Even if it’s not the most difficult or most laborious task you need to complete when preparing for a house move, finding good movers is the most consequential part of the relocation process. Why so? Simply because working with experienced and trustworthy moving professionals will guarantee a smooth and trouble-free relocation, while using unreliable moving services will most likely result in a moving nightmare.
Choosing the right moving partners for your relocation adventure, however, is not an easy task – unless you have reliable recommendations, you need to make a careful research (read moving reviews, get in touch with several reputable companies, verify their legitimacy, ask them for on-site estimates, etc.) in order to find the best movers for you. This takes time and effort and requires great attention and alertness (so that you don’t fall victim to moving scams).
If you don’t have the time (or the nerve) for a detailed research, you can go with an easier option – fill out a moving quote form online (it takes only 60 seconds) to get contacted by several different moving companies and see what they have to offer. The only problem is that you have no idea who will reach back to you – reputable movers, rogue movers, or moving brokers. You’ll either have to pick at random or go through the research process anyway.
Or, you can directly call a moving broker who will help you schedule your move fast and easy.
What is a moving broker?
Moving brokers act as middlemen between home movers and moving companies. They arrange for the transportation of household goods, but do not handle the actual packing, shipping, storing, delivery, or any other aspect of the relocation process.
So, moving brokers are essentially sales teams that book a move and sell it to an actual mover – they get the necessary information from the person who is moving home and bid out the job to moving companies within their networks. Brokers give estimates and accept deposits on behalf of the movers – they help schedule a move, but do not perform it themselves.
Moving brokers must be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and can only work with moving companies that are also registered with the FMCSA. They need to have written agreements with the movers they use and are required to base their estimates on the tariff of the moving company that will perform the actual relocation.
Simply put, a moving broker is an agent who connects a customer with a moving company. Their services are efficient and convenient and save home movers plenty of time.
What is the difference between a moving broker and a mover?
As already mentioned, a moving broker is not a mover – moving brokers are neither authorized, nor licensed to transport household goods. They don’t own moving trucks, moving equipment, or packing supplies and don’t have professional moving staff. What’s more, brokers do not assume responsibility for their clients’ goods.
Movers, on the other hand, are motor carriers engaged in the transportation of household items. They have their own moving trucks and all the specialized moving equipment required to perform a safe and efficient move. A moving company’s employees are full-time specialists, trained and qualified to handle all kinds of relocation scenarios. Professional movers offer two different liability options to their customers – full value protection and released value protection.
Benefits of using a moving broker
The biggest advantages of working with a brokering company are a direct result of the differences between moving companies and moving brokers:
- Greater flexibility – Unlike individual moving companies that serve a specific route and have a limited number of moving trucks and moving professionals (so they can take only a limited number of moving jobs), moving brokers have access to large networks of movers (so they can meet all and any relocation needs a customer may have) – regardless of the time and size of your move, your final destination and specific requirements, a moving broker will be able to find a mover who can do the job for you. A good moving broker will offer a much greater level of flexibility than a moving company and can better suit your relocation needs and expectations;
- Greater efficiency – Many moving companies (especially smaller ones) can’t offer their customers all the services they need (especially when moving long distance) – even if you have found good movers to transport your household items to your new state, you will most probably need to find a different mover to ship your pets across the country, a separate auto transportation company to ship your car, a specialty mover to take care of specialty items like pianos, pool tables, hot tubs, or delicate antiques, etc. You will have to spend a lot of time and effort, looking for several different movers, researching them, choosing the right ones for you, and confirming the details of your move with each of them. A moving broker, on the other hand, will do all this extensive research for you and will connect you with a moving company (or companies) that will provide all the services you need;
- Greater safety – As already mentioned above, moving brokers are required to use only properly licensed movers. Besides, they won’t sign an agreement with a mover who has a history of bad customer service. Therefore, the risk of moving frauds is much smaller when using the services of a moving broker.
To sum it up – moving brokers provide convenience and efficiency and save their customers plenty of time and trouble.
Risks of using a moving broker
There are, of course, two sides to every coin, so working with a moving broker has its drawbacks as well:
- Added costs – Working with a middleman – the moving broker – means that you’ll have to pay one more person for getting the moving assistance you need. Sometimes, brokers even charge separate deposits that don’t go towards the move itself, but are used as fees for arranging the transportation of the household goods;
- Inaccurate estimates – Moving brokers will usually give you an estimate online or over the phone. Such estimates can never be accurate – in order to give you a precise estimate, the movers need to see the items you want to relocate (so that they can assess their weight and specific handling requirements), know the peculiarities of the pick-up and delivery locations (so that they can take into account any possible difficulties and obstacles and the required extra services), and discuss your personal preferences and requirements with you – all these factors influence the final moving cost and make a great difference in the end. Therefore, when working with a moving broker you may get an estimate that is much lower than the actual price you’ll have to pay for your move;
- No choice – The moving broker will pick a mover for you (most often it will be the company that offers the best financial deal), so you’ll have no chance to research them and decide whether you can trust them or not. You may not even be able to personally speak with the mover who will handle your relocation and ask questions or clear up issues and concerns;
- Liability issues – If something goes wrong, you’ll have very little control over the situation and very few options to resolve the problem – a moving broker will not assume responsibility for the safety of your goods. In case some of your items get damaged or lost during the transportation, the moving broker will simply tell you to take up the issue with the mover, who might or might not handle your claim with professionalism and positive results. (See also: How to file a complaint against a moving company)
Things to know when working with moving brokers
All things considered, when dealing with a moving broker, you’re advised to:
- Make sure they’re legitimate businesses, registered with the FMCSA;
- Make sure that they openly disclose their physical location, MC (Motor Carrier) number, and the fact that they are moving brokers, not a moving company;
- Request a list of the moving companies they work with (so that you can research them if you want to) and make sure they have written agreements with these movers;
- Request a copy of the booklet Your rights and Responsibilities When You Move and the brochure Ready to Move, prepared by the FMCSA (brokers are required to provide you with these documents so that you’re aware of the rights you have when using a moving company);
- Request that the mover selected by the broker to perform your move does an in-house survey of your belongings and provides you with an accurate estimate of your moving costs.
Good to remember: Regardless of their differences, both movers and brokers can ensure a successful relocation – it’s up to you to choose the option that will work better for you. Just make sure you know whether you’re dealing with an actual moving company or a moving broker from the very beginning, so that you know what to expect and how to better protect your move.