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San Francisco Movers: How to Pick One

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If you’re planning a San Francisco Bay Area move, you likely have questions on how to San Francisco movers that are reliable, trustworthy and that will protect your stuff, but how do find and pick the right moving company? Trying to select a San Francisco moving company can be a daunting task, but there are a few things you can do to help ensure all of your goods arrive safely, and at a fair price.

Here are a few tips to selecting your next moving company:

Gets Reviews and Multiple Estimates

Find San Francisco Movers and Get Reviews

Nothing beats a friend or coworkers referral when trying to find San Francisco movers, but regardless how you find the company, get some independent reviews as well. Identify a small group of movers you’re considering, and review all of the moving company’s reviews on Google+, Yelp and the Better Business Bureau. Many of these reviews will also provide some great information on the moving process, offering tips, suggestions and things to avoid.


Confirm the Movers Credentials

Any mover in the state of California that moves used household furniture and personal effects is required to obtain a household goods carrier permit from the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The PUC ensures the moving company has liability, cargo, and workers’ compensation insurance.

When reviewing moving companies, as for the movers license number (called a “Cal-T”). Any reputable moving company will have no issue with providing it. You can also you can check this yourself at the PUC website, or call the at 1-800-366-4782. The PUC will also confirm if the mover has been issued any citations or if formal legal action has been taken against the carrier.

You can check a movers carrier permit here: PUC Transportation Carriers Lookup

Obtain several written estimates

You should get several quotes from San Francisco movers, and when requesting quotes, be sure to be consistent as possible with each mover you speak with in order to make comparisons easy.

When the mover provides an estimate, do not accept a telephone or internet “estimate.” Verbal estimates (e.g. how much is costs per pound, or per hour) are NOT estimates. Remember, always get any estimate in writing to avoid problems.

Per California law, a moving company can only provide you with a written estimate only after they conduct a visual inspection of the items you need moved. On some smaller local moves, some San Francisco movers may want to provide you an estimate without a visual inspection of your items, quoting you just an hourly rate. It is recommended that you contact other moving companies to a get a written estimate based on an actual visual inspection of your items.

When receiving the estimate, all written estimates should include a “not to exceed” price. The mover cannot charge you more than this amount unless you request additional services and those changes are then detailed in a “Change Order for Moving Services.

When providing the estimate, San Francisco movers generally provide different types of quotes depending on the distance you’re moving:

• If your move is 100 miles or more, it’s considered a “long-distance” move, and movers will generally quote based on the weight of your items and the distance traveled

• If the move distance is less than 100 miles, the mover will generally quote by the hour, often with a minimum number of hours.


Information To Provide/Questions To Ask

Here’s our list of information to provide and questions to ask your potential moving company to ensure there are no surprise unexpected costs on your moving day:

Information to provide when getting mover estimates:

•Large/Heavy items (e.g. exercise equipment, pianos, hot tubs)

•How many flights of stairs?

•Do you have an elevator?

•How far away can the truck park from your house? (generally, if the trucks tailgate is more than 75 feet of the front door, a “long carry” charge may apply)

Questions to ask when getting moving company estimates:

• Do you have labor or hourly minimums?

• How many movers will I be getting?

• What are the movers providing (wardrobe boxes, blankets, boxes, tape, stretch wrap)?

• Will the movers wrap and protect all of your furniture?

• Is the moving company going to pack/unpack your items?

• What does the company charge for packing supplies and boxes (TIP: Buy your boxes and packing supplies yourself beforehand and save money. Check out these moving supplies).

Documents the moving company should provide

If you hire a moving company three or more days in advance of your move, the moving company is required to provide you with the following documents:

• A copy of their moving services agreement

• A copy of the Important Notice About Your Move document

• A copy of the Important Information For Persons Moving Household Goods (within California) booklet. The booklet provides rules and regulations that a moving company must follow and information about your rights.

• A “Change Order for Moving Services” documents (if you made any changes from the written estimate)


How Moving Labor Hours are Determined

For most San Fracisco moves, the moving company will quote a certain number of movers for an hourly rate. But how is that hourly rate calculated?

For hourly moves, the law stipulates the following:

“In computing charges accruing under the hourly rates…the time used shall be the total of loading, unloading and double the driving time from point of origin to point of destination…”

Let’s break that down in to each part.

Loading. The actual hours spent load the truck at your old home or office. The clock generally starts when the moving company arrives at you door.

Unloading. The actual hours spent unload the truck at your new home or office. The clock stops when the last everything is unloaded and unpacked (as applicable).

Drive Time. The driving time is commonly called the “double drive time” law, and you’ll generally see it referenced in the movers written estimate, this is likely the most confusing part of the estimate.

To clear it up, the drive time starts at the origination (your old house) address and ends at the destination address (your new address). The time it takes to drive between your old house to your new house is doubled, and then added to the total moving labor hours. Some unscrupulous moving companies may try and charge you for drive time to your old house – don’t fall for it.

Packing/Unpacking (Optional). If you’re having the San Francisco moving company pack or unpack your items, this time will be added as well. The mover will also add the time it takes to assemble cardboard boxes, break them down, and recycle them. The mover should explicitly call out the time spent packing and unpacking on your receipt.

To calculate the total moving labor hours, the mover will sum the following:

Loading + Unloading + Double Drive Time + Packing/Unpacking = Total Labor Hours

Other Items to Consider

Consider Additional Insurance

The basic insurance from moving companies is quite low. You may choose to purchase additional protection and set the value of your belongings for an amount that makes you comfortable. Consult the Important Information For Persons Moving Household Goods (within California) booklet (which your mover can provide) has more details on options.


San Francisco Parking Permits

Don’t forget to think about where you are going to park the moving truck in San Francisco. Many San Francisco movers expect the customer to file for a parking permit if one is required – and the city doesn’t make it easy to find.

In the city of San Francisco, you’ll want a parking permit for the moving truck. Generally this is applied for by the person moving, NOT the moving company. Plan ahead at least 2-3 weeks to ensure you obtain the permit.

Check out our blog post on how to apply for a San Francisco moving permit here.


Photograph or Videotape your Items

Before the move, videotape or photograph your items. If a dispute arises, you’ll have evidence of the condition of your items prior to the move.