Hiring a moving company: Tips for avoiding common mishaps

New York City's busiest moving season falls between winter and summer.
New York City’s busiest moving season falls between winter and summer. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Mark Wilson

New York’s busiest moving season falls between winter and the heat of summer, when many decide to pack up their property and hire movers.

Many, however, box their belongings with trepidation. After all, nearly everyone has had a bad moving experience or knows someone who has.

We turned to the experts – the moving companies themselves – for tips on how to avoid common mishaps:

1) Get a referral

To find a reputable company, begin by polling friends and family for recommendations, said Dan Heydebrand, co-owner of Lyft NYC Movers, a Manhattan-based moving business. He noted that many buildings have a suggested mover list, which includes companies that give the landlord kickbacks as an incentive for referring residents.

2) Look at reviews

Heydebrand likes Yelp because he believes its star ratings are spot-on and it has no membership fee. “Any company that has four or five stars, they’re going to want to keep it,” he said.

It’s best not to get deterred by one or two unhappy customers if most reviews are positive, according to Ruma Ferdous, a sales supervisor with Imperial Moving, also headquartered in Manhattan.

3) Insurance is a must

Make sure the moving company has a Department of Transportation insurance certificate, which is required at most buildings. That way, the landlords know they will be covered if the movers damage the elevator or another part of the building.

“If you ever talk to a mover and they say they can’t provide one, it’s because they’re not a legal company,” Heydebrand said.

4) Good service counts

Moving can be very stressful, so Ferdous said it is best to make sure the company will work well with you.

“You definitely don’t want to hire someone that doesn’t sound like they want to be there,” Ferdous said. “I’d look for a company who hires representatives and movers with a friendly vibe, who would go the extra mile.”

5) Get a paper trail

When you speak to a representative, take down their name and ask for a quote in writing, said Will Pelic, a sales representative with DUMBO Moving.

“When moving companies ask you to pay with cash, that company is trying to go over the books,” Pelic said. “In that case, it’s very hard to get the money back. There is no physical proof [of the transaction].”

6) Timing is tricky

Keep in mind that the end of the month is the busiest time for moving companies because that’s when most rental leases are up, Heydebrand advised.

He said moving in the middle of the month may help you lock in better rates.

Most businesses give a three-hour window of when they plan to arrive, so Pelic suggested calling them at 9 a.m. to get a better estimation.

If the moves are hours late, Ferdous said it is appropriate to hold them accountable.

“If the moving company fails to meet the time/date agreed upon, then movers should redeliver at their expense,” she said.