A New Yorker's guide to hiring a reliable local mover in NYC
- Read reviews to help you shortlist movers based on real customer experience
- Be sure to ask whether they use a flat fee or hourly pricing model
- Confirm they have the appropriate certificates and insurance required for NYC
Piece of Cake Moving & Storage
Moving in New York City is a right of passage. There are surprisingly many unique moving day considerations specific to NYC that you need to manage, such as tracking down a certificate of insurance for your building, scheduling the service elevator, navigating tight walk ups, and following NYC's complicated parking rules.
No wonder most New Yorkers hand over the logistics of their moving day to a professional mover. If you want to ensure that you and your precious belongings make it to your new home in one piece, you will want to put some effort into hiring the right moving company.
Read on for tips from NYC’s highest-rated local mover Piece of Cake Moving & Storage on hiring a reliable mover in NYC.
This is part one of a four-part series. Part two features a guide to packing for a move in NYC. Part two features a guide to packing for a move in NYC, part three provides a New Yorker's guide to planning a long-distance, out-of-state move, and part four teaches you how to choose the right storage solution.
Create a shortlist of movers based on online reviews and word of mouth
It’s an often overlooked first step in searching for a reliable moving company in NYC, but with so much choice, it's a good idea to read reviews to help you shortlist movers based on real customer experience.
Look for a solid number of reviews, consistent five-star ratings and up-to-date feedback about the experience. Watch for red flags like companies with no recent reviews, or only a few reviews in the past one to two months. Also look at how the moving company responds to customer feedback and handles any concerns.
Ask your friends and family if they moved recently and if they had a recommendation. From this research, compile a short list of three companies that stand out to you and contact them directly.
Check their certifications and licenses
To operate legally, your mover should have insurance coverage across all areas of their business and operations such as general liability, coverage for their employees and contractors and insurance coverage for certificates of insurance and valuation coverage for your belongings if they get damaged.
Your mover is required to have a Federal Identification number from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). You can check the company’s USDOT number on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) website. In New York State, make sure your mover is licensed by the New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner (NYSDOT) with the appropriate permits such as authority to transport household goods. The FMCSA requires long distance movers to be registered with them and specify what kind of cargo and area companies can operate in.
Reliable movers pay attention to detail in the booking process
Your first conversation with a moving company should involve a discussion of your inventory list and moving day details. While this may seem time consuming, the more diligent the company, the less likely you are to have additional charges spring up on moving day because some items were not accounted for in your initial quote and booking price.
You should also be asked about any specialty items like oversized or valuable pieces that need special attention. It is also your responsibility to be honest and share information about all the items in each room and area of your home that you are moving.
Ask about additional services
Anything you can do to opt for a convenient moving day in NYC is worth it, especially with a busy lifestyle. A professional moving company will offer extensive services beyond just physically moving your items. Ask your moving company if they offer packing supplies such as moving boxes or a plastic moving bin rental service. Finding a mover who can deliver your packing materials before your moving day will save you time sourcing these yourself.
If you are short on time or have a large property to pack, consider asking your moving company if they offer professional packing services. If you have high value and unique items such as antiques, art and large oversized furniture, make sure to ask your movers if they are experienced in packing and moving those items.
Ask about their pricing model
There are two main approaches when pricing a move. Be sure to ask whether they use a flat fee or hourly pricing model. A flat fee pricing formula protects you from extra charges that result from conditions that are out of your control on the day of the move such as traffic and more time required to move items.
Companies that calculate their fee by the volume of furniture in cubic feet to be moved are more likely to offer you a flat price that isn’t impacted by traffic, parking issues, or storage check-in delays. It works like this: Volume of goods plus mileage plus any special complexities equals your flat fee estimate. Your moving company will have their per cubic foot price on your quote.
One important point to add here is also the timing of your move. The day of the week and time of year can impact your fee because of high demand. When you're negotiating a price, ask about discounts for a slower day or quieter month, if you have some flexibility in your schedule. As a rule of thumb, May to September are the busiest months of the year to move as well as the first and last days of the month when renters' leases expire.
Ask about any extra fees or surcharges
A transparent moving company will have any extra fees and surcharges clearly itemized in their binding quote, so you know exactly how each dollar is being spent. For example, you could be charged extra fees if your building does not have an elevator since additional labor and effort is required to move into a walk up, and retrospective charges if there are additional boxes or items on the moving day that were not originally quoted for.
Get their customer support process outlined clearly
Be sure to ask: “How do I communicate with you and make changes between booking and moving day?” This question can reveal a a lot about a moving company’s culture. You learn how flexible they are with changes, what deadlines they might have for rescheduling and whether you will have a single point of contact who knows about you and your move. Ask this of each of the companies on your shortlist before making a decision.
Check their insurance arrangements for your moving day and items
Given the amount of insurance that is required in cities like New York, professional movers will be open and transparent about this part of the process. You can expect them to provide you with a certificate of insurance with details of their insurance limits. Rogue operators will leave you exposed and with a big legal hangover that’s not worth the savings at the expense of your peace of mind. Unexpected accidents include personal injury, truck accidents and damage to building common areas like foyers and doorways.
When it comes to your own personal items, there are two kinds of liability that are available to you. The first is a no cost option, which is included in your flat moving fee and only covers a percentage of an item in weight by federal and state law requirements.
The second option is recommended if you have highly valuable items. This will need to be purchased from a third-party insurance provider based on your mover's suggestion. This comprehensive coverage offers replacements, repairs, and full compensation. You need to check what is fully covered by the third-party insurance provider before you select this option and share this information with your mover so they are aware that you have added additional protection to your items. All professional movers should have a no cost insurance as a default option.
Make a deposit of no more than 10 percent quoted price
Once you’ve decided on a mover and you’re ready to proceed with an agreement, you will need to make a deposit to secure your move and so the movers can allocate the resources for your day. Ten percent of your quoted and agreed price is an industry standard deposit. If you are making a deposit, which is industry standard, use a credit card or cheque that can be documented for your records.
Read your binding quote, contract, and T&C before signing
Make sure you review your quote, contract and the T&C. It is your responsibility to be across your moving companies product and services terms and conditions. Understand when you may be charged for extra fees and how your selected company handles claims.
Check the time limit on reporting and the process for filing claims
Even the best movers occasionally record incidents that are accidents and need appropriate and speedy resolution. Compare the process with your mover against industry norms and ask them if they have any information or forms available on their website which you can check. Most movers give you 90 days to file a claim and are expected to respond to you within 30 days acknowledging they have received it. Then the company has 120 days to respond to you on whether they accept your claim and will offer to pay. If you can’t come to an agreement you should be able to see an independent arbitrator to mediate.
Now you have an insider's guide to finding a reliable mover in NYC. Ready to make a move? Get in touch with Piece of Cake Moving for an obligation-free, guaranteed flat-fee moving quote.