Whether you've picked an established firm or a man with a van, it's best to be on your movers' good side. You're relying on them, after all, to schlep everything that matters to you to your next abode. Here are the major faux pas to avoid so your move goes very smoothly (give or take a broken dish or glass):
1. Not packing all your stuff
You can pay movers to do the packing for you (or have them do a couple of rooms), but you can't expect to do any of it if you haven't paid for it and scheduled it in advance.
"Any time a customer commits to doing something themselves, like packing their own boxes, and doesn’t get the job done, it causes problems," says Kelly Eidson, co-founder of moving app Moveline. "When services get added at the last minute, it slows down the job because not only does the crew need to perform the work, it also adds time because the company has to re-negotiate the price, and in some cases, run out to pick up the materials needed, like boxes, that they didn’t plan on."
Quick fix: Make sure you're realistic about how much you can get done. If you don't think you'll be able to pack everything yourself, book them ahead of time.
2. Not packing your stuff properly
If your boxes are inhumanely heavy and fragile items tossed haphazardly into boxes, you're in for a world of move-in hurt.
"We had a case recently where a client tossed all of his dishes in a box without paper and, of course, by the time they got to the new place they were broken," says Pedro Sanchez, a dispatcher at The Velvet Touch moving company. "The client wanted to blame us, but if we had done the packing, we would have packed it all safely."
Remember the stragglers, or they may get left behind, too. "Do not leave clothes in your dresser or chest of drawers, don't forget to unplug your electronics, leave linens on the bed, or pack a large box full of books instead of spreading out through smaller boxes," says Dejon Reid, a senior relocation consultant with FlatRate Moving.
Quick fix: Remember as you're packing that someone needs to carry these things. And they can't not break (or lose) something if you didn't pack up properly.
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3. Keeping quiet on the state of your furniture
If you have furniture that's broken or held together by glue, and you don't tell the movers, you're going to spend more time on moving day dealing with the item when it falls apart, and potentially getting into an argument afterward about who's responsible.
Quick fix: Be completely honest about your furniture's condition. Movers can take precautions, such as wrapping the item, to make sure it holds together en route. Plus, you avoid arguments.
4. Forgetting that baby grand needs to fit on the truck
If you have to add big pieces of furniture or extra boxes on moving day that weren't previously accounted for, the price will likely need to be renegotiated, and that means everything will take longer. Sometimes, a moving company can't even handle certain large things, and a special company will need to hoist these items (examples include sofas larger than 10 feet, some large armoires and some artworks).
"There's a reason we ask for such detailed information ahead of moving day," says Erica Manney of CityMove, a site that connects users with movers who bid on their jobs. "Movers are giving a quote based on what you told them you had."
Quick fix: Do a thorough walk-through of your apartment and note everything inside before you sign off. Some oft-forgotten items are bicycles, suitcases, under-the-bed stuff, vaccuum cleaners and anything stored in the basement, according to movers at FlatRate.
Many moving companies will come to your place (for free) to do an inventory and give you an estimate. If you have pieces that are particularly large, ask the company if they can move them. If not, they can likely recommend an outside firm.
5. Winging the unloading
"I can recall times where during the unload you ask the customer where to put all the boxes, so they point to this big bare wall [and] for half an hour you stack 50 boxes along that wall," says George DeStefano, an onsite sales respresentative at FlatRate Moving. "Then you walk in with the couch and you ask where they want it and of course they point to the same wall! So you have to drop the couch, move those 50 boxes to the other wall and all this time, you're thinking, 'This looks like where the TV should go.'"
Quick fix: Label the boxes with the rooms in which you want the movers to leave them. While the guys unload the truck, take a quick look through the apartment to make sure everything is likely to fit where you want.
Movers understandably don't like clients breathing down their necks. While it's okay to watch what's happening (especially if you're having the movers pack for you, and want to give them directions regarding what goes where), remember that they do this for a living and don't need how-to advice.
Quick fix: If you feel like you can't help micromanaging, go out and grab the guys some coffee. They'll appreciate it and it'll get you out of their way.
7. Asking if the price includes tips (or not tipping at all)
The answer is no: the quoted price never includes tips. "That question sets a mover up to say no and almost puts them in a place where they're asking for tips. It's not fair," says Manney.
Movers say they also don't appreciate when clients offer to pay for lunch instead of tipping. Lunch, snacks and water are always appreciated, but a tip is preferred.
Quick fix: Before the movers show up, hit the ATM and get cash. Fifteen to 25 percent of the cost of the move is standard, and the movers will divvy it up among the crew. Don't ask them about it at all.