Knowing the difference between a moving company and a moving broker can save you a headache down the road, as the two are distinctly different.
Moving companies are the people who make the actual move happen. They are the packers, drivers, and warehouse staff who get your personal items from point A to point B. Moving companies own a fleet of trucks and physical warehouses and employ highly trained relocation professionals. They are licensed and accredited by major business and transportation organizations like the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Better Business Bureau, the American Moving & Storage Association, and the International Association of Movers.
Moving brokers are the “middlemen” between the moving customer and the moving company. Brokers give customers cost estimates, reach agreements with said customers, and then find third-party moving companies to move the goods.
While there are some reputable moving brokers, more and more unlicensed and disreputable, internet-based moving brokers pop-up regularly:
- In April 2014, a Florida judge sentenced two men to 18 months in prison for colluding in a moving brokerage scheme. First the moving broker would provide low estimates to customers. Then he would outsource those moves to the other man’s moving company. Finally, the moving company would charge a much higher price for the move than the provided estimate.
And even federally licensed moving brokers run into problems finding reliable moving companies:
- In December 2015, Rick Heitzmann used a broker to plan a move from Mississippi to Florida. The moving company the broker hired picked up Rick’s items in Mississippi, but never delivered them to Florida.
- In August 2015, Amber Carlton used a broker to plan a move from Colorado to North Dakota. The moving company picked up Amber’s goods, but has since vanished. Their office is completely abandoned.
There are certainly some issues with going through a middleman:
Brokers Provide Inaccurate Estimates
Professional moving companies send moving consultants to your home to complete visual walk-throughs. Most of these certified consultants can provide you with an accurate estimate for the cost of your move. You should have three different moving companies provide in-home estimates.
Many certified moving consultants have hours of training and expertise in the relocation industry. Moving brokers might not have any. Brokers serve as the middlemen between the customers and experts and might not be able to answer questions about your move. In-home moving consultants will have answers to your questions. They can provide you with details about your move that brokers might not be able to.
Most moving brokers will provide you with an estimate over the phone or by email only. Brokers will ask the customer to walk through their own homes and describe the items they’ll be moving. Since customers are not experts in moving, the estimates provided by moving brokers are often much lower than the cost of the actual move.
Brokers Play the Blame Game
Moving brokers don’t actually move your goods. If something goes wrong during the move, they can be known to pass the blame to the third-party moving company. If items are lost, broken, or stolen, who can you hold accountable? Going through a moving broker leads to a tangled web of responsibility where both the broker and moving company might shift the fault towards the other.
Brokers Charge Large Up-Front Deposits
The cost of your estimate from a moving broker will include the cost of the moving service as well as a potentially large, up-front deposit. That deposit can also be described as a broker’s fee. Most reputable moving companies will also request a deposit, but it is often a much smaller fee to reserve your move date.
Brokers Hire Unknown Movers
The biggest concern for working with a moving broker is you might not know how or whether they vet the third-party moving company. Sometimes you won’t be able to vet the moving company yourself as you won’t know who they are until they show up at your front door. This means an unlicensed or uninsured company could be moving your goods.
JK Moving Services is the third largest independent moving company in North America. With more than 35 years of experience and hundreds of full-time, background checked, trained moving professionals. We are the mover of choice of Fortune 100 companies, several federal agencies, and families just like yours. If you need to move your residence or your office, contact us today for a free quote.