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Moving Broker vs. Moving Company

When searching for the right professional moving company for your move, you should keep in mind that some companies will be moving brokers while others will be moving carriers. It’s important that you understand the difference, as going with the wrong choice can result in severe issues.

Moving Carrier: When you think about what a moving company is, you’re probably thinking about moving carriers. These are businesses with moving trucks, a crew, and move coordinators. Carriers will help your move by loading up your belongings in their truck and bringing them to your new home.

Moving Broker: Despite often advertising similarly to moving carriers, moving brokers do not move your belongings. They are only the middlemen between you and a moving carrier. These brokers make their money by charging you a handling fee for connecting you with your move or by selling your information to the moving carrier, or both.

Throughout the decision process, you’ll find that it can be difficult to tell whether potential movers are actually carriers or just brokers. By following this guide, you’ll understand the difference and be able to easily spot moving brokers.

Are Moving Brokers Bad?

Moving brokers aren’t inherently bad and, if done right, can even be of use to people who would rather pay to avoid the struggle of finding a moving company. However, the increased use of the internet for finding movers has allowed for a dramatic increase in moving broker scams. Issues that come from using moving brokers affect people across the entire country.

In fact, it is a big enough issue that the U.S. Senate put together an in-depth staff report researching the consumer protection problems that are caused by internet moving brokers. Here are some of the recurring points of the impact caused by moving brokers that they found during this investigation:

  • Price Hikes: According to the Senate findings, 25% of calls that the researched brokers received were complaints about price increases that occurred once the moving carrier arrived. Why so high? Because brokers tend to give low estimates with the goal of getting your business. However, once the moving carrier takes on your move, they may not even know about the estimate given by the broker.
  • Hostage Situations: Something that is far too common is hostage situations. The committee staff with the Senate that was putting together this report found that there was a recurring issue of price hikes that occurred after items were already loaded in the moving van. This puts you in a situation where you either have to pay the new, increased price or let them drive off with your belongings.
  • Customer Confusion: There are regulations on the industry that require brokers to disclose that they aren’t carriers, but this is very rarely done, as was found by the researching committee. This deception can cause confusion for you on moving day.
  • “Deposit” Fees: If you work with a broker, you will probably have to pay a brokerage fee. However, they typically disguise this by referring to it as a deposit. This can be anywhere from a hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars. Since it’s referred to as a deposit, you may have no issue paying, but being a brokerage fee means that it doesn’t contribute to the price of your actual move at all.

While many moving carriers understand that providing you with a good move is the best way to improve their brand and be successful, moving brokers don’t have the same needs. Since they often change their brand name and website after getting too many negative reviews, they want nothing other than to get as much money out of you as possible. This means lofty promises while not focusing on good service.

How to Spot the Difference Between Brokers and Movers

Understanding the issues that can come from working with a moving broker, it’s clear that being able to spot the difference between brokers and carriers is important. This gives you the opportunity to weigh your options to avoid risk. To do so, consider these 5 Tips on How to Spot the Difference Between Brokers and Movers:

  1. Search Their License Number: You can find your potential mover’s USDOT license number in the footer of their website. If they don’t have it listed, find a new moving company. Once you get that number, search the FMCSA database to get their information. Make sure they have a few trucks, a legitimate address near where you’re moving, and are not listed as a broker.
  2. Look for an Address: Check the bottom of your potential mover’s website for their address. If they don’t have one, that’s a red flag. Be sure to check on Google Maps or Apple Maps and ensure that the address they have listed is really theirs.
  3. Avoid Big Deposits: No moving carrier will ever ask for a big deposit for your move. If they do, you should question it. The most that a moving carrier will ask for is a “good faith” deposit, which will never be more than a couple hundred dollars.
  4. Read Online Reviews: Moving brokers tend to avoid negative reviews by rebranding or clogging up their online reviews with fake, paid-for reviews. That is why you need to make sure they have a good number of reviews and read through them and make sure they don’t look phony.
  5. Look for Curated Directories: Most directories add every moving website in the area to their site without any regard for whether they are the best option for you. A curated directory like the Preferred Movers Network will never show moving brokers.

Before starting your move, put together a list of moving companies that fit this criteria. Using that list, you can get moving estimates and communicate with them. We suggest getting at least three estimates. Using all of this info, you’ll be able to narrow down your options to a moving company you feel confident with.

Final Thoughts

The reality is that people don’t move often. That means that it can be a confusing process for many, and it’s not unusual to not know what to look for. That’s why research and communication are key. Take the time to really look into your potential movers and even speak to them to avoid getting taken advantage of by a company that wants to take advantage of your inexperience and make a quick buck. Stay vigilant, and use trustworthy tools to find a moving company that treats you and your belongings with respect.

Moving is something that people don’t do too often, and when they do, they don’t always use full-service movers. Sadly, there are people out there that want to take advantage of this inexperience to make a quick buck. That is why it is important to be vigilant so that you move with a trustworthy moving company that treats you and your belongings with respect.