When relocating to a new town people have a lot to worry about, including how the movers are going to do their job.

There are lots of horror stories from consumers who’ve had bad experiences with movers.

To prevent that from happening, you need to know how to protect yourself during a move.

Before your possessions ever get to a storage warehouse, before boxes are ever put on a truck and before the first box is packed, you need to know about the risks of damage, inflated charges and loss of items.

“There’s nobody in your life who will hold you more vulnerable than a mover will,” said Pam Stanley who is the Executive Director of the North Carolina Movers Association.

Just ask Sandy Hindsley who experienced a moving nightmare when she relocated from Kentucky to Maryland using a Raleigh-based mover.

“I spent days in tears going through our stuff,” said Hindsley.

Her movers arrived days late. Their original truck was too small. She found many of her possessions were damaged when they arrived in Maryland.

Hindsley had contracted with a moving broker to take her from Kentucky to Maryland.

The broker sold the contract to the Raleigh-based moving company to do her interstate move.

The N.C. Movers Association says brokering is a practice consumers have to be careful about using.

“They look like they’re a moving company, but they are actually putting your information out there to a bunch of movers to see who gives the lowest price,” said Stanley.

In Hindsley’s case, the broker gave her a quote on the phone and the price changed as soon as the movers arrived and found there were more items than were originally calculated for on the phone.

Stanley says this is a fairly common practice for brokers, but not for real moving companies because movers will come to a home to survey the possessions.

Hindsley says the broker gave her the estimate on the phone.

When you move across the country, Stanley says a broker needs make sure the estimate is done in person.

“For interstate moves across state lines, you have to have an inside on-site estimate,” Stanley said. “If you’re not getting one, they’re making you sign something to waive your rights to that.”

Whether you’re moving across state lines or within the state, your mover needs to do an inventory which you have to sign and then check again upon arrival.

“At (the) destination your driver and you will have the inventory and you’ll be asked to do a checkout sheet,” said Josh Chapman who is the manager of Excel Moving and Storage.

Things do get broken during moves and there are two kinds of protection movers offer.

“When you talk about damage, make sure you know the level of liability you signed up for,” said Chapman.

Basic protection at 60 cents per pound per item is offered free. Consumers pay extra for what’s called “full-value protection.” 

Stanley offers an example why basic protection may not be such a good deal.

“A 48-inch flat screen TV weighs 40 pounds,” said Stanley. “If you get the 60 cents per pound per article coverage and the mover breaks that TV –- their legal liability is 40 pounds times 60 cents or $24.”

Movers are regulated by two different agencies.

Movers who work within the state are regulated by the North Carolina Utilities Commission, but companies who move across state lines are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

CBS 17 found many complaints made to the North Carolina Attorney General’s office about movers had to be forwarded to either the federal or the state utilities commission because the issues involved were out of the attorney general’s jurisdiction.

Before you move, make sure you get at least three estimates each of which needs to be done in your home.

Also, do your research. 

Among the precautions you should take:

  • Look online for complaints and reviews
  • Make sure your mover has the proper legal certifications
  • Don’t sign any receipt releasing the liability of your mover or agents

“You have a complete stranger in a truck driving off with everything you own, so you need to know whose truck it is and where they are taking your stuff,” said Stanley.

Federal officials provide a moving checklist which can help with both interstate and in-state moving.

Most importantly, do not let your move happen in isolation. You need to be involved in your move, so be an active participant with the driver and moving crew. 

Helpful links regarding your move:

The North Carolina Utilities Commission

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Federal officials also have a list of certified interstate movers 

Federal officials have all interstate moving company complaints filed with the agency

How to file complaints with the state utilities commission

How to file complaints with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

North Carolina Movers Association list of accredited movers

Here’s the listing of movers who hold a certificate from the N.C. Utilities Commission and are legal to do moves within North Carolina. The commission updates this list monthly.