Whether you’re relocating down the street or across the country, it’s important to select a reputable moving company before the decision comes back to haunt you.


Incompetent, deceptive and unlicensed movers are out there. Thousands of people each year fall prey to theft, extensive hidden costs, and bait-and-switch tactics. But, you can protect yourself by spending time researching your movers and asking the right questions.


“Selecting a mover shouldn’t be a 15-minute decision,” explains Ben Ivory, Senior Vice President for Graebel in Chicago “You’re looking for someone you can trust with your family heirlooms, the items you’ve spent years collecting and the belongings that make up a big part of your life.”


Since 1950, the Graebel Companies have relocated more than one million people, and as the largest privately-owned relocation company, Graebel offers these tips to help consumers avoid getting burned.


Learn from others – get references.

Start your search for moving companies by asking friends, family, and neighbors, even your real estate broker for references. Look for companies that have been in business for a number of years, as longevity shows they know how to treat customers. Ask the moving company for references – and actually call them.


Know your mover’s background.

Use reliable third-party sources like the Better Business Bureau, Department of Transportation, and American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) and the Illinois Movers and Warehousemens Association to check your mover’s background and complaint history. If you’re moving from one state to another, confirm your mover is registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and has a DOT number – it’s the law.


Ask yourself if they look the part.

You’re looking to hire a moving professional – make sure they are just that. Web sites and collateral should provide licensing, offer valuable moving tips, spell-out possible warranties, describe if crews are background checked and trained to perform duties, and supply a local physical address. Materials should look professional, not random, sloppy photocopies, and, never choose a mover solely on a web site.


“Consumers need to take caution when using the Internet to find a moving company,” said AMSA President Linda Bauer Darr. “Just because a mover has a web site, it doesn’t mean they are licensed or insured; just that they paid for the site. The web site may look like a million bucks, but it may end up steering you toward a mover who is out to cheat you.”


Get more than one estimate.

Never select a mover on price alone. By gathering three written estimates, you can identify unrealistically low prices that could mean extra charges later. Compare estimates and all other services for a thorough picture of your total costs, and always require a physical in-home estimate.  


“Seeing firsthand the size and quantity of your belongings is the only way to effectively estimate costs,” explains Graebel’s Ben Ivory. “Also, movers are legally required to deliver your goods for no more than 10-percent above a non-binding estimate unless the consumer changes the scope of services after the estimate was provided.” 


Weigh your decision carefully.

Movers should estimate costs based on several factors, with weight ranking high. Before your goods are packed onto the truck, request a weight ticket of the empty or partially-full (if you’re sharing a load) truck. Once your goods are onboard, obtain a “heavy” weight – before the addition of fuel or any other goods. Subtract the light from the heavy weight. This process ensures you’re paying only for the actual weight of your goods.


Safeguard yourself from damage and loss.

Your goods are not covered by your mover’s liability insurance. Movers are only liable to pay 60 cents/pound for damaged or lost goods, unless you opt for more coverage. You may choose to pay for full replacement protection through your mover or purchase insurance from a third-party then carefully read coverage terms. Check with your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance as you may be eligible for protection through them.


If storage is necessary, visit the mover’s warehouse beforehand to ensure facilities are in good condition or exist. This see-for-yourself step can also help avoid doing business with a rogue mover.


Pay attention to deposits.

If your mover requires an upfront deposit or pre-payment in cash, stop the move.


Demand answers to important questions.

Always ask about additional fees and get answers in writing. Additional labor, shuttle trucks, stairs, parking challenges, and other accommodations may increase your estimates. Never let your mover leave before you receive a written copy of your contract, inventory, any possible guarantees, and warrantees. You should also ask for your driver’s full name, driver’s license id, truck number, and cell phone for easy contact during the move.


Set your expectations.

Federal law requires movers to provide you with a copy of “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move,” when an interstate move is involved. Read the entire booklet as it explains what to expect from your mover and what you need to do to ensure a smooth move.


Reference the sources listed in this article at:







·         Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move




Ben Ivory, Graebel Relocation

Photo: Ben Ivory, Graebel




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