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What's your first move? Finding the right mover

September 07, 2003|Marnell Jameson

Even with tougher laws to protect consumers against rogue movers, industry experts say the best way to avoid problems is to hire a reputable mover.

* Be sure the firm is licensed and insured. Even if the mover's literature says the company is licensed, check with the state's Public Utilities Commission.

* Call the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been made against the company.

* Be sure the mover comes to the home to write the estimate. Don't accept a phone or verbal estimate; get it in writing.

* Be sure the contract includes a "not to exceed" clause (required for intrastate moves), and that you and the moving company sign the contract before moving begins. Keep a copy of everything.

* Be sure you receive and read the PUC booklet that outlines your rights, which movers are required to give to their customers.

* If you add services, such as for packing or storage, or the mover says there will be additional charges for special handling, get a written change order specifying the extra charges before proceeding.

* Beware of firms that advertise on the Internet because Web sites can be deceiving. Be sure the companies have real addresses and real trucks.

For more moving tips check the American Moving & Storage Assn. Web site, www.moving.org, or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration site, www.fmcsa.dot.gov.

If you encounter problems during a move, call the California Moving & Storage Assn. at (800) 672-1415, within California, or (877) 672-1415, outside California.

For interstate moves, you may also call the safety administration's hotline at (888) 368-7238.

-- Marnell Jameson

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