The truth about moving companies

Illustration of two  moving men moving a sofa with a cat on it.

Many people are looking to move this year. To get started, they’ll look for the best reviews and the best prices, trusting that various sites will guide them in the right direction. Unfortunately, several homeowners will find out that they shouldn’t have trusted the moving company they hired, or the “helpful sites” where they found them.

Every day, more and more consumers file complaints against moving companies. The reason why is simple: more moving companies are scamming homeowners than ever before. These scams include missing items, price changes, belongings being held hostage, and additional payments. However, we want to help!

At Zaarly, you’ll never have to worry about moving scams. Not only do we vet every business we work with, we continually evaluate their performance. Zaarly also holds every business on our platform accountable for each job.

two moving boxes on a table

The Most Common Moving Scams

We want you to be empowered when you are hiring a mover - if you hire a Zaarly mover or not. These are the biggest scams you might encounter in your move:

Quote & Deposit

The most common moving scam is called "quote and deposit." Quote and deposit" mean that a company gives you a quote and then immediately asks for a deposit. You pay that deposit, and when moving day comes around, the mover doesn’t show up.

Changing the Quote

After loading ALL of your stuff into a moving van, the mover tells you that the final price will be more than the quote. For example, a mover might tell you that the quote they gave you was based on the estimated weight of your belongings, but that the actual weight went over the weight estimate, and there will be an additional charge.

The Hostage Scam

In a hostage scams, everything seems to be going great. Movers show up to your home, load up all of your stuff and then drive off, but when you get to your new house, your belongings are not there. Next thing you know, you get a text saying that they can finish the job when you pay another fee to have them delivered. There are even some scammers who use this to steal and sell all of your belongings.

How do you prevent one of these scams from happening to you?

The Final Price

Person.placing books in a moving box

How to Spot a Shady Company:

Beware of any company that seems to have popped up overnight, especially if they have dozens or even hundreds of positive reviews..

Watch out for signs of a fly-by-night company.Check the company website. Is there an address? Do they list their policies and practices? Does it say anything about their insurance or registration?

Be skeptical of requests that don't sound right. If a mover asks for a large down payment or full payment, avoid them. If a company says it won't return your items without more money - that's time to contact your local Better Business Bureau. Depending on the situation, you might have to contact local law enforcement.

Finally, get everything in writing. One of the advantages of using Zaarly is that all of your communication with our service providers is saved in your Zaarly profile. We have a team dedicated to checking to make sure your job is going well, and if something goes wrong, they have all the information right there .

Protect yourself from online scams — this is one you’ll want to send to friends and family who might be more susceptible to online scams.

Don't send money to someone you have not met face-to-face (unless through a secure service like Zaarly). When any business asks you to wire money, it is most likely a scam.

Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments in unsolicited emails. Sometimes you innocently fill out a form online and give your email address. Most of the time, those companies will sell your name (and email). That’s when you'll start to see a lot of spam in your inbox.

Resist the pressure to act quickly. Scammers will often tell you that whatever they are offering you is for a limited time. If they aren't cool with you taking a few days to make a decision, they are probably trying to scam you.

Be sure to pay using secure and traceable transactions. At Zaarly, we give everyone the ability to stop payment within 24 hours of when your job is complete. Ask the company you are working with what their protections they have for your payment.

Think before you tweet! It's best to keep anything identifiable about your home and your move off of social media. Pods, moving trucks, and homes that might be in transition, become prominent targets for thieves.

How to protect your belongings — and a warning about packing on your own.

Keep an inventory of your belongings. Make a complete and detailed inventory of your entire property. Number all of your boxes (1 of X).

Make sure your boxes are packed well. If you pack your boxes, the items in that box ARE NOT covered for loss or damage of contents - unless it can be proven that there was negligence on the part of the mover. As you might imagine, this usually doesn't work out for the homeowner. If you want to pack your belongings, definitely consider purchasing your insurance.

Ask lots of questions. A good company will be ready and happy to answer questions or concerns you might have if the company isn't great about answering questions - probably time to find another moving company.

Why are there so many problems with moving companies?

It seems easy - you decide you want to move. Great! Next, what do you do? If you're like most people, you search for "movers."

two moving boxes on a table with books

Certainly, all of the movers you find from a search engine are trustworthy...right?

You would think that the search engine has filtered out any company with F ratings on the BBB or companies that have bad reviews. Unfortunately, that's not the case at all, and there is a high chance that the link that you are about to click on for "Movers near me!" aren't movers at all, but a connection to a call center. These call centers use some pretty fancy tricks to make it look like a legit, local moving company.

These are called lead generators; basically, they sell your information to the highest bidder. Someone in a call center sends out texts and makes calls to offer your information to contractors that no one has vetted and no one has vetted. When you fill out a form that looks like you are getting a free quote, you are sending your information to a call center. That call center tells moving companies they have had a "solid bid," and it can be theirs for the right price!

Your info might cost $90 for the highest bidder. It might be worth $300. And it might be worth $5. Regardless, when they get your information, they will no doubt be contacting you - and they will probably be very pushy about it - after all, they just paid for your phone number. Meanwhile, you think the entire time that you reached out to a reputable company, and you might end up hiring them because of much misleading information.

"I'm not exaggerating when I say these guys have people in every large and midsize city in the United States," said John Ware, an assistant United States attorney in St. Louis, speaking of lead-gen practices.

The tricky part of this is that lead gen happens on some service provider directory sites. These sites look like you can research and find companies near you. This is not exactly the case.

The funnel for lead gen sites makes it feel like you're in the driver's seat. What happens is that you find a mover, fill out some information (and usually sign up for the site), and send an email to the business. But you aren’t emailing the business, you’re emailing the lead gen company. They tell the business (that you wanted to contact) that they have a lead, and the company will sell them your information for a $ amount. If you've got a bigger home or have a job that will cost more, your information will fetch more money.

When you are looking for a moving company, beware of lead gen and beware of scammers.

Are you a victim of a scam?

To report a moving scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker.

Are you moving during the Coronavirus outbreak?

The American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) has provided Guidance for Consumers Moving During the Coronavirus Outbreak. While it is common sense to follow the CDC guidelines, it's best to ask your movers how they are handling the CDC protocol anway. Make sure they have a written-out plan and that you feel comfortable with.

We have some tips for social-distancing and hiring home services.

Zaarly service providers moving a table up a flight of stairs.

How the Zaarly Platform Works:

At Zaarly, when you reach out to a service provider, you are immediately sending a message directly to the service provider. We don't charge anyone for leads. Everyone on Zaarly pays the same % of a completed job. No one pays for placement–you see the companies that are getting the best reviews, first.

You can reach out to as many service providers as you like, and those small businesses won't be stuck paying for a lead for a job they'll never get.

Transparency is part of Zaarly’s core values. We continually analyze our data to help you feel empowered when it comes to your move. We’ll walk you through pricing data and what to expect for your upcoming move!

Ready to book your move with a trusted, Zaarly service provider? Reach out today, and they'll get back to you quickly! Reach out now!