A moving broker is a sales team that works as a matchmaker, pairing customers with moving carriers for a commission. Brokers usually look at factors like budget, location, and move distance. Then they use that information to find a local mover that can meet the customers’ needs.
A broker can shop around on your behalf. However, you should still verify the credibility of any mover a broker refers you to.
If you already know which moving company you’d like to hire, or if you’re doing a DIY move that won’t involve hiring workers, you’re better off paying a moving company directly.
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Pros and Cons of Using a Moving Broker
|Pros 👍||Cons 👎|
|Easier to find a moving company||Harder to communicate directly with your mover|
|Cheaper rates, occassionally||Less room to negotiate the cost|
|Easier to resolve disputes between you and the mover||Easier for small details to get lost in communication between broker and carrier|
Moving brokers let you skip the hassle of researching moving companies on your own. Most brokers get you a quote in as few as 24 hours. And sometimes they can even help you get a better rate. And if the carrier breaks something, you can ask your broker to step in and resolve the issue.
But sometimes details can get lost in the back-and-forth communication between you, the broker, and the mover. If your move is complicated (multiple stops, specialty items, etc.), you’ll probably want to work directly with the moving company.
Moving Broker vs. Carrier
The moving company, or carrier, is the company that actually does the moving. There are lots of types of carriers, from full-service movers that handle every part of the move to labor-only movers that just transport the items.
Brokers partner with carriers. Because of that relationship, sometimes brokers can get better prices for their customers. But using a moving breaker might not be cheaper in the end because of the broker fees. You might actually pay more, depending on how much the broker charges.
The best moving brokers do more than connect you with a carrier. They should also be a go-between: mediating and keeping you updated on your move.
To find a good broker, read online reviews from lots of brokers to check out their customer service and reputation.
Hiring a moving carrier directly might be a better option if you would rather look into the local movers yourself and avoid the brokerage fee. You won’t have a broker to resolve issues with the mover for you. But you also can talk with the mover directly and not worry that something got lost in the back-and-forth.
Carriers are also the way to go for DIY moves, since brokers can’t rent out equipment.
A moving broker usually works with multiple carriers. Both the broker and the carrier have to sign a broker-carrier agreement to work together. A broker-carrier agreement is a legal contract that lays out the terms for the partnership, including things like:
Carrier pay rate
Payment due dates
Prohibitions on services
Scope of services
Broker-carrier agreements protect the broker from working with illegitimate movers. That means it also protects you from getting matched with those movers.
How to Tell If a Moving Broker Is Legitimate
Like any other type of business, there are good and bad moving brokers out there. How can you find a good one?
1. Check Its Federal Registration.
To operate legally, every moving broker needs to be registered with the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT). Most legitimate brokers have the registration number displayed prominently on their website. Search that number in the U.S. DOT database. It should bring up the broker’s registration status, contact info, and complaint and safety history.
If registered, your moving broker should be able to provide their FMCSA number, which you can search on the agency’s website. Simply enter the number (the number should be prominently displayed on their website), and you’ll see the broker’s registration status, contact info, and complaint and safety history.
2. Check for the U.S. DOT Movers’ Rights Booklet.
A legitimate moving broker will also provide the U.S. DOT booklet that spells out your rights. It explains who is responsible for what during the move and what to do if something goes wrong. Federal law requires moving brokers to give you this. If they don’t, it’s a red flag.
3. Check Out the Carriers the Broker Partners with.
You can also ask for a list of the carriers that partner with your moving broker. Then look up those companies’ registrations in the U.S. DOT database.
4. Read Through Online Reviews.
Check online reviews and complaints before agreeing to work with a moving broker. Look at their customer service record on sites like Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, and the U.S. DOT website to make sure the company is legit.