Moving scams are rare, but they do happen.

When they do, we can’t help but take it a little personally. As a fourth-generation, family-owned business, we take pride in what we do—moving your most important personal possessions easily, affordably and safely. When we see a disreputable company that mishandles the belongings of its customers, we know it erodes trust all around.

If you’re planning a Guam move, you may be wondering: How do I know if my moving company is reputable?

We’ve put together a 10-point checklist to help you find the right Guam moving company – one you can trust. We’ll show you exactly what to expect from your moving company – whether you choose us or someone else. With these distinctions, you’ll know exactly how to choose the right mover, one who will get your possessions safely to their final destination.

1. Know Your Rights & Responsibilities

In the United States, the moving industry is carefully regulated to protect consumers.

  • Interstate moves are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Since Guam is a U.S. territory, moves to and from Guam will fall under the rules and regulations established by the agency.

To help you understand your rights, you may find it useful to review the Protect Your Move website from the FMCSA. There, you’ll find clarity on what you can expect from your mover and what items are your responsibility. You’ll also understand your recourse in case something goes wrong with your move.

This site is especially helpful if you haven’t done a long-distance move before. It can be a little nerve-wracking to hand over all of your possessions to someone else for weeks at a time. The articles on the FMCSA site will help level-set what’s “normal” and what’s not, giving you a solid foundation going into the moving process.

Local Resources on Guam for Assistance

Each state and territory also has a local agency that oversees commercial moving within the state/territory. In Guam, that’s the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) within the Department of Revenue and Taxation.

MCSAP is funded by an FMCSA grant to promote compliance with federal safety standards involving commercial motor vehicles on Guam’s roads. Ultimately, motor carriers on Guam are guided by U.S. federal rules and regulations.

If you have concerns about a local moving company on Guam, you can also contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General of Guam.

2. Get Three, Independent Quotes—in Pounds

Woman using a calculator

Once you have a good sense of what to expect from your movers, your next step will be to get quotes from three, independent companies. This will give you a good ballpark cost for your move.

Note: If one quote is significantly lower than all the others, be wary. This could be a sign that there’s something amiss. In point #6, we’ll show you how to do your research to ensure that any company you choose is backed by a strong track record.

You should also look for quotes based on weight, not volume. Reputable moving companies use weight to price their moves because it offers an objective measurement that’s easily understandable.

For example, let’s say you’re given a quote of $1.82 per pound. With that price, you’ll know exactly how much it will cost to ship your mattress by using the formula below:

Cost per pound x Weight = Price to Move

$1.82 x 89.5lbs = $162.89

Now, if a company charges by volume, the cost would be ultimately based on how skillfully their packers can tuck your possessions into their truck. That’s not a very objective measurement.

That’s why most legitimate moving companies rely on weight.

Finally, remember The FMSCA, the agency we mentioned earlier?The FMCSA requires that companies price interstate moves based on the actual weight of your shipment, as well as the services provided and the tariff provisions in effect.

If a moving company seems reluctant to give you a quote in pounds, you may want to look elsewhere.

3. Opt for an Survey and a Written Estimate

As you’ll also see on the FMCSA website, it’s your right to get a written estimate from your moving company, based on an in-person or video survey.

It’s also in your best interest. In order to create an accurate quote—one that will hold true on Moving Day—your moving company should actually look at your possessions, either virtually or in person. That’s really the only way for them to truly understand how much stuff you have.

Think of it this way: Have you ever walked into a house that’s crammed to the gills, where every nook and cranny is occupied by a souvenir, a picture or a collection of figurines? One where you can barely turn around without knocking something off a shelf? Well, it would cost that person more to move than it would cost someone who has very few personal possessions, even if they both live in a 2-bedroom apartment.

That’s what a surveyor will look for when they put together your quote. Surveyors will also look for particularly heavy things, such as an extensive library of books, so they can more accurately ballpark your actual cost on Moving Day.

If a company is reluctant to perform a survey—or if they’re willing to rely on an estimate form you filled out online—take that quote with a grain of salt. It’s very possible things will change on Moving Day, and your move could cost you more than you expect.

4. Ask Questions to Understand Any Additional Fees

Once you receive your three quotes, make sure you understand them completely—and ask as many questions as you need.

Most importantly, ask if there any additional fees that might not be noted in your quote, ones that could change the final cost of your move.

For example, your final cost might change depending on factors such as:

  • Packing and unpacking services
  • Furniture assembly and disassembly
  • Storage
  • Access challenges, including elevators or flights of stairs
  • Items that require special handling, such as fine art, musical instruments, etc.
  • Full value replacement coverage (Some people think of this as “moving insurance”—and we’ll cover that more in a minute!)
  • Quarantine inspections, customs inspections, terminal handling charges, and other fees you might see in an international move

Inquiring about possible additional charges gives you the chance to get a firm grasp of the final cost of your move.

You’ll also ensure that you’re comparing moving companies on a level playing field. Some companies may not include these extras on their initial quotes, so they’ll look cheaper up front. However, when all is said and done, their final invoice will ultimately be higher. Asking about possible additions will give you a more complete picture—and prevent any unpleasant surprises down the road!

5. Be Suspicious If They Request a Large Deposit

Man handing over a credit card

Some moving companies may ask for a deposit to reserve a date for your move. That’s become a standard request in the moving industry, and it shouldn’t raise a red flag.

However, if they ask for a large deposit, one that’s more than 20% of the entire cost, make sure you do your research before handing over any money. (More on that next!)

Additionally, if your mover requests the money in cash, be wary. If possible, put the deposit on a credit card, which offers you the possibility of contesting the charge if something goes wrong.

