Moving can be very stressful. What can you do to make the whole experience easy and stress free?

They say the moving is the most stressful experience after giving birth. I gave birth to two children and I moved once and frankly speaking I would prefer to have two more children than to repeat the whole moving experience.

 Now finally it is over and I am left with several thousands in losses and an invaluable experience I would like to share.
Looking back I realize that I made EVERY possible mistake in a book. There is nobody to blame but myself for not doing proper research, but I hope this information will help other people. So let’s see

Mistake #1
Getting quote online. Receiving the estimate over the phone. Paying 10% deposit before signing or even seeing a contract.

Apparently the moving industry is full of dishonest companies like no other. All of these companies get new clients through Internet. All they need is a web-site with phony testimonials from “grateful” clients and big promises they cannot be hold accountable for. You cannot trust the multiple reviews on different websites because a lot of these reviews are written by moving companies themselves. Very often they don’t even have their own transportation or don’t have the license for the interstate move so they will still take your money and pass you to another company. Their first step is to lure you in with low estimate which has nothing to do with the final price. Until it is said in a contract that this estimate is binding they don’t have any obligations to keep their promises and they know it. My estimate was $2400 and I ended up paying $7600 so beware.

What you should do:
Treat your move in an old-fashioned way. Call the local realtor company and ask them for references, Check for the moving companies that have been in business for long time. Check the and try to work only with top rating companies. Call them and ask for a representative to come to the house and estimate your move.  Don’t sign anything or put any money down until you have the fixed estimate. By law the moving company has to give you “Your rights and responsibilities while you move” booklets. Make sure you read it. Go to the office for finalizing the deal. Make sure the company is legit. After you decided on a company go online. Look for the reviews; check how easy it would be to file the complaint in case anything goes wrong.

Mistake #2
Just 2 words: packing materials.

Moving companies charge a lot for packing materials and it is a case even with the good ones. Small box that sells in Staples for$3 will cost you $15 or more if the moving company is going to pack your things and they use a lot of them. It is step two to get more money out of you.  I knew about it and tried to pack everything myself but my movers told me that my packaging was unacceptable according to their standards and they had to repack everything. I paid $1800 for packing materials and half of my things still ended up being damaged.

What you should do:
If money is not an object let the company pack your staff. They do it professionally and guarantee that all your belongings are going to be safe but it can add as much as 20 cents per pound to your price. Otherwise pack as much as possible yourself. Talk to the company representative about their standards. Most of the time big storage plastic bins are acceptable and they cost from $4 to $10 at any household store. After your move you can still use them for storing practically everything and sell extras at the garage sale. I also used boxes from liquor stores for my books because they are extremely sturdy and most liqueur stores would be happy to give them to you for free (the same boxes I ended up paying $15 a piece). Don’t forget to tape everything and have a supply of tape available.

Mistake #3.
Not going to the weight station.
Since I didn’t have the binding estimate, I was given the weight certificate of the empty truck and after they finished loading my belongings the truck was supposed to be taken to the same weight station and be weighted again to calculate the actual weight of the load. You have the right to be at the weight station but I just trusted the moving company and didn’t do it.

I didn’t receive the final weight certificate upon delivery and it took three more weeks to finally get it faxed to me. The dates on the certificate were not corresponding with the moving dates so I believe the company fabricated the document.

What you should do:
First of all if you have done everything I recommended earlier you shouldn’t worry about this step. You have your binding estimate so you don’t really care what an actual weight of your load is.  If you didn’t, just make sure you receive the weight certificate for the empty truck which is supposed to be taken the same day and then follow the truck to the weight station to receive the weight certificate for the loaded truck. In this case you have the proof of the actual weight and know exactly how much you have to pay. If you didn’t go to the station and you are suspicious about the final number you have the right (read the booklet!) to request the truck to be weighted again before they unload it at the final destination.

Mistake #4
Giving in and paying 80% of new estimate before the delivery and the rest of the money upon the delivery before they unloaded the truck.

That is what dishonest moving companies do next. They have all your belongings so they call you with a new estimate which is not even close to the original. If you refuse to pay 80% of it right away they say that it is going to be stored at $200 a day storage facility until you do pay. English is not my first language but I think you can call it blackmail.

What you should do:
Don’t pay. By the law they can’t make you pay more than 110% of unbinding estimate. They know it too so that is why they are trying to get their money now, before they deliver. Try to make them deliver your belonging and get the police officer at your final destination. Have your booklet and contract or e-mail with the original estimate ready. Remember, by law you do not have to pay more than 110% of unbinding estimate and the moving company cannot have your staff hostage.  If you could not persuade them to deliver your staff without paying, at least hold on to the rest of your money. The moving company would want to get the full payment before they unload, but there is no reason you have to succumb to it while you have them at your final destination.

Mistake# 6.
Signing the contract before the moving company unloaded the truck.

I don’t have the section “why” because it was just plain stupid of me. My excuse I was exhausted of 24 hours driving with 2 crying babies and dealing all the way with the moving company. I just was happy to see my staff and couldn’t wait to unpack and settle in a new place

What should you do:
Never sign anything before all your staff is unloaded and unpacked, you checked everything for damages and put all the damages on the inventory list. If they assemble the furniture you should be in the room overseeing the process, otherwise you will end up on a floor when you go to the bed that night.

Finally just a suggestion: if you do not have a house full of valuable antics and glass objects, do it yourself.  When I moved again after 3 months I ordered a storage container at and I packed everything at my own pace. They charge you a little more then a hundred for a month depending on the size of the pod, and then you just call them to arrange a date and time to pick it up. They bring it to your new address and you have all time in the world to unpack it. The service was absolutely flawless. They have AAA rating at and absolutely deserve it. It would be good to know some basic techniques how to pack efficiently and have couple of friends to help you with heavy staff. The whole move of the same household cost me $420.

 My story did not end here. I would have several months of damage claims, official complaints, and small court lawsuits. I did not get my money back yet and I probably won’t but I hope I put enough out there to warn other people from working with this moving company. I also hope that you won’t repeat my story. But if something like that happened to you already read my next article “how to strike back at dishonest moving company