Moving day can be can be an exciting, yet daunting event. Whether it’s across town or cross country, you need to be confident that your belongings are protected and make it to your new home in one piece.
For those looking to avoid the hassle and hire professional help, it’s important to understand whether the company you’re working with is an actual moving company or a moving broker as they are not the same thing.
A moving company is an end-to-end moving provider that owns its trucks and equipment, typically operates out of a bricks and mortar warehouse, directly manages its team of employees and drivers and oversees the transport of your household goods every step of the way. It is required that moving companies are licensed, bonded and fully insured. The law mandates that carriers register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and operate under a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) number.
Whereas, brokers operate as middlemen between the customer and the moving company by “selling” moves on the open marketplace. As outlined below, working with moving brokers comes with a high level of risk.
What Are Moving Brokers?
In summary, a moving broker is not a mover. Brokers do not assume responsibility to transport your household goods. Upfront fees are collected and they do not own any of their equipment or trucks – everything is outsourced.
Because moving brokers lack a certain level of accountability as middlemen, they tend to focus on closing the deal before ensuring that all the finer details are ironed out. This lack of accountability typically lends itself to a poor and frustrating customer. It’s important to read moving brokers reviews to fully understand the associated risks.
Common Issues with Brokers
Scams – With the rise of technology, moving broker scams have become rampant. Posing as legitimate interstate movers of moving brokers, scammers develop seemingly legitimate online businesses that tend to pass the “sniff test” upon first glance. Falling victim can be a catastrophic mistake that follows you beyond the move.
Lack of Liability – Brokers are not responsible for the actual moving service. Because the trucks, movers and moving equipment are not owned or facilitated by the broker, they are not liable for theft or damage to personal property as a result of faulty equipment or human error.
Pricing Transparency – Bait-and-switch tactics are often deployed by moving brokers. It’s not uncommon for brokers to sandbag their quotes, often underrepresenting the scale of the move to the moving company so they can close the deal as soon as possible. Once the moving company accepts the terms and shows up on moving day the agreed upon price is commonly revised to a higher dollar amount to accommodate for misquoting the original price. At this point, it’s too late. The broker has already collected their fee, and you’re forced to pay the higher price.
Multiple Points of Contact – Once the moving brokers collect their fee, the customer takes the backseat. If something goes wrong, who does the customer contact? The moving company or the broker? More times than not, this ends up in a game of hot potato with little to no actual resolution.
When weighing the risks, the prospective mover must ask themselves if working with a moving broker is really worth it, or if partnering with a full-service moving company is the way to go.
What Are Full Service Moving Companies?
Professional full-service moving companies, such as Atlas Transfer & Storage, have the knowledge, resources, reputation and longevity to handle any type of move. Local or long distance, residential or corporate, full service moving companies are equipped to not only handle the moving, but also the packing/unpacking and custom crating services if needed. Atlas Transfer & Storage also provides short and long term storage to accommodate the needs of our customers. Safety should also be a top concern when sourcing a prospective full service moving company. Customers are also encouraged to verify the safety record of a potential mover on the FMCSA’s SAFER mover database.
Should I Choose A Broker or Moving Company?
Before deciding to move forward with a moving broker, it is important that you understand the limitations of a moving broker.
- Reliability – We routinely receive phone calls from panicked customers who went with a moving broker and are in desperate need of our help. On the scheduled time and day of the move, the truck and moving team did not show up to move them. Most of the time there is nothing we can do to help.
- Mispriced Cost Estimates – It’s common for brokers to lowball the price of the move so that the customer will sign the contract, leaving the customer to navigate unchartered waters with the moving team shows up on move day.
- Large Upfront Deposits – Brokers require a large upfront deposit which typically includes their fee as they get paid before the actual service is completed.
- Lack of Accountability – If goods are lost, stolen, or damaged, no one is technically held responsible. With a full service company affiliated with a van line, there is a level of accountability, trust and professionalism that you do not get from a moving broker.
- Poor Communication – Because brokers are third parties, your primary contact point isn’t with the actual moving company. This adds a layer of complication and slows down the response time.
- Trust – When you select a full service move with a reputable moving carrier, there is a level of trust and confidence that you gain from choosing a company with bricks and mortar.
- Safety – What is the safety record of the moving company selected by the broker?
- Slightly Less Expensive – At first glance a move through a broker may appear less expensive. But the moving company may not show up on the pre-arranged day/time, they may take a deposit and not return your calls, and they may cause excessive damage with no recourse.
A customer reached out to our company earlier this year to see if we could help find a resolution to their items being held hostage with a moving broker. We recently received the update below.
Interstate Move from Southern California to Texas
“We ended up losing everything we owned furniture, photographs clothing you name it, it was gone. They refused to let us see if our belongings were still there. I refused to pay them anymore than what we had paid them without knowing if our stuff was still there. They had said in other emails that they were selling off our stuff so that’s why I was so skeptical. Also our attorney did not believe them either. Horrible way to learn who not to use. I found out that my parents had known Tom’s parents so guess we should have used you guys from the start. We have spent probably $35k replacing furniture and clothing so far. We will never get pictures and items like my Steelers Super Bowl rings back.”
Risk vs. Reward
Working with a moving broker is very risky. If accountability, transparency and reliability are high priorities, select a full service move with a qualified moving carrier. Don't be taken advantage of and Request a Free Quote from a trusted moving partner today.