6. Research Your Options

Man typing on a computer

Now that you know a little about what to look for, let’s dive deeper into vetting the companies that have offered you quotes.

  • If the company has a local address, consider taking a drive by their offices or their warehouse. Does everything look like it’s in good condition? If their trucks are visible, do they seem to be in good shape?

Note: This is a great reason to hire a local company. Especially when it comes to Guam relocations, you may find a number of companies on the Internet who are happy to help. However, many of them may not have a physical presence on Guam, which makes it harder for you to check their credentials. If you choose a local company, you can drive by the offices of the movers you’re considering so you can get a better feel for how they operate.

  • Check out their DOT number. All licensed movers are required to display this number on their website and in their ads. You can enter that number on the FMCSA website to see the company’s information, including their licensing info, crash reports, and whether there is a pending insurance cancellation against the company, which can indicate deeper troubles.

  • Check their social media accounts. Angry customers often leave comments on a company’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media properties. You’ll want to take many of these with a grain of salt. What you’re really looking for are patterns. Are people reporting the same problems again and again? Does the company respond professionally to these complaints? If the company doesn’t have social media properties, try Googling the company name with the word “complaints” and see what you find.
  • Search the Better Business Bureau’s website. Check out the company’s rating and whether any complaints have been filed.

You also may want to consider working with a company that’s been certified by the industry’s top associations. The American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) offers a ProMover certification. Additionally, companies may affiliate themselves with organizations such as the International Association of Movers (IAM). If a company has taken the time to get certified or join one of these organizations, they’re likely a legitimate company committed to professionalism.

Finally, although this might seem like a lot of work, let’s remember what’s at stake: You’re going to trust the handling and safety of your possessions to a moving company—possibly for a few hours for a local move or a few weeks, in the case of a long-distance Guam. When you do your research, you’ll feel secure in trusting your moving company with your most important personal possessions.

7. Protect Your Move with Full Replacement Value Protection

We’ve heard recent reports from the FMCSA that some disreputable movers have told unsuspecting consumers that they don’t have to pay for “moving insurance”. Instead, all goods will be covered by the carrier’s insurance.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the full truth. The FMCSA requires all moving companies to offer two choices when it comes to protecting your possessions during your move:

1. Full Replacement Value Protection

If something happens to your possessions during transit, this protection covers your items for the cost of full replacement or repair. You should be given the option to add this coverage on top of your moving quote.

2. Released Value Protection

This is minimal coverage that’s included in every move. Under Released Value Protection, your moving company assumes liability for no more than 60 cents per pound per article. This might sound reasonable, but let’s walk through an example so you can understand the difference in coverage.

Let’s say the worst happens and your mover damages your sectional couch, which you bought for $1,200. It weighs 476 pounds in total.

Under Released Value Protection, you’d receive:

Weight x $0.60 = Your Compensation

476 x $0.60 = $285.60

However, under Full Replacement Value Protection, you’d be compensated for the full replacement ($1,200) or repair to return the couch to it’s original state.

Given these differences, you can see the extra layer of protection that Full Replacement Value Protection offers. Consider your options carefully before making a final decision.

Finally, any reputable moving company should explain these plans to you. If they don’t – or seem reluctant to discuss the topic – you might consider looking elsewhere.

8. A Few Videos Can Go a Long Way

Woman taking photo of her home interior

If you’re still feeling nervous about trusting your possessions to your moving company, photographing or taking a few videos of your possessions can set your mind at ease.

It’s a quick way to do your own inventory, and it offers easy-to-access proof of the current state of your belongings. For example, after your move, if you suspect a moving company has scratched your dining room table, you can easily refer back to your video and confirm whether that scratch is new or old.

In addition to choosing Full Replacement Value Protection, documenting your possessions before you move can offer you even more peace of mind going into Moving Day.

9. Never Sign Blank or Incomplete Documents

Signing documents

In the hustle and bustle of Moving Day, it may be tempting to sign documents without reading them carefully. Incorrect documents can create serious problems, including under-valuation and under-insurance of your shipment.

Resist the temptation, and make sure you both review and understand every document you sign.

You’ll also want to watch out for requests to sign documents with blanks or incomplete information. This can give unscrupulous movers the ability to alter documents after the fact, without your knowledge.

There is one exception: If you’re working with a non-binding estimate, the actual weight of your shipment may be blank until the weigh-in is complete.

If you have any questions about what you’re signing, don’t hesitate to ask. A few questions upfront can save you a ton of trouble down the line.

10. Ask for & Keep Copies

When you’re moving, there are a ton of moving parts to keep track of. However, there’s one thing you never want to skip:

Get copies of everything.

That includes anything you sign before the move starts, and anything you sign on Moving Day. Hard copies are best, but taking a picture of every document with your phone works, too.

The majority of the time, you won’t need to refer back to these documents. But, if you find yourself in a sticky situation, you’ll be so glad you hung onto everything.

Awareness Is 90% of the Battle

Although they’re rare, moving scams do happen, and they hit their victims hard. After all, what’s more personal than our personal possessions?

At this point, though, you know exactly what to expect of your moving company. When they meet—or even exceed—these standards, you’ll know you’ve found someone who’s professional and reputable, someone who will treat your possessions with the utmost care.

Looking for a local Guam moving company to assist with your relocation? We’d be happy to help! (And feel free to put us through this checklist!) Just reach out to us for a complimentary quote to get started. We’d love the opportunity to deliver a safe, easy, and affordable Guam move for you.

Tell us about your move!