The Internet has made it super easy to get in touch with professional moving companies that are supposed to start competing for your moving job. In reality, filling out a moving quote form online is easier than ever – it takes just a few mouse clicks on a desktop or laptop computer, or several finger taps on a mobile device. The average time spent to complete a moving quote form? Less than 60 seconds!
And then, when you get contacted by moving experts, you may be speaking with a professional mover, or you may only think that you’re discussing the details of your move with a moving company while in fact, the moving professional you’ve been talking with may turn out to be a moving broker.
Thus said, it’s very important that you understand the difference between a moving company and a broker once you’ve decided to seek professional assistance for your household move. Your deeper understanding of what sets apart these two legitimate businesses will help you make the right choice when wondering which service provider to use.
Let the Moving Brokers vs Moving Companies comparison analysis start now.
What’s the difference between movers and brokers?
Moving brokers are not professional movers in the sense that brokers are neither authorized nor licensed to transport household goods because they don’t own any moving trucks, moving staff, moving equipment, or packing supplies.
In reality, moving brokers act as middlemen between the customer (the individual who is moving home) and moving company (the business entity that will complete the actual transportation job). Brokers are merely trained sales teams that will arrange for the transportation of your household items and then will try to sell your booking info to an actual moving company that will provide the actual truck transportation.
Moving companies are professional movers that do the actual household move. They own their own fleet of branded moving trucks, they have the required moving equipment to complete the relocation job, they provide the necessary packing materials for the service of packing, and they also have full-time professionals who have been trained extensively to handle all types of move-related scenarios.
Unlike brokers, reputable moving companies will send an expert to your home to do a visual home inventory and quote you an accurate moving cost estimate. Furthermore, you will be able to discuss with the moving company representative important issues and ask essential questions that are linked directly to the upcoming move – a face-to-face interaction that is much more beneficial than dealing with a moving broker over the phone or via e-mail.
Risks and dangers of using a moving broker
At the time of booking your move, you’re strongly advised to ask the company if they are an actual moving company or a moving broker. If it turns out that you’re dealing with a brokering company, then you should know the following risks and dangers when using the services of a moving broker.
No party will want to claim responsibility in case of problems
A moving broker will not usually assume responsibility for the safety of your household items – that responsibility is effectively transferred to the moving company that has received your booked move. In case of problems with the move such as household items being damaged or lost, what happens, at least most of the times, is that the moving broker will blame the moving company, and the moving company will return the favor by laying the blame on the broker.
The usual outcome is that the customer, that is you, will be left in the middle of a relocation mess for which nobody wants to take responsibility, while your damaged or missing goods still remain damaged or missing.
Cost estimates that may be way off the mark
When you’re dealing with a reputable moving company, the standard procedure is that they will send a move specialist to your home to take a good look at the things you want to have moved and will give you a moving cost estimate that will be as accurate as possible. Such move consultants are certified and often experienced enough to be able to estimate how much your move will cost with a good degree of accuracy.
In comparison, the majority of moving brokers will try to give you a cost estimate over the phone or via email. The usual practice is that they will ask you to describe all the items you intend to move, and since you have no previous experience in performing a visual home inventory, you’ll find it really tough to judge the weight and the size of your large furniture pieces, for example. How are you supposed to know how many cardboard boxes you will need to have your stuff packed up and ready to be moved?
As a result, a cost estimate that is given by a moving broken usually ends up being way lower than the price you will pay when the move is finally over. And that, undoubtedly, could turn out to be a big problem for you.
Large deposits that may not go toward the move
Most moving brokers will ask you for a large deposit prior to the move – a clear indication that you’re not dealing with a top-rated moving company. In comparison, reputable movers will usually ask for a small deposit in order to book the move on the date that you wish to move out.
The major issue with paying a large deposit to a broker is that your money will not always go toward the move itself. Sometimes, the sum you pay upfront will be the moving broker’s fee for arranging the household move between you, as a customer, and the moving company as a household goods carrier.
No opportunity to research your moving company
Sometimes a moving broker may not be able to sell your moving job to a moving company for a number of good or not-so-good reasons, such as unavailability of movers on the date you requested, moving cost estimates that are too low, etc. In such cases, it’s possible that you are left high and dry on your move-out date, with no moving company coming to the rescue.
Ultimately, your chance to find a good moving company by researching various movers will be wasted as the moving broker is the one that will pick the mover for you. It may even happen so that you won’t know which moving company is coming to help you move until Moving day itself.
How can you be sure that the movers who arrive at your home are properly licensed and insured? How do you even know if those movers are full-time moving specialists and not temporarily hired laborers who have little or no moving experience whatsoever?
Risks and dangers of using a moving company
Make sure that you know what type of business you’re dealing with before you give them your moving job. If you’re dealing with a professional moving company, here are some of the risks you might face.
More limited range of serviced routes
A professional moving company usually has a more restricted range of routes that it services, which may limit your relocation options. If your move route is a bit off the beaten track or falls into the height of the moving season, then you may find it hard to find a reputable mover to accept your home moving job. Also, if circumstances force you to perform a last minute move, then you may not be able to secure a moving company to handle your emergency move.
On the other hand, a moving broker has access to a well-established network of trustworthy movers that should be able to respond to any specific relocation parameters set by the customer. With such a high volume of professional movers to partner with, a good moving broker will usually offer a greater level of flexibility to suit your move-related requirements and expectations.
Potentially fewer customized solutions
The best full-service moving companies do offer a wide variety of moving services to match the unique preferences of their clients. However, smaller moving companies may not be able to offer you all the services you need, in which case you will lose additional time to look for a different mover that can assist you. For example, if you need to have your car transported quickly and safely to another part of the country, you will need to invest extra time to find and research an auto transportation company for that extra service alone.
In comparison, a moving broker will be able, at least in most cases, to connect you with the right type of moving company, including a vehicle shipping company, and that all-in-one convenience of the brokering company will save you loads of time in the end.
Moving companies vs Moving brokers: Final Thoughts
It’s important to know that reputable moving brokers are legitimate businesses and they also have a list of responsibilities and requirements they must meet in order to operate legally.
- Moving brokers must be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and they are required to use only moving companies that are also registered with the FMCSA.
- Moving brokers are required to have a written agreement with the moving companies they work with, and to also give you, upon request, a full list of those movers.
- Brokers must provide you with a copy of the booklet Your rights and Responsibilities When You Move and the brochure Ready to Move, both prepared by the FMCSA.
- Brokers are required by law to base their estimates, binding or non-binding, on the specific tariff of the moving company that will do the actual transportation of your household goods.
Use the search tool of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to check if the moving company or the moving broker you’re dealing with is registered with the FMCSA.
Now that you’re familiar with the difference between a moving company and brokers, you can choose which way is better for you. Remember that as long as you’ve checked your mover or broker to be legitimate (FMCSA) and reputable (Better Business Bureau), you shouldn’t worry too much about it as there are advantages and disadvantages when working with both moving companies and moving brokers.
Knowing that you’ve done your homework right, it’s time to turn your attention to other important aspects of your home move.
Read also: How much does it cost to hire movers?