You’ve made the decision to ship furniture items, but you’ve never done it before. Your budget is limited. You need a reliable, affordable shipping company. So what do you do? Go online, of course, and start searching. Click through to get quotes from several companies. The quotes should be free, if not, close out that tab and move on. Once you have a few quotes, compare.
Now here’s the important part: affordable doesn’t necessarily mean cheapest. To get a shipping company, you can trust you may need to spend a little extra to ensure the safe arrival of your items. But how do you judge among the different quotes you receive? Here are a few secrets of the trade.
Reasons Some Shipping Companies Charge
- Unqualified Drivers – Truck drivers are required to pass specific tests before they can haul or even drive a monster truck. If a shipping company is not hiring qualified drivers they may save you money, but your furniture may not make it on time, or at all. And be wary of “job boards.” These are sites where you can send a description of your shipment and truckers will bid on it. The lowest bid may be acceptable – or it may be from a company with multiple Department of Transportation violations. Or even just a guy with a pickup truck. Steer clear of those types.
- Poor Truck and Trailer Inspections and Maintenance – It takes money to maintain good trucks and trailers out on the road. Just like your personal auto, they need solid tires, regular oil changes, a sturdy suspension system – you don’t want your furniture bouncing around like five-year-olds at a birthday party, right? – regular inspections and more, unreliable trucks can mean delays, or worse, damage.
- No Insurance – Commercial shippers are required to carry insurance. But insurance is an expense. And if a shipper skips that expense, he may be able to provide you a lower shipping rate. But how safe will their trucks be? And how much more likely is it that your shipment may be delayed or worse, damaged?
Here’s a testimonial from someone who decided to go with a shipping company that offered cheap shipping rate but wished she hadn’t: “The 1st company’s quote was much higher than the company I went with. I wish we had given them more attention. The company was a nightmare, as soon as we were past the quote stage. It ended up costing us more than the higher company’s quote, after all, with furniture being damaged, and lost, with no option to file an insurance claim on the insurance they suggested we purchase. I just had no idea what I was getting into with them. My suggestion would be to gather details of how the moving process works so that the customer may consider further into your company, even though your quote may be higher.”
You can avoid these dangerous shippers by reading the company’s reviews, talking to friends, and of course calling the office. Get all the details you can, and ask lots of questions— this is what customer service reps are there for! It’s up to you to understand and learn about the shipping process. And it’s the best protection against “cheap” rates that turn out to be more expensive than you ever dreamed.
Tara Chila, blogger for Transit Systems, Inc., writes mostly about moving, travel, house & home, kids, parenting, and recipes.